Sheikh Nâyif al-Hamad, presiding judge at the Rimâh District Courthouse
Ibn `Abbâs relates: “I never saw Allah’s Messenger show greater concern for a day of fasting, seeking its virtue over other days, than he did for the Day of `Âshûrâ’ and the month (of Ramadan).”
This is an authentic hadîth related in Sahîh al-Bukhârî (2006) and Sahîh Muslim (1132).
The meaning of the hadîth:
This hadîth shows us that the day of `Âshûrâ’ is an important day for fasting. It is the tenth day of the month of Muharram. The month of Muharram, in turn, is one of the sacred months referred to in the verse: “The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) – so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred.” [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 36]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) identified these months by saying: “A year is made up of twelve months, of which four are sacred. Three of them come right after each other. They are Dhû al-Qa`dah, Dhû al-Hijjah, and Muharram. Then there is Rajab that comes between Jumâdâ and Sha`bân.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (4662) and Sahîh Muslim (1679)]
It is encouraged to fast throughout the month of Muharram. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The best fasts after Ramadân are in Allah’s month of Muharram.” [Sahîh Muslim (1163)]
The most emphatic day to observe fast in the month of Muharram is the tenth day, the day of `Âshûrâ’. Fasting on this day is an act of great virtue. Abû Qatâdah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I hope from Allah that observing the fast of `Âshûrâ’ will expiate for the sins of the past year.” [Sahîh Muslim (1163)]
The reason why we observe this fast is that after the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to Madinah, he observed the Jews observing fast on the day of `Âshûrâ’. He asked them why they did so, and they said: “This is a virtuous day. It is the day in which Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Moses used to fast on this day.”
The Prophet then said: “I have a greater right to Moses than you.” Then he fasted that day and commanded (the Muslims) to fast.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1900)]
The ruling of fasting on `Âshûrâ’:
The fast of `Âshûrâ’ is an emphatic Sunnah (sunnah mu’akkadah). It is not obligatory. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “`Âshûrâ’ is but one of Allah’s days, so whoever wishes to fast on this day should do so, and whoever wishes to refrain from fasting may do so.” [Sahîh Muslim (1136)]
It is good to encourage children to observe this fast. Al-Rubayyi`, the daughter of Mu`awwadh, relates that early in the morning of `Âshûrâ’, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) sent word to the villages of the Ansâr that: “Whoever has started this day by eating should continue (as if fasting) for the rest of the day, and whoever started this day fasting should complete the fast.” Since then, we used to observe the fast on that day and have our children fast as well. We would make toys for them out of wool, and whenever they would start crying for food, we would give them a toy to occupy them until it was time to break the fast.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (1690) and Sahîh Muslim (1136)]
It is also Sunnah to fast the day before `Âshûrâ’ or the day after it. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fast the day of `Âshûrâ’, but do so differently than the Jews by fasting the day before it or the day after it.” [Musnad Ahmad (1/241) and Sahîh Ibn Khuzaymah (2095)]
Ibn al-Qayyim writes in Zâd al-Ma`âd (2/75): “There are three ways to observe this fast. The best is to fast the day before `Âshûrâ’ and the day after it. Next in excellence is to fast on the ninth of Muharram as well as the tenth. This is what most of the hadîth indicate. The next is to fast the tenth day by itself.”
Some mistakes connected with this day:
Ibn Taymiyah writes [Minhâj al-Sunnah (4/544)]:
Because of the killing of Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him) on that day, Satan was able to introduce two false and innovated practices to the people. The first is that of grieving and wailing on the day of `Âshûrâ’, along with self-flagellation, shouting, weeping, remaining thirsty, and reciting elegies. Then, there is what this leads to: the practice of defaming and cursing the Pious Predecessors, falsely accusing those who are innocent along with the guilty…
Those who introduced all these practices did so in order to foster strife and division among the Muslims. The Muslims are agreed that such practices can be neither obligatory nor preferred. Indeed, cultivating sadness and wailing about past tragedies is one of the most calumnious of practices that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have prohibited.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever strikes his cheeks and tears his shirt and calls to the ways of the times of ignorance is not one of us.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
Taken from Islamtoday.com.