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Fasting on the Day of Ashooraa’

Fasting the day of ‘Ashoora’ expiates for the past year, because Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘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 ‘Ashoora’ I hope Allaah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” [Muslim, 1162]. This is by the bounty that Allaah bestows upon us, whereby fasting one day expiates for the sins of a whole year. And Allaah is the Owner of great bounty.


Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) used to be very keen to make sure he fasted on the day of ‘Ashoora’ because of its great status. It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) said: I never saw the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) so keen to make sure he fasted any day and preferring it over another except this day, the day of ‘Ashoora’, and this month – meaning Ramadaan. [Bukhaari, 1867].

What is meant by being keen to make sure he fasted it is so as to earn its reward.

Why do we fast on these days?

With regard to the reason why Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) fasted on the day of ‘Ashoora’ and urged the people to do likewise is mentioned in the hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhaari (1865) from Ibn ‘Abbaas (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu), who said: Rasoolullaah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) came to Madeenah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashoora’. He said, “What is this?” They said, “This is a good day, this is the day when Allaah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy and Moosa fasted on this day.” He said, “We are closer to Moosa than you.” So he fasted on this day and told the people to fast.

The words “this is a good day” – according to a version narrated by Muslim, “This is a great day when Allaah saved Moosa and his people and drowned Pharaoh and his people.”

The words “so Moosa fasted on this day” – Muslim added in his report: “In gratitude to Allaah, so that is we fast on this day.”

According to another version narrated by al-Bukhaari, “So we fast it out of respect for it.”

The words “and told the people to fast” – according to another version narrated by al-Bukhaari, “He said to his companions, ‘You are closer to Moosa than them, so fast this day.”

It is mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn ‘Abbaas (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) that he was asked about fasting the Day of ‘Ashoora’a’ [10th of Muharram]. He said, “I did not see the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) fast a day while more avid to seek its virtue than this day,” meaning the Day of ‘Aashoora’a’.” [Bukhari (2006), and Muslim (1132)].

The Day of ‘Aashoora’a has great virtue, and tremendous sanctity (hurma). The virtue of fasting it was known among the Prophets (‘Alayhimus-Salaam). Both Prophet Nooh and Prophet Moosa (‘Alayhimas-Salaam) fasted it.

The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) used to fast this day even in Makkah, though he had not yet ordered others to do so, as mentioned in both Bukhari and Muslim. [Bukhari (2002), Muslim (1125)]

When he migrated to Madeenah, and found the Ahl-ul Kitaab (People of the Book) fasting this day and venerating it, he ordered the Muslims to fast it, and encouraged it so much that even the children would fast it.

Fasting two days (9th and 10th or 10th and 11th Muharram):
At the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) made the determination not to fast this day alone, but with another day [either before or after it], in order to be different from the People of the Book.

It has been reported in the Saheeh of Imaam Muslim (rahimahullaah), also from Ibn ‘Abbaas (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) that, “When the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) fasted the Day of ‘Aashoora’a’ and ordered his companions to fast it, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This is a day that the Jews and Christians venerate.’ So the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said, ‘When next year comes – if Allah wills – we will fast the Ninth [of Muharram with it].’ But the next year did not come before the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) passed away.” [Muslim (1134), Abu Dawood (2445)]

And it is reported in the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah), from Ibn ‘Abbaas (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhumaa) that the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “Fast the Day of ‘Aashoora’a’ and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it.” [Ahmad]

Expiation of Sins:

The expiation of sins that is achieved by fasting ‘Ashoora’ refers to minor sins; with regard to major sins, they need separate repentance.

Al-Nawawi (rahimahullaah) said:

Fasting the day of ‘Arafaah expiates for all minor sins, in othr words this brings forgiveness for all sins except for major sins.

Then he said:

Fasting the day of ‘Arafaah is an expiation for two years, and the day of ‘Ashoora is an expiation for one year, and if a person’s Aameen coincides with the Aameen of the angels, his previous sins will be forgiven… Each of the things mentioned may bring expiation. If he does something that expiates for minor sins he will be expiated, and if there are no minor or major sins, it will be recorded for him as good deeds and he will rise in status thereby… If there is one or more major sins and no minor sins, we hope that it will reduce his major sins. [Al-Majmoo’ Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, part 6].

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (rahimahullaah) said: The expiation of purification, prayer, and fasting Ramadaan, ‘Arafah and ‘Ashoora’ applies to minor sins only. [Al-Fataawa al-Kubra, part 5].


Shaykh Muhammad al-Munajjid

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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