In The Name Of Allah, The Most Kind And The Most Merciful
All Praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and may the Peace and blessings of Allah be upon his Messenger, his family and on all of his companions.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Throughout the year Allah the Almighty grants His servants with ample opportunities to have their past sins forgiven and to start anew. One of these special occasions is known as Day of Ashurah.
Much confusion surrounds this day. Some ignorant Muslims called Nawasib or Nasibah treat this occasion as a day of celebration and joy, and a time where special dishes are prepared. Conversely, the Shi’ahs spend the very same day, crying, beating and injuring themselves, and marking it as a day of sadness and mourning.
In this article, I hope to dispel some of the myths surrounding this day and explain the position of Islam with regards to the above two practices.
I have divided the article into three parts. In the first part, I have gathered some of the Hadiths regarding the merits of Ashurah; I have made an effort to distinguish between the authentic and the weak narrations. Then in the following two sections, I discuss the innovation and unislamicness of taking Ashurah as a day of mourning and the innovation of taking it as a day of joy, respectively.
Here are some Authentic Hadiths Regarding Ashurah as follows:
1. Aisha (RA) said:
“The people of Quraish used to fast on the day of Ashurah in the pre-Islamic days. When the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) migrated to Madinah, he observed this fast and commanded his followers to observe it. But when fasting during the month of Ramadan was made obligatory he left the [fast of] Ashurah (i.e. it was no longer obligatory); [See Zaad al-Ma’ad of Imam Ibn al-Qayyim, vol. 2, page 68] so whosoever wished to observe this fast, did so, and whosoever wished to leave it, did so.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
2. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (RA) said:
“The day of Ashurah was one that the Jews respected and treated as a day of festival. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) instructed us: “You should also observe fast on this day.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
3. Humaid Bin Abdur-Rahman narrated that he heard Mu’awiyah Bin Abu Sufyan (RA) say, while delivering a sermon on the pulpit on the day of Ashurah in the year he came for Hajj:
“People of Madinah, where are your scholars? I heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) say: ‘This is the day of Ashurah. Allah has not made fasting on this day compulsory on you, but I am fasting. So whosoever wishes to observe the fast from amongst you, should do so, and whoever does not wish to observe it, may do so.’” [Bukhari and Muslim]
4. Ibn Abbas (RA) said:
“When the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) came to Madinah, he found the Jews fasting on the day of Ashurah. He asked: ‘What is this [that you are doing]?’ They replied: ‘This is a righteous day. On this day Allah saved the Israelites from their enemies, and so Musa, on this day, observed a fast.’ The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: ‘I have a greater right on Musa (AS) than you.’ So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to also fast.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
5. Ar-Rab’i Bin Mu’awadh (RA) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) sent an envoy to the village of the Ansar in the morning of the day of Ashurah announcing: ‘Whoever has eaten something should not eat but complete the fast, and whoever is observing the fast should complete it.’” She further said: “Since then we fasted regularly on that day and also make our sons fast. We used to make toys of wool for the boys and if anyone of them cried for food, we would give them these [toys] until it was time to break the fast.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
6. Abdullah Bin Umar (RA) narrated:
“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) observed the fast on the day of Ashurah and ordered his followers to also fast. When fasting during Ramadan was made compulsory, he left it.” Abdullah would not fast on this day unless it coincided with his (normal days of) fasting.” [Bukhari and Ahmad]
7. Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated:
“I do not know the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) singling out any days for fasting, and considering it more excellent than another, except for this day [the day of Ashurah] and that month – meaning the month of Ramadan.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
8. Abu Qatadah al-Ansari (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Fasting three days every month and [fasting] the whole [month] of Ramadan every year is a perpetual fast. The fast of the day of Arafah, [I consider it to] expiate the sins of the preceding and the coming year. The fast of the day of Ashurah, [I consider it to] expiate the sins of the preceding year.” [Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Ibn Khuzaimah]
9. Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated that when the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) fasted on the day of Ashurah and commanded that it be observed as a fast, they (his Companions) said to him:
“Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), it is a day which the Jews and Christians hold in high esteem.” Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: “When the next year comes, Allah willing, we will observe fast on the ninth.” The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) died before the advent of the next year.” [Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah]
10. Abu Musa (RA) narrated that the people of Khaibar, [most of whom were Jews] observed the fast on the day of Ashurah and treated it as a festive day. Their women would wear ornaments and beautiful dresses. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“You (only) observe fast on this day.” [Muslim]
* Some Weak And Fabricated Hadiths Regarding Ashurah
1. Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Fast on the day of Ashurah and differ from the Jews; fast a day before it or a day after it.” [Weak Hadith. Ahmad, Ibn Khuzaimah, al-Humaidi, at-Tahawi in Ma’ani al-Athar, al-Bazzar, Ibn Adi in al-Kamil, al-Baihaqi in al-Kubra and ash-Shu’ab]
2. Ibn Abbas (RA) reports that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“He who fasts on the day of Arafah, his fast will be a compensation for the sins of two years, and he who fast in the month of Muharram will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast.” [Fabricated Hadith. At-Tabrani in as-Saghir]
3. Abu Hurairah (RA) and others narrate:
“One who increases [his spending] on his family on Ashurah, Allah will increase it for him throughout the year.” [Weak Hadith. Al-Baihaqi in ash-Shu`ab, al-Uqaili in ad-Du’afah, Ibn Adi in al-Kamil, Ibn al-Jawzi in al-Ilal and others]
* The Innovation (Bid’ah) of Commemorating Ashurah as a Day of Mourning
On the 10th of Muharram (the day of Ashurah), in the year 61 AH the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) beloved grandson al-Husain Bin Ali Bin Abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) was martyred. Undoubtedly the day of the murder of the grandson of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) was a sad day in Islamic history. However, he was not the first to be martyred; rather, he was preceded by many great companions who were also killed unjustly, including Umar, Uthman, al-Husain’s own father, Ali Bin Abi Talib and his brother al-Hasan (RA).
After the death of Ali Bin Abi Talib (RA), some of the companions pledged allegiance to al-Hasan (RA), regarding whom the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“This son of mine is a leader, and Allah will make peace between two large groups of Muslims through him.” [Bukhari]
After a short period he was also martyred, and some Shi’ah from Kufah (in Iraq) wrote to his brother al-Husain (RA) promising him support and allegiance if he was to come to them at Kufah. Ibn Abbas and Ibn Umar (RA) both advised al-Husain against accepting their invitation, as they felt that the people inviting him were treacherous and untrustworthy.
Al-Husain (RA) relying on the words of the Kufans set out for the city with his family and followers. On the way he was deserted by his followers and betrayed by the Kufans. Consequently, he was left with a small band consisting of his family members and friends (A total of 72 people) in the middle of the sandy desert of Karbalah fighting against the governor of Kufah, Ubaidullah Bin Ziyad, and his troops of more than 4,000 men. The entire group was massacred on the 10th of Muharram (The Day of Ashurah).
It was after this incident that the Shi’ahs, who considered Al-Husain (RA) as the third Imam and rightful successor of the Prophet, began to take this day as a day of grief and sadness, mourning the fact that they were not present at the battle to fight and save al-Husain and his family.
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“Satan (Shaitan) took the opportunity with the death of al-Husain (RA) to introduce two innovations: the innovation of showing sadness and mourning on the day of Ashurah by slapping, injuring, screaming, crying and lamenting, and (the innovation of) cursing the Sahabas (companions of the Prophet).”
He then reminds the Muslims that wailing and excessive mourning over past calamities was clearly prohibited by Allah and His Messenger.
Allah the Most High says in the Qur’an:
“We will try you with fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but give glad tidings to those who are patient. Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say: ‘To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.’ It is these on whom descend blessings and mercy from their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 155 -157]
Also the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah) is not one of us.” [Bukhari]
In another Hadith the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“There are four characteristics among my people that belong to the pre-Islamic (Jahiliyyah) period which they have not abandoned: boasting of high rank, reviling other people’s genealogies, seeking rain by stars, and wailing.” He (further) said: “If the wailing woman does not repent before she dies, she will be made to stand on the Day of Resurrection wearing a garment of brass and an armour of mange.” [Muslim]
The Shi’ahs—in addition to public processions of ceremonial chest beating, wailing, wearing black clothes, injuring oneself and cursing Abubakar, Umar (RA) and the rest of the companions—avoid all manifestations of joy during this month. They refrain from eating meat and avoid getting married or wearing new clothes during this month and especially during this day. Images of men and small boys slashing themselves with razors or knives, allowing their blood to run freely over their bodies is common among some of the extreme Shi’ahs. Others, recognising the gruesome nature of this act, have opted out of self mutilation and resorted to donating their blood. Many Shi’ahs believe that taking part in these mourning rituals absolves them from their sin. A popular Shi’ahs saying says: “A single tear shed for al-Husain washes away a hundred sins!”
* The Innovation of Showing Joy and Happiness During This Day
To counteract the extreme position of the Shi’ahs, another extreme group called “the Nawasib” took this day as a day of happiness. The Nawasibs, which consisted mainly of the Khawarij, held animosity against al-Husain (RA) and the Ahlul Bait. They celebrated this day by wearing new clothes, cooking special food and spending extra money on their family.
The first sign of the appearance of the Khawarij was during the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him).
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (RA) narrated:
“We were in the company of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) while he was distributing the spoils of war; there came to him Dhul-Khuwaisarah, from the tribe of Tamim. and said: ‘Messenger of Allah, do justice!’ Upon this the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: ‘Woe to you, Who would do justice, if I do not do justice? You would be unsuccessful and incur a loss, if I do not do justice.’ Upon this Umar Ibn Khattab (RA) said: ‘Messenger of Allah, permit me to strike off his neck.’ The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said: ‘Leave him; he has companions [who would outwardly look to be so religious and pious] that one of you would consider his prayer insignificant when compared to their prayer, and his fast [insignificant when] compared to their fasts. They would recite the Qur’an but it would not go beyond their collar-bones. They would pass through Islam just as an arrow passes through its prey. He would look at its iron head, but would not find anything there. He would then see at the lowest end, but would not find anything there. He would then see at its grip but there too he would not find anything. He would then look at its feathers and would find nothing stick to them [as the arrow would pass so quickly that nothing would stick to it] neither excrement nor blood. They would be recognised by the presence of a black man among them whose upper arms would be like a woman’s breast, or like a piece of meat as it quivers, and they would come forth at the time when there is dissension among the people.’”
Abu Sa’id (RA) said:
“I testify to the fact that I heard it from the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), and I testify to the fact that Ali Bin Abi Talib (RA) fought against them and I was with him. He gave the orders for that man and he was sought for; when he was brought, I looked at him and he was exactly as the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) had described.” [Muslim]
The Shi’ah and the Khawarij opposed each other by introducing an innovation in the religion. So while one group lamented and mourned on this day the other group celebrated and made it a day of happiness.
As for the sincere Muslims, the true followers of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), they oppose both of these groups, neither making it a day of celebration nor a day of mourning. This is the established practice of the companions and the pious predecessors, including the four Imams: Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam ash-Shafi’i and Imam Ahmad (May Allah be pleased with them all).
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“You must follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided caliphs. Hold on to it and stick fast to it. Avoid newly invented matters [in the religion], for every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a misguidance.” [Abu Dawud, Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi]
Imam Ibn Taimiyyah said in his Fatawa:
“As for cooking special foods, wearing new clothes, applying kohl, spending extra money on the children, doing special prayers, having a special bath…all of this is a wretched innovation (Bid’ah) which the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) never practiced nor did the rightly guided caliphs, and neither was it recommended by any of the great Imams such as, Malik, at-Thawri, al-Laith Bin Sa’ad, Abu Hanifah, al-Awza’i, ash-Shafi’i, Aḥmad Bin Hanbal, Ishaq Bin Rahuyah (may Allah be pleased with them all), nor by other such scholars. Rather some of the later followers started to instruct in some of these things and claimed that there were some authentic Hadiths supporting their view. But these people are clearly mistaken and are in error according to the people of knowledge (ulama’).
Imam Ahmad was asked about the Hadith: “One should spend on his family on the day of Ashurah” and regarded it as unauthentic.
In fact the best narration they have is what is reported from Ibrahim Bin Muhammad Bin al-Muntashir from his father that he said: “It reached us that one who increases (his spending) on his family on [the day of] Ashurah, Allah will increase it for him throughout the year.” Sufyan Bin Uyainah said: “Ibrahim Bin Muhammad was from Kufah and he did not mention from whom he heard it or how it reached him. It is most likely that the one who related this [to him] was someone from the people of Bid’ah who hates the companions and wants to oppose the Shi’ah/Rafidah with lies. So they oppose corruption with corruption and an innovation with an innovation.” [See Majmu’ Fatawa of Ibn Taimiyyah, vol. 13, page 169]
In short, what is clearly established from Islam and from the Sunnah is the fasting on the 9th and 10th of Muharram. As for mourning, displaying sadness, or celebrating by making special foods, wearing new clothes, etc. then it is all innovations and unislamic.
Here, I leave you with the statement of Imam Malik. He said:
“He who introduces an innovation (Bid’ah) in Islam, regarding it as something good has claimed that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has betrayed his trust to deliver the message. As Allah says: ‘Today have I completed your Deen (religion)’ Whatever was not part of the religion during the time of the Prophet cannot be considered as part of the religion today.” [See al-I’tisam of Imam ash-Shatibi]
He also said:
“Nothing will benefit the later ones from this Ummah (nation), except that which benefited the earlier ones (i.e., the companions).” [See al-Qa’idah al-Jalilah of Imam Ibn Taimiyyah]
* The Shi’ah Imams ordered fasting on Ashurah Day
Some cute Shi’ahs claimed that the Hadiths in which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) tells us to fast the tenth of Muharram “Ashurah” is a fabrication by the Umayyads and they accuse Mu’awiyah (RA) of this (Although it’s narrated by many others), what the cute Shi’ahs didn’t know is that these Hadiths are found in Bukhari and Muslim which were written many years after the Umayyad Caliphate fell, so there was no “political pressure” … but enough about this, let’s just quote it from their own books by their own narrators and from their own Imams:
“Ali Bin al-Hasan Bin Faddal from Harun Bin Muslim from Masa’adah Bin Sadaqah from Imam abu Abdullah from his Father that Ali (AS) said: “Fast on Ashurah the ninth and tenth for it removes the sins of a whole year.” [See Tahthib al-Ahkam, vol. 4, page 299 and Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 10 page 457]
Also from him, from Ya’aqub Bin Yazid, from Abu Hamam, from Imam Abu al-Hasan (AS):
“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) and his household (Ahlul Bait) fasted the day of Ashurah.” [See Tahthib al-Ahkam, vol. 4 page 299-300]
Sa’ad Bin Abdullah from Abu Ja’afar from Ja’afar Bin Muhammad Bin Ubaidullah from Abdullah Bin Maimun al-Qidah from Imam abu Ja’afar from his father (AS):
“The fasting of Ashurah removes the sins of a year.” [See Tahthib al-Ahkam, vol. 4, page 300 and Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 10, page 457]
“The narrations that forbid this (Fasting) do not have proper Sanad, they are all weak and fabricated, in fact we don’t have any respectable narrations that we can rely on to prove that those that differ with them are Taqiyah. As for the narrations that speak about fasting this day and that it is favourable to fast there are plenty of them, such as the SAHIH of al-Qidah: “Fasting the day of Ashurah removes the sins of a year.” and the Muwaththaq of Masa’adah Bin Sadaqah: “Fast Ashurah the ninth and the tenth for it removes the sins of an entire year.” and others like them. This is acceptable taking into consideration the unimaginably great hunger and thirst and pain that Ahlul-Bait had to go through on that hard day. So the strongest opinion would be that it is favoured to fast this day. ” [See Kitab al-Sawm by al-Khomeini, vol. 2, page 305]
Muhammad Bin al-Hasan with its Isnad from Ali Bin al-Hasan Bin Faddal from Ya’aqub Bin Yazid from Abu Hamad from abu al-Hasan (AS):
“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) fasted the day of Ashurah.” [See Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, vol. 10, page 457]
Ali Bin al-Hasan from Muhammad Bin Abdullah Bin Zurarah from Ahmad Bin Muhammad Bin Abi Nasr from Abban Bin Uthman al-Ahmar from Kathir al-Niwa from abu Ja’afar (AS):
“On the day of Ashurah, Prophet of Allah Nuh (AS) ordered all those with him on the ship, whether Jinn or Humans to Fast on this day, and abu Ja’afar (AS) said: “Do you know which day this is? this is the day which Allah forgave Adam and Eve (AS), this is the day which Allah split the ocean for Bani Israel and he drowned Pharaoh (Fir’awn) and his followers, this is the day when Musa (AS) defeated Pharaoh, this is the day in which Ibrahim (AS) was born, this is the day when Allah forgave Yunus (AS), this is the day in which Isa Ibn Maryam (AS) was born, this is the day when al-Qa’im (Mahdi) shall rise.” [See Tahthib al-Ahkam by al-Tusi, vol. 4, page 300]
And with its Isnad to Ali Bin Faddal with his Isnad to abu Ja’afar (AS):
“On the day of Ashurah, Prophet of Allah Nuh (AS) ordered all those with him on the ship, whether Jinn or Humans to Fast on this day, and abu Ja’afar (AS) said: Do you know which day this is? this is the day which Allah forgave Adam and Eve (AS), this is the day which Allah split the ocean for Bani Israel and he drowned Pharaoh and his followers, this is the day when Musa (AS) defeated Pharaoh, this is the day in which Ibrahim (AS) was born, this is the day when Allah forgave Yunus (AS), this is the day in which Isa Ibn Maryam (AS) was born, this is the day when al-Qa’im (Mahdi) shall rise.” [See Mustadrak al-Wasa’il by al-Tabrasi, vol. 7, page 524]
Al-Saduq narrated that:
“On the tenth of Muharram and it is the day of Ashurah, Allah forgave Adam (AS), and in it the arc of Nuh (AS) floated, and in it Musa (AS) crossed the sea, and in it Isa Bin Maryam (AS) was born, and in it Allah let Yunus (AS) out from the belly of the whale, and in it Allah forgave the people of Yunus (AS), and in it Dawud killed Jalut, so he who fasts on this day Allah shall remove his sins from seventy years and will forgive him for all sins done in secret.” [See al-Muqni’i by al-Saduq, page 208]
So now I ask all the Shi’ahs to fear Allah and apologise to Mu’awiyah (RA) since he was right and you were wrong and since he followed the Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and you do not.
* Agreement, consensus (Ijma’) on fasting Ashurah except by the ignorant Shi’ahs
Famous Shi’ah scholar al-Muhaqqiq al-Sha’arani says in his commentary on the book “al-Wafi” by al-Faidh al-Kashani, vol. 22, page 505:
“It happens that some of the narrators who are extreme in their hatred for the Mukhalifin (Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama’ah), those who exaggerate the differences and deviate from the school of Ahlul-Bait (AS), that they may go over board in certain beliefs un-intentionally only so they may oppose the Mukhalifin (Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama’ah). They do this because of their strong relation to Shi’ism, as we see a group in the late times who deny that fasting Ashurah is liked (Mustahabb) by agreement, just so they can oppose the Mukhalifin (Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama’ah), and they stick to the belief that the Qur’an is corrupted so they can use this to criticise the “enemies of Ahlul-Bait (AS)”, although there are many criticisms against them and there is no need to prove Tahrif (corruption) and demolish the foundations of the religion.”
And as you all know, in Shi’ism, the general rule is, the extremists of yesterday are the average Shi’ah of today.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family (Ahlul-Bait), his Companions and all those who follow him diligently till the Day of Judgement.
Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, writes from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: email@example.com or +2348038289761.