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August 18, 2021

8 essential facts about ‘Ashura’

By Mufti Muhammad Ismail, Head of the Zakat Committee at Muslim Charities Forum and Chairman of Muslim Hands South Africa

When is Ashura 2020?

This year, the Day of Ashura will begin on the evening of Wednesday, 18 August 2021, and will end on the evening of Thursday, 19 August 2021. We have put these handy facts together, so you know exactly what the significance of this momentous day is and can share your knowledge with family and friends. 

1. The Meaning of ‘Ashura’

Ashura’ falls on the 10th of al-Muharram and the word ‘Ashura’ is derived from the word Asharah, which means ten in Arabic.  

 

2. ‘Ashura’ falls in the sacred month of Allah  

 Al-Muharram is one of the sacred months alluded to in the following Qur’anic verse: 

Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them…’ (Qur’an, 9:36) 

Al-Muharram is also named in the following hadith: 

‘On the authority of Abu Bakrah (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said, “Time has come back to its original state which it had when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth; the year is twelve months, four of which are sacred. Three of them are in succession: Dhul-Qa‘dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Al-Muharram and Rajab of Mudar [named after the tribe of Mudar as they used to respect this month], which stands between Jumada (ath-Thani) and Sha‘ban”’. (Bukhari) 

 

3. Giving charity on ‘Ashura’ is equal to an entire year’s worth of charity 

’On the authority of ’Abdullah bin ’Amr bin al-’As (may Allah be pleased with them both) that he said, “Whoever fasts ‘Ashura’ it is as if he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity this day it is like the charity of an entire year”’. (Ibn Rajab’s Lata’if al-Ma‘arif). 

 Charity starts at home and it is advisable to spend generously on family on the day of ‘Ashura.  

’The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “One who generously spends on his family on the day of ‘Ashura’, Allah will be generous on him for the entire year”’ (Baihaqi). 

 Regarding this, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rh) quotes Sufyan ibn Uyayna (rh) as saying, ‘I have practiced this [spending on the family] for fifty or sixty years and have found nothing but good in it’. (Lata’if al-Ma‘arif) 

 

4. The covering (Kiswah) of the Ka‘bah used to be changed on ‘Ashura’ 

’On the authority of ’Aishah (ra) who said, “The people used to fast on ’Ashura before the fasting of Ramadan was made obligatory. And on that day the Ka‘bah used to be covered with a cover. When Allah made the fasting of the month of Ramadan compulsory, Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, ’Whoever wishes to fast (on the day of ‘Ashura’) may do so; and whoever wishes to leave it can do so”’. (Bukhari) 

 

5. Fasting on ‘Ashura’ wipes out the sins of the past year 

’On the authority of Abu Qatadah (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (saw), was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’, and he said, “It expiates [wipes out the minor sins of] the past year”’. (Muslim) 

As well as fasting on the Day of Ashura, it is also advisable to fast on the day before or after.  

’On the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “If I remain [alive] till the following year, I will most certainly fast the ninth [alongside the 10th al-Muharram]”’ (Muslim). 

’On the authority of Ibn ’Abbas (may Allah be pleased with both of them) that the Prophet (saw) said, “Fast the Day of ‘Ashura’ and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it.” (Ahmad) 

 

6. ‘Ashura’ is an immense day of repentance 

The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “If you will fast after the month of Ramadan, then fast al-Muharram, for indeed it is Allah’s month in which there is a day that Allah accepted the repentance of a people, and in which He accepts the repentance of other people”’ (Tirmidhi). 

 

7. Allah (swt) saved Musa (as) and the Children of Israel on ‘Ashura’ 

’On the authority of Ibn ’Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said, “The Prophet (saw) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’. He said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa [as] fasted on this day’. He said, ‘We have more right to Musa [as] than you’, so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day”’. (Bukhari) 

’Then We inspired to Musa [as], “Strike with your staff the sea,” and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain. And We advanced thereto the pursuers.  And We saved Musa [as] and those with him, all together.  Then We drowned the others.  Indeed, in that is a sign, but most of them were not to be believers.  And indeed, your Lord - He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful’. (Qur’an, 26:63-68 

 

8. Nuh’s (as) ark landed on Mount Judiyy (modern-day Turkey) on ‘Ashura’ 

‘In a narration reported by Imam Ahmad (rh), it was on this day that the Ark of Nuh (as) came to rest on Mount Judiyy’. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir) 

 ‘And it was said, “O earth, swallow your water, and O sky, withhold [your rain]”. And the water subsided, and the matter was accomplished, and the ship [the ark of Nuh (as)] came to rest on the [mountain of] Judiyy. And it was said, “Away with the wrongdoing people”’. (Qur’an, 11:44) 

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Muslim Hands was established in the UK in 1993. Muslim Hands is an international aid agency and NGO working in over 50 countries worldwide to help those affected by natural disasters, conflict and poverty. Muslim Hands Canada is a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency (Charity Registration No. 81126 4985 RR0001).