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.