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In the Name of God بسم الله

Fasting on Ashura: Myths and Miscalculations

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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 () 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 () 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 () 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:

Ibn `Abbas:

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:

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.

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13 hours ago, Haydar Husayn said:

Why do Nakshawani's 'dissections' of these topics never consider the Shia hadiths on the matter? Are they not relevant, or is it just inconvenient to have to mention them?

I believe most of his lectures are to address the non Shia followers (more precisely for Ahle Sunnah) and referring the Shia Hadith might not be convincing for them, that's why he refers siah sittah Hadith. 

Edited by Ghadeer_14
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7 minutes ago, Ghadeer_14 said:

I believe most of his lectures are to address the non Shia followers (more precisely for Ahle Sunnah) and referring the Shia Hadith might not be convincing for them, that's why he refers siah sittah Hadith. 

I'm pretty sure the overwhelming majority of his lectures are addressed to Shias. The arguments he gives may be directed as Sunnis, but his audience are Shias. The problem with his superficial approach is that you end up shooting yourself in the foot when it turns out that there are Shia hadiths that uphold what you claim are 'complete fabrications'. It just baffles me as to why a Shia scholar or speaker, when dealing with controversial issues in Islam, wouldn't look at what the Imams are recorded to have said about that topic. It's a little strange to constantly refer to the 'pure teachings of the Ahlulbayt', but then never actually bring them up in these discussions. Perhaps it's because you then have to admit that these issues aren't as black and white as you would like to pretend, and shades of grey don't make for a good lecture.

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38 minutes ago, Haydar Husayn said:

I'm pretty sure the overwhelming majority of his lectures are addressed to Shias. The arguments he gives may be directed as Sunnis, but his audience are Shias. The problem with his superficial approach is that you end up shooting yourself in the foot when it turns out that there are Shia hadiths that uphold what you claim are 'complete fabrications'. It just baffles me as to why a Shia scholar or speaker, when dealing with controversial issues in Islam, wouldn't look at what the Imams are recorded to have said about that topic. It's a little strange to constantly refer to the 'pure teachings of the Ahlulbayt', but then never actually bring them up in these discussions. Perhaps it's because you then have to admit that these issues aren't as black and white as you would like to pretend, and shades of grey don't make for a good lecture.

More to the point, the basic premise of this argument is that what the Sunnis narrated regarding the Jews and 'Ashura isn't possible for various reason - the part about the Jews isn't present in the Shi'a narrations, so their argument falls apart.

Edited by Ali_Hussain
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I'm not really making a specific point about fasting on Ashura, even though there are narrations that mention that the Prophet (s) used to do it prior to the fast of the month of Ramadan being revealed. My point is more about the general approach being used by pretty much all Shia speakers.

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On 10/13/2016 at 1:45 PM, ShiaMan14 said:

Fasting on Ashura – Myth debunked
There is a common practice amongst Muslims to fast on the 10th of Muharram (1 month of the Islamic calendar). Although there are several hadith in support of this act, they can be summarized using the 2 primary hadiths below:
“When Allah's Apostle arrived at Medina, he found the Jews observing the fast on the day of 'ashura' (10th of Muharram). The Prophet asked them (about it) and they replied, "This is the day when Moses became victorious over Pharaoh." The Prophet said (to the Muslims), "We are nearer to Moses than they, so fast on this day."
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 222: Narrated by Ibn 'Abbas
Volume 4, Book 55, Number 609: Narrated by Ibn 'Abbas
Volume 5, Book 58, Number 279: Narrated by Ibn 'Abbas
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 202: Narrated by Ibn 'Abbas
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 261: Narrated by Ibn 'Abbas
Sahih Bukhari
“During the Pre-lslamic Period of ignorance the Quraish used to observe fasting on the day of 'ashura', and the Prophet himself used to observe fasting on it too. But when he came to Medina, he fasted on that day and ordered the Muslims to fast on it. When (the order of compulsory fasting in ) Ramadan was revealed, fasting in Ramadan became an obligation, and fasting on 'ashura' was given up, and who ever wished to fast (on it) did so, and whoever did not wish to fast on it, did not fast.”
Volume 6, Book 60, Number 31: Narrated by Aisha
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 117: Narrated by 'Aisha (similar to above hadith)
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 220: Narrated by Aisha (similar to above hadith)
Volume 5, Book 58, Number 172: Narrated by 'Aisha (similar to above hadith)
Sahih Bukhari
Let’s investigate the first hadith – fasting in observance Moses victory.
In Judaism, this event is known as Passover. The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. The Jews of Medina also followed this calendar and not the Arab calendar. Authentic hadith tell us that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) migrated from Mecca to Medina at the end of Safar so his first Ashura in Medina was in AH2. Based on on-line date conversion software (+- 1-2 days):
10 Muharram AH2 (Islamic date) = 14 July 623AD (Gregorian date) = 8th of Av, 4383 (Jewish date)
Since the month of AV is the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar, it is highly unlikely the Jews were fasting in observance of Passover on the 10th of Muharram since the dates were nowhere close to each other.
Now for the 2nd hadith – continuing the custom of Qurayish by fasting on 10th Muharram
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) spent 23 years of his preaching Islam and abrogating the customs of the kuffar of Mecca yet he continued this custom even after hijra? Highly unlikely!

Even if the above traditions are taken to be true, why only celebrate one Jewish custom out of thousands of them? Also, if the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) celebrated their joyous occasions, did he observe and show sorrow during their sad or calamitous days? Why not observe the Sabbath or celebrate the birthday of UZA?

The entire Muslim community has a choice: either celebrate Ashura by fasting and celebrating in allegiance to the Jews of Medina and Kuffar of Mecca or observe the calamity that befell the progeny of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in a solemn and somber manner. BTW, one of the options makes you a munafiq (hint: loving the Prophet but ignoring the calamity of his progeny)

Annual reminder...

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Kulayni quotes from Ja‘far ibn ‘Isa that he said, “I asked Imam al-Rida (عليه السلام) about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. I also asked his opinion about what people say about this fast. The Imam (عليه السلام) said,

«عن صوم ابن مرجانة تسألني.»

‘You are asking me about the fast of the son of Marjanah?’”

(Al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 146, hadith 5; Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 10, p. 460, section [bab] 21, hadith 3.) 

On his own chain of transmission, Kulayni quotes from Zayd Narsi that he said, “I heard ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Zurarah asking Imam al-Sadiq about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. Imam al-Sadiq (عليه السلام) replied saying,

«من صامه کان حظّه من صيام ذلك اليوم حظّ ابن مرجانة وآل زياد.»

‘The reward for anyone fasting on that day will be given to the son of Marjanah and Ibn Ziyad’s partisans’.”

Zayd says, “I asked what the reward of fasting on that day is.’ The Imam (عليه السلام) replied,

«النار، اعاذنا الله من النار، ومن عمل يقرب من النار.»

“The Fire, may Allah save us from the Fire. Anyone who fasts on the day of ‘Ashura has made himself nearer to the Fire.”

(Al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 147, hadith 6; Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 10, p. 461, section [bab] 21, hadith 4.) 

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On 9/9/2019 at 5:55 AM, Sirius_Bright said:

Kulayni quotes from Ja‘far ibn ‘Isa that he said, “I asked Imam al-Rida (عليه السلام) about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. I also asked his opinion about what people say about this fast. The Imam (عليه السلام) said,

«عن صوم ابن مرجانة تسألني.»

‘You are asking me about the fast of the son of Marjanah?’”

(Al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 146, hadith 5; Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 10, p. 460, section [bab] 21, hadith 3.) 

On his own chain of transmission, Kulayni quotes from Zayd Narsi that he said, “I heard ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Zurarah asking Imam al-Sadiq about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura. Imam al-Sadiq (عليه السلام) replied saying,

«من صامه کان حظّه من صيام ذلك اليوم حظّ ابن مرجانة وآل زياد.»

‘The reward for anyone fasting on that day will be given to the son of Marjanah and Ibn Ziyad’s partisans’.”

Zayd says, “I asked what the reward of fasting on that day is.’ The Imam (عليه السلام) replied,

«النار، اعاذنا الله من النار، ومن عمل يقرب من النار.»

“The Fire, may Allah save us from the Fire. Anyone who fasts on the day of ‘Ashura has made himself nearer to the Fire.”

(Al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 147, hadith 6; Wasa’il al-Shi‘ah, vol. 10, p. 461, section [bab] 21, hadith 4.) 

I find it hard to believe that an Imam would dismiss fasting as an evil act—no matter what the reason.

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2 hours ago, 786:) said:

I find it hard to believe that an Imam would dismiss fasting as an evil act—no matter what the reason.

I don't find it hard to believe that you dismiss this as you dismiss many other Imam's (عليه السلام) sayings. 

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How many Hadith do Sunni people have that if someone fasted on that particular day, your 1 year sin will be wiped? Like if I’m not wrong, didn’t Sunni said if we fast 6 days after the month of Ramadan, our sins will be wiped? Same thing for ashura? (Ofc, according to them)

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2 hours ago, Diaz said:

How many Hadith do Sunni people have that if someone fasted on that particular day, your 1 year sin will be wiped? Like if I’m not wrong, didn’t Sunni said if we fast 6 days after the month of Ramadan, our sins will be wiped? Same thing for ashura? (Ofc, according to them)

:salam:

To be fair in judgement, how many of those ahadith do we have too ? Of the easiest things such as pronouncing salawat on certain days, or praying a two raka`a prayer for some particular occasion.

It's not just them.

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8 hours ago, realizm said:

:salam:

To be fair in judgement, how many of those ahadith do we have too ? Of the easiest things such as pronouncing salawat on certain days, or praying a two raka`a prayer for some particular occasion.

It's not just them.

Can you give me an example pls?

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What ought to stick out like a sore thumb is:

a.) Why would the Prophet, peace be upon him, want to adopt the Jewish fast as his own yet according to the same book of hadiths tell people to distinguish themselves from the Jews in every other way?

b.) Why would he ask the Jews what the fast is? Surely as a Prophet of God he would already have this knowledge from God and he would already know because he was a descendant of Abraham, peace be upon him.

I heard in a lecture that the fast of Ashura was actually done by the pagans of Mecca, and it had something to do with the kaba. That it had nothing to do with the Jews because of the solar-lunar calendar. On the other hand I have heard it was taken as the fast of the early Muslims, just as Jerusalem was the qibla, but later the month of Ramadan became the fasting month and Mecca became the qibla.

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12 minutes ago, mn05 said:

Salaam why do some schalors say its makruh to fast on Ashura and some schalors say its haraam? 

Who said it’s makruh? All of them said it’s haram.

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Muslim conceptions of Ashura and Karbala

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