INNOVATIONS COMMON ON ‘ASHURA’

Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the things that people deople do on ‘Ashura’, such as wearing kohl, taking a bath (ghusl), wearing henna, shaking hands with one another, cooking grains (hubub), showing happiness and so on. Was any of this reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in a sahih hadith, or not? If nothing to that effect was reported in a sahih hadith, is doing these things bid’ah, or not? Is there any basis for what the other group do, such as grieving and mourning, going without anything to drink, eulogizing and wailing, reciting in a crazy manner, and rending their garments?rments?

His reply was: “Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Nothing to that effect has been reported in any sahih hadith from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or from his Companions. None of the Imams of the Muslims encouraged or recommended such things, neither the four Imams, nor any others. No reliable scholars have narrated anything like this, neither from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), nor from the Sahabah, nor from the Tabi’in; neither in any sahih report or in a da’if (weak) report; neither in the books of Sahih, nor in as-Sunan, nor in the Musnads. No hadith of this nature was known during the best centuries, but some of the later narrators reported ahadith like the one which says, ‘Whoever puts kohl in his eyes on the day of ‘Ashura’ will not suffer from eye disease in that year, and whoever takes a bath (does ghusl) on the day of ‘Ashura’ will not get sick in that year,’ and so on. They also reported a fabricated hadith that is falsely attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), which says, ‘Whoever is generous to his family on the day of ‘Ashura’, Allah will be generous to him for the rest of the year.’ Reporting all of this from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is tantamount to lying.”

Then he [Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy on him)] discussed in brief the tribulations that had occurred in the early days of this Ummah and the killing of al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him), and what the various sects had done because of this. Then he said:

“An ignorant, wrongful group – who were either heretics and hypocrites, or misguided and misled – made a show of allegiance to him and the members of his household, so they took the day of ‘Ashura’ as a day of mourning and wailing, in which they openly displayed the rituals of jahiliyyah such as slapping their cheeks and rending their garments, grieving in the manner of the jahiliyyah ……

“The Shaytan made this attractive to those who are misled, so they took the day of ‘Ashura’ as an occasion of mourning, when they grieve and wail, recite poems of grief and tell stories filled with lies. Whatever truth there may be in these stories serves no purpose other than the renewal of their grief and sectarian feeling, and the stirring up of hatred and hostility among the Muslims, which they do by cursing those who came before them …

“The evil and harm that they do to the Muslims cannot be enumerated by any man, no matter how eloquent he is. Some others – either Nasibis who oppose and have enmity towards al-Husayn and his family or ignorant people who try to fight evil with evil, corruption with corruption, lies with lies and bid’ah with bid’ah – opposed them by fabricating reports in favour of making the day of ‘Ashura’ a day of celebration, by wearing kohl and henna, spending money on one’s children, cooking special dishes and other things that are done on ‘Eid and special occasions. These people took the day of ‘Ashura’ as a festival like ‘Eid, whereas the others took it as a day of mourning. Both are wrong, and both go against the Sunnah, even though the other group (those who take it as a day of mourning) are worse in intention and more ignorant and more plainly wrong …

“Neither the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) nor his successors (the khulafa’ ar-rashidun) did any of these things on the day of ‘Ashura’, they neither made it a day of mourning nor a day of celebration …

“As for the other things, such as cooking special dishes with or without grains, or wearing new clothes, or spending money on one’s family, or buying the year’s supplies on that day, or doing special acts of worship such as special prayers or deliberately slaughtering an animal on that day, or saving some of the meat of the sacrifice to cook with grains, or wearing kohl and henna, or taking a bath (ghusl), or shaking hands with one another, or visiting one another, or visiting the mosques and shrines and so on … all of this is reprehensible bid’ah and is wrong. None of it has anything to do with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or the way of the Khulafa’ ar-Rashidun. It was not approved of by any of the Imams of the Muslims, not Malik, not ath-Thawri, not al-Layth ibn Sa’ad, not Abu Hanifah, not al-Awza’i, not al-Shafi’i, not Ahmad ibn Hanbal, not Ishaq ibn Rahwayh, not any of the Imams and scholars of the Muslims.” [Al-Fatawa al-Kubra by Ibn Taymiyyah]

Ibn al-Hajj (may Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that one of the bid’ah on ‘Ashura’ was deliberately paying zakat on this day, late or early, or slaughtering a chicken just for this occasion, or – in the case of women – using henna. [Al-Madkhal, part 1, Yawm ‘Ashura’]

FASTING ‘ASHURA’ WHEN ONE STILL HAS DAYS TO MAKE UP FROM RAMADHAN

The fuqaha’ differed concerning the ruling on observing voluntary fasts before a person has made up days that he or she did not fast in Ramadhan. The Hanafis said that it is permissible to observe voluntary fasts before making up days from Ramadhan, and it is not makruh to do so, because the missed days do not have to be made up straight away. The Malikis and Shafi’is said that it is permissible but is makruh, because it means that one is delaying something obligatory. Ad-Dusuqi said: “It is makruh to observe a voluntary fast when one still has to make up an obligatory fast, such as a fast in fulfilment of a vow, or a missed obligatory fast, or a fast done as an act of expiation (kafarah), whether the voluntary fast which is being given priority over an obligatory fast is something confirmed in Shari’ah or not, such as ‘Ashura’ and the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, according to the most correct opinion.” The Hanbalis said that it is haram to observe a voluntary fast before making up any fasts missed in Ramadhan, and that a voluntary fast in such cases does not count, even if there is plenty of time to make up the obligatory fast. So a person must give priority to the obligatory fasts until he has made them up. [Al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 28, Sawm at-Tatawwu’]

Muslims must hasten to make up any missed fasts after Ramadhan, so that they will be able to fast ‘Arafah and ‘Ashura’ without any problem. If a person fasts ‘Arafah and ‘Ashura’ with the intention from the night before of making up for a missed fast, this will be good enough to make up what he has missed, for the bounty of Allah is great.

NOT RELYING TOO MUCH ON THE REWARD FOR FASTING

Some people who are deceived rely too much on things like fasting on ‘Ashura’ or the day of ‘Arafah, to the extent that some of them say, “Fasting on ‘Ashura’ will expiate for the sins of the whole year, and fasting on the day of ‘Arafah will bring extra rewards.” Ibn al-Qayyim said: “This misguided person does not know that fasting in Ramadhan and praying five times a day are much more important than fasting on the day of ‘Arafah and ‘Ashura’, and that they expiate for the sins between one Ramadhan and the next, or between one Friday and the next, so long as one avoids major sins. But they cannot expiate for minor sins unless one also avoids major sins; when the two things are put together, they have the strength to expiate for minor sins. Among those deceived people may be one who thinks that his good deeds are more than his sins, because he does not pay attention to his bad deeds or check on his sins, but if he does a good deed he remembers it and relies on it. This is like the one who seeks Allah’s forgiveness with his tongue (i.e., by words only), and glorifies Allah by saying “Subhanallah” one hundred times a day, then he backbites about the Muslims and slanders their honour, and speaks all day long about things that are not pleasing to Allah. This person is always thinking about the virtues of his tasbihat (saying “Subhanallah”) and tahlilat (saying “La ilaha illallah”) but he pays no attention to what has been reported concerning those who backbite, tell lies and slander others, or commit other sins of the tongue. They are completely deceived.” [Al-Mawsu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 31, Ghurur]