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When Allah made the fasting of the month of Ramadan compulsory, Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever wishes to fast (on the day of ‘Ashura’) may do so; and whoever wishes to leave it can do so.”[Bukhari Vol 02, Book 026, Hadith Number 662] However, Rasul Allah saw used to fast on the day of Ashura even after fasting in Ramadan was made obligatory.Fasting on the day of Ashura expiates the sins of the previous year as told by our Prophet Muhammad saw.
“Abu Qatada al-Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) was asked about his fasting…
He was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura (10th of Muharram), whereupon be said: It expiates the sins of the preceding year…”[Muslim: Book 06: Hadith 2603] Hazrat Musa (as) and his people the Bani Israel were saved from the Egyptian Pharaoh by the miracle of the parting of the sea on the day of Ashura.
He informed Umar (ra) about it who then decided to resolve this issue by setting up a small committee.
It was decided that the Islamic calendar will begin from the hijra (migration) of the Muslims from Mecca to Medina.
Therefore AD 622 became the 1 AH and since the decision to migrate was made right at the end of the month of Dhul-Hajj, and the first moon to rise after this was that of Muharram, thus Muharram came to be the first month of the Islamic Hijri calendar.
(Fatah Al bari 334/7 Hadith 3934) Junaid Baghdadi has said, “Assess each moment of life by evaluating how close you have come to Allah , and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.” [Muslim 6: 2661] Prophet Muhammad (saw) called Muharram “Allah’s Month” which shows its importance and sanctity and the fasts of the month of Muharram are most reward able ones among the was made optional.And he got victory on the tenth day of the Muharram over the Pharaohs of Egypt.Both factions of the Muslim community celebrate this day with almost identical traditions.Whereas, according to the Sunni Muslims, it is the day when Moses got victory over Egyptian Pharaohs.According to the history, it is considered as the Moses was a religious Islam leader, who was propagating the religious teachings among people all around the world.The difference is only that, Shia Muslim observe this day with fast on this day whereas Sunni Muslims observe this day with fast for an extra day (before or after this day) according to the teachings of the Muhammad Prophet.Sometimes, Shia Muslims keep fast for the whole month as well as celebrate the day by flagellating themselves with sticks and rods in order to commemorate all the sufferings of the Hussain Ibn Ali (while fighting to Yazid).Ibn e Abbas ra narrated: “When the Prophet came to Medina, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. They used to say: “This is a great day on which Allah saved Moses and drowned the folk of Pharaoh.Moses observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.” The Prophet said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it.It was for this reason that the Jews used to fast on this day.Prophet Muhammad (saw) also then ordered the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura as well.