Friday, January 11, 2008

Fasting in Muharram; Significance of the month.


Muharram is one of the four sacred months. Abu Bakr (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said:

“The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2958).

“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” [al-Tawbah 9:36]

It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas said that this phrase (so wrong not yourselves therein…) referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.

Qatadah said concerning this phrase that wrongdoing during the sacred months is more serious and more sinful that wrongdoing at any other time. Wrongdoing at any time is a serious matter, but Allah gives more weight to whichever of His commands He will. Allah has chosen certain ones of His creation. He has chosen from among the angels Messengers and from among mankind Messengers. He chose from among speech the remembrance of Him (dhikr). He chose from among the earth the mosques, from among the months Ramadaan and the sacred months, from among the days Friday and from among the nights Laylat al-Qadr, so venerate that which Allah has told us to venerate. People of understanding and wisdom venerate the things that Allah has told us to venerate. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer).


In this month the 10th day (Ashura) was one which Rasoolallah (SAW) recommended fasting on. Ibn Abbas reported:

"The Prophet came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting the day of Ashura. He asked them: "Why are you fasting this day?" They said: "This is a great day. Allah saved Mousa (Moses) and the tribes of Israel from their enemies on this day and therefore Mousa fasted on it. "The Prophet said: "We have more of a right to Mousa than you." So he fasted on that day also and ordered the people to fast on that day." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

When the Prophet (SAW) fasted the day of Ashura, the people told him that this day is a day that Jews and Christians honor. The Prophet said:

"When the following year comes, Allah willing, we shall fast both the ninth and the tenth day of Muharram (that is to be different from the Jews and the Christians.)" The Prophet (SAW) died before the following year. [Muslim].

A version narrated by Imaam Ahmad adds:

“This is the day on which the Ark settled on Mount Joodi, so Nooh fasted this day in thanksgiving.”

The blessed month of Muharram was mentioned in the following hadith: Abu Hurairah reported:

"I asked the Prophet: "Which prayer is best after the obligatory prayers?" He said: "Prayer during the middle of the night." I asked: "Which fast is best after the fast of Ramadhan?" He said: "Fasting during the month of Muharram." [Muslim].

It was also reported that the Prophet (SAW) used to fast on ‘Aashooraa’ in Makkah, before he migrated to Madeenah. When he migrated to Madeenah, he found the Jews celebrating this day, so he asked them why, and they replied as described in the hadeeth quoted above. He commanded the Muslims to be different from the Jews, who took it as a festival, as was reported in the hadeeth of Abu Moosa (RA), who said:

“The Jews used to take the day of ‘Aashooraa’ as a festival [In a hadith collected in Sahih Muslim: the Jews of Khaybar used to take it as a festival and their women would wear their jewellery and symbols on that day]. The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘So you [Muslims] should fast on that day.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari).

Apparently the motive for commanding the Muslims to fast on this day was the desire to be different from the Jews, so that the Muslims would fast when the Jews did not, because people do not fast on a day of celebration. (Paraphrased al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (rh) from Fath al-Bari).

Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salaam (rh) said: “Times and places may be given preferred status in two ways, either temporal or religious/spiritual. With regard to the latter, this is because Allah bestows His generosity on His slaves at those times or in those places, by giving a greater reward for deeds done, such as giving a greater reward for fasting in Ramadaan than for fasting at all other times, and also on the day of ‘Aashooraa’, the virtue of which is due to Allah’s generosity and kindness towards His slaves on that day…” (Qawaa’id al-Ahkaam, 1/38).

Ibn Qudaamah (rh) said:‘Aashooraa’ is the tenth day of Muharram. This is the opinion of Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib and al-Hasan. It was what was reported by Ibn ‘Abbaas, who said: ‘The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) commanded us to fast ‘Aashooraa’, the tenth day of Muharram.’ (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said, a saheeh hasan hadeeth). It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: ‘The ninth,’ and reported that the Prophet (SAW) used to fast the ninth. (Reported by Muslim). ‘Ataa’ reported that he said, ‘Fast the ninth and the tenth, and do not be like the Jews.’ If this is understood, we can say on this basis that it is mustahabb (encouraged) to fast on the ninth and the tenth, for that reason. This is what Ahmad said, and it is the opinion of Ishaaq.”


Ibn ‘Abbaas (RA) said:

I never saw the Messenger of Allah (SAW) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Aashooraa’, and this month, meaning Ramadaan.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 1867).

Furthermore, Rasoolallah (SAW) said:

“For fasting the day of ‘Aashooraa’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Reported by Muslim, 1976).

This is from the bounty of Allah towards us: for fasting one day He gives us expiation for the sins of a whole year. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.

Imaam al-Nawawi (rh) said regarding this day:

“It expiates for all minor sins, i.e., it brings forgiveness of all sins except major sins.”

'Abdullah bin 'Umar (RA) reported:

People of pre-Islamic days used to observe Fast on the Day of 'Ashura' and the Messenger of Allah (SAW) observed it and the Muslims too (observed it) before Fasting in Ramadan became obligatory. But when it became obligatory, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: 'Ashura' is one of the days of Allah, so if you wish you may fast on that day otherwise you may abandon it. (Sahih Muslim, 1901)


‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbaas (RA) said:

“When the Messenger of Allah (SAW) fasted on ‘Aashooraa’ and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, ‘If I live to see the next year, InshaAllah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) passed away before the next year came.” (Reported by Muslim, 1916).

Al-Shafi and his companions, Ahmad, Ishaaq and others said:

“It is mustahab to fast on both the ninth and tenth days, because the Prophet (SAW) fasted on the tenth, and intended to fast on the ninth.”

Al-Nawawi (rh) said: “The scholars – our companions and others – mentioned several reasons why it is mustahab to fast on Taasoo’aa’:

  1. The intention behind it is to be different from the Jews, who only venerate the tenth day. This opinion was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas…
  2. The intention is to add another day’s fast to ‘Aashooraa’. This is akin to the prohibition on fasting a Friday by itself, as was mentioned by al-Khattaabi and others.


The event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet(SAW) 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(SAW) 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 (RA), shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab(RA) 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 Kathir vol. 4 pg. 24)

It is evident from this advice of Sayyidna Husain (RA), 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(SAW) and his beloved grand child Sayyidna Husain (RA).


With the exception of the Martyrdom of Sayyiduna Imam-e-Hussain (radi Allahu anhu) there are also various other incidents which occurred on Yaum-e-Ashurah. It is also for those reasons that this day has received such excellence.

  • It was on this day that the Skies earth and the Lauw-e-Qalam came into existence.
  • It was on this day that Hazrat Adam (alaihis salaam) and Hazrat Hawa were created.
  • Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam ('Alaihis-Salaam) after his exile from Paradise.
  • Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) saved Sayyidina Nuh ('Alaihis-Salaam) and his companions in the ark.
  • Allah extinguished the fire in which Sayyidina Ibrahim ('Alaihis-Salaam) was thrown by Nimrod and Hazrat Ibrahim (alaihis salaam) received the status of Khaleelullah.
  • And Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) spoke directly to Sayyidina Musa ('Alaihis-Salaam) and gave him the Commandments.
  • Sayyidina Yusuf ('Alaihis-Salaam) was reunited with his father Ya’qub ('Alaihis-Salaam) after 40 years.
  • Hazrat Idrees (alaihis salaam) was raised into the skies.
  • On this same 10th of Muharram, Sayyidina Ayyub ('Alaihis-Salaam) was restored to health (from leprosy).
  • Sayyidina Yunus ('Alaihis-Salaam) was released from the belly of the fish.
  • Sayyidina Dawud ('Alaihis-Salaam) was forgiven.
  • The kingdom of Sayyidina Sulaiman ('Alaihis-Salaam) was restored.
  • The sea was divided as the nation of israel was delivered from captivity and Pharoah’s army was destroyed.
  • Sayyidina Isa ('Alaihis-Salaam) was raised to Jannah.
  • Hazrat Muhammad Mustapha (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) made Nikah to Hazrat Bibi Khadija (radi Allahu anha).
  • It is on this day that Qiyamat will occur.

Worship Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) as much as you can on ‘Ashura. Whoever fasts on this day is like one who fasts all his life. Whoever clothes a naked person Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will release him from a painful punishment. He who visits a sick person, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will grant him a reward that will not be decreased. Whoever places his hand on an orphan’s head, or feeds a hungry person or gives water to a thirsty man, Allah will feed him a feast from Paradise and will quench his thirst with Salsabil (a wine that does not intoxicate). Whoever provides generously for his family on this day, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) will be generous to him throughout this year. And whoever applies Kuhl to his eyes will never suffer from eye-sore again, inSha’Allah al-Aziz.

O’ Allah! Bless us to perform good deeds and gain their reward on ‘Ashura. Make the new year one of unity, cooperation and success for Muslims in this city and around the world. Ameen


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

JAZAK ALLAH KHAIRUN KATHEERA! keep up this noble mission of informing muslims , worldwide, about their beautiful religion.

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