The four months, according to authentic Ahaadith, are the months of Zul-Qa`dah, Zul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. The sanctity of these four months was observed in the Shari’ah of all the Ambiyaa (AS).
‘Allah Ta’ala made them (i.e. the four months) sacred and increased their sanctity. Hence declared a sin therein more severe and increased the virtue of good deeds and (also) the reward thereof.’ (Ibn Katheer).
The Ulama have stated that the actions performed in these months have an effect on what a person does in the remaining months of the year.
THE MONTH OF MUHARRAM
The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadhaan is the fast during Allah’s month of Muharram and the best of Salaats besides the Fardh (obligatory Salaah) is the Tahajjud Salaah (performed after midnight). (Sahih Muslim).
THE DAY OF AASHURA (10th OF MUHARRAM)
The tenth of Muharram, known as the day of Aashura, is a very significant day in the Islamic calendar. Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) has exhorted the Ummah to fast on this day. Sayyadatina Aaisha (RA) reports that Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) ordered the observance of the fast of Aashura. However, when the fast of Ramadhaan became compulsory, Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) left the fast of Aashura (i.e. the compulsion). Thereafter, whosoever desired kept this fast and whosoever desired, (not to keep it) did not observe this fast’. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 1).
Ibn Abbaas (RA) says, ‘I did not see Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to over other days, but this day (of Aashura) and the month of Ramadhaan (Sahih Bukhaari, Vol. 1).
VIRTUE OF THE FAST OF AASHURA
With regard to the blessing of this fast, Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was asked regarding it’s virtue. He answered, ‘It is a compansation for the sins of the past year.’ i.e. the sins of one year that has just gone by will be forgiven. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1).
Note: Only minor sins are forgiven. For the forgiveness of major sins, Taubah is a prerequisite.
THE FAST OF AASHURA
Ibn Abbaas (RA) narrates that when Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Aashura, he inquired, ‘What is the significance of this day on which you fast?’ They replied, ‘This is the day Allah saved Nabi Moosa (AS) and his followers and drowned Fir’oun and his army, thus Moosa (AS) fasted on this day as a token of thanksgiving. Therefore we too fast on this day.’ (Sahih Muslim, Vol 1).
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, ‘We are more worthy of Moosa (AS) and nearer to him that you.’ Thereafter, he fasted on this day and ordered the Sahaabah to fast on this day. (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1)
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) is reported to have said, ‘Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose (the way of) the Jews. Fast a day before it (also) or a day after it.’ (Baihaqi, Vol 4)
Hence, one should fast for two days: Either the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th. To fast only on the 10th of Muharram is MAKROOH (reprehensible) and bears semblance to the Jews.
GENEROSITY TO ONE’S FAMILY
Besides fasting on the day of Aashura, being generous to one’s family and spending more than what is normally spent on clothing, etc. is an act of great merit. It is mentioned in a Hadith, ‘He who will be generous to his family on the day of Aashura, Allah will be generous to him for the entire year.’ (Bayhaqi)
The day of Aashura is regarded by many people as the day of mourning the martyrdom of Sayyidina Hussain (RA). To attribute the significance of Aashura to Sayyiduna Hussain (RA)’s martyrdom is totally baseless because the sanctity of Aashura is proven, beyond doubt, from the time of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), whilst Sayyiduna Hussain (RA) was martyred fifty years after Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) left this earthly abode. The fact that the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Hussain (RA) occurred on the Day of Aashura has absolutely no bearing on the significance of this day nor is the sanctity of this day derived from this event. On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidina Hussain (RA) that he was martyred on the Day of Aashura.
RESPECT WHAT ALLAH HAS HONOURED, FOR VERILY TO HONOUR THINGS DUE TO VIRTUE WHICH ALLAH HAS ACCORDED THEM IS AMONG THE TRAITS OF THE INTELLIGENT.