Akhiri Chahar Shambah

Akhiri Chahar Shambah the last Wednesday of the month of Safar, the second month in the Islamic calendar. In both Arabic and Persian, the word akhir means 'the last' in Persian, Wednesday is known as chahar shambah.

The day is observed in commemoration of the recovery of the Prophet muhammad (Sm) from his last illness. However, though he experienced some mitigation of his illness and bathed, the illness aggravated and he died shortly afterwards. It is difficult to ascertain the precise date of Akhiri Chahar Shambah because there is some difference of opinion regarding the holy Prophet's date of demise. But according to most of his biographers, the holy Prophet (Sm) fell ill on the 18th of Safar and the illness lasted for 13 days.

Many Muslims, including some in Bangladesh, where the day is an optional Muslim holiday, observe it with befitting solemnity. In some places, it is customary to write verses of the Holy quran, known as the Seven Salams, and then wash off the 'ink'- made with saffron water- and drink it as a charm against evil. During the Mughal period, the emperor, princes and nobles used to participate in a durbar especially arranged at the Delhi Fort on this occasion. The day is not observed by wahabis. [Syed Ashraf Ali]