Ashura marks the tenth day of Muharram, which is the first month in the Islamic calendar, starting off the new year. Ashura culminates in this period of remembrance.

On the day of Ashura, we remember the Prophet Musa (AS), who freed the slaves in Egypt and escaped the clutches of the Egyptian tyrant when Allah defeated the Pharaoh and his soldiers by parting the Red Sea for them to cross into freedom. Musa (AS) fought oppression and spoke out against the false worship of the Egyptian Pharaoh, who claimed that he himself was divine. 

Allah rewarded the Prophet Musa’s (AS) steadfast belief and dedication by liberating him and the Children of Israel on the day of Ashura. Each year on this day, Musa (AS) would fast as a way of giving thanks to Allah for this great liberation.

Al-Tirmidhi mentions that Ibn Abbass (ra) used to say that we should fast on two days to recognise our closeness to Musa (AS) above others.

The Day of Ashura was also the day that Imam Hussain (RA) was martyred for standing strong in his moral beliefs against Yazid. Imam Hussain (RA) was killed in The Battle of Karbala defending his people against an army of 30,000 soldiers. The Prophet’s (PBUH) grandson fought nobly for his innocent friends and relatives, bravely defending their dignity, and fell in battle protecting those he loved and the morality he stood for.

This year, Ashura begins in the evening of Friday, August 28, and ends in the evening of Saturday , August 29. And this is 

because the Islamic calendar is lunar, this is marked as one day, as it is a 24-hour period, but not as marked in the traditional Gregorian calendar.

Do you have to fast?

Fasting is not compulsory during Ashura, but some choose to.

Sunni Muslims regard fasting on Ashura as recommended, but not obligatory.

Many do choose to fast and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was said to have fasted on the day of Ashura.

Ibn Abbas (ra) said, “I never saw Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of Ashura, and this month, meaning Ramadan” (Bukhari).

The Prophet (saw) encourages us to take up a fast during Muharram, on the 9th and 10th (or 10th and 11th) days of the month. 

The Prophet himself fasted on the 10th, the day of Ashura, and had fully intended to take up a fast the following year on the 9th, but he passed away before he could.

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