Fasting on Ashoora

The Arabic word ‘Aashoora’ is based on ‘Ashr, which means ten. Hence, as a religious term, ‘Aashoorah stands for the 10th Muharram. It used to be known as one of the most sacred and greatest days even in the pre-Islamic Arabia.(1) It was the day of ‘Aashoorah only, wherein Allah annihilated the Pharaoh and his army and freed the followers of Moosa a.s. from their cruelties.(2)”Muslim scholars” further say that it was this great day, when the followers of Nooh a.s. were saved from drowning in the devastating flood and their divinely-protected ark navigated them to a safer place on mount Joodi.(3) Thanks to these and other similar reasons, people in the Pre-Islamic Arabia used to observe a fast and change the curtain of Ka`bah on this day only.(4)

Some brothers say that fasting on this great day started after the noble Prophet`s migration to Madeenah. Moreover, it began when he came to know the significance of 10th Muharram from the local Jews, who used to fast on ‘Aashoorah Day.(5) Such a claim is absurd because authentic Ahaadees do tell us that Rasoolullaah was well aware of its importance long before he saw the Jews in Madeenah fasting on ‘Aashoora Day. He was not only aware of its significance but also used to fast on this day, long before he migrated to Madeenah. His wife, Sayyidatuna ‘Ayshaa r.a. reports: “…Nabee Kareem used to fast on ‘Aashoora, during his life in Makkah. He had even declared fasting on this Day to be obligatory. However, after the migration, when the Ramazaan’s fasting was declared obligatory, fasting on 10th Muharram, became optional.(6)” This authentic Hadees clearly dispels the misunderstanding of those who claim that Rasoolullaah started fasting on ‘Aashoora after learning its importance from the Jews of Madeenah. Had this been true, he would not have fasted in Makkah before his migration.

From the preceding paragraph, we also learnt that Rasoolullaah observed the ‘Aashoorah fast throughout his Prophetic life. This detail clearly shows that the significance of this Day has nothing to do with the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Husain r.a, who was one of the two honorable grandsons of the noble Prophet. It is a coincidence that he and a number of his esteemed family members were assassinated (on ‘Aashoora Day) in Karbala of the then Iraq. Anyway, importance of ‘Aashoorah in Islam has nothing to do with his martyrdom. Even he (Sayyiduna Husain r.a.) used to fast on this day during his life.

Anyway, its significance is clear by the fact that during his blessed life, Rasoolullaah fasted during this day. His cousin, S. Ibn ‘Abbaas reports: “…after the fasts of Ramazaanul Mubaarak and`Arafah, it was the day of ‘Aashoorah (10th Muharram) in which the noble Prophet used to fast, eagerly and regularly.”(7) Moreover, he used to encourage Muslims as well to voluntarily observe a fast on this occasion, saying: “…I sincerely expect from Allaah that He will forgive the minor sins (committed during the last year) of those Muslims who fast on the 10th of Muharram.(8)

Before wrapping up, let me quote today’s final (but very important) Hadees Shareef. Reporting it, Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbaas r.a. says: “Rasoolullaah used to observe fast on the day of `Aashoorah and he used to command Muslims to fast as well. Once, they asked, ‘Yaa Rasoolallaah! the Jews deeply honor the Aashoorah day, by observing one fast in it.’ Shouldn’t we be different from them on this issue? Hearing it, the noble Prophet said, ‘If I live to see the next year, we will in sha Allaah, observe one more fast, along with the `Aashoorah one. However, before the arrival of next year`s Aashoorah, Allaah`s Messenger had passed away.”(9)

Although observing only one fast on the Day of ‘Aashoorah is permissible, however due to the preceding Hadees Shareef, the religious scholars recommend that we should observe an additional fast, either one day before it or one day after it. Coming Saturday is the ‘Aashoorah Day, the 10th of Muharram here in U.A.E. So, we can observe this additional fast either tomorrow or on coming Sunday. May Allaah guide us all to fast on this great day, Aameen Yaa Rabbal ‘Aalameen.

Haafiz Syed Abdul Aziz Quadri.

Iffco Corporate Center Masjid.


(1) Musnad Ahmad, Hadees No. 3112.

(2) Saheeh Al-Bukhaarie, Hadees No. 2004.

(3) Fathul Bari, V.4, P. 291. [The author of this famous book is Allaamah Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalaani r.a. His encyclopedic work on the explanation of Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree has been published in 14 thick and large volumes. Hence, trusting his scholarship, I mentioned this point in the main text. Since, this information is not mentioned in any authentic Hadees, I attributed it to “Muslim scholars”.]

(4) Ma`aariful Hadees, V. 2, Page No. 464.(?)

(5) In their support, they even quote Hadees number 3216 from Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree. But what they are understanding from it is not correct. Such misunderstanding is likely to happen, if a Muslim purchases the translation of a particular Hadees book and tries to derive information by reading a part of just one Hadees book. While, the correct understanding is quite hard, without studying ALL the subject related Ahaadees, which are recorded in the other authentic books on Hadees literature.

(6) Saheeh Al-Bukhaarie, Hadees No. 2002.

(7) C. Saheeh Al-Bukhaarie, Hadees No. 2006. & Sunan At-Tirmizie, Hadees. No. 749.

(8) Saheeh Muslim, Hadees No. 2746.

(9) Saheeh Muslim, Hadees No. 2666.

(10) Muslims in Indian subcontinent follow several restrictions concerning the diet, marriage and self-grooming on this day. All these restrictions are self-imposed because no valid Shari’ah evidence demands them. Sadly, various questionable messages (related with ‘Aashoorah’) are in circulation on WhatsApp, Facebook etc. Describing its importance, they claim that

1. It was the day of ‘Aashoorah, in which Aadam a.s. was created,

2. His repentance was accepted by Allaah,

3. Ibraaheem a.s. was born,

4. Qiyaamat will take place,

5. Whoever takes bath on this day will never get ill,

6. Whoever spends generously on his family on this day, will be blessed in his earnings etc.

The research scholars on Hadees literature, state that nothing from these half dozen claims, is mentioned in the noble Qur’aan or in the correctly reported Prophetic Ahaadees. So we should not believe in them.

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