By Abbas Jimoh
Oct 7 2016
The issue of fasting of Tashu’a and Ashura in the blessed month of Muharram is among the most debated in the Islamic world.
“Verily, the number of months with Allah is 12 months (in a year) so was it ordained by Allah on the day, when he created the Heaven and the Earth; of them four are Sacred -that is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein….” (At-Tawbah, 9: 36)
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “The year is of 12 months, four of which are sacred; three consecutive months Dhul-Qadah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab…”
The ninth Muharram is regarded as the day of Tashua while the following day, 10th is the Ashura. And if today is taken as the 6th Muharram, next Monday and Tuesday would be taken as the Tashua and Ashura days, while taking today as the 5th Muharram means that Tuesday and Wednesday are the Tashua and Ashura days respectively.
Concerning the importance of the days and the fasting associated therein, Mu’awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (RA), relates: I heard the Messenger (Prophet Muhammad) of Allah (SAW) 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.”
According to narrations, when Prophet Muhammad arrived in Madinah, he found the Jews fasting on the 10th day of Muharram and said: “‘I am more entitled to follow Musa (PBUH) than you.”
In the hadith of Ibn Abbas, (RA) the Prophet fasted on the Day of Ashura and he ordered that the fast be performed on it, and when he was asked about the virtue of fasting on it, he (Prophet) said: “I anticipate that Allah will wipe out the sins of the year before it, and the year after it.”
In another narration by Ibn Abbas, the Holy Prophet fasted on the day of Ashura and ordered the people to fast on it. The people said: “O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that the Jews and Christians honour.” The Prophet said: “When the following year comes, Allah willing, we shall fast on the ninth.” The death of the Prophet came before the following year.
The Prophet had commanded that Muslims should be different from the Jews by fasting the 10th and the day before it, which is the ninth or the day after it, which is the 11th.
Scholars including Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih al-Uthaymeen have said that it is preferable to fast on the 10th and to add a day before it (ninth) which is better than a day (11th) after it.
A great scholar, Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, wrote: “…Fasting in Ramadan and praying five times a day are much more important than fasting on the Day of Arafah and the Day of Ashura, and that they expiate for the sins between one Ramadan 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. Among those deceived people may be one who thinks that his good deeds are more than his sins, because he does not pay attention to his bad deeds or check on his sins, but if he does a good deed he remembers it and relies on it.”
Some jurisprudents believe that it is highly recommended to fast on the day. Others say it is prohibited (Haram) to fast on the day and some believe that fasting on the day of Ashura is disapproved but not absolutely prohibited.
The desirability of observing fasts on the days are preponderate and have more acceptability than those opposing it.
It was also reported that some scholars posited that Muslims may choose to fast Ashura on three days (ninth, 10th, and 11th); two days (ninth and 10th); or one day only (the 10th).