‘Ashura – Focus on unity not division

‘Ashura - Focus on unity not division

Allah Almighty says in Surat āl-Imran in the Quran that we should be united:

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ۚ وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا وَكُنتُمْ عَلَىٰ شَفَا حُفْرَةٍ مِّنَ النَّارِ فَأَنقَذَكُم مِّنْهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ آيَاتِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

And hold fast to the rope of God, altogether, and do not become divided. And remember God’s blessings upon you; how you were enemies, and He reconciled your hearts, and by His grace you became brethren. And you were on the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you from it. God thus clarifies His revelations for you, so that you may be guided. (3:103)

Allah is reminding us about being united in the verses we recite in our salah continuously. Before Islam those who were fighting were brought together through the message of Allah. Warring factions came to peace and the brotherhood of the Ummah was created – that has since crossed time and space as Muslim all over the globe are United by their faith in One God.

While the Oneness of Allah unites Muslims, the Ayah is a clear message that if you leave the advice and command to hold fast to Allah’s message you will revert to a state of Jahiliyyah- a state of ignorance and enmity and killing each other. Sadly a state that we have become very familiar with.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast in Muharram which is one of the four sacred months, especially on the tenth day, which is Ahsurah.

The confirmed and authentic Sunnah is that he would fast on this day and he was inspired to do this before the obligation of Ramadan. Many scholars said it was obligatory for the Ummah to fast on the day of Ashura until Allah Almighty made it an obligation for believers to fast during the month of Ramadan two years after the Muslims migrated to Madinah.

Even after the obligation of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace be upon him) continued to fast on this day as it is a symbolic day which celebrates the victory of truth over falsehood, as this was the day that Allah saved Musa (peace be upon him) and his people from the tyranny of Firaun.
When people asked him why fasted on this day, he said that he hoped that Allah would expiate the sins of the coming year.

“It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.” [Muslim]

It means expiation of the minor sins, because the major sins needs Tawbah repentance.

The martyrdom of Al-Husain (may Allah be pleased with him)

It so happened that in 61AH on the 10th of Muharram the martyrdom of Al-Husain took place. It was a very tragic event indeed in our history that the beloved grandson of Rasulullah (peace be upon him) was killed.

However no event should bring us back to the practices of Jahiliyyah, as Allah commanded us to hold fast to the rope of Allah and do not be disunited.

Excessive mourning is prohibited

One of the practices that the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited was excessive mourning after the death of a loved one.

Abdullah bin Mas’oud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the the Prophet (ﷺ) said,

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بن مسعود رضي الله تعالى عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم :‏ “‏ لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ لَطَمَ الْخُدُودَ، وَشَقَّ الْجُيُوبَ، وَدَعَا بِدَعْوَى الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ ‏”‏‏.‏ رواه البخاري ومسلم.

“He who slaps his cheeks, tears his clothes and follows the ways and traditions of the Days of Ignorance is not one of us.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)

Do not turn back to old ways

The Prophet (peace be on him) in his Farewell Sermon warned his Ummah not turn back to disbelief after his death to their old ways, and not to kill one another.

وَعَنْ جَرِيرٍ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي حَجَّةِ الْوَدَاعِ: «لَا تَرْجِعُنَّ بَعْدِي كُفَّارًا يَضْرِبُ بَعْضُكُمْ رِقَاب بعض» متفق عليه.

Jarir reported God’s Messenger as saying at the Farewell Pilgrimage, “You must never revert to infidelity after my death and kill one another.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)

And this echoes the undisputed command from Allah Almighty in Surat an Nisa:

‘And do not kill yourselves [or one another]’ (4:29)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that killing each other is strictly prohibited.

I have read many messages circulating on social media which say that a long list of events took place on the day of Ashura such as Adam being forgiven and Ibrahim being saved from the fire he was flung in and Yusuf being reunited with Yaqoub (peace be upon them all) but we have no authenticity about them.

Ashura is the day which commemorates the fight against oppression. The hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the time of Fitnah which would afflict our Ummah was memorised by the companion Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman (may Allah be pleased him). In it he warned us that a time when calamities would hit the Ummah like the waves of the sea and the flood gate of this fitan once opened would never be closed.

عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ، قَالَ كُنَّا عِنْدَ عُمَرَ فَقَالَ أَيُّكُمْ يَحْفَظُ حَدِيثَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي الْفِتْنَةِ كَمَا قَالَ؟ قَالَ فَقُلْتُ أَنَا ‏.‏ قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَجَرِيءٌ وَكَيْفَ قَالَ؟ قَالَ قُلْتُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ فِتْنَةُ الرَّجُلِ فِي أَهْلِهِ وَمَالِهِ وَنَفْسِهِ وَوَلَدِهِ وَجَارِهِ يُكَفِّرُهَا الصِّيَامُ وَالصَّلاَةُ وَالصَّدَقَةُ وَالأَمْرُ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَالنَّهْىُ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏
فَقَالَ عُمَرُ لَيْسَ هَذَا أُرِيدُ إِنَّمَا أُرِيدُ الَّتِي تَمُوجُ كَمَوْجِ الْبَحْرِ – قَالَ – فَقُلْتُ مَا لَكَ وَلَهَا يَا أَمِيرَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِنَّ بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهَا بَابًا مُغْلَقًا! قَالَ أَفَيُكْسَرُ الْبَابُ أَمْ يُفْتَحُ؟ قَالَ قُلْتُ لاَ بَلْ يُكْسَرُ ‏.‏ قَالَ ذَلِكَ أَحْرَى أَنْ لاَ يُغْلَقَ أَبَدًا ‏.‏
قَالَ فَقُلْنَا لِحُذَيْفَةَ هَلْ كَانَ عُمَرُ يَعْلَمُ مَنِ الْبَابُ؟ قَالَ نَعَمْ كَمَا يَعْلَمُ أَنَّ دُونَ غَدٍ اللَّيْلَةَ، إِنِّي حَدَّثْتُهُ حَدِيثًا لَيْسَ بِالأَغَالِيطِ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَهِبْنَا أَنْ نَسْأَلَ حُذَيْفَةَ مَنِ الْبَابُ فَقُلْنَا لِمَسْرُوقٍ سَلْهُ فَسَأَلَهُ فَقَالَ عُمَرُ ‏.‏البخاري ومسلم.

Hudhaifa (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

We were one day in the company of ‘Umar that he said: Who amongst you has preserved in his mind most perfectly the hadith of Allah’s Messenger (
) in regard to the turmoil as he told about it? I said: It is I. Thereupon he said: You are bold (enough to make this claim). And he further said: How? I said: I heard Allah’s Messenger () as saying:

There would (first) be turmoil for a person in regard to his family, his property, his own self, his children, his neighbours (and the sins committed in their connection) would be expiated by fasting, prayer, charity, enjoining good and prohibiting evil.

Thereupon ‘Umar said: I do not mean (that turmoil on a small scale) but that one which would emerge like the mounting waves of the ocean. I said: Commander of the Faithful, you have nothing to do with it, for the door is closed between you and that. He said: Would that door be broken or opened? I said: No, it would be broken. Thereupon he said: Then it would not be closed despite best efforts.

We said to Hudhaifa: Did Umar know the door? Thereupon he said: Yes, he knew it (for certain) just as one knows that night precedes the next day. And I narrated to him something in which there was nothing fabricated. Shaqiq (one of the narrators) said: We dared not ask Hudhaifa about that door. So we requested Masruq to ask him. So he asked him and he said: (By that door, he meant) ‘Umar. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Do not be divided

The death of Umar, Uthman, Ali and Husain were the beginning of the calamities that would strike our Ummah. The floodgate of Fitan is open. However we were forewarned about this and we must not let these calamities take us back to Jahiliyyah. We must not let these let us be disunited. We must see the bigger picture and work on projects that bring the Ummah together and reconcile hearts, rather than spread hatred or division

We have much to learn from the history of our beloved Al-Husain and Al-Hasan (may Allah be pleased with them both) and the Ahl Al Bayt from authentic narrations. There is much misinformation. No one can change history but we can change our reality.

We have more in common than what divides us

The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us to be united.

وعن أنس رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ ‏ “‏لا تباغضوا، ولا تحاسدوا ولا تدابروا، ولا تقاطعوا، وكونوا عباد الله إخوانًا، ولا يحل لمسلم أن يهجر أخاه فوق ثلاث‏”‏ ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) said:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Do not harbour grudge against one another, nor jealousy, nor enmity; and do not show your backs to one another; and become as fellow brothers and slaves of Allah. It is not lawful for a Muslim to avoid speaking with his brother beyond three days.” [Al- Bukhari and Muslim]

Yet as an Ummah we are riddled with rifts and schisms. Even our mosques and families are riddled with conflicts. However the reality is that we have more in common with each other than what disunites us.

Unite and hold fast to the rope of Allah

We have to overcome our internal fights. We need to think about the command of Allah to remain united. We need to appreciate that Allah made us different and we should celebrate our differences rather than focus on the dark side we should focus on what brings us together and makes us stronger and closer to Allah and enables us to stop fighting each other and instead fight tyranny and oppression.

We can unite in goodness.

We ask Allah to make us supportive of the truth and the followers of the footsteps of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and make us brothers again. Ameen

Shaykh Haytham Tamim Ahsura 10th of Muharram 1445 – 28th July 2023

Can we fast on Ashurah if it coincides with Friday?

عن أبي هريرة رَضِيَ اللهُ عنه قال: سمعْتُ النبيَّ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم يقول: ((لا يصومَنَّ أحدُكم يومَ الجُمُعةِ، إلَّا يومًا قَبْلَه أو بَعْدَه ))متفق عليه.

Abu Huraira reported God’s messenger as saying. “None of you must fast on a Friday unless he fasts the day before or the day after.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Another misunderstanding for this Hadith, people think that you shouldn’t fast Friday based on this Hadith. But this Hadith is addressing the common week with no other events coincide with Friday. So this year Ashura coincides with Friday and that’s absolutely fine to fast.

We can fast Ashurah (or the day of Arafah) on a Friday. Though we do not single out Friday as a day to fast on regularly during the year, if a special day falls on Friday we can fast on it. The confusion arises in people’s minds due to an authentic Hadith that says we should fast on Fridays however this applies to Fridays in general not special days in our calendar.

Can we fast on Ashurah alone?

You are permitted to fast on Ahsurah alone but the recommendation is to fast the day before it as well or the day after it.


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.