In the name of Allah; the entirely merciful; the especially merciful - بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Friday, 18 January 2008

Muharram, Ashura and fasting

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu

Taken from here.

There is nothing intrinsically divine about months, except in instances where Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala characterised them with sacredness.

Abu Bakra narrated that RasoolAllah SalAllahu alaihi wasallam said during the Khutbah tul-wadaa’a (the farewell speech), "The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. 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 Jumada ath-Thani and Sha’ ban." (Bukhari and Muslim).

The sacred month of Muharram is again upon us within which is contained both a great reward and an expiation of our sins.

Within this sacred month is a day of great significance, a day of fasting. Before the fasting of Ramadhan became obligatory, Muslims were ordered to fast on the 10th Muharram, the day of ‘Ashura. When Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala commanded the believers to fast the month of Ramadhan the fast of the day of ‘Ashura was made a recommended act of worship.

The mother of the believers ‘Aisha RadiAllahu anha reported that Allah’s Messenger salAllahu alaihi wasallam said: "The people used to fast on ‘Ashura (the tenth day of the month of Muharram) before the fasting of Ramadan was made obligatory. And on that day the Ka'ba used to be covered with a cover. When Allah made the fasting of the month of Ramadan compulsory, Allah's Messenger said, "Whoever wishes to fast (on the day of ‘Ashura') may do so; and whoever wishes to leave it can do so." (Bukhari)

Thereafter the Messenger of Allah SalAllahu alaihi wasallam and his Sahabah RadiAllahu anhum continued to fast until they arrived in Madina after the hijrah.

Ibn 'Abbas reported, When the Prophet came to Madina, 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 Musa and drowned the folk of Fir’awn. Musa observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah." The Prophet said, "I am closer to Musa than they." So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. (Bukhari)

Fasting on the 10th Muharram (‘Ashura) is therefore an established action of Allah’s Messenger for which there is great reward. It is an action performed for Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala’s sake alone in thanks to Him for saving our prophet Musa alaihi salaam from the tyrant Fir’awn who persecuted the believers for no other reason that they believed in Allah and sought to destroy his throne of tyranny and corruption.

It has also been established that the fasting of the day of ‘Ashura should be preceded by the fast of the 9th Muharram as a way of distinguishing the fasting from the Jews and the Christians.

Ibn 'Abbas reported that when the Messenger of Allah SalAllahu alaihi wasallam 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.

Also Imam At-Tirmidhi reported that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) used to say: "We should fast on two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community. "(At-Tirmidhi)


Rewards of fasting and expiation

The entirety of the month of Muharram contains fasting that comes second only to that observed during the month of Ramadhan.

Abu Hurayrah RadiAllahu anhu reported: "I asked the Prophet: 'Which Prayer is the best after the obligatory Prayers?' He said: 'Prayer during the middle of the night.' I asked: 'Which fasting is the best after that of Ramadhan?' He said, 'The month of Allah that you call Muharram’" (Ahmad, Muslim, and Abu Dawud).

Abu Huraira RadiAllahu anhu reports that Allah’s Messenger SalAllahu alaihi wasallam said that after Ramadan, the fasts of Muharram have the greatest excellence. [Sahih Muslim]

Abu Qatada RadiAllahu anha relates that Allah’s Messenger SalAllahu alaihi wasallam said that the fast on the 10th of Muharram atones for the sins of the preceding year. [Sahih Muslim]

This Muharram we should fast for Allah’s sake alone on the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th Muharram in order to distinguish ourselves from the Jews. We must also remember how Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala saved Musa and the believers and destroyed Fir’awn and the people that followed him in his tyranny. We must have hope that Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala will help His believers and remove the tyrannical rulers that are the descendants of Fir’awn and return the rule of Islam again to the lands of Rasool Allah SalAllahu alaihi wasallam, Musa alaihi salaam and all the anbiya and rasool that walked the earth.

May Allah enable us to be the tools of this change.

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