“He is not from us who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of Jahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic Era of Ignorance)”. [Al-Bukhari].
Muharram is the first lunar month and marks the beginning of another Islamic year-Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months (Zulqadah, Zulhijjah, Muharram and Rajab) about which the Holy Quran says, “The number of the months according to Allah is twelve months.’’. The Holy Prophet SAW in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, has declared:”One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Zulqadah, Zulhijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.”
Although Muharram is a sacred month as a whole, yet the 10th (‘Aashooraa’) day is the most sacred. According to Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, when the Prophet migrated to Madinah, he found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the day because according to them, it was the day on which Prophet Moosa (Moses), and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Prophet said, “We are worthier of Musa than you,” and he urged the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’. [Abu Daawood].
In the beginning, fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ was obligatory for the Muslims, but became optional when the fast of the month of Ramadan was made obligatory. ‘So, whoever wishes to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’, he may do so, and whoever chooses not to fast, then he may also do so.” [Abu Daawood].
A narration however, has shown the prophet’s recommendation on this. Abdullaah Ibn Moosa, may Allah be pleased with him, reports that the Prophet preferred the fast of ‘Aashooraa’ over the fasts of other days and preferred the fast of the month of Ramadan over the fast of ‘Aashooraa’. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of Ashurah should either be prefixed or suffixed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th of it. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet is that the Jews used to fast on the day of Aashooraa’ alone and the Holy Prophet wanted to distinguish the Islamic-way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to it. “The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram.”Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty.
The importance of the day ends with efforts to earn rewards from Allah but there are many innovations and myths that might obliterate that reward in the hereafter if one indulges in them. And these are legends and misconceptions that have managed to find their ways into the minds of the unlearned. Some very common of them are believing that : it was the day on which Adam was created, the day when Prophet Ibraheem was born, the day Allah accepted the repentance of Adam, the day when Doomsday will take place, taking a bath on the day one will never get ill and the biggest of the myth is insinuation that the sanctity of ‘Aashooraa’ is because of the martyrdom of Al-Hussayn, the grandson of the Prophet on that day; (whereas the sanctity of Aashooraa’ was established during the days of the Holy Prophet). Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Husain. “He is not from us who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of Jahiliyyah (Pre-Islamic Era of Ignorance)”. [Al-Bukhari]. And to prepare a particular type of meal on the day of ‘Aashooraa’
All these and other similar whims and illusions are totally baseless and the narrations if any referred to these are not worthy of any credit and have no basis in the authentic Islamic sources.