The virtues of the Day of ‘Ashura

The tenth day of the sacred month of Muharram, also known as ‘Ashura, held a special place in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). This blessed day has a significant history and many virtues that are important for the Muslim Ummah. 

Let’s take a look at some below:
Falls within one of the four sacred months
“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.” (Sahih Al Bukhari)

Stating these four months as sacred does not lower the value of any other months of the Islamic year.  Rather, the sanctity of these months was also in place during the time of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), and was repeated in the Quran. Even the pagans of Makkah upheld this tradition, and considered them as sacred months.
During these four months, fighting and warfare is prohibited. This allowed the pilgrims, who came from all over, a safe passage and to the marketplace, despite the constant battles that took place between the various tribes.

Historic day for Prophets (AS)  
The day of ‘Ashura was highly revered before the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), with thousands fasting on that day. Looking back in history, this day is significant in relation to two other prophets in Islam: Musa (AS) and Nuh (AS). 
“The Prophet (SAW) came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’. He said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa fasted on this day.’ He said, ‘We have more right to Musa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day.” [Bukhari] “.

The day of ‘Ashura was the day when the sea was parted at the strike of the staff for Prophet Musa (AS) and his people, saving them from the oppression of the Pharaoh. It was also the day when the ship of Prophet Nuh (AS) landed upon Mount Judi. In connection with other prophets, this day has been revered for centuries. 

Prophet (SAW) fasted on this day
“Allah’s messenger ordered (the Muslims) to fast on the day of ‘Ashura, and when fasting in the month of Ramadan was prescribed, it became optional for one to fast on that day (Ashura) or not.” (Sahih Al Bukhari)
Even before Islam was revealed to the Prophet (SAW), he used to fast this day every year, as did the people of the Quraysh. Even when this fast was made optional, he fasted the day following the tradition of Musa (AS) and encouraged others to do as well as it was the best fast after the fasting in Ramadan.
“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.” (Sahih Muslim)

Fasting expiates minor sins
“Fasting the day of ‘Arafah I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year before it and the year after it, and fasting the day of ‘Ashura I hope Allah will expiate thereby for the year that came before it.” (Sahih Muslim)
Fasting on the 9th and 10th of Muharram (or 10th and 11th, if the fast of the 9th was missed) expiates the minor sins of the previous year. Combined with fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, Allah presents us with numerous opportunities to wipe our slates clean for three years worth of minor sins.

Take advantage of this day
This day only comes once a year, so we should try our best to take advantage of its blessings. Not only was this day important to our Prophet (SAW), who fasted on this day even before the advent of Islam, it was a key day in the journey of Prophet Musa (AS) and Prophet Nuh (AS).  Along with fasting on this day to wash away our minor sins from the previous year, we should also increase in our good deeds and charity to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  
May Allah give us this opportunity to maximize the blessings and to appreciate the virtues of this blessed day.