Muharram and `Ashura’: Significance and Virtues from the Sunnah

By Editorial Staff

Fasting is among the best good deeds. Voluntary fasting during the month of Muharram, particularly on the 10th of Muharram, is highly encouraged.

Why do we, Muslims, celebrate `Ashura’, the 10th of Muharram? Why do we observe fasting on that day? What did the Prophet say about Muharram and its 10th day, `Ashura’?

A Sacred Month

Muharram is one of the four sacred months.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said. “(The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earths. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qi`dah, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumada Thani and Sha’ban.”

Month of Muharram

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was asked about observing the sawm (the fast) on the tenth day of Muharram, and he replied, “It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.”’ (Muslim and At-Tirmidhi)

Also, Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “If I remain alive till the next year, I shall also observe fast on the ninth of Muharram.” (Muslim)

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘The best fasting after the month of Ramadan is the month of Allah, Al-Muharram, and the best prayer is prayer at night.’” (An-Nasa’i)


Narrated Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them)

“When Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) arrived at Medina, he found the Jews observing the fast on the day of `Ashura’ (10th of Muharram). The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked them (about it) and they replied, “This is the day when Moses became victorious over Pharaoh.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said (to the Muslims), “We are nearer to Moses than they, so fast on this day.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is also narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sent a messenger to the village of the Ansar in the morning of the day of `Ashura’ (10th of Muharram) to announce: “Whoever has eaten something should not eat but complete the fast, and whoever is observing the fast should complete it.’ “`A’ishah further said, “Since then we used to fast on that day regularly and also make our boys fast. We used to make toys of wool for the boys and if anyone of them cried for, he was given those toys till it was the time of the breaking of the fast.” (AL-Bukhari)

Al-Hakam ibn Al-A`raj said:

I came to Ibn `Abbas who was leaning against his sheet of cloth in the Sacred Mosque (Al-Masjid Al-Haram). I asked him about fasting on the day of `Ashura’. He said: When you sight the moon of al-Muharram, count (the days). When the 9th of Muharram comes, fast from the morning. I said: Would Muhammad (peace be upon him) observe this fast ? He replied: Thus Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to fast. (Abu Dawud)

Watch more on the virtues and rulings of fasting the Day of `Ashura’ from Sheikh Muhammad Salah below..



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