Allah's sacred month of Muharram is a blessed and important month. It is the first month of the Hijri calendar and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…" [al-Tawbah 9:36]
It was reported that Ibn 'Abbaas said that this phrase (so wrong not yourselves therein…) referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.
The Virtue of observing more naafil fasts during Muharram:
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: '
The best of fasting after Ramadaan is fasting Allah's month of Muharram.'" (reported by Muslim).
This hadeeth is probably meant to encourage increasing one's fasting during Muharram, without meaning that one should fast for the entire month.
Fasting on 'Aashooraa'
Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madeenah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of 'Aashooraa'. 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 Moosa fasted on this day.' He said, 'We have more right to Moosa than you,' so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day." (Reported by al-Bukhaari)
Fasting on the day of 'Aashooraa', was obligatory but when fasting Ramadaan was made obligatory, the obligation to fast 'Aashooraa' was lifted, i.e., it was no longer obligatory to fast on this day, but it is still desirable (mustahabb).
The virtues of fasting 'Aashooraa:
Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: "I never saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of#'Aashooraa', and this month, meaning Ramadaan." (Reported by al-Bukhaari).
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "For fasting the day of 'Aashooraa', I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before." (Reported by Muslim).
This is from the bounty of Allah towards us: for fasting one day He gives us expiation for the sins of a whole year. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.
Which day is 'Aashooraa'?
Ibn 'Abbaas, said: 'The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded us to fast 'Aashooraa', the tenth day of Muharram.' (Reported by al-Tirmidhi). It is mustahabb (encouraged) to fast Taasoo'aa' with 'Aashooraa':
'Abd-Allah ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: "When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on 'Aashooraa' and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, 'O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.' The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, 'If I live to see the next year, insha' Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.' But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed away before the next year came." (Reported by Muslim)
Al-Shaafa'i and his companions, Ahmad, Is- haaq and others said: "It is mustahabb to fast on both the ninth and tenth days, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on the tenth, and intended to fast on the ninth."
On this basis it may be said that there are varying degrees of fasting 'Aashooraa', the least of which is to fast only on the tenth and the best of which is to fast the ninth as well. And the more one fasts in Muharram, the better it is.
We ask Allah to make us followers of the Sunnah of His Noble Prophet and may Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions and his true followers.
Extracted from Booklet by Shaykh Saleh Munajjid