Here is that e-mail that I received. If anyone knows any information pertaining to the subject that they would like to add, please do!!
> By Mufti Taqi Usmani
> Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah
> Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran
> says, "The number of the months according to Allah is twelve (mentioned) in
> the Book of Allah on the day He created heavens and the earth. Among these
> (twelve months) there are four sanctified."
> These four months, according to the authentic traditions, are Dhul-Qa'dah,
> Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Quran are
> unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa
> sallam, in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, declared: "One year
> consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of
> them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is
> The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month
> has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadan is admittedly the most
> sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed
> as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted
> even by the pagans of Makkah.
> In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other,
> and there is no inherent sanctity that may be attributed to one of them in
> comparison to the other months. When Allah Almighty chooses a particular
> time for His special blessings, the same acquires sanctity out of His grace.
> Thus, the sanctity of these four months was recognized right from the days
> of Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam. Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed
> themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim, alayhi salam, they observed the sanctity of
> these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it
> unlawful to fight in these months.
> In the Shariah of our Noble Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, the
> sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as
> the "sanctified months".
> Muharram has certain other characteristics special to it, which are
> specified below.
> Fasting During the Month
> The Noble Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: 'The best fasts
> after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram."
> Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet one who
> fasts in these days out of his own will is entitled to a great reward by
> Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month
> of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the Nafl or voluntary fasts.
> The Hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can
> be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast
> during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity
> as much as he can.
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> The Day of 'Ashurah'
> Although Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of
> Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named 'Ashurah'.
> According to the Holy Companion Ibn 'Abbas, Radi-Allahu anhu. The Holy
> Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, when migrated to Madinah, found that
> the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that
> it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses), alayhis salam, and
> his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned
> in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu
> alayhi wa sallam, said, "We are more closely rotated to Musa, alayhi salam,
> than you," and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of 'Ashura'. (Abu
> It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the
> beginning, fasting on the day of 'Ashura' was obligatory for the Muslims. It
> was later that the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory and the fast on the
> day of 'Ashura' was made optional. Sayyidina 'Aisha, Radi-Allahu anha, has
> "When the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came to Madinah, he
> fasted on the day of 'Ashura' and directed the people to fast. But when the
> fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was
> confined to Ramadan and the obligatory nature of the fast of 'Ashura' was
> abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes
> can avoid fasting on it." (Sunan Abu Dawud)
> However, the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast on the
> day of 'Ashura' even after the fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory.
> Abdullah ibn Musa, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that the Holy Prophet,
> Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, preferred the fast of 'Ashura' on the fasts of
> other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of 'Ashura'.
> (Bukhari and Muslim)
> In short, it is established through a number of authentic ahadith that
> fasting on the day of 'Ashura' is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu
> alayhi wa sallam, and makes one entitled to a great reward.
> According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of 'Ashura'
> should either be preceded or followed by another fast. It means that one
> should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th. The
> reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu
> alayhi wa sallam, is that the Jews used to fast on the day of'Ashura alone,
> and the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, wanted to distinguish
> the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the
> Muslims to add another fast to that of 'Ashura'.
> Some traditions signify another feature of the day of 'Ashura. According to
> these traditions, one should be more generous to his family by providing
> more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions
> are not very authentic according to the science of Hadith. Yet, some
> Scholars like Baihaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable.
> What is mentioned above is all that is supported through authentic sources
> about Ashura.
> Back to Top
> Misconceptions and Baseless Traditions
> However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to 'Ashura'
> that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have
> no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these:
> This is the day on which Adam, alayhi salam, was created. This is the day
> when Ibrahim, alayhi salam, was born. This is the day when Allah accepted
> the repentance of Sayyidina Adam, alayhi salam. This is the day when
> Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place. Whoever takes bath on the day of
> 'Ashura' will never get ill.**
> All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the
> traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit.
> Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal on the
> day of 'Ashura'. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic
> Some other people attribute the sanctity of 'Ashura' to the martyrdom of
> Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, during his battle with the Syrian army.
> No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, is one of the
> most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of 'Ashura' cannot be
> ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of 'Ashura'
> was established during the days of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa
> sallam, much earlier than the birth of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu.
> On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu
> anhu, that his martyrdom took place on the day of 'Ashura'.
> Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or
> unlucky month, for Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, was killed in it. It
> is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in
> the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept, which is contrary
> to the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. If the death of
> an eminent person on a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times
> to come, one can hardly find a day of the year free from this bad luck
> because every day is associated with the demise of some eminent person. The
> Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam,
> have liberated us from such superstitious beliefs.
> Back to Top
> Lamentations and Mourning
> Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and
> mouming ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain,
> Radi-Allahu anhu. As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the
> most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi
> wa sallam, has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the
> death of any person. The people of jahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over
> their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by
> beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa
> sallam, stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe
> patience by saying "Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon". A number of
> authentic Ahaadith are available on the subject. To quote only one of them:
> "He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries
> in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah." (Sahih Bukhari)
> All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of
> this type is impermissible. Even Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, shortly
> before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab,
> Radi-Allahu anha, at not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said,
> "My dear sister! I swear upon you that in case I die you shall not tear your
> clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your
> death." (Al-Kamil, ibn al-Athir vol. 4 pg. 24)
> It is evident from this advice of Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu, that
> this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory
> of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this
> practice and abide by the teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi
> wa sallam, and his beloved grand child Sayyidna Husain, Radi-Allahu anhu.