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The 10th of Muharram

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The significance and misconceptions of ‘Āshura.

By Amreen Pathan

We have already detailed some of the significance of the month of Muharram here. Muharram is mentioned as one of the four sacred months [Muharram, Ramadan, Dhul-Qa’dah and Dhul-Hijjah] but in addition to this, Muharram has been honoured with other specific virtues.

The Prophet of Allah (SWT) said The most virtuous of fasts besides the month of Ramadhan are (the fasts of) Allāh’s Month of Muḥarram, and the best of Salāh besides the farḍ (compulsory) Salāh is the night Salāh (i.e. Tahajjud). [Muslim]

Another reason for the virtue of Muharram is because of ‘Āshura. ‘Āshura refers to the number ‘10’ in Arabic and as such is used to denote the 10th day of Muharram. What did and did not happen on this day and what deeds should be observed? The following sections should in sha Allah clear up some misconceptions as well as how you can make the most of this day.

Significant events

‘Then We inspired to Moses, “Strike with your staff the sea,” and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain. And We advanced thereto the pursuers. And We saved Moses and those with him, all together. Then We drowned the others. Indeed in that is a sign, but most of them were not to be believers. And indeed, your Lord – He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful. [26:63-68]

  1. Prophet Musa u and his followers [the Israelites] were saved from Firawn [Pharaoh] and his pursuing army as detailed in the above verse of the Qur’an.
  2. Prophet Nuh u was saved from the flood and his ark came to rest on Mount Judi in Eastern Turkey.
  3. Hadhrat Husayn t was martyred on this day by the army of Yazid.

Five misconceptions

  1. This is the day in which Prophet Adam (as) was created.
  2. This is the day in which Prophet Ibrahim (as) was born
  3. This is the day on which Qiyamah (Judgement Day) will take place.
  4. Whoever has a bath on the day of ‘Āshura will never fall ill.
  5. Muharram is an unlucky month and as such, wedding ceremonies should be avoided.

Recommended deeds

  1. Fasting
  • Spending generously on one’s family.

Prior to the Month of Ramadan becoming obligatory, it was the day of ‘Āshura that Muslims were required to fast. In a narration reported by A’ishah t, we learn that Allah’s Apostle s ordered (the Muslims) to fast on the day of Ashura, and when fasting in the month of Ramadan was prescribed, it became optional [i.e. the compulsory ruling was abrogated] for one to fast on that day [Ashura] or not. [Sahih al-Bukhari].

Regardless, the Prophet s recommended fasting on this day. It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Abbas t that the Prophet s came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. He asked them about that. They replied, “This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Bani Israel from their enemy. So, Moses [Musa] fasted this day.” The Prophet s said, “We have more claim over Moses than you.” So, the Prophet (Pbuh) fasted on that day and ordered [the Muslims] to fast [on that day]. [Muslim]

Ibn Abbas t reports that the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said: “If I live until next year, I will fast the ninth day (of Muharram) too.” [Sahih Bukhari]

In order to distinguish between the fast of the Jews and the fast of the Muslims in the month of Muharram, the Prophet s made the intention to fast on the 9th in addition to the 10th. Some people may chose to fast on the 10th and 11th to fulfil the same intention. And Allah (SWT) knows best.

Abu Qatadah t reports that the Messenger of Allah s said: “Fasting the day of ‘Āshura, I hope, will expiate for the sins of the previous year.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

This hadith indicates some of the virtue associated with fasting on ‘Āshura.

With regards to recommended deed number two, Abū Hurayrah t reports that the Messenger of Allah s said, ‘One who generously spends on his dependants and his family on the day of ‘Ashura, Allah will grant him abundant (sustenance) for the rest of that year. [Al-Bayhaqi]

Although there is a difference of opinion in the authenticity of this hadith, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal v quotes the great Muhaddith, Sufyan Ibn ‘Uyaynah v  as having said, ‘We have tried this for fifty or sixty years and have found nothing but good in it.

What should I refrain from?

  1. Mourning the martyrdom of Hadhrat Husayn t.

The greatest being to grace this earth was our Prophet Muhammad s. If Islam was a religion of mourning, then it would be this noble being’s passing that Muslims would mourn. This is why according to the Sunni sect of Islam, mourning the death of Hadhrat Husayn t is not in line with Islamic teachings and displays of grief should not be entertained. Further, considering the countless lives of the companions of the Prophet (Pbuh) that have been martyred, every day would be a day of mourning.

  • Celebrating Ashura like a day of Eid, spending and cooking lavishly contrary to other days.

There is no authentic narration that verifies such actions as Sunnah and therefore should be avoided. Spending generously (as opposed to lavishly) on one’s dependents and family however is exempt from this based on the aforementioned narration.

#Muharram #Ashura #Islamic Calendar

1 Comment

  1. Khadija G
    August 16, 2021

    Serves well to be reminded on the importance of Muharram. Excellent article Mashā’Allāh. Alhamdulillāh for being blessed with another Muharram.

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