The Fast of the Day of Âshura (10th of Muharram)

With the sighting of the new moon the Islaamic new year is ushered in. The first month Muharram is one of the four sacred months that Allah has mentioned in the Holy Qur’aan.
From out of the four sacred months, Muharram has been blessed with certain specific virtues. The Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadhaan is the fasting of Allah’s month of Muharram and the best of salaat besides the fardh (compulsory) salaat is the tahajjud salaat (performed after midnight before dawn). Muslim Vol.1 Page 368
The tenth day of this sacred month, Muharram is known as Aashoorah. It is one of the most important and blessed days of Allah in the Islaamic calendar. Some ulamaa (scholars) are of the opinion that before the fasts of Ramadhaan were made compulsory, the fast of the day of Aashoorah was compulsory upon the ummah. This is stated in a hadeeth reported by Aaishah radhiyallahu anha that the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam ordered the observance of the fast of Aashoorah. However, when the fast of Ramadhaan became compulsory, then whosoever wished, kept this fast and whosoever desired did not observe this fast. Bukhari Vol.1 Page 268
But, nevertheless the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam continued to fast this day and encouraged his Companions to do the same. Ibne Abbas radhiyallahu anhu says: I did not see Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to over other days, but this day, the day of Aashoorah. Bukhari Vol.1 Page 268
In another hadeeth, Ibne Abbas raahiyallahu anhu narrates that the Holy Prophet sallallaha alayhi wasallam came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of 'Aashoorah. Hence the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam inquired of them, "What is (the significance of) this day on which you fast?" They replied, "This is a great day. On this day Allah saved Moosa and his people and drowned Fir’awn and his nation. Thus Moosa alayhis salaam fasted on this day as a token of thanksgiving, therefore we too fast on this day." The Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, "We are more worthy of Moosa and nearer to him than you." Thereafter, the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam fasted on this day and ordered (his Companions) that a fast be kept on this day. (Muslim Vol.1 Page 359)
The Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam has exhorted and encouraged his ummah to fast on this day. Abu Qataadah radhiyallahu anhu narrates that the Holy Prophet sallahllahu alayhi wasallam was asked regarding the fast of the day of Aashoorah. The Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam replied: "It is a compensation for the (minor) sins of the past year". (Muslim Vol.1 Page 368)
NOTE:- It must be borne in mind that wherever a promise of forgiveness of sins is made upon the fulfillment of some action, it is only the minor sins that are forgiven. The major sins are not forgiven without true tawbah (repentance).
One should also observe the fast of the 9th Muharram to safeguard his deed from resemblance with the non-muslims who fast only on the 10th Muharram. Ibne Abbas radhiyallahu anhu said: When Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam observed the fast of the day of Aashoorah and ordered (his Companions) to fast, they said, "O Rasulullah!It is a day revered by the Jews and Christians." Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, "The coming year, if Allah wills, we will fast on the ninth (also)". (Muslim Vol.1 Page 359)
These ahadeeth indicate clearly that one should fast on the ninth and tenth of Muhaaram. However, if one does not manage to fast on the ninth, then he should fast on the eleventh of Muharram instead. The Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: "Observe the fast of Aashoorah and oppose the Jews. Fast a day before it or a day after." (Bayhaqi). Hence, it is important to either fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram or the tenth and eleventh. To fast only on the day of Aashoorah is makrooh tanzeehi as stated by Allamah Ibne Aabideen Shaami. One should be generous on one’s family and dependents and spend more on them than what is normally spent. Abu Hurayrah radhiyallahu anhu reports that Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: "One who generously spends on his family on the day of Aashoorah, Allah will increase (his provision) for the whole year". (Bayhaqi, At Targheeb Wat Tarheeb Vol. 2 Page 116)
It is absolutely clear that the significance of the day of Aashoorah is from the time of the Holy Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. However, many people regard this day as the day of mourning the martyrdom of Hadhrat Husayn radhiyallahu anhu. The martyrdom of Hadhrat Husayn radhiyallahu anhu was indeed a great tragedy but Islaam is not a religion of perpetual mourning. Abu Saeed radhiyallahu anhu relates that Rasullullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam has cursed mourners and those who listen to them (attentively). (Abu Dawood)