An adaptation of :The Virtues of the Month of Muharram and Ashoora
by Muhammad Saalih 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.
The Months of Allah
Muharram is the first month of the Hijri calendar and is one of the four sacred months.
Etiquette of the Muslim during the four sacred months
Allah SWT says:
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred, (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islâmic calendar).
That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein, and fight against the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the
Oneness of Allâh) collectively), as they fight against you collectively. But know that Allâh is with those who are Al-Muttaqûn ” (At-Tawbah 9:36)
Explanation of: “… so wrong not yourselves therein”
It was reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas 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.
What does an Islamic year look like?
12 months that comprise the Islamic year are:
1. Muharram 7. Rajab
2. Safar 8. Sha’ban
3. Rabi’ al-awwal (Rabi’ I) 9. Ramadan
4. Rabi’ al-thani (Rabi’ II) 10. Shawwal
5. Jumada al-awwal (Jumada I) 11. Dhu al-Qi’dah
6. Jumada al-thani (Jumada II) 12. Dhu al-Hijjah
The four Sacred months
Narrated by Abu Bakr (RA): The Prophet (PBUH) 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-Qa’ da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadi-ath-Thaniyah and Sha ban.” Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity.” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 419]
The Sunnahs of Muharram
1. Increase naafil fasts during Muharram.
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The most excellent fast after Ramadan is God’s month al-Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.” [Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2611]
2. Fasting on Ashoora
The historical significance of Aashooraa
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: When the Prophet came to Medina, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They used to say: “This is a great day on which Allah saved Moses and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Moses observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.” The Prophet said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he (PBUH) observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4,Book 55, Number 609]
“Moosa 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-Bukhaari: “… so we fast on this day to venerate it.”
A version narrated by Imam Ahmad ads: “This is the day on which the Ark settled on Mount Joodi, so Noah fasted this day in thanksgiving.”
It was also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast on ‘Aashooraa’ in Makkah, before he migrated to Madeenah. When he migrated to Madeenah, he found the Jews celebrating this day, so he asked them why, and they replied as described in the hadeeth quoted above. He commanded the Muslims to be different from the Jews, who took it as a festival, as was reported in the hadeeth of Abu Moosa (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “The Jews used to take the day of ‘Aashooraa’ as a festival [according to a report narrated by Muslim: the day of ‘Aashooraa’ was venerated by the Jews, who took it as a festival.
The virtues of fasting ‘Aashooraa’
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: “I never saw the Prophet seeking to fast on a day more (preferable to him) than this day, the day of ‘Ashura’, or this month, i.e. the month of Ramadan.” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 224]
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “…For fasting the day of ‘Aashooraa’, I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” [Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2602]. 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 ‘Aashooraa’?
Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Our companions said:
‘Aashooraa’ is the tenth day of Muharram and Taasoo’aa’ is the ninth day. This is our opinion, and that of the majority of scholars (al-Majmoo’)
3. It is mustahabb (encouraged) to fast on the ninth and the tenth, Taasoo’aa’ with ‘Aashooraa’. This is what Ahmad said, and it is the opinion of Ishaaq.”
Ibn ‘Abbas reported that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) fasted on the day of ‘Ashura and commanded that it should he observed as a fast, they (his Companions) said to him: Messenger of Allah, it is a day, which the Jews and Christians hold in high esteem. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When the next year comes, God willing, we would observe fast on the 9th But the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) died before the advent of the next year. [Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2528]
Why do muslims fast on ‘Aashooraa’ ?
Imaam al-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 ‘Arafaah expiates for two years, and the day of ‘Aashooraa’ expiates for one year.
When a person says ‘Aameen’ it coincides with the ‘Aameen’ of the angels, he will be forgiven all his previous sins…
Each one of the things that we have mentioned will bring expiation. (al-Majmoo’ Sharhal-Muhadhdhab, part 6, Sawm Yawm ‘Arafaah).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Tahaarah, salaah, and fasting in Ramadaan, on the day of ‘Arafaah and on ‘Aashooraa’ expiate for minor sins only.” (al-Fataawa al-Kubra,part 5).
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.