Fasting on the tenth of Muharram

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“The best of fast after Ramadaan is in the month of Allah – ‘Muharram’ and the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is prayer during night.” [Saheeh Muslim]

The phrase ‘Allah’s month’ connecting the ‘month’ to the name of Allah is a grammatical structure, signifying the importance, status and adoration of this month with Allah. One should be very careful to avoid sins in this month because just as good deeds have a greater reward in this month, sins are in it more abominable.

Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) commented about the verse “…so wrong not yourselves therein….” [Soorah at-Tawbah (9): 36] saying: “It is referred to all the months, but four months were singled out and made more sacred, violation of these months is a grave sin; sins committed during these months are more serious, and good deeds during these months will be more greatly rewarded.”


The most virtuous day of this month is the day of Ashoorah – the tenth of Muharram.

It is reported in Saheeh al-Bukharee, when Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) came to Madeenah, he saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashoorah. He said: ‘What is this?’ They said: ‘This is the day when Allah saved Moosa from drowning, so we fast on this day.’ Then he said: “We have more right to Moosa than you.” So he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) fasted on this day and advised the Muslims to do the same.

Also, Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) narrated: “When Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) observed the fast of the day of Ashoorah and ordered (the Sahabah) to fast, they said: “O Messenger of Allah! It is a day revered by Jews and Christians.” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The coming year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth (also).” [Saheeh Muslim, vol: 1, p: 359]

Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) also reported: “I never saw the Prophet more keen to fast on any day other than the day of Ashoorah and any month than the month of Ramadaan.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee]

The phrase ‘more keen’ of Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) indicates that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) looked forward to fast on the day of Ashoorah in order to earn the reward for doing so, he Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam): “Fasting the day of Ashoorah, I hope will be an expiation of sins for the year before.” [Saheeh Muslim v: 1, p: 368]

Thus, the day of Ashoorah is mercy from Allah and an opportunity for one to get his sins forgiven. It is recommended for the Muslim Ummah to fast both the tenth and the ninth of Muharram since Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) fasted the tenth and intended to fast the ninth.

Another important thing to be understood here is that voluntary fasts are expiation for minor sin, as long as one completely refrains from major sins and is always cautious about minor sins.

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