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The Virtue of Fasting on the Day of Arafah And Ashura’.

(the 9th Day of Muharram

When Abu Qatadah (May Allah be pleased with him) was asked about
fasting on the day of Arafah, he said: “It is an expiation for the sins of
the preceding year and the current one.” [Sahih Muslim]

The ninth day of Dhulhijjah (the 12th Lunar Month) is called, the Arafah
Day. On this day pilgrims converge and stand in prayers and
supplications at Arafat. That is the most important ritual of pilgrimage, so
much so that pilgrimage is deemed incomplete without it. On that day, the
pilgrims become engaged in the remembrance of Allah Almighty,
supplication and prayer as that is the most important act of worship on
that day. It is due to this reason that fasting is not prescribed for them, but
rather for other people who did not observe the Pilgrimage. Fasting on
this day has a special merit. Its importance and merit can be derived from
the fact that it expiates sins committed in two consecutive years; the
previous year and the current one. The sins meant here are the minor ones
but not the major ones. For you to be forgiven the major sins, you ought
to go repent to God the Omniscient putting into consideration the
prerequisites of repentance. Fasting on that day becomes also a means of
elevation of one’s status.

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger
of Allah (PBUH) fasted on the day of Ashura’a and commanded us to
fast on that day. [Al-Bukha’ri and Muslim]

Ashurah, is the 10th of Muharram (the first month of the Hijri Lunar
Calendar). It is stated that when the Messenger of Allah (PBUH)
emigrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah, he found out that the Jews were
fasting on this day. He incidentally asked them about the reason behind
their fast on that day. They replied by saying that Allah Almighty
emancipated and delivered Moses (PBUH) with his bona-fide followers
from Pharaoh’s oppression on that day. In expression of their joy, they
fasted on this day. He then vehemently said that Muslims had a greater
right to observe fasting on this day than the Jews owing to the fact that
the Jews rejected his message, which culminated into his (Muhammad’s)
message that Muslims carried and still hold firm to it earnestly.
Consequently, he also fasted on this day and urged Muslims to observe
the fast. He then said that if he lived up to the following year, he would
fast on the 9th and the 10th of Muharram in order to make Muslims
different from the Jews in the acts of worship.

According to another Hadith (Prophetic tradition), he ordained Muslims
to fast on the occasion of Ashuraa, an additional day either the 9th or 10th
or the 10th and 11th of Muharram in opposition to the Jews. [Musnad Al-
Imam Ahmad, Vol 4, P-21

This fasting can be observed either on the 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th of
Muharram. It is regrettable indeed that many present-day Muslims do not
follow this Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

It was reported by Abu Qata’dah that when the Messenger of Allah

(PBUH) was asked about fasting on the 10th day of Muharram, he replied
that it is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.” (Sahih

Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “If I remain alive
till the next year, I shall observe also the 9th day of Muharram.”
[Sahih Muslim]

Some people think that these words stand to mean that they should fast on
the 9th of Muharram only. But this interpretation does not agree with
other traditions of the Messenger of Allah. In order to be different from
the Jews, the Messenger of Allah decided to fast together with the 10th
day one more day. In this connection, we have quoted the prophetic
tradition above.

It is very important for a Muslim to observe fast on as many occasions as

he could so that he be blessed with the mercy and expiation from sins by
God Almighty.

Such annual occasions are a golden chance for a Muslim to enhance his
positive image in front of Allah Almighty as well as getting his sins
forgiven. Most importantly is to repent to God Almighty to forgive one’s

Prepared by:

Hassan T. Bwambale
Researcher, English Speaking Community, IPC