22 MUHARRAM 1441 AH: THE SECOND SITTING REGARDING THE DAY OF `ASHURA’

Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali (d. 795 AH), may Allah be pleased with him, declared about the first month, Muharram:

There is a hadith in the two Sahih collections narrated by Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them that he was asked regarding the day of `Ashura’ and he said, “I did not see the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, fast a day in which he hastened to find its favour over the other days except this day” and he meant the day of `Ashura’ – “and this month” and he meant by that Ramadan.

The day of `Ashura’ has a grand virtue and an ancient holiness connected to it. Fasting it for its virtue is well known among the prophets, peace be upon them. The prophets Nuh and Musa, peace be upon both of them, fasted it as we shall be mentioning shortly, if Allah, Exalted be He, so wills.

Ibrahim Al-Hijri narrated from Abu `Iyad from Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that he said, “The day of `Ashura’ was fasted by the prophets, so you should fast it as well.” This was collected by Baqi ibn Makhlid in his Musnad.

The People of the Book used to fast it and so did the Quraish in the Age of Ignorance. Dulham ibn Salih said, “I said to `Ikrimah one day, ‘What is it with the affair of `Ashura’ ‘ “? He answered, “The Quraish, when any of them committed a sin in the Age of Ignorance that was considered grave in their hearts, they would asked what the repentance would be for such an act. It was then said to them that they should fast on the day of `Ashura’, which is the 10th day of Al-Muharram.”

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to have four conditions with regard to his fasting:

The First State: he used to fast in Makkah while he did not command the people to do so. There is a hadith in the two Sahih collections narrated by `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, who said, “`Ashura’ used to be a day that the Quraish would fast in the Age of Ignorance and the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, would fast it.

“Then when he came to Al-Madinah, he fasted it and commanded that it be fasted. Then when the revelation came down on the compulsory nature of the fast of Ramadan thus making Ramadan the fast that he would commit to and he left fasting `Ashura’. Thus the one who so willed could fast it and the one who so willed could not fast it.”

There is another narration by Al-Bukhari in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Whoever so willed, let him fast. And whoever so willed, let him not fast.”

The Second State: The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, when he came to Al-Madinah and he saw the fasting being done by the People of the Book and their veneration of it and that he loved to agree with them in any fast that has been commanded.

So he commanded that it be fasted and stressed the affair and enjoined people to do so to the point that even young children would also do so. There is a hadith in the two Sahih collections as narrated by Ibn `Abbas who said, “When the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, came to Al-Madinah, he found that the Jews were fasting on the day of `Ashura’. So he said to them, ‘What is this day that you are fasting?’

“They said, ‘This is a venerated day indeed! It is the day that Allah saved Musa and his people and drowned the Pharaoh and his people. So Musa fasted it out of thanksgiving and then in turn we also do so.’

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, ‘We have more right to do so and we are closer to Musa than you.’ So the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, fasted and ordered the people to do so as well.”

There is another hadith in the Musnad of the Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, as narrated from Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, in which he said, “The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, passed by a group of people form the Jews and they had fasted `Ashura’.

“He said to them, ‘What is this day that you are fasting?’ The people responded, ‘This is the day in which Allah, Mighty and Majestic, saved Musa, peace be upon him, and the Children of Israel from the drowning but he drowned the Pharaoh. This is the day in which the Ark settled upon the dry land. So Nuh and Musa, peace be upon them, both fasted the day out of thanksgiving to Allah, Mighty and Majestic.’

“The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then said in turn, ‘I have more right to Musa and to fast this day.’ He then commanded his Companions to fast on this day.”

There is also another hadith in the two Sahih collections as narrated by Salamah ibn Al-Akwa`, may Allah be pleased with him, in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, ordered a man from Aslam that he make an announcement among the people that whoever ate, should then fast the rest  of the day and whoever did not eat should intent on fasting. This was commanded as that day was the day of `Ashura’.

In the same collections is another hadith narrated by Ar-Rabi` bint Mu`awwadh who said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, sent a message in the day time of `Ashura’ out to the villages of the Ansar around Al-Madinah in which it read: Whoever woke up fasting, then let him continue his fast. Whoever woke up having not started a fast, then let him complete the rest of the day as a fast.

“So after this point we used to fast and so did our small children. We would also go to the Masjid and make toys for them out of thick wool. So when any one of them cried for food, we would give him that so that he would think about that and not cry up until the time of Iftar.”

And there is another narration in which he said, “So when they would ask us for food, we would give them the toys and we would play with them to distract them until they had completed their fast.” Under this subject are numerous Ahadith  indeed.

Imam At-Tabarani collected a hadith with a chain of transmission that has some unknown narrators in it that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to make supplication on the day of `Ashura’ with his milk mother and the milk mother of his daughter Fatimah who at the time was a young girl. He would then put some of his salive in their mouths and say to their mothers, “Do not suckle them until the night comes.” His saliva would give them relief up until the nightfall.

The scholars, may Allah be pleased with them, differ as to whether this is in reference to the fast on the day of `Ashura’ before the fast of Ramadan was revealed or is this to do with the fact that `Ashura’ is an emphasised sunnah.

There are two well known rulings in this regard. The madhhab of Abu Hanifah is that it was compulsory at that time and this is also the main statement of the Imam Ahmad and Abu Bakr Al-Athram.

Imam Ash-Shafi`ii, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, “This is only in reference to the emphasised praiseworthiness of the fast alone.” This is also the statement of many of our companions and others besides.

The Third State: This refers to the point that when the fast of the month of Ramadan was revealed, the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, left commanding his Companions to fast `Ashura’ and its emphasis.

The hadith of `A’ishah was already mentioned on this point. There is also the hadith of the two Sahih collections as narrated by Ibn `Umar, may Allah be pleased with both of them, who said, “The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, fasted `Ashura’ and commanded the people to fast it.

“When the fast of Ramadan was sent down, he abandoned this.” `Abdullah ibn `Umar used to not fast it unless it agreed with a fast he was already doing.

There is another narration in the collection of Imam Muslim in which it was said, “The people of the Age of Ignorance used to fast the day of `Ashura’ and that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to fast it and the Muslims along with him before the revelation of Ramadan.

“When the revelation of Ramadan was given, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, ‘Indeed `Ashura’ is one of the days of Allah. So whoever should so will, let him fast it. And whoever so wills, let him not fast it.’

There is also another narrative in the same collection in which he said, “So whoever among you saw this fast as beloved to him, then let him fast the day. And whoever did not, then let him leave it.”

There is also a hadith in the two Sahih collections in which Mu`awiyah narrated, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, saying, ‘This is the day of `Ashura’ and he did nor ordain for you to fast it as compulsory. I am fasting it. So whoever so wills let him fast and whoever decides not to, then he will not fast.’ ” There is also the narration in Imam Muslim’s collection that explicitly mentioned it.

In the collection of An-Nasa’ii is narration that the last of it is mixed up from the statement of Mu`awiyah and it is said to not be attributable.

In the Sahih of Imam Muslim is the narration from Ibn Mas`ud that he said about the day of `Ashura’, “It is a day in which the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to fast it before Ramadan was sent down. Then when the month of Ramadan was sent down he left that fast.” There is another narration that states Ibn Mas`ud left it as well.

There is also another narration in the same collection from Jabir ibn Samurah in which he said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to command us to fast on the day of `Ashura’ and enjoin us to do so and remind us of it. When the month of Ramadan became compulsory, he neither commanded us nor forbade us from it and he did not enjoin it upon us.”

The Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, An-Nasa’ii and Ibn Majah all collected a hadith narrated by Qais ibn Sa`d who said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, commanded us to fast the day of `Ashura’ before the revelation of the month of Ramadan. Once the month of Ramadan was revealed, then he neither commanded nor forbade us regarding the fast of `Ashura’.” There is another narration in the collection where Qais ibn Sa`d said, “We would do it.”

All of these Ahadith are evidence of that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, did not stress the importance of `Ashura’ upon the people to fast after the compulsory fast of Ramadan was revealed. Indeed he left them upon their practice before in which he did not forbid them from fasting it.

If then the command of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, to fast on the day of `Ashura’ before the compulsory fast of Ramadan meant that this one day fast was compulsory, then this is built upon the understanding that when the compulsory command has been abrogated is then lowered from that level. So in a case such as this, is the command now praiseworthy or not?

There is a well known difference of opinion among the scholars, may Allah be pleased with him. So if his command was for an emphasised praiseworthy matter, then when the abrogation came into effect, the command lost its emphasised aspect and the foundation of it being praiseworthy is left in place.

It is due to this point that Qais ibn Sa`d said, “We would do it.” A narration has also come from Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Umar, may Allah be pleased with them, statements that can be adduced as evidence that the principle of the fast of `Ashura’ being praiseworthy remains in effect.

Sa`id ibn Al-Musayyib said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, did not fast the day of `Ashura’.” It is also narrated from him from Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas the same thing but this is suspended but the other narrative is the most authentic as said by Imam Ad-Daraqutni.

Most of the scholars have the position that the fast of `Ashura’ remains praiseworthy while not emphasised. Those who narrated this understanding from the Companions include `Umar, `Ali, `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf, Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari, Qais ibn Sa`d, Ibn `Abbas and others.

The praiseworthy nature of the fast remaining in place is evidenced from the statement of Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, “I did not see the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, fast a day in which he hastened to find its favour over the other days except this day” and he meant the day of `Ashura’ – “and this month” and he meant by that Ramadan.

Ibn `Abbas kept the companionship of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, at the end of his life so this was his last action.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “So I reckon that Allah indeed shall expiate the year before of sins for the one that shall fast on this day.” He only asked him about the optional fasts as he was asking about the fast of the day of `Arafah, fasting of the year, fasting the day and not another day, fasting one day and not for two days.

The Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and An-Nasa’ii collected a hadith from the narration of Hafsah bint `Umar, Mother of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with her, who said, “The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, did not leave fasting the day of `Ashura’, the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah and three days out of every month.”

This was also collected by Abu Dawud except that he had one of the other Wives of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, narrating this besides the one named.

The Fourth State: The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had firm determination at the end  of this life on that he would not fast one day singled out but that he would take the other day in order to be different to the People of the Book in his fasting habits.

There is another narrative in the Sahih of Imam Muslim from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, in which he said at the time of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, fasted `Ashura’ and commanded his Companions to do so.

They said, “Messenger of Allah, this is a day in which the Jews and Christians venerate it.” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “When the year comes back around to fast it, if Allah wills, we shall fast the ninth day before it.”

The following year came but the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had died by the time it arrived.

There is also another narration from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, in which he mentioned that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “If there should remain another year in which I am alive, I will indeed fast the ninth and tenth of Muharram.”

This is referring to `Ashura’. This was collected by At-Tabarani as well as with his wording, “If I should live to the following year, I will fast the ninth as I do not want to neglect the `Ashura’.”

There is the narrative in the Musnad of the Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal from the narrative of Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both them, who mentioned that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Fast on the day of `Ashura’, be different to the Jews and fast the day before it and a day after.”

There is another narrative in which he said, “A day before or a day after.” Whether expression “and” or “or” is used is based upon a doubt raised by the narrator. The hadith mentioned above was mentioned with the latter phrase.

There is also another narrative in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “If I should live, I will order people to fast the day before and the day after”, meaning `Ashura’.

And there is still another narrative in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “If I should live until next year, I will fast the ninth and order people to fast the day before and the day after”, and he was referred to the `Ashura’. Both of these narratives were collected and given by the Hafiz. Abu Musa Al-Madini.

Source: Lata’if ul-Ma`arif Fima Li-Mawasim il-`Ami Min Al-Waza’if, pp. 53-56

 

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