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In Quran, Allah says:
Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him] – (Surah e Tauba: 36).
Here four means Muharram, Rajab, Zilqadh, and Zilhajj.
The battle of Karbala took place on 10th of Muharram where Hazrat Imam Hussain was killed by the second caliph of Umayyad caliphate, Yazeed. He took over the caliphate after the death of his father Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan and asked people to take an oath of allegiance to him.
Imam Hussain the grandson of Holy Prophet (PBUH) son of Imam Ali and brother of Imam Hassan, the deserving caliph did not pay allegiance to Yazeed. On the other hand, the Muslims of Kufa urged Hazrat Imam Hussain to take a stand against Yazeed, the tribal leaders in Kufa sent letters to Imam with the promise of their full support. But all those people deceived out of fear of Yazeed whereas the Yazeedi troops stopped Hazrat Imam Hussain and his caravan in the way of Kufa at Karbala.
Imam Hussain and his family along with relatives and some supporters fought against the Yazeedi troops. Except for Imam Zain ul Abideen, the elder son of Imam Hussain every single man of the Hussaini caravan was slaughtered(Imam Zain ul Abideen didn’t take part in the battle because he was sick and distinguished from Jihad as per Islamic laws), the women of his family were taken to the prisons at Syria of present time.
After the battle of Karbala, Bibi Zainab, the daughter of Imam Ali and sister of Hazrat Imam Hussain narrated the story of Karbala while she was held captive by Yazid force. Her words captured the hearts of many who were appalled that their ruler could so brutally massacre the Prophets’ progeny. Bibi Zainab set an example for the women of Islam.
The tenth day of Muharram is known as the Ashura. People perform pilgrimage to the shrine of Imam Hussain in Karbala.
FASTING ON THE DAY OF ASHURA:
The Holy Prophet PBUH said, “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah Muharram, and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer at night.” [Muslim]
Once Prophet PBUH came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of “Ashoora” He said: What is this? They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the children of Israel from their enemy and Moosa fasted on this day”.
Some say it is not appropriate to fast on the day of Ashoora as Yazeed fasted on this day and some say it is not good because fasting means peace and Muharram is a month of darkness and sorrow. Whereas, Sunnis believe that it is mentioned in hadith that Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) fasted on the day of Ashura and said he will fast next year on 9th Muharram as well if he stays alive. Fasting in the first third of Muharram is highly recommended especially on the day of Ashoora.
It is also recoomended to give charity in the month of Muharram.