When the Day of Judgment comes, we will without doubt all desire to steer
clear from our sins and wish that we had done more good deeds that would be a
cause for removal of our bad deeds.
Of much interest to us Muslims these days should be the fasting of the 9th and
the 10th of Muharram. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said about the voluntary fasting on
the Day of Aashooraa: "It expiates the sins of the preceding year." (Sahih
Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: "The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) came
to al-Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Aashooraa. He asked them
about that. They replied, 'This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued
Baani Israa’eel from their enemy. So Moosa observed fast on this day.' The
Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, 'We have more claim over Moosa than you.' So the
Prophet (p.b.u.h.) observed fast on that day and ordered Muslims to observe fast
(on that day)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim)
Ibn Abbas also reported, "The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) fasted on the day of
Aashooraa and ordered the people to fast on it. The people said, 'O Messenger of
Allah, it is a day that the Jews and Christians honor.' The Prophet (p.b.u.h.)
said, 'When the following year comes - Allah willing - we shall fast on the
ninth.' The death of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) came before the following year."
(Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawood)
So it is recommended to fast on the 10th of Muharram and the 9th along with it
Qadi Ibn Rushd says that the scholars disagreed whether the fast is to be done
on the 9th or the 10th of Muharram based on the above traditions (Bidayat ul
Mujtahid). And I have found a recommendation to fast on both days in various
books, such as al-Hindee’s "Mukhtasar al-Ahkaam al-Fiqhiyyah", Jameel Zeno’s
"The Pillars of Islam and Iman", and Dr. Jaafar Shaikh Idris’ "The Fast."
As for the wisdom behind this fast, the following is stated in the Mukhtasar
version of Ibn ul Qayyim’s "Zaad ul-Ma`aad":
"The day of Aashooraa was the day when Moosa and his men got freedom from the
hands of the Pharaoh and it was in the sacred memory of this great event that
the Muslims observed voluntary fasting. The idea underlying this is to stress
the affinity amongst the messengers of Allah and to show that religious devotion
is a constant flow from one generation to another. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) came
not to abrogate all the earlier religious practices but to codify and preserve
them for all times to come in ideal forms."
Some sayings reported from the Salaf that can serve as an encouragement to do
Taubah ibn Samat used to take account of himself and is reported to have counted
the number of days in his life at the age of sixty. He found there were 21,500
days and shrieked: "What will happen to me if I meet the King with 21,500 sins?
What will happen if there are 10,000 sins in each day?"
Al-Hasan al-Basri would say, "From the signs that one has drowned in sins, is
lack of delight in fasting in the day and praying through the night."
Alqamah Ibn Qais asked Abu Nu`aim - who was a devout worshipper - why he was
hard on his body. "I want this body to be comfortable later on," he
Of Al-Ahnaf Ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told: "You are an aged
elder; fasting would enfeeble you. But he replied: 'By this I am making ready
for a long journey. Obedience to Allah, Glorified is He, is easier to endure
than His punishment.'"