The Virtue of Fasting ‘Ashoora

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Fasting the day of ‘Arafah I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of ‘Ashoora I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” [Sahih Muslim]

It is also recommended to fast the 9th of Muharram also as The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Next year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth day.” But by the time the following year came, the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) had passed away.

The 9th and 10th of Muharram are Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th of November 2013 in sha’ Allah

Commentary:

This is by the bounty that Allah bestows upon us, whereby fasting one day expiates for the (minor) sins of a whole year. And Allah is the Owner of great bounty.

With regard to the reason why the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) fasted on the day of ‘Ashoora’and urged the people to do likewise is mentioned in the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari from Ibn ‘Abbaas (radi Allahu anhu), who said: The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) came to Madeenah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashoora. He said, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Musa fasted on this day.” He said, “We are closer to Musa than you.” So he fasted on this day and told the people to fast.

The expiation of sins that is achieved by fasting ‘Ashoora’ refers to minor sins; with regard to major sins, they need separate repentance.

Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas (radi Allahu anhu) said: When the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) fasted on the day of ‘Ashoora and told the people to fast, they said, “O Messenger of Allah, this is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.” The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Next year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth day.” But by the time the following year came, the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) had passed away.

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 (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth.

Based on this, there are different ways of fasting ‘Ashoora, the least of which is to fast the tenth only, but it is better to fast the ninth as well. The more one fasts in Muharram, the better.

Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The scholars among our companions and others said that there are several reasons for recommending fasting on the ninth day:

  1. The intention behind it is to be different from the Jews who limit their fasting to the tenth day. This was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas.
  2. The intention was to join the fast of ‘Ashoora’ to another day, just as it is not allowed to fast on a Friday on its own [but it is allowed if one fasts the day before or the day after as well]
  3. the idea is to be on the safe side and make sure one is fasting on the tenth, in case the moon sighting was not accurate and what people think is the ninth is actually the tenth.

The strongest of these reasons is in order to be different from the People of the Book. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) forbade resembling the People of the Book in many ahadith. For example, he said concerning ‘Ashoora: “If I live until next year I will certainly fast the ninth.” Al-Fataawa al-Kubra, part 6.

Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said, commenting on the hadith “If I live until next year I will certainly fast the ninth”:

His concern to fast the ninth may be understood as meaning that he would not limit himself to that, rather that he would add it to the tenth, either to be on the safe side, or to be different from the Jews and Christians, which is more likely to be correct; this is what may be understood from some of the reports narrated by Muslim.” From Fath al-Baari, 4/245.

And Allah Knows Best!

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