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Journal / Seminary Journals

Significance and Virtues of Fasting on Ashura in Muharram

Fiqh (Law)
By Muddassir Mayet
IOK Seminary Graduate & Seminary Instructor
Published July 5, 2024

Sunday, July 7th is our Islamic New Year. It will be the year 1446, which indicates the number of years that have passed since the arrival of Our Beloved Messenger ﷺ to al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah, The Illuminated City. The first month in the calendar is Muḥarram, which translates to The Sacred and Sanctified Month. It is a great time to fast, specifically on the 10th day (ʿĀshūrāʾ).

We should all try to fast on ʿĀshūrāʾ, the 10th of Muḥarram, which is Tuesday, July 16th. If possible, fast the day before or after as well.


This is the 1st month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar. The Messenger of God ﷺ referred to it as “شَهْرُ اللَّهِ الْمُحَرَّمُ - The Month of God (Shahr Allāh),” and it has certain virtues. It is also possibly a month of increased forgiveness[1].

The Messenger of God ﷺ said: “Aside from Ramaḍān, the best fasts are the fasts of The Month of God, Al-Muḥarram - أَفْضَلُ الصِّيَامِ بَعْدَ صِيَامِ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ شَهْرُ اللَّهِ الْمُحَرَّمُ.”[2]


This is the 10th day of Muḥarram. It falls on Tuesday, July 16th. Those who are able to fast should try to fast on this day.

Reward: The Messenger of God ﷺ said: “Fast on ʿĀshūrāʾ. Doing so will cause your sins of the previous year to be forgiven.”[3]

Encouragement: Ibn Abbās (raḍiya Allāh ʿanhumā[4]) said: “I never saw The Prophet ﷺ wanting to fast a day more than ʿĀshūrāʾ - مَا رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ ﷺ يَتَحَرَّى صِيَامَ يَوْمٍ فَضَّلَهُ عَلَى غَيْرِهِ إِلاَّ هَذَا الْيَوْمَ يَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ...”[5] In regards to ʿĀshūrāʾ, The Messenger of God ﷺ said: “Fast! - فَصُومُوهُ أَنْتُمْ”[6]

Reasoning: Ibn ʿAbbās (raḍiya Allāh ʿanhumā) mentioned that the Jews of Al-Madīnah used to fast on ʿĀshūrāʾ because The Exodus — the day Moses (Mūsā alayhi al-salām[7]) escaped with the Israelites from the reign of the Pharaoh — occurred on that day. The Messenger of God ﷺ responded saying: “You (the companions) have more right to Moses (alayhi al-salām) than them (the Jews), so fast (on this day) - أَنْتُمْ أَحَقُّ بِمُوسَى مِنْهُمْ فَصُومُوا.”[8]

Fasting The 9th As Well: The Messenger of God ﷺ said: “If I am still alive next year, I will definitely fast the 9th as well. (Meaning, in addition to the 10th.)”[9] The Messenger of God ﷺ also said: “Differ from the Jews, fast the day before or after as well - صُومُوا يَوْمَ عَاشُورَاءَ وَخَالِفُوا فِيهِ الْيَهُودَ صُومُوا قَبْلَهُ يَوْمًا أَوْ بَعْدَهُ يَوْمًا.”[10] Based on that, it would be okay to fast on the 11th instead of on the 9th. There are different opinions as to which set of days to fast. To list them in brief:

  • The 10th (Tuesday, July 16th only). Everyone is in agreement that this day should be fasted,[11] even if one cannot fast an extra day before or after.
  • The 9th and 10th (Monday and Tuesday)
  • The 10th and 11th (Tuesday and Wednesday)[12]
  • The 9th, 10th, and 11th (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday)[13]

The Exodus - Allāh ﷻ Commands Moses (Mūsā alayhi al-salām[14]) to Leave Egypt

The story of Mūsā (alayhi al-salām) is the most frequently mentioned story in the Qurʾān. Each time Mūsā (alayhi al-salām) is mentioned, Allāh ﷻ gives us different scenes from his life, and a different angle of that scene. The passage in the Qurʾān that highlights The Exodus in the most detail is Sūrah Al-Shuʿārāʾ (#26) Āyāt 10 - 68[15]. It is a story of perseverance (ṣabr and ḥilm), relying solely on Allāh (tawakkul), guidance (hudā), deliverance (najāh), and victory (ẓafar). There are so many avenues for us to benefit from when it comes to the story of Mūsā (alayhi al-salām), as well as the parallels we draw between the story of Mūsā (alayhi al-salām) and the life and story (sīrah) of our own Messenger Muḥammad ﷺ. Take a deep dive into this section of the Qurʾān here.

Should One Spend Extra on One’s Family on The Day of ʿĀshūrāʾ?

There are a few narrations attributed to the Prophet ﷺ stating, “If someone is extra generous with their family[16] on the day of ʿĀshūrāʾ, Allāh ﷻ will be extra generous with him or her throughout the following year.”[17] It should be mentioned that the vast majority of scholars have considered the attribution of that statement to the Prophet ﷺ, albeit through many companions and chains, to be weak (ḍaʿīf).

As for the reasoning behind avoiding acting upon these narrations, it is because there have been great scholars who have considered the ḥadīth at hand to be extremely weak, if not baseless and fabricated. Among them are Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, Al-ʿUqaylī, Al-Faḍl Ibn Ṭāhir, Ibn Al-Jawzī, Ibn Taymiyah, Ibn Al-Qayyim, Al-Dhahabī, Ibn Al-ʿIzz, and Al-Majd Al-Fayrūz Ābādī (raḥimahum Allāh[18]). They say that the chain to Ibn Masʿud (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), the chain to Abū Hurayrah (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), the two chains to Abū Saʿīd Al-Khudrī (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), the two chains to Jābir (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhumā), including his personal statement, and the two chains to Ibn ʿUmar are all extremely weak and filled with narrators who are unknown, very weak, unreliable, and/or known to contradict their much more accurate peers.[19]

As for the reasoning behind acting upon these narrations, it is because there have been great scholars who have acted upon this statement by spending extra on their family, and found extra blessings in the following year. Among them are Al-Bayhaqī, Al-Mundhirī, Al-ʿIrāqī, and Al-Suyūṭī (raḥimahum Allāh[20]). They rely on the eight chains of narrators to the five companions (ṣaḥābah) mentioned above, including the narration to Jābir ibn ʿAbd Allāh (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhumā), wherein he has been quoted saying, “We have experienced that, and have found it to be true.”[21] Abū Al-Zubayr and Shuʿbah (raḥimahumā Allāh[22]) have also been quoted with similar statements.[23] Sufyān ibn ʿUyaynah (raḥimahu Allāh) is famous[24] for this statement, saying that he found this extra generosity for “50 or 60 years.” Ibn Ḥabīb Al-Mālikī (raḥimahu Allāh) composed a few lines of poetry highlighting this.[25]

In summary, there are two opinions. Opinion A is: despite a weak attribution to the Prophet ﷺ, there are numerous quotes, statements, and testimonies about receiving extra generosity from Allāh the year following having spent on one’s family on ʿĀshūrāʾ.[26] Anyone who finds this convincing should go ahead and be extra generous with his or her family on ʿĀshūrāʾ, and hope and pray for extra generosity and blessings from Allāh. Opinion B is: all the narrations are extremely weak and problematic, and thus one should not spend extra on their family on ʿĀshūrāʾ. The author of this article, may Allāh make him worthy of His Love, used to hold the opinion that, despite the weakness of the narrations, there was some basis to this act, and thus it would be permissible and rewarding to act upon the said narration. However, after further research, the author, may Allāh make him worthy of His Love, finds it better to avoid this action due to the immense weakness of the narrations. With that being said, if someone were to act on it in hopes of reward because they prefer the view of the scholars that did consider it virtuous, it is hoped that Allāh will reward them. And if someone were to avoid this action so as to not engage in a religious innovation (bidʿah), they will also be rewarded by Allāh. — Allāh knows the correct answer.

May Allāh — Al-Razzāq, The Sustainer — provide for us all, bless us in what He Alone has provided us with, make us grateful and content, and free us from any and all forms of debt. May Allāh accept our fasting on ʿĀshūrāʾ, and forgive us for our previous years’ sins. Āmīn.

Additional Reading: The Martyrdom of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhumā)[27]

As was described above, the Prophet ﷺ himself taught us the importance of the day of ʿĀshūrāʾ, as well as the rewards associated with fasting that day. However, after the Prophet ﷺ left this world, his grandson, Ḥusayn (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), as well as many of his extended family members were martyred on the plains of Karbalāʾ by a platoon from the Umayyad Army, as a result of political issues in the year 56 AH. A detailed overview of the incidents leading up to this event can be found here and here. Ḥusayn (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh) is the son of Fāṭimah bint Muḥammad (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhā) and ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), two of the greatest companions of the Prophet ﷺ. Fāṭimah bint Muḥammad (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhā) is the beloved daughter of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ. ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh) is the 1st cousin of the Prophet ﷺ, his son-in-law, and the 4rth Caliph. They also had an older son, Ḥasan (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh). Regarding Ḥasan and Ḥusayn (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhumā), the Prophet ﷺ said “Ḥasan and Ḥusayn are the two leaders of the young men of Jannah.”[28] He ﷺ also said about them while they were holding onto his knees “These two are my sons. The sons of my daughter (Fāṭimah). O Allāh! I love both of them! So You love both of them! And love whoever loves both of them!”[29] He ﷺ also said regarding them: “Ḥasan and Ḥusayn are my two fragrant smelling plants[30] of this world.”[31] Regarding Ḥusayn (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh) in particular, Anas ibn Mālik (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh) - the servant of the Prophet ﷺ for 10 years - remarked “He most closely resembles the physical features of the Prophet ﷺ.”[32] There can be no doubt about the love we must have for the Prophet ﷺ, his family, his daughters, his grandchildren, and our respect towards them. And because of our immense love of the Prophet ﷺ, we follow his teachings, his guidelines, and the way of life he modeled for us. He ﷺ taught us that the 10th of Muḥarram is a day of victory, and a day of fasting. He also taught us that we focus on our worship, commemorate successes, and take lessons from - not mourn - times of difficulty. Our hearts should feel sad for the martyrdom of Ḥusayn (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), in a similar way that it feels sad over the martyrdom of all of the great Ṣaḥābah, those who were role models even to Ḥusayn (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), likeʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh), and Ḥusayn’s own father, ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh). But our hearts should feel the greatest sadness at the loss of our Prophet ,ﷺ who said “No one from my Ummah has faced a more difficult calamity than my death.”[33] Despite that, we still do not take the passing of the Prophet ﷺ on the 12th of Rabīʿ al-Awwal to be a day of mourning or lamenting. The Prophet ﷺ taught us how to grieve when his own son Ibrāhīm (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanh) passed away when he ﷺ said, “The eyes shed tears. The hearts feel sad. But we only say that which pleases Allāh.”[34] We do not say anything or do anything in our sadness that will make Allāh displeased.

As a final point, some people use instances like these to criticize the Ṣaḥābah (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhum), the companions of the Prophet ﷺ, even though Allāh ﷻ is already pleased and happy with all of them. Allāh ﷻ says in The Qurʾān regarding the companions (ṣaḥābah raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhum) “ِAllāh is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Allāh[35] and “Those who spent their money and put their lives on the line before the conquest of Makkah are not equal to those who did so after. The first category has a superior rank compared to those who spent money and fought after the conquest of Makkah. BUT STILL, Allāh has promised and prepared Al-Ḥusnā, Jannah, and Paradise for BOTH groups.[36]

May Allāh ﷻ allow us to love those whom He loves, and to act in a manner that is pleasing to Him in all times and places. Āmīn.


  1. Should one still fast if the recommended day(s) happens to be on a Friday or a Saturday?
    1. Yes, one should still fast, even if that means fasting only on a Friday or a Saturday.[37]



  1. Al-Tirmidhī, Jāmiʿ: Kitāb al-Ṣawm ʿan Rasūl Allāh ﷺ Bāb mā jāʾa fī ṣawm al-Muḥarram. The other narrations mentioned here should be given preference in terms of reliability for proving the month’s virtues.

  2. Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ #1163 a,b,c. Al-Tirmidhī, Jāmiʿ: Kitāb al-Ṣawm ʿan Rasūl Allāh ﷺ Bāb mā jāʾa fī ṣawm al-Muḥarram. Abū Dāwūd, Sunan: Kitāb al-Ṣawm Bāb fī Ṣawm al-Muḥarram.

  3. Al-Tirmidhī, Jāmiʿ: Kitāb al-Ṣawm ʿan Rasūl Allāh ﷺ Bāb mā jāʾa fī al-ḥathth ʿalā ṣawm yawm ʿĀshūrāʾ. Ibn Mājah, Sunan: Kitāb al-Ṣawm #1810.

  4. May Allāh be pleased with him.

  5. Al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ: Kitāb al-Ṣawm Bāb ṣiyām yawm ʿĀshūrāʾ. Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ #1132a (similar wording: مَا عَلِمْتُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ ﷺ صَامَ يَوْمًا يَطْلُبُ فَضْلَهُ عَلَى الأَيَّامِ إِلاَّ هَذَا الْيَوْمَ وَلاَ شَهْرًا إِلاَّ هَذَا الشَّهْرَ يَعْنِي رَمَضَانَ).

  6. Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ #1131 a.

  7. May Allāh protect him and preserve his legacy.

  8. Al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ: Kitāb al-Tafsīr Sūrah Yūnus Bāb Wa Jāwaznā bi Banī Isrāʾīl ... Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ #1130c (similar wording: فَنَحْنُ أَحَقُّ وَأَوْلَى بِمُوسَى مِنْكُمْ).

  9. Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ #1134b. Ibn Mājah, Sunan: Kitāb al-Ṣawm #1808.

  10. Aḥmad, Musnad #2155. There is a discussion about this ḥadīth, as to whether The Messenger of God ﷺ actually said “after it” or even “and the day after it.” There are other narrations wherein The Prophet ﷺ just said the 9th and 10th.

  11. However, it has been narrated that after the mandate to fast Ramaḍān, Ibn ʿUmar (raḍiya Allāhu ʿanhumā) would not fast on ʿĀshūrāʾ unless it coincided with his normal fasting routine. Al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ: Kitāb al-Ṣawn Bāb Wujūb Ṣawm Ramaḍān.

  12. Some scholars opined that there is no virtue in adding the 11th.

  13. Some scholars opined that no one should fast all three: 9th, 10th, and 11th, referring to it as an innovation (bidʿah).

  14. May Allāh protect him and preserve his legacy.

  15. Al-Qurʾān: Sūrah Al-Shuʿārāʾ (26:10-68) |

  16. Some reports add “and on themselves.”

  17. This has been narrated by Abū Saʿīd Al-Khudrī, Ibn Masʿūd, Ibn ʿUmar, Abū Hurayrah, and Jābir (raḍiya Allāh ʿanhum). Al-Ṭabarānī, Al-Awsaṭ, v. 9 p. 121 #9302; Al-Ṭabarānī, Al-Kabīr, v. 10 p. 77 #10007; Al-Bayhaqī, Shuʿab Al-Īmān, v. 7 p. 375-9 and v. 8 p. 377; Ibn Ḥibbān, Kitāb Al-Majrūḥīn, v. 3 p. 97; Abū Nuʿaym, Akbār Aṣbahān, v. 1 p. 163 and p. 198; Ibn Maʿīn, Tārīkh, #2223; Al-Khaṭīb, Muwaḍḍiḥ al-Jamʿ wa al-Tafrīq, v. 2 p. 307; Al-Ḥakīm Al-Tirmidhī, Nawādir Al-Uṣūl v. 3 p.14

  18. May Allāh bless them with His Kindness

  19. Yūnus Jonpūrī, Al-Yawāqīt Al-Khāliyah, v. 1 p. 326 (link)

  20. May Allāh bless them with His Kindness

  21. Ibn ʿAbd Al-Barr, Al-Istidhkār, v. 10 p. 140.

  22. May Allāh bless them with His Kindness

  23. Ibn ʿAbd Al-Barr, Al-Istidhkār, v. 10 p. 140.

  24. However, Al-Imām Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal (raḥimahu Allāh) said in response to this, “(Well, obviously...) He (Ibn Uyaynah) would be obsequious and groveling to Ibn Al-Muntashir. May Allāh have mercy on Ibn Uyaynah. He lived with the kings.” Masāʾil Ibn Hāniʾ li Al-Imām Aḥmad, v. 1 p. 136-7.

  25. Al-Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ, Tartīb al-Madārik wa Taqrīb al-Masālik, v. 4 p. 140.

  26. Al-Bayhaqī, Shuʿab Al-Īmān, v. 7 p. 379; Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar Al-ʿAsqalānī, Al-Amālī Al-Muṭlaqah p. 27-30; Ibn Ḥajar, Mukhtaṣar Al-Targhīb, p. 82; Ibn ʿĀbidīn, Ḥāshiyah, v. 2 p. 419; Al-Ṣāwī Al-Mālikī, Ḥāshiyah Al-Ṣāwī ʿalā Al-Sharḥ Al-Ṣaghīr, v. 1 p. 691; The recommendation has also been mentioned by Sulaymān Al-Jamal in his Ḥāshiyah, and by Al-Bahūtī Al-Ḥanbalī in his Sharḥ Muntahā Al-Irādāt.

  27. This section has been added to to correct some misconceptions that have crept into the Muslim community. Some Muslims simply do not know how they are supposed to feel and/or speak about Ḥusayn (raḍiya Allāh ʿanh), the beloved grandson of the Prophet ﷺ. Some people say bad things about the companions (ṣaḥabah) in general, and some specifically say vile things about the companion and a scribe of revelation, Muʿāwiyah (raḍiya Allāh ʿanh). This section serves to clearly demonstrate Allāh’s happiness with the companions as a whole, to show us and teach us the love the Prophet ﷺ had for his family, grandchildren, and his companions, and to highlight the love, respect, and admiration towards the companions that we should have, as we strive to emulate the Prophet ﷺ.

  28. Al-Tirmidhī, Jāmiʿ: Kitāb al-Manāqib ʿan Rasūl Allāh #3768

  29. Ibid #3769

  30. The word rayḥān can also literally mean basil. This is the Arabic idiom comparable to the American English idiom, “my rose” or “my flower”.

  31. Al-Tirmidhī, Jāmiʿ: Kitāb al-Manāqib ʿan Rasūl Allāh #3770

  32. Ibid #3778

  33. Ibn Mājah, Sunan: K. al-Janāʾiz B. mā jāʾ fī al-ṣabr ʿalā al-Muṣībah #1599

  34. Al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ: K. al-Janāʾiz B. Qawl al-Nabī ﷺ Innā bika la Maḥzūnūn #1303. Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ: #2315

  35. Al-Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Tawbah 9:100 وَٱلسَّـٰبِقُونَ ٱلۡأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُهَـٰجِرِینَ وَٱلۡأَنصَارِ وَٱلَّذِینَ ٱتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحۡسَـٰنࣲ رَّضِیَ ٱللَّهُ عَنۡهُمۡ وَرَضُوا۟ عَنۡهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمۡ جَنَّـٰتࣲ تَجۡرِی تَحۡتَهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِینَ فِیهَاۤ أَبَدࣰاۚ ذَ ٰ⁠لِكَ ٱلۡفَوۡزُ ٱلۡعَظِیمُ

  36. Al-Qurʾān, Sūrah al-Ḥadīd 57:10 لَا یَسۡتَوِی مِنكُم مَّنۡ أَنفَقَ مِن قَبۡلِ ٱلۡفَتۡحِ وَقَـٰتَلَۚ أُو۟لَـٰۤىِٕكَ أَعۡظَمُ دَرَجَةࣰ مِّنَ ٱلَّذِینَ أَنفَقُوا۟ مِنۢ بَعۡدُ وَقَـٰتَلُوا۟ۚ وَكُلࣰّا وَعَدَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡحُسۡنَىٰۚ

  37. There are narrations wherein the Prophet ﷺ said, “None of you should fast on Friday, unless you also fast the day before or after.” (Al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ K. al-Ṣawm B. Ṣawm Yawm al-Jumuʿah, fa idhā Aṣbaḥ Ṣāʾimā Yawm al-Jumuʿah fa ʿalayhi an Yufṭir. Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ #1143a-1144b) However, most scholars have understood this to mean singling out any random Friday (or every Friday) for fasting, because it is the day of Friday, or to ensure that people do not think it is necessary (wājib) to fast on Friday. Since people are fasting because it is ʿĀshūrāʾ (or any other recommended day), that dislike or prohibition would not apply in the first place. For more information, see Al-Mawsūʿah Al-Fiqhiyyah Al-Kuwaytiyyah v. 28 p. 96.

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