Significance of fasting Tasu’a and Ashura
Alhamdulillah, Allah (SWT) has blessed us to see yet another year. In this month, Muharram, is an excellent day -the day of ‘Ashura - which falls on the 10th; tomorrow, Friday October 23rd. The Holy Prophet (SAW) recommended that we fast on this day, by his Sunnah. He also indicated how we should observe the fast of ‘Ashura.
In his book, Fiqh As-Sunnah, the late Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq states that: Abu Hurairah reported: “I asked the Prophet: ‘Which Prayer is the best after the obligatory Prayers?’ He said: ‘Prayer during the mid of the night.’ I asked: ‘Which fasting is the best after that of Ramadan?’ He said, ‘The month of Allah that you call Muharram’.” (Ahmad, Muslim, and Abu Dawud)
Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (RA) relates: I heard the Messenger of Allah (SWT) say: “It is the day of ‘Ashura. Allah (SWT) has not made fasting obligatory for you. But I am fasting. He who likes to observe fast among you should do so, and he who likes not to observe it (does not have to) observe it.” [Sahih Muslim]
Abu Qatada (RA) relates that the Holy Prophet (SAW) said that the fast on the 10th of Muharram atones for the sins of the preceding year. [Sahih Muslim]
Abu Huraira (RA) reports that the Holy Prophet (SAW) said that after Ramadan, the fasts of Muharram have the greatest excellence. [Sahih Muslim]
On Tasu’a fast - the ninth of Muharram which incidentally is today - Hakam ibn Al-Arat (RA) relates: I went to Ibn Abbas (RA)… I said to him: Tell me about fasting on ‘Ashura. He said, “When you see the new moon of Muharram count the (days) and (begin to) observe fast on the 9th.” I said to him: “Is it how the Holy Messenger of Allah (SAW) observed the fast?” He said, “Yes.” [Sahih Muslim]
Ibn Abbas (RA) relates that when the Holy Prophet (SAW) said: “If I survive till next year, I will definitely observe fast on the 9th of Muharram (as well).” [Sahih Muslim]
What the Holy Prophet (SAW) meant was that he would also fast on the 9th as well as the 10th to which he was accustomed. We also should try fasting on the 9th and the 10th of Muharram - that is Tasu’a and Ashura.
Ibn Abbas (RA) reports that the Holy Prophet (SAW) arrived in Madinah and found the Jews observing fast on the day of ‘Ashura… They said: “It is the day of great (significance) when Allah delivered Musa (AS) and his people and drowned Pharoah and his people, and Sayyidina Musa (AS) observed fast out of gratitude. And we also observe it.” The Holy Messenger of Allah (SAW) responded: “We have more right, and we have closer connection with Sayyidina Musa (AS) than you have”; so Allah’s Messenger (SAW) observed fast (on the day of ‘Ashura) and gave us orders to observe it. [Sahih Bukhari and Muslim]
Mu`awiyyah ibn Abi Sufyan reported that he heard the Prophet saying, “Concerning the day of `Ashura’, it is not obligatory upon you to fast on it as I do. Whoever wishes may fast and whoever does not wish to is not obliged to do so.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
And of course many forms of worship and celebration are observed by various sects and communities which scholars have said do not have basis in the Qur’an or Sunnah. Muslims should inquire from the knowledgeable and upright for guidance in such matters.
‘Ashura is a day of great historical significance. Worship Allah (SWT) as much as you can on the 9th and 10th. May Allah (SWT) bless us to perform good deeds and gain their reward on ‘Ashura and make the Hijri new year one of unity, cooperation and success for Muslims around the world. Ameen.