Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Fasting the day of Ashura expiates the sins of the previous year as the Prophet said, “Fasting the day of Ashura (is of great merits), I hope that Allah will accept it as an expiation for (the sins committed in) the previous year” (Muslim)
Focusing more on the question in point, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:
Taking advantage of the blessed occasions
The true Muslim always takes the advantage of the blessed occasions and days of Islam. He spares no efforts in drawing himself nearer to Allah.
In doing so, he concerns himself with knowing the virtuous days and occasions in Islam so as to follow his Prophet’s suit in all spheres of life.
Ibn Abbas said, “I never saw Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of Ashura, and this month, meaning Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari)
Fasting the Day of Ashura
Fasting the Day of Ashura is not to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Al-Husain (may Allah be pleased with him). We deeply respect Imam Husain’s martyrdom, we honor his glorious act of sacrifice for the sake of Islam.
He gave us a great example of truth, courage and piety. But we also feel pain and grief in our hearts for his assassination at the hand of some hypocrites who took Islam as a pretext to commit their crime.
They fought and killed Allah’s Messenger’s beloved and blessed grandson and his family. This was the most heinous and shameful crime that they committed for the sake of political power.
This tragic event took place in the year 61 AH or 680 CE. However, the tradition of Ashura fasting is very ancient and it goes back to a long time before Imam Al-Husian.
What Happened on the Day of Ashura
It was a day on which people of Makkah used to change the covering (kiswah) of the Kabah. Quraish also used to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari)
After the Hijrah when the Prophet (PBUH) came to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah also used to observe this day with fasting. The Prophet asked them the reason of their fasting on this day. They said, “This is a blessed day.
On this day Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt) and so Prophet Musa fasted on this day giving thanks to Allah. The Prophet said, “We have more claim to Musa than you.” He fasted on that day and commanded Muslims to fast on this day. (Al-Bukhari)
In another report, we read that the Jews of Madinah used to hold a feast on this day. The Prophet (PBUH) told his Companions to fast instead. (Al-Bukhari)
Ashura fasting was obligatory (fard) in the beginning. In the second year of Hijrah (624 CE) when Allah’s command came that Muslims should fast the whole month of Ramadan, the Prophet then sent someone to announce to people that fasting of Ashura had become voluntary (nafl).
This indicates that whosoever wishes to fast, may fast and whosoever does not want to fast, there will be no blame on him/her.
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Imam At-Tirmidhi mentioned that Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) used to say that we should fast on two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram to distinguish ourselves from the Jewish community. (At-Tirmidhi)
Ibn Abbas also quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying,“If I live next year, I shall also fast on the 9th day.” (Ahmad)
There is a great reward in fasting the day of Ashura. There are many hadiths that mention its blessings and virtues. It is good to fast on this day, although it is not obligatory.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
Source: Excerpted, with slight modifications, from, http://pakistanlink.com