Answering those who state that fasting Aashoora disrespects Al-Husayn

Tomorrow marks one of the most sacred days on the Islamic calendar, Aashoora (also transliterated as Ashura), which is the 10th day of Muharram, Muharram being one of the four sacred months in Al-Islam.

The majority of Muslims worldwide believe that fasting this day atones for minor sins that were committed during the year and that it was the day in which Moses (Peace be Upon Him) and the Children of Israel were liberated from bondage in Egypt. However, the largest of the Shi’i schools of thought, Ja’faris also known as 12’evers/Ithna Asharis/Imamis, state that fasting this entire day is repugnant because it was instituted as a diversion for Muslims to forget about the martyrdom of Imam Al-Husayn (Peace be Upon Him)  via fabricated hadeeths by the Umayyads. They further dismiss fasting on this day saying that Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and Peace be Upon Him and His Family) was given his own application of Divine law, not to follow the law of Moses (Peace be Upon Him) even if Jews fasted this day in gratitude of their liberation.

If the Ja’faris simply stuck to the argument that the hadeeths in Al-Bukhari and Muslim relating to this have flaws in their narrators and that they are not authoritative to them, their argument for finding the fasting Aashoora to be repugnant might have more validity.  Even with this argument that the hadeeths relating to these books are flawed because of Umayyad manipulation, their argument still falls a little short.

The other two Shi’i schools of thought, Zaydis and Musta’ili Isma’ilis (Fatimis), consider fasting Aashoora to be meritorious and that they have narrations attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (Prayers and Peace be Upon Him and His Family) as well as sayings of Ahl Al-Bayt (The Prophet’s Household), which affirm this. Moreover, both of these schools reject many of the same narrators, whom they believe to have been Pro-Umayyad, as the Ja’faris do.  Also, neither one of these schools hold Al-Bukhari and Muslim to be authoritative as primary basis for jurisprudence regarding acts of worship.  Hence, Zaydis and Musta’ili Isma’ilis are just as anti-Umayyad traditions as Ja’faris, perhaps even more.

For instance in the magnum opus of Al-Qadi An-Nu’man titled Ad-Daa’im Al-Islam written during the Fatimid empire and recognized as its most authoritative book of fiqh until today, the following tradition is narrated relating to supererogatory fasting:

عنه (ع) أنه قال: استوت السفينة يوم عاشوراء على الجودى، فأمر نوح (ع م) من معه من الجن والانس بصومه، وهو اليوم الذى تاب الله فيه على آدم، وهو اليوم الذى يقوم فيه قائمنا، أهل البيت

Ja’far ibn Muhammad (May G’d be Pleased with Them Both) said:

Noah’s ark settled in Ashoora on [Mt.] Al-Judi, then Noah commanded from the jinn and men among them to fast it.  It was the day in which G’d accepted the repentance of Adam, and it was the day in which our standing was established, the Household [of the Prophet].

Even more interesting is that the Ibadi school of thought, which has a historical relationship with the Khawaarij who considered the Umayyad leader Mu’awiyah to be a disbeliever, also finds fasting Aashoora to be highly meritorious.  Moreover, the development of their compiling of Prophetic narrations evolved separately from Sunnis, who do not automatically disqualify traditions via the Umayyads.  Musnad Al-Imam Ar-Rabi’ narrates the fasting of Aashoora with different chains of narrators from Sunni, Zaydi and Isma’ili narrators.

Fasting Aashoora in no way is a diversion away from the martyrdom of Al-Husayn (Peace be Upon Him).  In fact, the sacredness of this day in connection and sacrificing (fasting) on it, should be an affirmation that the stance of Al-Husayn (Peace be Upon Him) was in accordance with those of prophets, who affirmed their servitude to none except G’d, not men, and stood against wrongdoers/oppressors.

5 thoughts on “Answering those who state that fasting Aashoora disrespects Al-Husayn

  1. Salam,

    Thank you for writing this information, I tried contacting you on the email listed above but it was returned as invalid, could you shoot me an email?

    TZM

    • Just read a tweet …your comments : V Muslims follow the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) & NOT Seerah of NOAH/MOSES (s), those who fast on Ashura should stop calling themselves MUSLIM rather they should join their Jewish brothers. (via bandekhuda)

      Our answer to those who argue on fasting on Aashoora –there is no room left for little short or any on argument. We are Muslims and follow the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and NOT Seerah of NOAH/MOSES (s), those who fast on Ashura should stop calling themselves MUSLIM rather they should join their brother Yahud.

      Some traditions are found in Sunni books to the effect that the Prophet (s.a.w.) on migrating to Medina found the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muharram. He asked them why, and was told: “It is an auspicious day; it is the day when God delivered the children of Israel from their enemy (i.e. Pharaoh); and, therefore, Moses fasted on that day.” The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I am worthier of Moses than you are.” Thereupon, he fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast.
      1. al-Sahih of al-Bukhari, Vol.3; Egypt ed.; p.54
      2. Mishkatul-Masabih; Delhi ed.; 1307 A.H.; p.l72

      It is noted by the commentator of Mishkatul-Masabih that “it was in the second year, because in the first year the Prophet had arrived at Medina after ‘Ashura, in Rabi’ul-awwal.” How much importance was this fast supposed to have may be judged from another tradition narrated in al-Sahih of. al-Bukhari: “The Prophet (s.a.w.) ordered a man from the (tribe of) Aslam: Announce to the people that whoever has eaten should fast the rest of the day, and whoever has not eaten should fast (the whole day), because today is the ‘Ashura (10th day of Muharram).” That very year the fast of Ramadan was ordained and the obligation to fast on ‘Ashura was abrogated, as has been claimed in other traditions narrated in the same book. Still, reportedly, it carries much importance as a voluntary fast.

      Now let us look closely at these traditions:
      First: The Jews had their own calendar and months. There is no logic in saying that they fasted on the 10th of Muharram – unless it could be proved that this date always coincided with a Jewish day of fast.
      It was mentioned in my article, “Martyrdom of Imam Husayn and the Muslim and the Jewish Calendars” (Alserat, Vol.VI, No’s 3 & 4; Muharram 1401 Nov.1980) that the first month of the Jews (Abib, later named Nisan) coincided with Rajab of the Arabs. W.O.E.Oesterley and Theodore H.Robinson have written that in Arabia “the most important of all the new-moon festivals was that which fell in the month of Ragab (sic), equivalent to the Hebrew month ‘Abib, for this was the time when the ancient Arabs celebrated the Spring festival.” (Hebrew Religion; S.P.C.K., London; 1955;p.128)

      Probably, in ancient times the two branches of Abraham’s house followed the same system of intercalating an additional month 7 times in a cycle of 19 years. And in this way the 7th Jewish month, Tishri I, coincided with Muharram. And the ‘Ashura of Muharram synchronized with 10th of Tishri I, the Jewish Day of Atonement – a day of fast. In that article, it was observed that the two calendars lost their synchronization when Islam, in the 9th year of hijra, disallowed intercalation. But on deeper consideration it transpired that that parity was lost long before the advent of Islam, because the Arabs did not follow any mathematical calculation in their intercalation. That was why the Muharram of the 2nd year of Hijra began on 5th July, 623 C.E. (Al-Munjid, 21st ed.), months before Tishri I (which always coincides with September-October). Clearly, ‘Ashura of Muharram in that year (or, for that matter, during the Prophet’s whole life at Medina) had no significance whatsoever for the Jews.

      The question is: Why did they fast on that day?
      Second: The Jewish Midrashic literature relates the 10th day of the 7th month (Yom Hakippurim – Day of Atonement) to the event of bringing the tablets of the Covenant from Mount Sinai, as Dr. Mishael Maswari-Caspi has written in his letter, quoted in my previous article, mentioned above.The question is: If the Jews had wanted to keep the long-lost synchronization of Tishri I and Muharram in view, how was it that they forgot to narrate this tradition to the Prophet?
      Third: The month in which God delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh was Abib (i.e. Rajab), as the Bible clearly says: “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” (Deut., 16:1) The question is: How could the Jews transfer an event of Abib (originally coinciding with Rajab) to Muharram, in open defiance of their Torah?

      And lastly here is a point to ponder for the Muslims: The Prophet (s.a.w.) was sent with a religion to abrogate all previous religions and shari’ah. How was it that he deigned to imitate the custom of the Jews?

      It is clear from above-mentioned facts that the Jews had no reason at all to fast on ‘Ashura of Muharram at that period; and this story, built on that premise, is just that – a fiction. Obviously, it was invented by a narrator who only knew that once upon a time Muharram coincided with the Jews’ Tishri I; but was totally unaware of contemporary Jewish religion and culture.

      One feels constrained to mention here that this and other such traditions were forged by campfollowers of the Umayyads, after the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, as a part of their campaign to turn the 10th of Muharram into a day of rejoicing. These traditions are of the same genre as those which say that it was on the 10th of Muharram that Noah’s ark rested on Mount Arafat, the fire became cool and safe for Abraham, and Jesus ascended to the heaven. In the same category came the traditions exhorting the Muslims to treat ‘Ashura as a festival of joy, and to store one’s foodgrain on this very day as it would increase one’s sustenance and bring the blessings of Allah to the household.

      Some people do quote below hadith from Ismali sect and try to twist the meaning, if one read carefully below hadith its say that NOAH commanded HIS UMMAH to fast and NOT Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Ya Ummah we are talking about Prophet Muhmmad (pbuh) faith i.e. ISLAM, I want all MUSLIMS to ponder are we call MUSLIM coz we follow Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or we follow the SUNNAH of NOAH/MOSES (s)

      Al-Qadi An-Nu’man titled Ad-Daa’im Al-Islam written during the Fatimid empire :
      عنه (ع) أنه قال: استوت السفينة يوم عاشوراء على الجودى، فأمر نوح (ع م) من معه من الجن والانس بصومه، وهو اليوم الذى تاب الله فيه على آدم، وهو اليوم الذى يقوم فيه قائمنا، أهل البيت
      Ja’far ibn Muhammad (May G’d be Pleased with Them Both) said:
      Noah’s ark settled in Ashoora on [Mt.] Al-Judi, then Noah commanded from the jinn and men among them to fast it. It was the day in which G’d accepted the repentance of Adam, and it was the day in which our standing was established, the Household [of the Prophet].

      Just to be sure let me ocne again say the above Hadith say Noah commanded his Ummah and NOT Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

      We are Muslims and follow the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and NOT Seerah of NOAH/MOSES (s), those who fast on Ashurah than should call themselves as Yahud and NOT Muslim.

  2. Sorry
    Aren’t you meant to only fast for half a day not the whole day as there is food produced usually in the mosques for thawaab.

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