Ashura falls on the 10th day of Muharram, which is the first month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar. In Islam, it is considered as a month of pure sacredness and sanctity; being one of the four months that Allah chose to be sacred. In this month and the occasion of Ashura; Muslims should highly adhere to patience. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said:

“The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumadah and Sha'ban" (Al-Bukhari, 2958).

The word Ashura has great historical and religious significance and holds great meaning in the lives of Muslims worldwide. On this day:

•    Allah accepted the repentance of Hazrat Adam (AS) after his exile from Paradise.

•    Allah saved Hazrat Nuh (AS) and his companions in the ark.

•    Allah extinguished the fire in which Hazrat Ibrahim (AS) was thrown by Nimrod.

•    Allah spoke directly to Hazrat Musa (AS) and gave him the Commandments. It also marked the victory of Prophet Musa (AS) as Pharoah and his  army got defeated.

•    Hazrat Ayyub (AS) was restored to health (from leprosy).

•    Hazrat Yusuf ('AS) was reunited with his father Ya’qub ('Alaihis-Salaam).

•    Hazrat Yunus (AS) was taken out from the belly of the fish.

•    The sea was divided as the nation of Israel was delivered from captivity and Pharoah’s army was destroyed.

•    Hazrat Dawood ('Alaihis-Salaam) was forgiven.

•    The kingdom of Sulaiman ('Alaihis-Salaam) was restored.

•    Hazrat Isa ('Alaihis-Salaam) was raised to Jannah.

•    Hazrat Husayn (Radiyallahu 'anh) (the Holy Prophet’s grandson) achieved the honor of Martyrdom.

(Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, Sayyidina Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.)

Around the world, Muslims observe a fast on the day of Ashura because Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is known to have fasted on Ashura. Also, to distinguish Muslims from Jews, fast on the day before or after Ashura is to be kept. This is proved by the following Hadith whereby Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:

"When the following year comes, Allah willing, we shall fast on the ninth." (Muslim and Abu Dawud)

The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have also said that

“The fast on the 10th of Muharram atones for the sins of the preceding year” (Sahih Muslim).

Therefore, we are encouraged to worship and remember Allah(SWT) as much as we can on this day as it is one of the months most dear to our Lord. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) deemed Muharram to be the best month to fast in after Ramadan (Sahih Muslim).

How to spend the day of Ashura:

According to the leading scholars, Ashura should be spent in the remembrance of Allah(SWT) and carrying out good deeds as the day of Ashura holds great blessings and rewards for the believers. A few things considered desirable on Ashura are as follows:

•    Fast on Ashura (It is also recommended to fast a day before and after Ashura as well) – Allah will pardon your minor sins from the previous year.

•    Pray extra rakats of Nafl (supplementary prayers) and remember Allah(SWT).

•    Clothe a poor person- Allah(SWT) will release you from a painful punishment.

•    Visit a sick person - Allah(SWT) will grant you a reward that will not be decreased.

•    Help an orphan, feed a hungry person or give water to a thirsty man - Allah will feed you a feast from Paradise.

•    Take a bath on this day – Allah(SWT) will bestow excellent health and freedom from sickness and indolence.

•    Provide generously for your family on Ashura - Allah will be generous to you throughout the whole year.

•    Apply Kohl (surma) to your eyes – Allah(SWT) will not let you suffer from eye-sore.

(Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq, Sayyidina Abdul Qadir al-Jilani)

This Ashura, lets turn to Allah(SWT) and ask Him to bestow us with the ability to perform good deeds and gain His reward. Moreover, pray for this New Islamic Year to be one of peace, solidarity, harmony and cooperation for Muslims across the globe.

The author

Amna Anwaar