History of The Day of Ashura (The 10th of Muharram)
When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) arrived in Madinah in 622 CE, he found that the Jews there fasted on the 10th of Muharram and asked them the reason for their fasting on this day.
They said: “This is a blessed day. On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Musa [Moses] fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah.”
The Prophet (sa) said: “We are closer to Musa than you are.” He fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari)
Fasting The Day of Ashura and The Day before it (These are voluntary fasts, they are not obligatory)
When the Messenger of Allah (sa) fasted on `Ashura’ and commanded the Muslims to fast as well.
They said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that the Jews and Christians honour.’
The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: ‘If I live to see the next year, insha’Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (sa) passed away before the next year came.” (Reported by Muslim, 1916).
Al-Shaafa’i and his companions, Ahmad, Ishaaq and others said: It is mustahabb [recommended] to fast both the ninth and the tenth, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth.
The intention behind this (fasting on the 9th of Muharram), is to be different from the Jews who limit their fasting to the 10th day. This was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas.
If ‘Ashoora’ coincides with a Friday, he may fast, because his intention is to fast ‘Ashoora’ and not to fast on a Friday. And Allaah is the Source of strength. (This is the opinion of Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, some other Sheikhs have adviced that if ‘Ashoora’ falls on a Friday one should either fast the day before it or after it, in order of avoiding singling out the Friday, as the Prophet (s) instructed us not to single out Fridays for fasting…wAllahu ‘Alam)
NB: You should not observe voluntary fasts when you still owe one or more days from Ramadaan, rather you should start with the fasts that you owe from Ramadaan, and then observe voluntary fasts.
The Reward for Fasting The Day of Ashura
The Prophet (sa) said: “For fasting the day of ‘Ashura, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for (the sins committed in) the year that went before.” [Reported by Muslim, 1976]
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Fasting the day of ‘Arafaah expiates for all minor sins, in other words this brings forgiveness for all sins except for major sins. (As they need separate repentance)
The Prophet (sa) used to be very keen to make sure he fasted on the day of ‘Ashoora’ because of its great status. It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I never saw the Prophet (sa) so keen to make sure he fasted any day and preferring it over another except this day, the day of ‘Ashoora’, and this month – meaning Ramadaan. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1867.)
Stick to the Sunnah – and avoid all Innovations (Bid’aa)
You may of heard of some customs associated with `Ashura’ such as: cooking and eating certain foods, making specific dhikr, du’a or to read certain surahs a certain number of times, or to make nafl salaah, etc
^ NB: Specifying specific ibadah (worship) on specific days must be backed up with Evidence from one of two sources: The Book Of Allah (The Qur’aan) or the Hadiths (Sunnah of Our Prophet Muhammad – sa); otherwise this action becomes a Bid’aa and its reward becomes fruitless. If one simply wants to make dhikr or wants to read abit extra nafl salaats, there is nothing wrong with this, as this should be done all year round, but to specify it to this day – is innovation.
And you may of also heard of others who consider this day as a day of mourning, wailing, hitting themselves in honour of the Prophet Muhammads (sa) grandson Al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him) who was killed.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Because of the killing of al-Husayn, the Shaytaan started to spread two kinds of bidah (innovation) amongst the people: the bidah of grieving and wailing on the Day of Aashooraa, striking the cheeks, screaming, weeping and reciting eulogies ; and the bidah of expressing happiness and joy. So some express grief and others express joy, so they started to like the idea of wearing kohl, taking a bath, spending on their families and preparing special kinds of food on the day of Aashooraa and every bidah is a going astray; none of the four imams of the Muslims or others approved of either of these things (either expressing grief or expressing joy)”
^ This is all Bid’aa, and we need to stay well away from it — and remember the deen of Islaam is complete and is in no need of any addition or alterations.
As Allaah Subhanahu-wa-Ta’alaa says: “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [al-Maa’idah 5:3].
It is reported from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [Islam] that is not part of it, will have it rejected.” [Agreed upon]
Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (sa) used to say in his Friday khutbahs: “The best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (sa). The most evil of things are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation (bid’ah) is a going-astray.” [Reported Muslim]
NB: For any action to be accepted by Allah it must meet the following 2 conditions:
- Sincerity of Intentions – it must be done soley for the sake of Allah, and for no other reason
- The action must be done the way Allah legislated, and the way His Prophet Muhammad (sa) legislated (clear evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah)
Who would refuse to Enter Paradise?
Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be please with him) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “All of my Ummah will enter Paradise except those that refuse.” Those who were with him (the Sahaabah/companions) said, “And who will refuse?” He (sa) said: “Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me will have refused.” (Sahih Al- Bukhari)
May Allah accept from us all; allow us to gain the rewards of the day of Ashura and may He (SWT) gather us all together with our Prophet Muhammad (s) in Jannah. Ameen
Source: Adapted from Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid