Virtues of Muharram and Fasting on ‘Ashura’, TheSalih al-Munajjid
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets and Chief of the Messengers, and upon all his family and companions.
Allah’s sacred month of Muharram is a blessed and important month. It is the first month of the Hijricalendar and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“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-Qur’an 9:36]
Abu Bakarah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumadah and Sha’ban.” [Reported by al-Bukhari, 2958]
Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity. Allah’s words (interpretation of the meaning): ” … so wrong not yourselves therein … ” mean do not wrong yourselves in these sacred months, because sin in these months is worse than in other months. It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that this phrase 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 Ramadhanand the sacred months, from among the days Friday and from among the nights Laylatul-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. [Summarized from theTafsir of Ibn Kathir, may Allah have mercy on him. Tafsirof Surah at-Tawbah, ayah 36]
The Virtue of Observing More Nafil Fasts During Muharram
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadhan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.’ ” [Reported by Muslim, 1982]
The phrase “Allah’s month”, connecting the name of the month to the name of Allah in a genitive grammatical structure, signifies the importance of the month. Al-Qari said: “The apparent meaning is all of the month ofMuharram.” But it was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never fasted any whole month apart from Ramadhan, so this hadith is probably meant to encourage increasing one’s fasting during Muharram, without meaning that one should fast for the entire month.
It was reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast more in Sha’ban. It is likely that the virtue of Muharram was not revealed to him until the end of his life, before he was able to fast during this month. [Sharh an-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim]
Allah Chooses Whatever Times and Places He Wills
Al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdus-Salam (may Allah have mercy on him) 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 Ramadhan than for fasting at all other times, and also on the day of’Ashura’, the virtue of which is due to Allah’s generosity and kindness towards His slaves on that day … “[Qawa’id al-Ahkam, 1/38]
‘Ashura’ in History
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’. He said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa fasted on this day.’ He said, ‘We have more right to Musa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day.” [Reported by al-Bukhari, 1865] “This is a righteous day” – in a report narrated by Muslim, [the Jews said:] “This is a great day, on which Allah saved Musa and his people, and drowned Pharaoh and his people.” “Musa fasted on this day” – a report narrated by Muslim adds: ” … in thanksgiving to Allah, so we fast on this day.” According to a report narrated by al-Bukhari: ” … so we fast on this day to venerate it.” A version narrated by Imam Ahmad adds: “This is the day on which the Ark settled on Mount Judi, so Nuh fasted this day in thanksgiving,” and “commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day” – according to another report also narrated by al-Bukhari: “He said to his Companions: ‘You have more right to Musa than they do, so fast on that day.’ ”
The practice of fasting on ‘Ashura’ was known even in the days of Jahiliyyah, before the Prophet’s mission. It was reported that ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “The people of Jahiliyyah used to fast on that day … ”
Al-Qurtubi said: “Perhaps Quraysh used to fast on that day on the basis of some past law, such as that of Ibrahim, upon whom be peace.”
It was also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast on ‘Ashura’in Makkah, before he migrated to Madinah. When he migrated to Madinah, he found the Jews celebrating this day, so he asked them why, and they replied as described in the hadith quoted above. He commanded the Muslims to be different from the Jews, who took it as a festival, as was reported in the hadith of Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “The Jews used to take the day of ‘Ashura’ as a festival [according to a report narrated by Muslim: the day of ‘Ashura’ was venerated by the Jews, who took it as a festival. According to another report also narrated by Muslim: the people of Khaybar (the Jews) used to take it as a festival and their women would wear their jewellery and symbols on that day]. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘So you [Muslims] should fast on that day.’ ” [Reported by al-Bukhari] 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. [Summarized from the words of al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar – may Allah have mercy on him – in Fath al-Bari Sharh ‘ala Sahih al-Bukhari]
Fasting on ‘Ashura’ was a gradual step in the process of introducing fasting as a prescribed obligation in Islam. Fasting appeared in three forms. When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madinah, he told the Muslims to fast on three days of every month and on the day of ‘Ashura’, then Allah made fasting obligatory when He said (interpretation of the meaning): ” … observing the fasting is prescribed for you … ” [Al-Qur’an 2:183] [Ahkam al-Qur’an by al-Jassas, part 1]
The obligation was transferred from the fast of ‘Ashura’to the fast of Ramadhan, and this one of the proofs in the field of Usul al-Fiqh that it is possible to abrogate a lighter duty in favour of a heavier duty.
Before the obligation of fasting ‘Ashura’ was abrogated, fasting on this day was obligatory, as can be seen from the clear command to observe this fast. Then it was further confirmed later on, then reaffirmed by making it a general command addressed to everybody, and once again by instructing mothers not to breastfeed their infants during this fast. It was reported from Ibn Mas’ud that when fasting Ramadhan was made obligatory, the obligation to fast ‘Ashura’ was lifted, i.e., it was no longer obligatory to fast on this day, but it is still desirable (mustahabb).
The Virtues of Fasting ‘Ashura’
Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said:”I never saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of ‘Ashura’, and this month, meaning Ramadhan.”[Reported by al-Bukhari, 1867]
The meaning of his being keen was that he intended to fast on that day in the hope of earning the reward for doing so. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “For fasting the day of ‘Ashura’, 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.
Which Day is ‘Ashura’
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:”‘Ashura’ and Tasu’a’ are two elongated names [the vowels are elongated] as is stated in books on the Arabic language. Our companions said: ‘Ashura’ is the tenth day of Muharram and Tasu’a’ is the ninth day. This is our opinion, and that of the majority of scholars. This is the apparent meaning of the ahadith and is what we understand from the general wording. It is also what is usually understood by scholars of the language.” [Al-Majmu’])
‘Ashura’ is an Islamic name that was not known at the time of Jahiliyyah, part 2, Sawm Muharram]
Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:”‘Ashura’ is the tenth day of Muharram. This is the opinion of Sa’id ibn al-Musayyib and al-Hasan. It was what was reported by Ibn ‘Abbas, who said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded us to fast ‘Ashura’, the tenth day of Muharram.’ [Reported by at-Tirmidhi, who said, asahih hasan hadith] It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘The ninth,’ and reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast the ninth. [Reported by Muslim] ‘Ata’ 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 ismustahabb (encouraged) to fast on the ninth and the tenth, for that reason. This is what Ahmad said, and it is the opinion of Ishaq.”
It is Mustahabb (Encouraged) to Fast Tasu’a’ with’Ashura’
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on ‘Ashura’ 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 (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘If I live to see the next year, in sha Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed away before the next year came.” [Reported by Muslim, 1916]
Ash-Shafi’i and his companions, Ahmad, Ishaq and others said: “It is mustahabb to fast on both the ninth and tenth days, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on the tenth, and intended to fast on the ninth.”
On this basis it may be said that there are varying degrees of fasting ‘Ashura’, the least of which is to fast only on the tenth and the best of which is to fast the ninth as well. The more one fasts in Muharram, the better it is.
The Reason Why it is Mustahabb to Fast on Tasu’a’
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The scholars – our companions and others – mentioned several reasons why it is mustahabb to fast on Tasu’a’:
“The intention behind it is to be different from the Jews, who only venerate the tenth day. This opinion was reported from Ibn ‘Abbas …
“The intention is to add another day’s fast to’Ashura’. This is akin to the prohibition on fasting a Friday by itself, as was mentioned by al-Khattabi and others.
“To be on the safe side and make sure that one fasts on the tenth, in case there is some error in sighting the crescent moon at the beginning ofMuharram and the ninth is in fact the tenth.”
The strongest of these reasons is being different from the People of the Book. Shaykh ul-Islam ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade imitating the People of the Book in many ahadith, for example, his words concerning ‘Ashura’: ‘If I live until the next year, I will certainly fast on the ninth day.’ ” [Al-Fatawa al-Kubra, part 6, Sadd adh-Dhara’i’ al-Mufdiyyah ila’l-Maharim]
Ibn Hajar (may Allah be pleased with him) said in his commentary on the hadith “If I live until the next year, I will certainly fast on the ninth day” and “What he meant by fasting on the ninth day was probably not that he would limit himself to that day, but 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. This is also what we can understand from some of the reports narrated by Muslim.” [Fath, 4/245]
Ruling on Fasting Only on the Day of ‘Ashura’
Shaykh ul-Islam said: “Fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ is an expiation for a year, and it is not makruh to fast only that day … ” [Al-Fatawa al-Kubra, part 5] In Tuhfat al-Muhtaj by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, it says: “There is nothing wrong with fasting only on ‘Ashura’.” [Part 3, Bab Sawm at-Tatawwu’]
Fasting on ‘Ashura’ even if it is a Saturday or a Friday
At-Tahawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) allowed us to fast on ‘Ashura’ and urged us to do so. He did not say that if it falls on a Saturday we should not fast. This is evidence that all days of the week are included in this. In our view – and Allah knows best – it could be the case that even if this is true (that it is not allowed to fast on Saturdays), it is so that we do not venerate this day and refrain from food, drink and intercourse, as the Jews do. As for the one who fasts on a Saturday without intending to venerate it, and does not do so because the Jews regard it as blessed, then this is not makruh … ” [Mushkil al-Athar, part 2, Bab Sawm Yawm as-Sabt]
The author of Al-Minhaj said: “It is disliked (makruh) to fast on a Friday alone … But it is no longer makruh if you add another day to it, as mentioned in the sahih report to that effect. A person may fast on a Friday if it coincides with his habitual fast, or he is fasting in fulfilment of a vow, or he is making up an obligatory fast that he has missed, as was stated in a sahih report.”
Ash-Sharih said in Tuhfat al-Muhtaj: “If it coincides with his habitual fast – i.e., such as if he fasts alternate days, and a day that he fasts happens to be a Friday, if he is fasting in fulfilment of a vow, etc.” – this also applies to fasting on days prescribed in Shari’ah, such as ‘Ashura’, part 3, Bab Sawm al-Tatawwu’]
Al-Bahuti (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It ismakruh to deliberately single out a Saturday for fasting, because of the hadith of ‘Abdullah ibn Bishr, who reported from his sister: ‘Do not fast on Saturdays except in the case of obligatory fasts’ [reported by Ahmad with a jayyid isnad and by al-Hakim, who said: according to the conditions of al-Bukhari], and because it is a day that is venerated by the Jews, so singling it out for fasting means being like them … except when a Friday or Saturday coincides with a day when Muslims habitually fast, such as when it coincides with the day of ‘Arafah or the day of ‘Ashura’, and a person has the habit of fasting on these days, in which case it is notmakruh, because a person’s habit carries some weight.”[Kashshaf al-Qina’, part 2, Bab Sawm al-Tatawwu’]
What Should be Done if there is Confusion about the Beginning of the Month?
Ahmad said: “If there is confusion about the beginning of the month, one should fast for three days, to be sure of fasting on the ninth and tenth days.” [Al-Mughni by Ibn Qudamah, part 3 – as-Siyam – Siyam ‘Ashur’]
If a person does not know when Muharram began, and he wants to be sure of fasting on the tenth, he should assume that Dhul-Hijjah was thirty days – as is the usual rule – and should fast on the ninth and tenth. Whoever wants to be sure of fasting the ninth as well should fast the eight, ninth and tenth (then if Dhul-Hijjah was twenty-nine days, he can be sure of having fastedTasu’a’ and ‘Ashura’).
But given that fasting on ‘Ashura’ is mustahabb rather than wajib, people are not commanded to look for the crescent of the new moon of Muharram as they are to do in the case of Ramadhan and Shawwal.
Fasting ‘Ashura’ – For What Does it Offer Expiation?
Imam an-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It expiates for all minor sins, i.e., it brings forgiveness of all sins except major sins.” Then he said (may Allah have mercy on him): “Fasting the day of ‘Arafah expiates for two years, and the day of ‘Ashura’ expiates for one year. If when a person says ‘Amin’ it coincides with the ‘Amin’ of the angels, he will be forgiven all his previous sins … Each one of the things that we have mentioned will bring expiation. If there are minor sins for which expiation is needed, expiation for them will be accepted; if there are no minor sins or major sins, good deeds will be added to his account and he will be raised in status … If he had committed major sins but no minor sins, we hope that his major sins will be reduced.” [Al-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, part 6, Sawm Yawm ‘Arafah]
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (ay Allah have mercy on himmay Allah have mercy on him) said: “Taharah, salah, and fasting in Ramadhan, on the day of ‘Arafah and on’Ashura’ expiate for minor sins only.” [Al-Fatawa al-Kubra, part 5]
Not Relying Too Much on the Reward for Fasting
Some people who are deceived rely too much on things like fasting on ‘Ashura’ or the day of ‘Arafah, to the extent that some of them say, “Fasting on ‘Ashura’ will expiate for the sins of the whole year, and fasting on the day of ‘Arafah will bring extra rewards.” Ibn al-Qayyim said: “This misguided person does not know that fasting in Ramadhan and praying five times a day are much more important than fasting on the day of ‘Arafah and ‘Ashura’, and that they expiate for the sins between one Ramadhan and the next, or between one Friday and the next, so long as one avoids major sins. But they cannot expiate for minor sins unless one also avoids major sins; when the two things are put together, they have the strength to expiate for minor sins. Among those deceived people may be one who thinks that his good deeds are more than his sins, because he does not pay attention to his bad deeds or check on his sins, but if he does a good deed he remembers it and relies on it. This is like the one who seeks Allah’s forgiveness with his tongue (i.e., by words only), and glorifies Allah by saying “Subhanallah” one hundred times a day, then he backbites about the Muslims and slanders their honour, and speaks all day long about things that are not pleasing to Allah. This person is always thinking about the virtues of his tasbihat (saying “Subhanallah”) andtahlilat (saying “La ilaha illallah”) but he pays no attention to what has been reported concerning those who backbite, tell lies and slander others, or commit other sins of the tongue. They are completely deceived.” [Al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 31, Ghurur]
Fasting ‘Ashura’ When One Still has Days to Make Up From Ramadhan
The fuqaha’ differed concerning the ruling on observing voluntary fasts before a person has made up days that he or she did not fast in Ramadhan. The Hanafis said that it is permissible to observe voluntary fasts before making up days from Ramadhan, and it is not makruh to do so, because the missed days do not have to be made up straight away. The Malikis and Shafi’is said that it is permissible but is makruh, because it means that one is delaying something obligatory. Ad-Dusuqi said: “It ismakruh to observe a voluntary fast when one still has to make up an obligatory fast, such as a fast in fulfilment of a vow, or a missed obligatory fast, or a fast done as an act of expiation (kafarah), whether the voluntary fast which is being given priority over an obligatory fast is something confirmed in Shari’ah or not, such as ‘Ashura’and the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, according to the most correct opinion.” The Hanbalis said that it is haram to observe a voluntary fast before making up any fasts missed in Ramadhan, and that a voluntary fast in such cases does not count, even if there is plenty of time to make up the obligatory fast. So a person must give priority to the obligatory fasts until he has made them up. [Al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 28, Sawm at-Tatawwu’]
Muslims must hasten to make up any missed fasts afterRamadhan, so that they will be able to fast ‘Arafah and’Ashura’ without any problem. If a person fasts ‘Arafah and ‘Ashura’ with the intention from the night before of making up for a missed fast, this will be good enough to make up what he has missed, for the bounty of Allah is great.
Innovations Common on ‘Ashura’
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the things that people deople do on ‘Ashura’, such as wearing kohl, taking a bath (ghusl), wearing henna, shaking hands with one another, cooking grains (hubub), showing happiness and so on. Was any of this reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in a sahih hadith, or not? If nothing to that effect was reported in a sahih hadith, is doing these things bid’ah, or not? Is there any basis for what the other group do, such as grieving and mourning, going without anything to drink, eulogizing and wailing, reciting in a crazy manner, and rending their garments?rments?
His reply was: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Nothing to that effect has been reported in anysahih hadith from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or from his Companions. None of the Imams of the Muslims encouraged or recommended such things, neither the four Imams, nor any others. No reliable scholars have narrated anything like this, neither from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), nor from the Sahabah, nor from the Tabi’in; neither in any sahih report or in a da’if (weak) report; neither in the books of Sahih, nor in as-Sunan, nor in the Musnads. No hadith of this nature was known during the best centuries, but some of the later narrators reported ahadith like the one which says, ‘Whoever putskohl in his eyes on the day of ‘Ashura’ will not suffer from eye disease in that year, and whoever takes a bath (does ghusl) on the day of ‘Ashura’ will not get sick in that year,’ and so on. They also reported a fabricatedhadith that is falsely attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which says, ‘Whoever is generous to his family on the day of’Ashura’, Allah will be generous to him for the rest of the year.’ Reporting all of this from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is tantamount to lying.”
Then he [Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him)] discussed in brief the tribulations that had occurred in the early days of this Ummah and the killing of al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him), and what the various sects had done because of this. Then he said:
“An ignorant, wrongful group – who were either heretics and hypocrites, or misguided and misled – made a show of allegiance to him and the members of his household, so they took the day of ‘Ashura’ as a day of mourning and wailing, in which they openly displayed the rituals of jahiliyyah such as slapping their cheeks and rending their garments, grieving in the manner of the jahiliyyah ……
“The Shaytan made this attractive to those who are misled, so they took the day of ‘Ashura’ as an occasion of mourning, when they grieve and wail, recite poems of grief and tell stories filled with lies. Whatever truth there may be in these stories serves no purpose other than the renewal of their grief and sectarian feeling, and the stirring up of hatred and hostility among the Muslims, which they do by cursing those who came before them …
“The evil and harm that they do to the Muslims cannot be enumerated by any man, no matter how eloquent he is. Some others – either Nasibis who oppose and have enmity towards al-Husayn and his family or ignorant people who try to fight evil with evil, corruption with corruption, lies with lies andbid’ah with bid’ah – opposed them by fabricating reports in favour of making the day of ‘Ashura’ a day of celebration, by wearing kohl and henna, spending money on one’s children, cooking special dishes and other things that are done on ‘Eid and special occasions. These people took the day of’Ashura’ as a festival like ‘Eid, whereas the others took it as a day of mourning. Both are wrong, and both go against the Sunnah, even though the other group (those who take it as a day of mourning) are worse in intention and more ignorant and more plainly wrong …
“Neither the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) nor his successors (the khulafa’ ar-rashidun) did any of these things on the day of’Ashura’, they neither made it a day of mourning nor a day of celebration …
“As for the other things, such as cooking special dishes with or without grains, or wearing new clothes, or spending money on one’s family, or buying the year’s supplies on that day, or doing special acts of worship such as special prayers or deliberately slaughtering an animal on that day, or saving some of the meat of the sacrifice to cook with grains, or wearing kohl and henna, or taking a bath (ghusl), or shaking hands with one another, or visiting one another, or visiting the mosques and shrines and so on … all of this is reprehensiblebid’ah and is wrong. None of it has anything to do with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or the way of the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun. It was not approved of by any of the Imams of the Muslims, not Malik, not ath-Thawri, not al-Layth ibn Sa’ad, not Abu Hanifah, not al-Awza’i, not al-Shafi’i, not Ahmad ibn Hanbal, not Ishaq ibn Rahwayh, not any of the Imams and scholars of the Muslims.” [Al-Fatawa al-Kubra by Ibn Taymiyyah]
Ibn al-Hajj (may Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that one of the bid’ah on ‘Ashura’ was deliberately paying zakat on this day, late or early, or slaughtering a chicken just for this occasion, or – in the case of women – using hennaAl-Madkhal, part 1, Yawm ‘Ashura’]
We ask Allah to make us followers of the Sunnah of His Noble Prophet, to make us live in Islam and die in a state of faith. May He help us to do that which He loves and which pleases Him. We ask Him to help us to remember Him and be thankful to Him, to worship Him properly and to accept our good deeds. May He make us of those who are pious and fear Him. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.
Hadiths with regard to singling out the Day of ‘Ashura’ for wearing Kuhl, bathing, dying with Henna and so on are all Fabricated
117- Hadith: Anyone who bathes on the Day of ‘Ashura’ will not be sick during that whole year
All the Hadiths mentioned in respect of bathing on the Day of ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram), wearing Kuhl (antimony powder eyeliner), dying (with Henna), in addition to other acts observed by Ahl-ul-Sunnah (those adhering to the Sunnah) in opposition to the Shiites are Mawdu‘ (fabricated Hadith) except for those mentioned about Sawm (Fast).
Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be merciful to him) mentioned in “Al-Fatawa” volume (4) page (513) what reads:
(Some people among those who claim themselves as followers of the Sunnah narrated many Hadith Mawdu‘ on which they based what they made as a slogan for them on that day – meaning the day of ‘Ashura’ – with which they also contradicted with those people – meaning Al-Rafidah (a Shiitic group). Therefore, they confronted a void act with another void act, and refuted a Bid‘ah (innovation in religion) by introducing another.
Nevertheless, there was one which was indeed more grievous and supportive of the atheists than the other – he meant the Bid‘ah of Al-Rafidah – such as the long Hadith that reads: Anyone who bathes on the Day of ‘Ashura’, will not be sick that year, and anyone who wears Kuhl on the Day of ‘Ashura’, their eyes will not become sore that year. This is in addition to other similar acts on that day such as dying with Henna, shaking hands, and so on. This Hadith and other similar ones are all considered fabricated lies by consensus of those who have knowledge of Hadith Science. Yet, it was mentioned by some Hadith scholars that it is Sahih (authentic). They claim that its Isnad (chain of narration) meets the condition of Sahih. However, this is undoubtedly wrong as clarified in other positions. Furthermore, none of the Muslim Imams (initiator of a School of Jurisprudence) stated it to be Mustahab (desirable) to wash up, wear Kuhl, dye with Henna and suchlike on the Day of ‘Ashura’. It was also not mentioned by any of the reliable Muslim scholars to whom people resort to know Allah’s Commands and Prohibitions. This was neither observed by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) nor by Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman or `Aly, (may Allah be pleased with them). Moreover, there was no mention of these Hadith in any of the Books or Musnads (Hadith compilations) composed by Hadith Scholars such as Musnad Ahmad, Is-haq, Ahmad ibn Mani‘ Al-Hamidy, Al-Dalany, Abu Ya`la Al-Mawsily and others. They were not stated in any of the subject-categorized Hadith books such as the Sihah (pl. of Sahih: Authentic Hadith Book), Sunan (Hadith compilations classified by jurisprudential themes), or those which comprise the Musnads and Athar (narrations from the Companions) such as Muwatta’ Malik, Waki‘, `Abdul-Razzaq, Sa‘id ibn Mansur, Ibn Abu Shaybah and other like them).
It was also mentioned by Al-Hafizh ibn Rajab (may Allah be merciful to him) in his book (Lata’if Al-Ma‘arif) in regard to observing Sawm on the Day of ‘Ashura’ what reads:
All that which was reported about the merit of wearing Kuhl, dying with Henna, and bathing on the Day of ‘Ashura’ is Mawdu‘ and wrong. Concerning Sadaqah (voluntary charity), it was narrated on the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`As that he said: Anyone who fasts on the Day of ‘Ashura’ it is as if they fasted the entire year. And, anyone who gives Sadaqah on this day it is as if they have given it during the whole year. (Related by Abu Mussa Al-Madiny)
As regards spending generously on one’s children on this day, Harb said: I asked Ahmad about the Hadith: Anyone who is openhanded with his family on the Day of ‘Ashura’… he stated that it does not count as a Hadith. Ibn Mansur added: I asked Ahmad: Did you hear anything about the Hadith: Anyone who gives generously to his family on the Day of ‘Ashura’, Allah will give him generously the rest of the year. He answered in the affirmative. It was also related on the authority of Sufyan ibn Huyaynah from Ja‘far Al-Ahmar from Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Al-Muntashir, who was one of the best Hadith narrators at his time, that he was informed that: Anyone who gives generously to his family on the Day of ‘Ashura’, Allah will give him generously the rest of the year. Ibn ‘Uyaynah mentioned that he acted upon this Hadith for fifty or sixty years and the result was all good. As for the statement of Harb that Ahmad did not count it as a Hadith; he meant the Hadith that is narrated as Marfu‘ (a Hadith narrated from the Prophet with a connected or disconnected chain of narration)as its Isnad is unauthentic.
Even though it was related from several ways of transmission, they are all unauthentic. An example of this is the one related by Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul-Hakam. Furthermore, Al-‘Uqayly stated that it was not authentically transmitted (i.e., among scholars). It was also related on the authority of `Umar according to his saying. However, its Isnad includes an anonymous narrator in its chain.
On the other hand, the acts of mourning that some people like Al-Rafidah offer on this day because of the murder of Al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him) are characteristic of those who missed the right path in this life while they think that they are acquiring good by their deeds. This is because neither Allah (Exalted be He) nor His Messenger (peace be upon him) ordained to mourn the death of the prophets or the calamities that befell them, so, in what manner could this be applied in respect of people who are below them in rank?
Based on the cited statement of Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Hafizh ibn Rajab (may Allah be merciful to them), it is known that the Hadiths mentioned with regard to singling out the Day of ‘Ashura’ for wearing Kuhl, bathing, dying with Henna and so on are all Mawdu‘. Similarly, all the Hadiths mentioned on the merit of openhanded giving to one’s children are also unauthentic. Concerning what was reported by Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Al-Muntashir – a junior Tabi‘y (one of the follower, the generation after the Companions of the Prophet) – who transmitted it from another person without naming him, and similarly did Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah, the renowned Imam; it is not permissible to cite that as an evidence on the validity of openhanded giving (on this day). This is because the proof is to be derived from the Qur’an or the Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet), not the acts of the Tabi‘un or those who succeeded them. Accordingly, the command to do that on the Day of ‘Ashura’ is considered an impermissible act of Bid‘ah (innovation in religion).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Anyone who does any action that is not in accordance with this matter of ours (Islam) will have it rejected. (Related by Muslim in his Sahih and Al-Bukhari as a Hadith Mu‘allaq [a Hadith missing link in the chain of narration, reported directly from the Prophet] but he affirmed its authenticity) The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: Anyone who introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected. (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from the Hadith of `Aishah)
In reference to giving Sadaqah (voluntary charity) on that day, there is the Hadith of `Abdullah ibn `Amr that was previously mentioned in the statements of Al-Hafizh ibn Rajab and it is Mawquf (words or deeds narrated from a Companion of the Prophet that are not attributed to the Prophet). It was reported from him by Abu Musa Al-Madiny; however, Al-Hafizh ibn Rajab (may Allah be merciful to him) did not mention anything about its Isnad. But, most of the narrators from whom Abu Musa Al-Madiny transmitted were ranked as weak and unauthentic narrators. Therefore, it is not permissible to act upon such a Hadith unless it is proven to be authentically reported from `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`As (may Allah be pleased with them both). In case this is proven, it is to be considered Marfu‘ since such a statement cannot be issued as a personal opinion. Again, mourning on the Day of ‘Ashura’ is one of the condemned Bid‘ahs introduced by Al-Rafidah, with which they contradicted Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama‘ah (those adhering to the Sunnah and the Muslim main body), and the path of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet). Consequently, it is not permissible to imitate them in this matter. Allah is the One sought for Help!
Source: Fatwas of Ibn Baz
158- Observing Sawm on the ninth and tenth of Muharram is better than on the tenth and eleventh Q: What is the ruling on observing Sawm (Fast) on the Day of ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram)? Is it better to observe Sawm on the day that precedes it, the day that succeeds it, all the three days, or on the Day of ‘Ashura’ only? Please clarify the matter. May Allah reward you with the best! A: It is a Sunnah (supererogatory act of worship following the example of the Prophet) to observe Sawm on the Day of ‘Ashura’ for the authentic Hadiths in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated so. The Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned that the Jews used to observe Sawm on that Day because it was the day on which Allah (may He be Exalted) rescued Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him)
( Part No : 15,Page No:404)
and his people and destroyed Pharaoh and his people. Our Prophet Muhammad thus, observed Sawm on the Day of ‘Ashura’ to express his gratitude to Allah, advised Muslims to do so, and directed us as well to observe Sawm on the day preceding or succeeding it. However, observing Sawm on the ninth and tenth of Muharram is better than doing so on the tenth and eleventh. The latter form is also sufficient for it contradicts the practice of the Jews as well. One may also observe Sawm on all three days, i.e. the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventh of Muharram as is reported in some narrations: Fast a day before (the Day of ‘Ashura’) and a day after it. But, it is Makruh (reprehensible) to observe Sawm on the Day of ‘Ashura’ only, i.e. without accompanying it by the preceding or the succeeding day. May Allah grant us success!
The Excellence of Observing Saum (Fasting) in the months of Muharram and Sha’ban and the Sacred Months
Imam Al-Nawawi’s Riyad-us-Saliheen
The Excellence of Observing Saum (Fasting) in the months of Muharram and Sha’ban and the Sacred Months
1246. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “The best month for observing Saum (fasting) next after Ramadan is the month of Allah, the Muharram; and the best Salat (prayer) next after the prescribed Salat is Salat at night (Tahajjud prayers).”
Commentary: Reference of the month to Allah is a sign of its distinction and auspiciousness like Baitullah, Naqatullah etc. Muharram is one of the sacred months and it is this month with which the Islamic year starts. The other three sacred months are Rajab, Dhul-Qa`dah, and Dhul-Hijjah. The Hadith points out that fasting in the month of Muharram is better than any other month of the year after Ramadan.
1247. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) did not observe voluntary Saum (fasting) so frequently during any other month as he did during Sha`ban. He observed Saum throughout the month of Sha`ban.
Another narration is: He (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) observed Saum during the whole month of Sha`ban except a few days.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: We learn from another Hadith the reason why the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) kept greater number of Saum in the month of Sha`ban. He did so because deeds are presented before Allah during this month. For this reason, he liked that when his deeds were presented, he should be observing Saum (Nasa’i on the authority of Usamah (May Allah be pleased with him). In spite of this distinction of Sha`ban, Muslims have been ordered to observe Saum in the first fortnight only, and not in the second in order to maintain their energy and vitality for the obligatory Saum (i.e., Ramadan). The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) had greater spiritual strength and Saum did not cause him weakness due to this strength. Again, by virtue of this strength he would sometimes even observe Saum which is termed “Saum-al-Wisal” (observing Saum continuous without a break in the evening). But he has forbidden his followers from such Saum.
1248. Reported Mujibah Al-Bahiliyah on the authority of her father or uncle that he visited the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) once and then went to see him again after a year. His appearance had totally changed. He asked the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) if he had recognized him. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) asked, “Who are you?” He replied: “I am Al-Bahili who visited you last year.” The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “You were quite handsome, what has changed your appearance so much?” He replied, “Since my departure from here, I have not eaten anything except at night.” The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) remarked, “You have put yourself to torture. Observe Saum (fasting) during the Month of Patience (i.e., Ramadan) and fast one day from each month.” He submitted, “Permit me to observe more voluntary fasts because I have capacity to do so.” The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Then observe fasts for two days in every month.” He said, “Permit me to observe more.” The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Observe fasts on three days in every month.” He requested that he should be allowed to observe more fasts. The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Fast three days during the sacred months and omit fasting for three days alternately.” He (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) joined his three fingers together and left them apart while repeating this sentence thrice.
Commentary: The name of Mujibah Bahiliyah’s father was Abdullah bin Harith Al-Bahli, and if this incident relates to his uncle, his name is not well-known. In any case, he used to take meal at night only, that is, he used to observe Saum daily. Because of this routine, his health was greatly affected and the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) prohibited him from observing Saum daily and stressed that he should keep Saum thrice a month only, especially in the sacred months. With the formula of ten-fold reward, he could thus get reward of thirty days Saum in a month. This is how he would be reckoned as one who observes Saum throughout the year. People with weak health should not observe more than three Saum in a month. Those who are healthy, are allowed to observe more Saum, but it will be well if they do so in the style of Prophet Dawud, that is, on alternate days.
Q 1: why is the 10th of Muharram called the Day of ‘Ashura’?
A: Because it is the tenth day [‘Ashura’ means tenth in Arabic. ed.], just as the ninth day is called Tasu‘a’.
May Allah grant us success! May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, his family, and Companions!
Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’
`Abdullah ibn Qa`ud `Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz
May Allah grant you good Noble Shaykh. There has occurred some doubt and disturbance amongst the people concerning affirming the day of Aashoora. The question: Is there any blame upon the person who fast the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventh day of Aashoora in order to ensure he catches the day of Aashoora; then in addition to this, does he obtain the virtue of fasting three days from every month?
Al Imaam Ibn Al Qayyim—in Zaadil Ma’aad when speaking about the fast of Aashoora—he said the fasting is of three types.
The first type: This is for him to fast the day of Aashoora, the before it and the day after it; three days. And he said this is most complete. This is the best method; for the person to fast the day of Aashoora, the day before it and the day after. Thus this will be a total of three days.
The second type: For the person to fast the day of Aashoora and the day before it or the day after it; he fasting two days.
The third type: For the person to only fast the day of Aashoora, just one day.
The best way is for him to fast three days, the second best method is to fast two days, and if he fast only one day, the day of Aashoora, this is permissible. This is permissible but it is in contrast to what the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم order, when he commanded us to fast the day before it or the day after it. But it is permissible, and he will receive the reward for what he has fasted.
But fasting these days for Aashoora does not take the place for fasting three days from the month because fasting three days from every month is something separate. And the best days to fast the three days are on the 13th, 14th and 15th; the ‘white days’. These are the best days to fast the three days. But if he fast the three days in the beginning of the month, the middle of the month or the end of the month, there is no problem with this.
And fasting three days from every month is separate from the fast of Aashoora. This is the Sunnah and this is also the Sunnah. And likewise this is separate from fasting every Monday and Thursday during the week. Every Sunnah has its place.
Translated by Rasheed ibn Estes Barbee