Fasting the Day of ʽĀshūrā’

Posted: December 6, 2011 in Islam

بسم هللا الرحمن الرحيم

Background:
The day of ʽĀshūrā’ is the tenth day of the month of Muḥarram. ‘Abd-ul-Lāh Ibn ʽAbbās ( رضيعنه هللا) narrates that when the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) came to the city of Al-Madīnah, he found that the Jews in the city were fasting the day of ʽĀshūrā’, and so they were asked about it. They (the Jews) replied, “[This is a great day]. This is the day in which Allāh saved Mūsā (Moses) and the children of Israel from [their enemy] Pharaoh. So we fast it out of gratitude to Him.

”The Messenger of Allāh (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) said, “We have more of a right to Mūsā than you.” And he commanded that it be fasted.(1)
The above narration gives us a historical background as to why the Jews revered this day, but it is incorrect to assume that it was only fasted by the Jews and then the Muslims when they came to the city of Al-Madīnah. ʽĀ’ishah (عنها هللا رضي) narrates:
“The day of ʽĀshūrā’ was fasted by Quraysh during the time of Jāhiliyyah (before Prophethood), and the Messenger of Allāh (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) used to fast it (as well). And then when he came to the city of Al-Madīnah, he fasted it and ordered (the people) to fast it (too)…”(2)
Fasting the Day of ʽĀshūrā’:
The command to fast the day of ʽĀshūrā’ in the above narrations was before the month of Ramadhān was made obligatory for the people to fast.(3)
Once it was made obligatory to fast the month of Ramadhān, then the day of ʽĀshūrā’ became a choice amongst the people. In continuing the narration of ‘Ā’ishah (عنها هللا رضي), she said:

“…and then when Ramadhān was made obligatory, he left the day of ʽĀshūrā’ (meaning he no longer made it obligatory), so whoever desired fasted it, and who desired left it (meaning did not fast).” (4)
And in another narration, ‘Ā’ishah (عنها هللا رضي) said that the Messenger of Allāh (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) said:
“Whoever desires, then let him fast it, and whoever desires, then let him not fast it.”(5)

And in a narration from ‘Abd-ul-Lāh Ibn ʽUmar (عنه هللا رضي), he narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allāh (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) say with regards to the day of ʽĀshūrā’:

“This is a day that was fasted by the people of Jāhiliyyah, so whoever likes to fast it, let him fast it, and whoever likes to leave it (meaning not fast it), then let him leave it.”(6)

Imām An-Nawawī (عليه هللا رحمة) said, “There is agreement amongst the scholars that fasting the day of ʽĀshūrā’ is a Sunnah (a recommended act of worship) and not Wājib (obligatory).”(7)

Therefore, it is not an obligation to fast the tenth day of Muḥarram, and one can choose between fasting it, and not. Knowing this, however, it would also be prudent to point out that the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) was very keen on fasting it – despite it no longer being an obligation. ‘Abd-ul-Lāh Ibn ʽAbbās ( رضي  هللا عنه ) :narrates“I never saw the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) more keen to fast a day that was more preferable to him than other (days), than this day, the day of ʽĀshūrā’, and this month – meaning the month of Ramadhān”(8)
The Virtue and Benefit of Fasting the Day of ʽĀshūrā’:
Abū Qatādah Al-Ansārī (عنه هللا رضي) narrated that the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) said:

“…and fasting the day of ʽĀshūrā’, I hope that Allāh will expiate by it (the minor sins) of the year before.”(9)

So fasting the day of ʽĀshūrā’ will expiate the minor sins a person has from the previous year, but not major sins. Imām An-Nawawī (عليه هللا رحمة) said, “What is meant by this are the minor sins.”(10)

This virtue in itself should be sufficient as glad tidings for a believer with regards to the day of ʽĀshūrā’ without the need to venerate it and fabricate virtues about it that cannot be established from the Qur’ān or the Sunnah of the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى). One such narration is that attributed to Abū Hurayrah (عنه هللا رضي) who said that the Messenger of Allāh (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) said:

“Whoever is generous to himself and to his family on the day of ʽĀshūrā’, Allāh will be generous to him for the remainder of the year.”(11)

Although Al-Ḥāfiṭh Al-Bayhaqī (عليه هللا رحمة) accepted that this narration was weak from all the various paths it was narrated from, he concluded that they strengthen one another to a level where it can be accepted. Other scholars, however, disagreed. Ibn Taymiyyah (عليه هللا رحمة) said that this narration was a lie against the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) Ibn Ḥajar Al-Aṣqalāni ( هللا رحمة عليه) said that it was an extremely atrocious narration,(13) and Ibn Al-Jawzī (عليه هللا رحمة) classed it as fabricated.(14)
Similarly, Shaykh Al-Albānī (عليه هللا رحمة) went through all the chains in which Al-Bayhaqī narrated this from and showed how the weaknesses in them were so severe that they could not be relied upon to strengthen one another.(15)

Another such fabricated narration is the following:

“Whoever applies Kuḥl with Iṫhmid (a stone used to produce Kuḥl) on the day of ʽĀshūrā’ will never have a sore eye ever.”(16)

Or:
“Whoever performs Ghusl on the day of ʽĀshūrā’ will never become sick, except by the sickness of death.”(17)

As for other acts of worship other than fasting, which people single out to do on this day, then evidence is required from the Qur’ān or the Sunnah otherwise it is a rejected innovation. And 4 this goes the same for other celebratory or remorseful acts some people do on this day. Shaykh Al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (عليه هللا رحمة) said:

As for other matters, such as cooking meals that are not customary, either with grains or without grains, or wearing new clothes, or being more generous in spending, or buying supplies that are specific for that day, or doing special acts of worship such as a special prayer, or deliberately slaughtering an animal (for that day), or saving some of the meat of the sacrifice to cook with grains, or wearing Kuḥl and Ḥennah, or taking a bath (Ghusl), or shaking hands (in congratulating one another for this day), or visiting (one another because of this day), or visiting the mosques and shrines, and so on… all of these are reprehensible Bidʽahs (innovations) that are not found in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh ( هللا صلى وسلم عليه), nor with the rightly guided Caliphs, nor was it liked by any of the Imāms of Muslims like Mālik, or Ath-Thawrī, or Layth Ibn Saʽd, nor Abū Ḥanīfah, or Al-Awzāʽī, or Ash-Shāfiʽī, or Aḥmed Ibn Ḥambal or Isḥāq Ibn Rāhwayh, or others like these Imāms of the Muslims – even though some of the later scholars who followed them used to command in doing these based on some narrations and remnants saying that some of this is authentic, but they are in error and are wrong without a doubt according to the people of knowledge and those who know the truth of matters.(18)

The Recommendation of Fasting Tāsūʽā’ with ʽĀshūrā’:
For the one who intends to fast the day of ʽĀshūrā’, it is also highly recommended to fast the day before – Tāsūʽā’ – the ninth day of Muḥarram. The main wisdom behind fasting the ninth day as well as the tenth is to be different than the Jews who used to only fast the tenth day. ‘Abd-ulLāh Ibn ʽAbbās (عنه هللا رضي) narrated that when the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) fasted the day of ʽĀshūrā’ and commanded that it be fasted, the people said to him, “O Messenger of Allāh! This is a day that the Jews and Christians revere.” So the Messenger of Allāh (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) replied: “If it is the next year, by the Will of Allāh, we will fast the ninth day.”
Ibn ʽAbbās (عنه هللا رضي) continued and said, “(But) the next year did not come except that the Messenger of Allāh (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) had passed away.”(19)
The command to fast the ninth day specifically to be different than the Jews is a weak narration in Marfuʽ form – meaning in a form that is elevated to be from the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى):
“Fast the day of ʽĀshūrā’ and be different than the Jews. Fast the day before it or the day after it.”(20)
The above narration, however, does appear to be an authentic statement of ‘Abd-ul-Lāh IbnʽAbbās (20)

(صلى هللا عليه وسلم) but not the Prophet ,
In another narration, the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) indicated that he had wanted to fast the ninth
day just in case for some reason he would not be able to fast the tenth day (like missing it because of the moon sighting at the beginning of the month, or because of sickness, or even death). ‘Abd-ul-Lāh Ibn ʽAbbās (عنه هللا رضي) narrated that the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) said:
“If I live, by the Will of Allāh, until the next year, I will fast the ninth day out of
fear of missing the day of ʽĀshūrā’.”(21)
Based on these narrations then, it is preferred for the one who intends to fast the day of ʽĀshūrā’
to fast the day before it. At-Tirmiṫhī (عليه هللا رحمة) said that this was the opinion of Ash-Shāfiʽī,
Aḥmed, Isḥāq, and others.(22)
Some scholars disliked fasting the tenth day without the ninth, while others scholars said it was not disliked, but the one who does not fast it loses out on the reward of being different from the Jews.(23)
And Allāh knows best.
Fasting the Month of Muḥarram in General:
With regards to the rest of the month of Muḥarram, other than the ninth and tenth day, then Abū
Hurayrah (عنه هللا رضي) narrates that he heard the Messenger of Allāh (وسلم عليه هللا صلى) say:
“The best fast after Ramadhān is the month of Allāh, Muḥarram.”(24)
Imām An-Nawawī (عليه هللا رحمة) states, this statement is clear in that the best fast after the month
of Ramadhān is the fast during the month of Muḥarram.(25)
So if a person wanted to fast additional days during this sacred month, because of this month and the statement of the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى), then it is recommended to do so.
Ḥārith Al-Shiraida
_______________________________________
1. Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī #3942 and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim #1130; the wording is taken from Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim
and what is between brackets is from Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī.
2. Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī #2002 and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim #1125; the wording is taken from Ṣaḥīḥ AlBukhārī.
3. The scholars differed as to whether this command was indeed an obligation or simply
recommended. Imām Ash-Shāfiʽī had two opinions on this, one that it was and one that it
wasn’t; the more famous of the two opinions is that it wasn’t, and this was also the opinion of
the Mālikīs. Imām Abū Ḥanīfah was of the opinion that it was indeed an obligation, and this 6
was the opinion of Imām Aḥmed (See Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim Bi Sharḥ An-Nawawī 4/460, and AlMughnī 4/422). And Allāh knows best.
4. Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī #2002
5. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim #1125
6. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim #1126
7. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim Bi Sharḥ An-Nawawī 4/460.
8. Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī #2006 and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim #1132; the wording is taken from Ṣaḥīḥ AlBukhārī.
9. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim #1162
10. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim Bi Sharḥ An-Nawawī 4/500
11. Al-Jāmiʽ Li Shuʽab Al-Īmān 5/331-333
12. Majmūʽ Al-Fatāwā 25/300
13. Lisān Al-Mīzān 6/338
14. Kitāb Al-Mawdhū’āt Min-al-Aḥādīth Al-Marfūʽāt 2/572
15. Silsilat Al-Aḥādīth Adh-Dhaʽīfah 14/738-743
16. Attributed to ‘Abd-ul-Lāh Ibn ʽAbbās (عنه هللا رضي) and classed as fabricated by Ibn
Taymiyyah in Majmū’ Al-Fatāwā 25/300 and by Shaykh Al-Albānī in Silsilat Al-Aḥādīth
Adh-Dhaʽīfah #624.
17. Attributed to Abū Hurayrah (عنه هللا رضي) and classed as fabricated by Ibn Al-Jawzī in Kitāb
Al-Mawdhūʽāt Min-al-Aḥādīth Al-Marfūʽāt 2/568 and by Ibn Taymiyyah in Majmūʽ AlFatāwā 25/300.
18. Majmūʽ Al-Fatāwā 25/312-313
19. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim #1134
20. Narrated by Al-Bayhaqī in As-Sunan Al-Kubrā #8406 and was classed as Dha’īf (weak) by
Shaykh Al-Albānī in Jilbāb Al-Mar’at-il-Muslimah 177. It was also narrated by Ibn
Khuzaymah and classed as Dha’īf by Shaykh Al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Khuzaymah #2095.
And it was narrated by Aḥmed in his Musnad #2154 and was classed as Dha’īf (weak) by
Shaykh Shuʽayb Al-Arna’ūṭ.
It does however come with an authentic chain attributed to Ibn ʽAbbās alone (in Mawqūf
form) and not attributed to the Prophet (وسلم عليه هللا صلى). This was narrated by ‘Abdur-Razzāq
in his Musannaf and was classed as having a Ṣaḥīḥ Isnād by Shaykh Al-Albānī in Jilbāb AlMar’at-il-Muslimah 177. See also the comments of Shaykh Shuʽayb Al-Arna’ūṭ in Musnad
Aḥmed #2154.
21. Narrated by Aṭ-Ṭabarānī in Al-Muʽjam Al-Kabīr, and classed as having a Ṣaḥīḥ Isnād by
Shaykh Al-Albānī in Silsilat Al-Aḥādīth As-Ṣaḥīḥah #350.
22. Sunan At-Tirmithī #755
23. Ash-Sharḥ Al-Mumtiʽ ʽAlā Zād Al-Mustaqniʽ 6/468-467
24. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim #1163
25. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim Bi Sharh An-Nawawī 4/503

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