The month of Muharram is the first month of the Arabic year, and it is one of the four sacred months of Allaah. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allaah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar). That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein”[al-Tawbah 9:36]
Narrated from Abu Bakrah (R.A) that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “The division of time has turned to its original form which was current the day Allaah created the heavens and earth. The year consists of twelve months of which four are sacred: three consecutive months, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab of Mudar which comes between Jumada and Sha’baan. Al-Bukhaari (3167) and Muslim (1679)
One should fast on the day of ‘Ashura’ (tenth of Muharram)
Narrated Salama bin Al-Akwa'(R.A):
Allah’s Apostle(pbuh) said to a man from the tribe of Al-Aslam, “Proclaim among your people (or the people) on the day of ‘Ashura’ (tenth of Muharram), ‘Whosoever has eaten anything should fast for the rest of the day; and whoever has not eaten anything, should complete his fast.’ ” Volume 9, Book 91, Number 370: Sahih Bukhari
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas(R.A):
When the Prophet (pbuh)came to Medina, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They used to say: “This is a great day on which Allah saved Moses and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Moses observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.” The Prophet said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. Volume 4, Book 55, Number 609: Sahih Bukhari
Many people believe that the Day of Judgement will come on a Friday, 10th Muharram. Everyone who gives a specific time or date for the onset of the Day of Judgement is a fabricator and a liar. The onset of the Day of Resurrection is the “Hour” of which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“They ask you about the Hour (Day of Resurrection): ‘When will be its appointed time?’ Say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (Alone). None can reveal its time but He’” [al-A’raaf 7:187]
But when the Day of Resurrection comes, at the time which is known to Allaah, which will be a Friday, then the system of this universe, with its night and day, sun and moon and stars, will be changed.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the things that people do on `Ashura’, such as wearing kohl, taking a bath (ghusl), wearing henna, shaking hands with one another, cooking grains (hubub), showing happiness and so on. Was any of this reported from the Prophet (pbuh) in a sahih hadith, or not? If nothing to that effect was reported in a sahih hadith, is doing these things bid’ah, or not? Is there any basis for what the other group do, such as grieving and mourning, going without anything to drink, eulogizing and wailing, reciting in a crazy manner, and rending their garments?
His reply was:
‘Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Nothing to that effect has been reported in any saheeh hadith from the Prophet (pbuh) or from his Companions. None of the Imams of the Muslims encouraged or recommended such things, neither the four Imams, nor any others. No reliable scholars have narrated anything like this, neither from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), nor from the Sahabah, nor from the Tabi’een; neither in any sahih report or in a da’if (weak) report; neither in the books of Sahih, nor in al-Sunan, nor in the Musnads. No hadith of this nature was known during the best centuries, but some of the later narrators reported ahadith like the one which says, “Whoever puts kohl in his eyes on the day of `Ashura’ will not suffer from eye disease in that year, and whoever takes a bath (does ghusl) on the day of `Ashura’ will not get sick in that year,” and so on. They also reported a fabricated hadith that is falsely attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which says, “Whoever is generous to his family on the day of `Ashura’, Allah will be generous to him for the rest of the year.” Reporting all of this from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is tantamount to lying.’
Then he [Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him)] discussed in brief the tribulations that had occurred in the early days of this ummah and the killing of al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him), and what the various sects had done because of this. Then he said:
‘An ignorant, wrongful group – who were either heretics and hypocrites, or misguided and misled – made a show of allegiance to him and the members of his household, so they took the day of `Ashura’ as a day of mourning and wailing, in which they openly displayed the rituals of jahiliyyah such as slapping their cheeks and rending their garments, grieving in the manner of the jahiliyyah…
The Shaytan made this attractive to those who are misled, so they took the day of `Ashura’ as an occasion of mourning, when they grieve and wail, recite poems of grief and tell stories filled with lies. Whatever truth there may be in these stories serves no purpose other than the renewal of their grief and sectarian feeling, and the stirring up of hatred and hostility among the Muslims, which they do by cursing those who came before them… The evil and harm that they do to the Muslims cannot be enumerated by any man, no matter how eloquent he is. Some others – either Nasibis who oppose and have enmity towards al-Husayn and his family or ignorant people who try to fight evil with evil, corruption with corruption, lies with lies and bid’ah with bid’ah – opposed them by fabricating reports in favour of making the day of `Ashura’ a day of celebration, by wearing kohl and henna, spending money on one’s children, cooking special dishes and other things that are done on Eids and special occasions. These people took the day of `Ashura’ as a festival like Eid, whereas the others took it as a day of mourning. Both are wrong, and both go against the Sunnah, even though the other group (those who take it as a day of mourning) are worse in intention and more ignorant and more plainly wrong… Neither the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) nor his successors (the khulafa’ al-rashidun) did any of these things on the day of `Ashura’, they neither made it a day of mourning nor a day of celebration…
As for the other things, such as cooking special dishes with or without grains, or wearing new clothes, or spending money on one’s family, or buying the year’s supplies on that day, or doing special acts of worship such as special prayers or deliberately slaughtering an animal on that day, or saving some of the meat of the sacrifice to cook with grains, or wearing kohl and henna, or taking a bath (ghusl), or shaking hands with one another, or visiting one another, or visiting the mosques and mashhads (shrines) and so on… all of this is reprehensible bid’ah and is wrong. None of it has anything to do with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or the way of the Khulafa’ al-Rashidun. It was not approved of by any of the Imams of the Muslims, not Malik, not al-Thawri, not al-Layth ibn Sa’d, not Abu Hanifah, not al-Uzaa’i, not al-Shafa’i, not Ahmad ibn Hanbal, not Ishaq ibn Rahwayh, not any of the Imams and scholars of the Muslims.’(al-Fataawa al-Kubra by Ibn Taymiyah)
What some sects do on ‘Ashoora’ of beating their chests, slapping their cheeks, striking their shoulders with chains and cutting their heads with swords to let the blood flow are all innovations that have no basis in Islam. These things are evils that were forbidden by the Prophet (pbuh), who did not prescribe for his ummah to do any of these things or anything similar to them to mark the death of a leader or the loss of a martyr, no matter what his status. During his (pbuh) lifetime a number of senior Sahaabah were martyred and he mourned their loss, such as Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Zayd ibn Haarithah, Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib and ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Rawaahah, but he did not do any of the things that these people do. If it was good, he (pbuh) would have done it before us.
Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (R.A) said: The Prophet (pbuh) said: “He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, rends his garment, or cries with the cry of the Jaahiliyyah.” Al-Bukhaari (1294) and Muslim (103)
Allah knows the best
Written by al.s