The 10th of Muharram(YAWMUL AASHOORA)

The Divine System of Allah Ta’ala

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 (alaihimus salaam) have been blessed with distinguished positions and elevated statuses over others. From the different places in the world, the Haramain (Makkah Mukarramah and Madinah Munawwarah) 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.

By the same token, amongst the days of the Islamic year the day of Aashura has been blessed with exclusive virtue and immense blessings.

It is reported from Abu Qataadah (radiyallahu anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “On account of observing the fast of Aashura, I have hope that Allah Ta’ala will expiate the sins of the past year.” (Ibnu Maajah 1/124, Saheeh Muslim 1/368)

The Month of Muharram and the Day of Aashura

Reward for Fasting an Entire Month

It is reported from Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The one who observes the fast of the day of Arafah two years of his sins will be forgiven and the one who fasts during the month of Muharram, for each day he fasts he will receive the reward of fasting for an entire month.” (At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb, vol. 2, p. 46)

It is an exclusive virtue of the month of Muharram that each fast in this auspicious month is equivalent in reward to fasting for an entire month. No other month has been blessed with this virtue.

The Greatness and Virtue of Aashura

While the month of Shawwaal, Zul-Qa’dah and Zul-Hijjah have been divinely selected to accommodate 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 of accommodating the fast of Aashura, which expiates the sins of the past year. The immense virtues and abundant blessings that this day holds could be somewhat understood through the desire and eagerness that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) expressed to meet this day.

Hadhrat Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) reports: “I did not see Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) anxiously await the fast of any virtuous day more than the day of Aashura.” (Saheeh Bukhari 1/268)

It is reported from Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The best of fasts after the month of Ramadhaan is fasting in the month of Allah, which is Muharram, and the best of salaahs after the faraaidh (obligatory salaah) is the tahajjud salaah.” (Saheeh Muslim 1/368)

Fasting on the Day of Aashura

Rasulullah (sallallahu Alaihi wasallam) fasted on the day of Aashura and exhorted the Sahaabah to also observe the fast. The extent of enthusiasm and passion with which the Sahaabah enlivened and upheld this mubaarak sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) could perhaps be gauged from the following Hadith.

Hadhrat Rubayyi’ (radiyallahu anha) reports that the Sahaabah observed the fast of Aashura and encouraged their children to observe the fast. The Sahaabah used to make toys for their children out of wool and if any child felt hungry and wept for food then they kept them occupied with those toys until the time of iftaar. (Saheeh Muslim 1/360)

History of Aashura

Prior to the Hijrah, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Sahabah observed the fast of Aashura in Makkah Mukarramah as this conformed to the Shariah of Ebrahim (alaihis salaam). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) migrated to Madinah Munawwarah in the month of Rabiul Awwal. The following year (2 A.H.), in the month of Muharram, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) witnessed the Jews of Madinah Munawwarah fasting. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) inquired from them as to why they were observing the fast on that day. They exclaimed that it was on that day that Allah Ta’ala delivered Moosa (alaihis 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. This is explained in the following narration:

Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) said: “When Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) migrated to Madinah Munawwarah, he witnessed the Jews observing the fast of Aashura. After inquiring, they replied that this was a virtuous day. This was the day that 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 (alaihis salaam) fasted on this day. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) remarked, ‘We are more worthy of following Moosa (alaihis salaam) than you.’ Thereafter, Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) continued fasting on this day and ordered the Sahabah (radiyallahu anhum) to fast as well.” (Saheeh Bukhari 1/268)

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 optional.

‘Aaisha (radiyallahu anha) reports: “In the pre-Islamic era, the Quraish fasted on the day of Aashura. Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) also observed the fast of Aashura. After migrating to Madinah Munawwarah, Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) continued with this noble practice (of fasting on the day of Aashura) and instructed the Sahabah (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, p. 240)

This remained the practice of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam and Sahaabah till the end of the life of Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam). In the 11th year of Hijri (after the fast of Aashuraa prior to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)’s demise), Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) commanded the Sahabah (Radiallahu Anhum) to oppose the Jews and to add another day of fasting together with the tenth. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said that if he lived till the following year he would fast for two days.

Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose the Jews by fasting a day before it or after it (as well) i.e. the ninth and tenth or tenth and eleventh of Muharram.” (As-Sunan Al-Kubra Baihaqi 4/287 / Talkheesul Habeer 2/819)

Ibnu Abbaas (radiyallahu anhuma) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “If I live until the following year, I will definitely fast on the ninth (together with the tenth).” (Saheeh Muslim 1/359)

Important lesson

While reaping the virtues of fasting on the day of Aashura, an important lesson is emphasised by means of this fast. This is the lesson of firmly maintaining one’s Islamic identity at all times, totally refraining from imitating the kuffaar (disbelievers) and even avoiding any resemblance with them. Hence, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi 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.


Imitating the kuffaar can occur in any and every aspect of life. However, the most obvious and apparent is in the aspect of appearance and dressing. Imitating “others,” which is known as ‘tashabbuh’ is completely forbidden in cases where it opposes the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). So abhorred is this practice that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has declared: “The one who imitates a nation is from amongst them.”

Thus when the dressing and appearance taught by Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is not adhered to, and the kuffaar are imitated, at times it becomes difficult or even impossible to distinguish a Muslim from a Jew, Christian or an atheist

Love to resemble Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)

The Fast of Aashura highlights the importance of avoiding any resemblance to the Jews and Christians. No person prefers to resemble the one who is his enemy. Rather, he will prefer to resemble those whom he loves. A true follower of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) will love to resemble, in fact imitate, his beloved. He would love to be identified with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), not with those who are the enemies of Islam and the Muslims.

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 alaihi wasallam) has also encouraged that one should be generous upon one’s family on this auspicious day.

Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu anhu) reports that Nabi (sallallahu alaihi 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, vol. 2, p. 48)