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The Significance of Ashura

Many people don’t know this but the 10th of Muharram or Youm e Ashura (Day of Ashura) holds similar significance for all Muslims. In fact, Ashura has been an important event even before Islam when the Quraish of Makkah and Jews of Madina revered it for reasons you will learn about soon.

Did you know Prophet Muhammad (SAW) fasted on Ashura, even when he was not made a Prophet? That’s right.

Mother of the believers Aisha (RA) said: “During the pre-Islamic period of ignorance the Quraish used to observe fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’, and the Prophet (SAW) himself used to observe fasting on it too.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari – 4504]

The fact that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself fasted on Ashura and the Quraish did it too, even before Islam, shows that this day held significance in a culture that had its origin rooted in the Abrahamic era, highlighting that 10th of Muharram may have been sacred during the time of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) as well.

According to another well-known hadith from Musnad Ahmad, we learn that Prophet Nuh (AS) got relief from 950 years of hardship in Muharram when his ark landed on the mountain on the day we now know as Ashura.

This hadith may be weak, but in another authentic narration from Sahih Al-Bukhari, we learn that when Prophet Muhammad (SAW) migrated to Madina, he saw that the Jews fasted on the day of Ashura saying it was the day Prophet Musa (AS) got victory over Pharaoh. In a hadith quoted by Imam Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (SAW) said: ‘You (Muslims) have more right to celebrate Moses’ victory than they have, so observe the fast on this day.’ [Sahih Al-Bukhari – 4680]

Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) grandson Hussain (RA) also embraced martyrdom on the 10th of Muharram while fighting against tyranny and oppression. This is yet another incident in Islamic history that reinforces the significance of this holy day.

If you notice, most of the events that make Ashura an important date in the Muslim calendar have one thing in common – victory against tyranny and oppression granted to pious servants of God.

So, as you prepare to fast on Ashura, don’t forget to reflect on and pick some lessons from the events that make this day important.

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