It is the divine system of Allah Ta’ala that He has afforded special virtue and significance to some things over others. From mankind, the Ambiyaa (Alayhimus Salaam) have been blessed with distinguished positions and an elevated status over others. From the different places in the world, the Haramain Shareefain (Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Munawwarah) and Musjidul Aqsa have been accorded a special rank over the rest of the world. From the twelve months of the Islamic calendar, special sanctity and sacredness has been given to four specific months, i.e. Zul-Qa’dah, Zul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. Likewise, amongst the days of the Islamic year, the day of Aashura has been blessed with exclusive virtues and immense blessings.

While the month of Zul-Hijjah has been divinely selected for the fulfilment of the rituals of Haj and sacrifice, the month of Muharram is the month that enjoys the honour of being the month of Allah Ta’ala and the month which contains the fast of the Mubaarak day of Aashura. The immense virtues and abundant blessings of this day could be somewhat understood through the desire and eagerness that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) expressed in awaiting its arrival.

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما قال ما رأيت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يتحرى صيام يوم فضله على غيره إلا هذا اليوم يوم عاشوراء

Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhuma) reports: “I did not see Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) anxiously await the fast of any virtuous day more than the day of Aashura.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #2006)

عن أبي قتادة رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم صيام يوم عاشوراء إني أحتسب على الله أن يكفر السنة التي قبله

It is reported from Hazrat Abu Qataadah (Radiyallahu Anhu) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “On account of observing the fast of the day of Aashura, I have hope that Allah Ta’ala will expiate the sins of the past year.” (Ibnu Maajah #1738, Saheeh Muslim #1162)

Reward for fasting an entire month

The month of Muharram is regarded as the month of Allah Ta’ala and the fast observed in it is considered as the best of fasts after the month of Ramadhaan. It is an exclusive virtue of the month of Muharram that for each fast that one observes, one receives the reward of fasting for an entire month. This reward is exclusive to the month of Muharram as no other month enjoys this divine virtue.

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم : من صام يوم عرفة كان له كفارة سنتين ومن صام يوما من المحرم فله بكل يوم ثلاثون يوما

It is reported from Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhuma) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “The one who observes the fast of the day of Arafah will have two years of his sins forgiven, and the one who fasts during the month of Muharram, for each day that he fasts he will receive the reward of fasting for an entire month.” (At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb #1529)

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم  أفضل الصيام بعد رمضان شهر الله المحرم وأفضل الصلاة بعد الفريضة صلاة الليل

It is reported from Hazrat Abu Hurairah (Radiyallahu Anhu) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “The best of fasts after the month of Ramadhaan is the fast of the month of Allah, the month of Muharram, and the best of Salaahs after the Faraaidh (obligatory Salaah) is the Tahajjud Salaah.” (Saheeh Muslim #1163)


The Sunnah Fast of Aashura

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) fasted on the day of Aashura and exhorted the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) to also observe this fast. The extent of enthusiasm and passion with which the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) upheld this Mubaarak Sunnah could perhaps be gauged from the following Hadith.

عن الربيع بنت معوذ بن عفراء رضي الله عنها قالت فكنا بعد ذلك نصومه ونصوم صبياننا الصغار منهم إن شاء الله ونذهب إلى المسجد فنجعل لهم اللعبة من العهن فإذا بكى أحدهم على الطعام أعطيناهم إياه عند الإفطار

Hazrat Rubayyi’ (Radiyallahu Anha) reports that the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) observed the fast of Aashura and also encouraged their children to observe the fast. The Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) used to make toys out of wool for their children and if any child felt hungry during the fast and wept for food, they would give them the toys to occupy them until the time of iftaar. (Saheeh Muslim #1136)


History of Aashura

Prior to the Hijrah, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would observe the fast of Aashura in Makkah Mukarramah. After migrating to Madinah Munawwarah, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) witnessed the Jews of Madinah Munawwarah fasting on the day of Aashura. When Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) inquired from them as to the reason for their fasting, they explained that it was on this day that Allah Ta’ala delivered Moosa (Alayhis Salaam) and the Bani Israa’eel from the tyranny and oppression of Fir’oun and his people and Allah Ta’ala destroyed Fir’oun and his army.

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما قال قدم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم المدينة فرأى اليهود تصوم يوم عاشوراء فقال ما هذا قالوا هذا يوم صالح هذا يوم نجى الله بني إسرائيل من عدوهم فصامه موسى قال فأنا أحق بموسى منكم فصامه وأمر بصيامه

Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhuma) had reported: “When Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) migrated to Madinah Munawwarah, he witnessed the Jews observing the fast of Aashura. After inquiring, they replied that this was a virtuous day and this was the day in which Allah Ta’ala had delivered the Bani Israa’eel to safety from their oppressive enemy (Fir’oun and his army). In expression of gratitude and thanks to Allah Ta’ala, Moosa (Alayhis Salaam) fasted on this day. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) remarked, ‘We are more worthy of following Moosa (Alayhis Salaam) than you.’ Thereafter, Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) continued fasting on this day and ordered the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) to fast as well.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #2004)

Prior to the fast of Ramadhaan becoming compulsory, fasting on the day of Aashura was Fardh (obligatory). After the fast of Ramadhaan became compulsory, fasting on the day of Aashura was declared optional (Sunnah).

عن عائشة زوج النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم أنها قالت :كان يوم عاشوراء يوما تصومه قريش في الجاهلية وكان رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم يصومه في الجاهلية فلما قدم رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم المدينة صامه وأمر بصيامه فلما فرض رمضان كان هو الفريضة وترك يوم عاشوراء فمن شاء صامه ومن شاء تركه

Hazrat Aa’isha (Radiyallahu Anha) had reported: “In the pre-Islamic era, the Quraish fasted on the day of Aashura. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) also observed the fast of Aashura. After migrating to Madinah Munawwarah, Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) continued with this noble practice (of fasting on the day of Aashura) and instructed the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) to fast on this auspicious day (as it was made obligatory). However, after the fast of Ramadhaan became obligatory, fasting on the day of Aashura no longer remained Fardh.” (Rather it was made Sunnah [optional]) (Muatta Imaam Maalik #842)

Observing the fast of Aashura thus remained the practice of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) till the end of the life of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). However, prior to his demise, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) commanded the Sahaabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) to oppose the Jews by adding another day of fasting to the fast of Aashura.  

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم صوموا يوم عاشوراء و خالفوا فيه اليهود صوموا قبله يوما أو بعده يوما

Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbaas (Radiyallahu Anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose the Jews by also fasting a day before or after i.e. the ninth and tenth or tenth and eleventh of Muharram.” (As-Sunanul Kubra lil Baihaqi #8406, At-Talkheesul Habeer #931)


The Lesson of Aashura

Together with the fast of Aashura being a means of reaping immense virtues, it also emphasises and teaches an important lesson. This is the lesson of firmly maintaining one’s Islamic identity at all times and totally refraining from imitating the kuffaar (disbelievers, Jews and Christians) in their culture. Hence, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) instructed the Ummah to fast for two days (i.e. the ninth and tenth or tenth and eleventh) in order to oppose the Jews.

When only apparently resembling the Jews in the aspect of fasting (which is an Ibaadah) is so disliked by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), one can well imagine how much more Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would dislike his Ummah imitating the disbelievers in their culture, dressing and other aspects of their lives. Imitating “the ways of the kuffaar” which is known as ‘tashabbuh’, is totally forbidden in Islam as it reveals that one is identifying with the ways and culture of the enemies of Islam and opposing the Mubaarak way of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Emulating the kuffaar is so abhorred in Islam that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has declared:

عن ابن عمر قال قال رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم من تشبه بقوم فهو منهم

 “The one who imitates a people will be counted from amongst them.” (Abu Dawood #4033)

No person chooses to resemble the one who is his enemy. Rather, all prefer to resemble those whom they love. A true follower of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) will thus love to resemble and imitate his beloved. He will love to identify with Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), not with those who are the enemies of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the Muslims.



Imitating the kuffaar can occur in many aspects of life. However, the most obvious and apparent is in the aspect of appearance and dressing. The appearance and dressing which one adopts makes it apparent as to whom he identifies with. Furthermore, it is generally witnessed that the clothing which one wears influences and has an impact on one’s behaviour and conduct. Similarly, one’s principles and values are gradually moulded and fashioned in accordance to his attire and dressing. The influence of appearance and dressing is so significant that even the kuffaar perceive its far reaching effects. The banning of Muslim women from wearing scarves and hijaab in some countries is clear testament to this and speaks volumes of the fact that Islamic dressing and appearance has a tremendous impact on others. The kuffaar thus wish to ban the visible identity of Muslims and force them to follow their ways and culture. Allah Ta’ala says:

وَلَن تَرضىٰ عَنكَ اليَهودُ وَلَا النَّصـٰرىٰ حَتّىٰ تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُم

The Jews and Christians will never be satisfied with you unless you follow their religion. (Surah Baqarah, Aayah 120)

Thus when the dressing and appearance taught by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is not adhered to and the kuffaar are imitated, it often becomes difficult or even impossible to distinguish a Muslim from a Jew, Christian or an Atheist.


Baseless practices

There are many baseless practices and customs which people engage in on the tenth of Muharram. Among these baseless customs and practices is mourning over the martyrdom of Hazrat Husain (Radiyallahu Anhu). The gruesome martyrdom of Hazrat Husain (Radiyallahu Anhu) was undoubtedly among the most tragic and heart breaking events that occurred in the annals of history. However despite that, it should be understood that the occasion of Aashura and its virtues are not associated with the martyrdom of Hazrat Husain (Radiyallahu Anhu). Instead, Aashura had received its virtue and auspiciousness even before the birth of Hazrat Husain (Radiyallahu Anhu). Hence the custom of mourning the martyrdom of Hazrat Husain (Radiyallahu Anhu) by the Shias has no basis in Islam.


Virtue of spending on one’s family on the Day of Aashura

Apart from the virtue of fasting on the day of Aashura, Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has also encouraged that one should be more generous towards one’s family on this auspicious day and spend upon them.

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال من أوسع على عياله و أهله يوم عاشوراء أوسع الله عليه سائر سنته (قال المنذرى في الترغيب: رواه البيهقى و غيره من طرق و عن جماعة من الصحابة و قال البيهقي:هذه الأسانيد وإن كانت ضعيفة فهي إذا ضم بعضها الى بعض أخذت قوة والله أعلم)

Hazrat Abu Hurairah (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Whoever spends freely upon his family on the day of Aashura, Allah Ta’ala will bless him with abundant sustenance for an entire year.” (At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb #1536)

Source: Ihyaauddeen.co.za

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