Assalamalekum Brothers and Sisters,
It's the holy month of Muharram and the great Ashura has already passed. I would like to draw and topic to you and share my findings on the context. Kindly guide me on the issue if required.
Fasting on 10th of Muharram is a common practice all over the world. However, I'd like to dissect the issue based on a lecture of Syed Ammar Nakshwani below:
1. Hadith of Fasting in Ashura
Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
The Prophet (ﷺ) came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them about that. They replied, "This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Bani Israel from their enemy. So, Moses fasted this day." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "We have more claim over Moses than you." So, the Prophet fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast (on that day).
Sahih Bukhari: Book of Fasting, Hadith# 222
Narrated Abu Musa:
The day of 'Ashura' was considered as `Id day by the Jews. So the Prophet (ﷺ) ordered, "I recommend you (Muslims) to fast on this day."
Sahih Bukhari: Book of Fasting, Hadith# 223
Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
When Allah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) came to Medina, he found the Jews observing the fast on the day of Ashura. They (the Jews) were asked about it and they said: It is the day on which Allaah granted victory to Moses and (his people) Bani Isra'il over the Pharaoh and we observe fast out of gratitude to Him. Upon this the Prophet of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: We have a closer connection with Moses than you have, and he commanded to observe fast on this day.
Sahih Muslim: Book of Fasting, Hadith# 2518
Narrated Ibn `Abbas:
The Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) arrived in Medina and found the Jews observing fast on the day of 'Ashura. The Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said to them: What is the (significance) of this day that you observe fast on it? They said: It is the day of great (significance) when Allaah delivered Moses and his people, and drowned the Pharaoh and his people, and Moses observed fast out of gratitude and we also observe it. Upon this the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: We have more right, and we have a closer connection with Moses than you have; so Allaah's Messenger (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) observed fast (on the day of 'Ashura), and gave orders that it should be observed.
Sahih Muslim: Book of Fasting, Hadith# 2520
2. Narrators of the Hadith
Now let’s dissect this issue in the light of the narrators of the Hadith:
Abd Allah ibn Abbas or ′Abd Allah ibn al-′Abbas otherwise called (Ibn Abbas; Al-Habr; Al-Bahr; The Doctor; The Sea) was born c. 619 CE. He was the son of Al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, an uncle of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, and a nephew of the Maymunah bint al-Harith, who later became Muhammad's wife. He was one of Muhammad's cousins and one of the early Qur'an scholars.
Since Ibn Abbas was only approx. 3-4 years old (as our Prophet (SAW) migrated on 622 CE), it’s quite ironic that a child of such age experienced the event of Jewish fasting and can explain the whole event such accurately later on.
Abu-Musa Abd-Allah Ibn Qays al-Ash'ari, better known as Abu Musa al-Ashari (d.ca. 662 or 672) was a companion of Muhammad and an important figure in early Islamic history. He was at various times governor of Basra and Kufa and was involved in the early Muslim conquests of Persia. Abu Musa came originally from Zabid, region of Yemen, where his tribe, the Ashar, lived in the pre-Islamic period. He accepted Islam at Mecca prior to the hijra and returned to his native Yemen to propagate the faith. There was no news of him for more than a decade until following the conquest of Khaybar in 628 when he came to Muhammad in Medina with more than fifty converts from Yemen including his two brothers Abu Ruhm and Abu Burdah.
Since Abu Musa returned in Khaybar on 628 CE, it can be seen that he was not also present during the Jewish Fasting issue.
3. Meaning of Ashura
Although the term Ashura is considered as the 10th of Muharram, but according to the explanation of Arabic language scholar Ali-Ibn Al Athir (1160-1233), the word Ashura has two meanings, an old meaning and a new meaning. Ashura came from ‘Ashrah’ which means ten in Arabic, so according to the old meaning- the 10th day of any month is known as Ashura, and according to the new meaning- after the martyrdom of Hussain bin Ali (AS) the term Ashura refers to 10th day of Muharram month. So if for the sake of argument if we believe that the Jewish fasting was on Ashura, it’s not necessary that it was the 10th of Muharram.
4. Arabic Calendar VS Jewish Calendar
It’s quite ironic that Jews of medina were following the Arabic calendar that time, whereas they had their own calendar. It’s assumed that the day they referred that time could be the 10th of Tishri or 15th of Nisan according to the Jewish calendar. 10th of Tishri in Judaism is known as YOM KEPOOR or Ayiam e Kaffara (Year of Attonment) was the date when Moses (AS) came back from mount Sinai and saw his followers worshiping the golden calf. And 15th of Nisan was the date when the Jews were saved from being drowned in Nile.
Now let’s peep into the miscalculations of dates for the event:
1. If the event referred to 10th of Tishri, the only year that time when 10th Muharram and 10th Tishri collided, was on 40th Year of Hijrah. So it could not be the Year when Prophet (SAW) entered Medina.
2. If it was 15th of Nisan, then it should have been the 23rd of Ramadan of the Year of Hijrah, not 10th of Muharram.
3. Last but not the least, Prophet (SAW) entered Medina on Rabiul Awwal, not Muharram!!
Considering the discussed facts we can conclude that the Hadith of Jewish fasting is a fabrication and should not be let supersede the greatness of the Martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) and his holy family. Jazakullah Khairan.