Allaah’s sacred month of Muharram is a blessed and important month. It is the first month of the Hijri calendar and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ذَلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنْفُسَكُمْ
“Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allaah 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…” [soorah at-Tawbah, v:36]
It was reported that Ibn 3Abbaas said that this phrase (so wrong not yourselves therein…) 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.
The Virtue of Observing More Naafil Fasts during Muharram:
Abu Hurayrah radi Allaahu 3Anhu said: “The Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadaan is fasting Allaah’s month of Muharram.'” (1)
The phrase “Allaah’s month”, connecting the name of the month to the name of Allaah in a genitive grammatical structure, signifies the importance of the month. This hadeeth is probably meant to encourage increasing one’s fasting during Muharram, without meaning that one should fast for the entire month.
Fasting on 3Aashooraa’:
Ibn 3Abbaas radi Allaahu 3Anhu said: “The Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam came to Madeenah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of 3Aashooraa’.
He said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allaah saved the Children of Israeel from their enemies, so Moosa fasted on this day.’
He said, ‘We have more right to Moosaa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day.” (2)
Fasting on the day of 3Aashooraa’ was obligatory, but when fasting Ramadaan was made obligatory, the obligation to fast 3Aashooraa’ was lifted, i.e., it was no longer obligatory to fast on this day, but it is still desirable (mustahabb).
The Virtues of Fasting 3Aashooraa:
Ibn 3Abbaas radi Allaahu 3Anhu said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of 3Aashooraa’, and this month, meaning Ramadaan.” (3)
The Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: “For fasting the day of 3Aashooraa’, I hope that Allaah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (4)
This is from the bounty of Allaah towards us: for fasting one day He gives us expiation for the sins of a whole year. And Allaah is the Owner of Great Bounty.
Not relying too much on the reward for fasting it:
Some people who are deceived rely too much on things like fasting on 3Aashooraa’ or the day of 3Arafaah, to the extent that some of them say, “Fasting on 3Aashooraa’ will expiate for the sins of the whole year, and fasting on the day of 3Arafaah will bring extra rewards.”
Ibn al-Qayyim said: ‘This misguided person does not know that fasting in Ramadaan and praying five times a day are much more important than fasting on the day of 3Arafaah and 3Aashooraa’, and that they expiate for the sins between one Ramadaan 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.
Which day is 3Aashooraa’?
Ibn 3Abbaas said: ‘The Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam commanded us to fast 3Aashooraa’, the tenth day of Muharram.” (5)
It is Mustahabb (encouraged) to Fast Taasoo3aa’ with 3Aashooraa’:
3Abd-Allaah ibn 3Abbaas radi Allaahu 3Anhuma said: “When the Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam fasted on 3Aashooraa’ and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’
The Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: “If I live to see the next year, inshaa’ Allaah, we will fast on the ninth day too.” But it so happened that the Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam passed away before the next year came.” (6)
Al-Shaafa3ee and his companions, Ahmad, Is-haaq and others said: “It is mustahabb to fast on both the ninth and tenth days, because the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam 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 3Aashooraa’, the least of which is to fast only on the tenth and the best of which is to fast the ninth as well. And the more one fasts in Muharram, the better it is.
Fasting Only on the Day of 3Aashooraa’:
Shaykh al-Islaam said: “Fasting on the day of 3Aashoraa’ is an expiation for a year, and it is not makrooh to fast only that day”. (7)
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami said: “There is nothing wrong with fasting only on 3Aashooraa’.” (8)
The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and Fataawa said: “It is permissible to fast the day of 3Aashooraa’. (tenth day of Muharram) just one day, however, it is better to fast the day before it or the day after it (also)”. (9)
Bid3ahs Common on 3Aashooraa’:
Some are wearing kohl, taking a bath (ghusl), wearing henna, shaking hands with one another, cooking grains (huboob), showing happiness….
They also reported a fabricated hadeeth that is falsely attributed to the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam, which says, “Whoever is generous to his family on the day of 3Aashooraa’, Allaah will be generous to him for the rest of the year.” Reporting all of this from the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam is tantamount to lying.’
Nothing to that effect has been reported in any saheeh hadeeth from the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam or from his Companions. None of the imaams of the Muslims encouraged or recommended such things, neither the four imaams, nor any others. No reliable scholars have narrated anything like this, neither from the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam nor from the Sahaabah, nor from the Taabi3een; neither in any saheeh report or in a da3eef (weak) report.
We ask Allaah to make us followers of the Sunnah of His Noble Prophet and may Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.Extracted & compiled from e-books “The Virtues of Allah’s sacred month of Muharram” & Fasting on ‘Aashooraa‘ by Shaykh Saleh Munajjid
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==================================================References: (1) Muslim (2) Bukhaaree (3) Bukhaaree (4) Muslim (5) At-Tirmidhee (6) Muslim (7) Al-Fataawa al-Kubra, part 5 (8) In Tuhfat al-Muhtaaj: part 3, Baab Sawm al-Tatawwu’ (9) Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa.imah lil-Buhooth al-‘3lmiyyah wal-Iftaa. – Volume 10, Page 401, Fatwa No.13700