Hadith on Muharram: Fasting on Ashura in Muharram

📖Sahih Muslim 1163 b
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported that he (the Messenger of Allah) was asked as to which prayer was most excellent after the prescribed prayer, and which fast was most excellent after the month of Ramadan. He said: Prayer offered in the middle of the night and the most excellent fast after (fasting) in the month of Ramadan is the fast in God’s month al-Muharram.

  • This hadith is a narration from Abu Huraira, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which explains that when the Prophet was asked about the most excellent voluntary prayer and the most excellent voluntary fast, he responded by saying that the most excellent voluntary prayer is the one offered in the middle of the night (Tahajjud prayer) and the most excellent voluntary fast is the fast observed in the month of Muharram. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, and it is considered to be a sacred month. Fasting during this month is considered highly meritorious, especially on the 10th day of Muharram, which is known as Ashura. There are different reasons given for the significance of fasting on Ashura in Islamic tradition. One of them is the belief that Allah (SWT) saved the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and his followers from Pharaoh on this day. According to the story, when the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and his people were fleeing from Pharaoh and his army, they came to the Red Sea, but they were unable to cross it. At this point, Allah (SWT) commanded Moses to strike the sea with his staff, and the sea parted, allowing them to cross safely. However, when Pharaoh and his army tried to follow them, the sea closed in on them, drowning them all. In gratitude for this miraculous event, the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) fasted on the day of Ashura, and it is believed that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also fasted on this day, either as a continuation of the tradition of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) or as a way to distinguish the Islamic practice from the Jewish practice. Muslims today continue this tradition by fasting on the day of Ashura, and many also observe voluntary fasts throughout the month of Muharram.