The Historical Significance of `Ashura

Shaykh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

عن حميد بن عبدالرحمن أنه سمع معاوية رضي اللَّه عنه يقول: سمعت رسول اللَّه صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: ” هذا يوم عاشوراء، ولم يكتب اللَّه عليكم صيامه، وأنا صائم، فمن شاء فليصم، ومن شاء فليفطر” .

Mu`awiyah ibn Abu Sufyan (Radiyallahu `anh) relates: I heard the Messenger of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) say: “It is the day of `Ashura. Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) 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.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

عن أبي قتادة رضي اللَّه عنه ، أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ” صيام يوم عاشوراء، أحتسب على اللَّه أن يكفر السنة التي قبله أخرجه مسلم

Abu Qatada (Radiyallahu `anh) relates that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) said that the fast on the 10th of Muharram atones for the sins of the preceding year. [Sahih Muslim]

Abu Huraira (Radiyallahu `anh) reports that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) said that after Ramadan, the fasts of Muharram have the greatest excellence. [Sahih Muslim]

Alhamdulillah, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) has blessed us to see another year. The first month of this year is Muharram. In this month is an excellent day—the day of `Ashura—which falls on the 10th of Muharram. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) recommended that we fast on this day, by his Sunnah. He also indicated how we should observe the fast of `Ashura.

عن الحكم بن الأعرج قال: انتهيت إلى ابن عباس رضي اللَّه عنهما، وهو متوسِّد رداءه عند زمزم، فقلت له: أخبرني عن صوم عاشوراء، فقال: “إذا رأيت هلال المحرم فاعدد، وأصبح يوم التاسع صائماً، قلت: هكذا كان رسول اللَّه صلى الله عليه وسلم يصومه؟ قال: نعم” .

Hakam ibn Al-`Araj (Radiyallahu `anh) relates: I went to Ibn `Abbas (Radiyallahu `anh)… I said to him: Tell me about fasting on `Ashura. He said, “When you seen 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 (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) observed the fast?” He said, “Yes.” [Sahih Muslim]

عن ابن عباس رضي اللَّه عنهما قال: قال رسول اللَّه صلى الله عليه وسلم : “لئن بقيت إلى قابل لأصومن التاسع

Hazrat Ibn `Abbas (Radiyallahu `anh) relates that when the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) said: “If I survive till next year, I will definitely observe fast on the 9th of Muharram (as well).” [Sahih Muslim]

(Note: What the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) 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.)

في رواية لمسلم عن ابن عباس – رضي الله عنهما  – أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قدم المدينة . فوجد اليهود صياماً يوم عاشوراء . فقال لهم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ما هذا اليوم الذي تصومونه ؟ فقالوا : هذا يوم عظيم . أنجى الله فيه موسى وقومه . وغرق فرعون وقومه . فصامه موسى شكراً . فنحن نصومه . فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ” فنحن أحق وأولى بموسى منكم ” فصامه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم . وأمر بصيامه

Hazrat Ibn `Abbas (Radiyallahu `anh) reports that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) 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 Hazrat Musa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) and his people and drowned Pharoah and his people, and Sayyidina Musa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) observed fast out of gratitude. And we also observe it.” The Holy Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) responded: “We have more right, and we have closer connection with Sayyidina Musa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) than you have”; so Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam) observed fast (on the day of `Ashura) and gave us orders to observe it. [Sahih Bukhari and Muslim]

`Ashura is a day of great historical significance. On this day: Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam (`alayhi ‘s-salam) after his exile from Paradise; Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) saved Sayyidina Nuh (`alayhi ‘s-salam) and his companions in the Ark; Allah extinguished the fire in which Sayyidina Ibrahim (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was thrown by Nimrod; And Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) spoke directly to Sayyidina Musa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) and gave him the Commandments. On this same 10th of Muharram, Sayyidina Ayyub (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was restored to health (from leprosy); Sayyidina Yusuf (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was reunited with his father Ya’qub (`alayhi ‘s-salam); Sayyidina Yunus (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was taken out from the belly of the fish; and the sea was divided as the nation of israel was delivered from captivity and Pharoah’s army was destroyed. `Ashura is also the day when Sayyidina Dawud (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was forgiven; the kingdom of Sulaiman (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was restored; Sayyidina Isa (`alayhi ‘s-salam) was raised to Jannah and Sayyidina al-Husayn (Radiyallahu `anh) (the Holy Prophet’s, Sallallahu `alayhi wa Sallam, grandson) achieved the honor of Martyrdom.1

Worship Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) as much as you can on `Ashura. Whoever fasts on this day is like one who fasts all his life. Whoever clothes a naked person Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) will release him from a painful punishment. He who visits a sick person, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) will grant him a reward that will not be decreased. Whoever places his hand on an orphan’s head, or feeds a hungry person or gives water to a thirsty man, Allah will feed him a feast from Paradise and will quench his thirst with Salsabil (a spring of wine in Paradise that does not intoxicate). And who ever makes a Ghusl on this day will enjoy excellent health and freedom from sickness and indolence. Whoever provides generously for his family on this day, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta`ala) will be generous to him throughout this year. And whoever applies Kuhl to his eyes will never suffer from eye-sore again, inSha’Allah al-Aziz.2

O’ Allah! Bless us to perform good deeds and gain their reward on `Ashura. Make the new year one of unity, cooperation and success for Muslims in this city and around the world. Ameen.


1. These are mentioned as what scholars have determined as the specialties of that day in Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, Sayyidina Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.

2. These specialties are mentioned in Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, Sayyidina Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.