The great Prophet Muhammad stated that people ought to worship Allah as much as they could on this day, so many followers do the same on Ashura. Furthermore, he advised people to fast as doing so on this day would be like fasting for all their lives. Other acts that the Prophet recommended included visiting the sick, clothing the naked as well as feeding the hungry and quenching their thirst. The Prophet also stated that it was necessary for followers to be generous to their family members and to apply Kuhl to their eyes (Hassan 72). The justifications for fasting and celebration on this day can be traced back to the words of Sunni leaders in the beginning as well as to the Prophet himself.
Ibn Abbaas stated that the Prophet had seen Jews fasting on that day and asked them why they did so. The Israelites responded by stating that the tenth day of the month of Muharram was the time when God had saved the Israelites from their enemies through the servant Moses. The Prophet replied by stating that Muslims had more right to Moses than the Jews, so he adopted the practice of fasting in order to commemorate the day when Allah saved the Israelites from the Egyptians. Additionally, Imam Ahmad adds that people ought to commemorate the day because this was when God rescued his people from the flood by allowing their vessel to settle on a mountain.
Noah gave thanksgiving for the occurrence by fasting and appreciating what God had done for the people. The Prophet encouraged his followers to fast because he asserted that they had more of a right to Musa (Moses) than the Jews did.
Regardless of the above, it has also been stated that the Prophet still used to fast on this day of Ashura even before he visited the Jews. The Prophet urged Muslims to fast, as this was a desirable thing to do; it could assist people in getting forgiveness for the sins that they had committed throughout the year. Some Muslims interpret the Prophet’s words as obligatory. He told people to fast on both the ninth and tenth days in order to differentiate themselves from the Jews (Norton 17).
Therefore, it is possible to find some Sunni Muslims fasting at different degrees on this day depending on their ability to cite the crescent moon as well as other factors. The Prophet often emphasized the need for Muslims to differentiate themselves from the Jews by observing religious practices using different methods. He asked them to carry out certain practices that seemed common to Muslims and Jews in a different way in order to set themselves apart.
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