Muḥarram (Arabic: مُحَرَّم muḥarram) is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four sacred months of the year. It is held to be the second holiest month, after Ramadan . Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, Muharram moves from year to year when compared with the Gregorian calendar.
The tenth day of Muharram is known as the Day of Ashura, part of the Mourning of Muharram for Shia Muslims and a day of fasting for Sunni Muslims. The practice of fasting during Ashura stems from the hadith that Musa (Moses) and his people obtained a victory over the Egyptian Pharaoh on the 10th day of Muharram; accordingly Muhammad asked Muslims to fast on this day and on the day prior, the Day of Tasu’a.
Shia Muslims mourn the death of Imam Hussein and his family, respecting the sacrifice of the martyrs by praying in abundance and refraining from all joyous events. Shia muslims don’t fast on the 10th day of Muharram, but some don’t eat or drink until zawal (afternoon) to show their sympathy with Imam Hussein. In addition there is an important Ziyarat book, the Ziyarat Ashura about Hussein ibn Ali. In the Shia sect it is popular to read this ziyarat on this date.