Fasting of Aashooraa' was ordained shortly after Hijrah
Fatwa No: 314881

  • Fatwa Date:31-1-2016 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 21, 1437
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Question

All hadiths regarding fasting on Aashooraa confirm that it was in the ninth year after Hijrah (emigration) that the Prophet, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, learned about it from the Jews. Why did it take nine years for him to learn about the fasting of the Jews although he married from among them (Sawdah, may Allaah be pleased with her). Moreover, were the Jews following the same calendar as the Islamic calendar in Madinah during that period? If their calendar was different, then is that correct that we fast on the 10th of Muharram? Kindly Eenlighten us please.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The matter is not as you mentioned; that "all the ahaadeeth regarding fasting on ‘Aashooraa' confirm that it was during the ninth year”; and that “Sawdah was Jewish”; both statements are indeed incorrect.

The fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa' was in the early days of the arrival of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) in Madeenah.

Ibn 'Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that when the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) came to Madeenah, he found the Jews fasting on the day of ‘Aashooraa’, so he asked them, “Why are you doing so?” They replied, “This is a good (righteous) day; it is the day when Allaah saved the children of Israel from their enemy, and Moosa (Moses) used to fast on it.” So the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said, “I am more deserving of Moses than you.” So he fasted it and ordered (the Muslims) to fast it.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Besides, ‘Aa’ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her narrated the following: “The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) used to order the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa’ before the fasting of the month of Ramadan was ordained. Then, when the fasting of Ramadan was ordained, ‘Aashooraa’ became optional; a person is free whether or not to fast it.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

This hadeeth indicates that the fasting of ‘Aashooraa’ was legislated before the fasting of Ramadan was ordained. It is known that the fasting of Ramadan was ordained in the second year of Hijrah, without any difference of opinion.

Dr. Wahbah az-Zuhayli, in his book Al-Fiqh Al-Islaami wa Adillatuh (Islamic jurisprudence and its evidence), said, “The fasting of Ramadan was ordained after the Qiblah was changed to the direction of the Ka’bah. That was on the tenth of Sha'baan in the second year of Hijrah, a year-and-a-half after Hijrah, according to the consensus of the scholars.

For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 32561.

As regards our mother Sawdah bint Zam’ah, she was not Jewish as you claimed; rather, she was from Quraysh, according to the agreement of the scholars. Ath-Thahabi said in Siyar A’alaam An-Nubalaa’, “Sawdah, the mother of the believers, bint Zam’ah bint Qays Al-Qurashiyyah Al-‘Aamiriyyah was the first wife whom the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) married after Khadeejah. She stayed as the only wife of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) for approximately three years or more before he consummated the marriage with ‘Aa’ishah, and she was a noble and honorable lady.

The woman whom the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) married from among the Jews was our mother Safiyyah bint Huyayy ibn Akhtab  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her. Please, refer to fatwa 83544.

With regard to the calendar that was followed by the Jews in Madeenah, then Ibn Hajar said in Al-Fat-h, while quoting some scholars: “The ignorant Jews relied in their fast and festivals on the stars; so the year in their count is a solar year and not a lunar year.”

In another context, Ibn Hajar said, “When the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) ordered the fasting of ‘Aashooraa’, he relied in this regard on the rulings of his legislation, which is counting based on the moon.

As far as we are concerned, we fast ‘Aashooraa’ on the tenth of Muharram based on the lunar months on account of following the example of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and because Allaah made the moon the basis for counting, and we do not follow the solar year. Allaah says (what means): {They ask you [O Muhammad] about the new moons. Say: They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj.} [Quran 2:189] Allaah also says (what means): {It is He Who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light and determined for it phases - that you may know the number of years and account [of time].} [Quran 10: 5]

Allaah knows best.

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