A child who is not aware even of his surrounding knows that the New Year commences from the first day of January. He convinces his father through out the month of December to purchase for him crackers to celebrate the New Year. But how many of Muslim children know the first day of Islamic New Year? Unfortunately, most of the Muslims even do not know the names of all Islamic months, especially the month that marks the beginning of Islamic calendar.
Yes, some Muslims always remember a month called ‘Muharram’ as an evil and unlucky month. For Hazrat Husain (RA) had been martyred in the very month. If a day turns into evil and bad luck only because of the death of an immense personality then there would be hardly any good day. No day is free from the death of a great personality. Some others never forget to hold lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of Hazrat Husain (RA) during Muharram. But they never know that Hazrat Husain (RA) himself bequeathed his sister Zainab (RA) not to mourn over his death tearing her clothes, scratching her face, beating her chest or cursing anyone for his death. Since he was well aware of the saying of his grandfather, “He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of Jahiliyyah.” (Sahih Bukhari) A few brethren consider preparing special type of food on the ‘Day of Ashurah’-10th of Muharram as an act of worship. There are Muslims who believe that whoever takes a bath on the ‘Day of Ashurah’ will never fall ill. Some of them view that Hazrat Adam (AS) was created, Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) was born and the Taubah of Hazrat Adam (AS) was accepted on this very day, and this the day when Qiyaamah will occur.
Islam is not a religion based on customs and traditions, rather it is the only religion based on the divine principles. Islamic teachings strictly condemn all above-stated notions and rituals concerning the month of Muharram and the ‘Day of Ashurah’.
Muharram is the month which marks the beginning of Islamic New Year and is one of the sacred months referred to in the Glorious Qur’aan. This month enjoys a great significance. The Prophet of Islam (SAW) is reported as to have said, “The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadhan is the fasting of Allah’s month of Muharram and the best of Salaah besides the Fardh is the Tahajjud Salaah”. (Sahih Muslim: 1/368)
Each day of Muharram is significant. But the ‘Day of Ashurah’ has been distinguished from the other days. It has been reported in abundant of authentic Ahadith that fasting on the ‘Day of Ashurah’ was obligatory in the beginning. But when the fasting of Ramadhan was prescribed, the fast of Ashurah turned into optional one. It is related on the authority of Sayyedina Aaish (RA) that the Quraish used to fast on the ‘Day of Ashurah’ in the pre-Islamic period, and Allah’s Apostle too, used to fast on that day. When he came to Madinah, he fasted on that day and ordered others to fast as well. Later on when the fasting of Ramadhan was prescribed, he gave up fasting on the ‘Day of ‘Ashurah’ and it became optional for one to fast on it or not. (Sahih Bukhari, Kibatussawm)
However, the Prophet (SAW) used to fast on the ‘Day of Ashurah’ even after it became optional. Ibne Abbas (RA) reported that he never saw the Prophet (SAW) seeking to fast on a day more (preferable to him) than this day, the ‘Day of Ashurah’, or this month, i.e. the month of Ramadhan. (Ibid)
Ibne Abbass (RA) also narrated that when the Prophet (SAW) fasted on the ‘Day of Ashurah’ and asked people to fast, they said, “O Messenger of Allaah, this is the day respected by the Jews.” The Prophet (SAW) said, “If I live next year, I shall also fast on the ninth day.” But by the time, the following year came, the Prophet (SAW) had passed away. (Sahih Muslim)
Therefore, it is a Prophetic Sunnah to fast on the ‘Day of Ashurah’ as well as a day before or after it—9-10 or 10-11 Maharram to oppose that fasting way of the Jews.