Muharram the Islamic New Year of 1434 AH has begun! Subhaanallah! I hope many resolutions to good are on our lists. Some rushing to buy food for the 10th of Muharram, many are going through crisis like our brothers and sisters in Syria and Palestine but to name a few. We ask Allah to ease their suffering and to eradicate their oppression in this new year!
It is very meritorious to fast on the 9th, 10th, 11th of Muharram depending which days you fast. There are different ways of fasting ‘Aashūraa, the least of which is to fast the 10th only, but it is better to fast the 9th as well. The more one fasts in Muharram, the better. Ash-Shaafa’i and his companions, Ahmad, Ishaaq and others said: It is mustahab [recommended] to fast both the 9th and the 10th, because Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) fasted the 10th and intended to fast the 9th.
What is the virtue?
Fasting the day of ‘Aashūraa does expiate for the past year, because Rasoolullah (Sallallhu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “Fasting the day of ‘Arafah I hope Allaah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of ‘Aashūraa I hope Allaah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” [Muslim, 1162]
‘Abdallaah Ibn al-‘Abbaas (RadhiAllaahu ‘anhu) reports: Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) came to Madeenah and found the the Jews fast on the 10th of Muharram. Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) inquired of them, “What is the significance of this day on which you fast?” They replied, “This is a righteous day. This is the day on which Allaah rescued the Bani Israa-eel from their enemy. Thus Moosa (‘Alayhis-Salaam) fasted on this day.” Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said, ” I am more worthy (of following in the footsteps of) Moosa than you.” From this day onward, Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) fasted on this day himself, and commanded others to fast as well. (Muslim)
Note: Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) did not say “I am more worthy (of following in the footsteps of) Moosa than you” out of pride. It is well known that the last and final Prophet to come was Nabi Muhammad, Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) and as he was a Rasool, he came with a new Shari’ah from Allaah. All those who were monotheistic as the Jews of Madeenah then had to follow the Rasool of Allaah as that is what Moosa (‘Alayhis-Salaam) would have wanted his followers to do, since there was no other Messenger to come after Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam). As when Jesus (Nabi ‘Eesaa ‘Alayhi-Salaam) came with his Shari’ah, whoever followed the previous Prophet then had to follow the Shari’ah of Nabi Eesaa (‘Alayhis-Salaam) and similarly with Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam).
However, since the Jews also observe the fast of this day, Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) advised us to be different from them and fast on two days. Thus we fast on either the 9th (Taasū’a) and the 10th (‘Aashūra), or the 10th or the 11th. According to most scholars it is makrooh (abominable) to fast on only the 10th, as it is the way of the Jews.
The intention behind fasting on more days than just the 10th is to be different from the Jews who limit their fasting to the tenth day. This was narrated from Ibn al-‘Abbaas and also to join the fast of ‘Aashūra to another day, just as it is not allowed to fast on a Friday on its own [but it is allowed if one fasts the day before or the day after as well].
Abu Qataadah (RadhiAllaahu anhu) narrates: Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) was once asked regarding the fast of ‘Aashūraa, upon which he replied, ” It compensates for the sins of the past year.” (Muslim)
As regards spending generously on one’s children on this day, there is difference of opinion regarding this. Some ‘Ulamaa say that it is based on hadeeth however it is not a saheeh hadeeth.
Going in depth on this matter…
Harb (rahimahullah) said: I asked Ahmad (rahimahullah) about the hadeeth: “Anyone who is open-handed with his family on the Day of Aashūraa…” he stated that it does not count as a hadeeth. Ibn Mansur (rahimahullah) added: I asked Ahmad: Did you hear anything about the hadeeth: “Anyone who gives generously to his family on the Day of Aashuraa, Allah will give him generously the rest of the year?” He answered in the affirmative.
It was also related on the authority of Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (rahimahullah) from Ja‘far Al-Ahmar (rahimahullah) from Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Al-Muntashir (rahimahullah), who was one of the best hadeeth narrators at his time, that he was informed that: “Anyone who gives generously to his family on the Day of Aashūraa, Allah will give him generously the rest of the year. Ibn ‘Uyaynah (rahimahullah) mentioned that he acted upon this hadeeth for fifty or sixty years and the result was all good. So there is no harm in spending on your family on this day as long as you do not make israaf (extravagance) in spending unnecessary.
As for the statement of Harb that Ahmad (rahimahullah), it is not Marfu‘ (a hadeeth narrated from Rasoolullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam with a connected or disconnected chain of narration) as its Isnaad is unauthentic.
Even though it was related from several ways of transmission, they are all not saheeh (unauthentic). An example of this is the one related by Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul-Hakam. Furthermore, Al-‘Uqayly stated that it was not authentically transmitted (i.e., among scholars). It was also related on the authority of ‘Umar according to his saying. However, its Isnaad includes an anonymous narrator in its chain and that it is why it is not saheeh. Should you not feed your family on this day? Of course not. Spend on your family whenever you are in the means and in moderation, don’t just wait for Āshurā.
Regarding giving of gifts…
Again give it all the time with ihtisaab keeping the hadeeth in mind “Give gifts and you will love each other”. [Bukhar] and “Exchange gifts for this will dispel hatred”. [Muwatta] Don’t just give it because it is the 10th of Muharram. After all you don’t need a special occasion to give a gift.
Our time for gifts is especially during our festivals and that is the ‘Eidayn (two ‘Eids). We should however not mimic the Christians in their gift-giving festivities of Christmas.
We hope that 1434 AH will be a year of peace and prosperity for one and all.