Could you give information about the day of Ashura and dessert of ashura? Is it inconvenient to mourn on the day of Ashura?
The month in which the day of ashura takes place is called Muharram. This month has gained importance because of being the beginning of hijri calendar.
“Ashara” means “ten”, and “ashir” means “tenth” in Arabic. Pronouncing “ashir” as “ashura”, people in Turkey named the tenth day of the month Muharram as the day of ashura. Consequently, it has been recorded in history with the name “the day of ashura”.
The month in which the day of ashura takes place is called Muharram. This month has gained importance because of being the beginning of hijri calendar. In addition to this, it has gained the privilege of being the object of some important historical events. It has already been privileged since old times as it is amongst the four months called “forbidden months (haram/muhtarama)”. According to what Hazrat Aisha informs us, it is also known as the month which Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) fasted the most after Ramadan.
According to the narration of Muslim, the Prophet (pbuh) stated that
“The most virtuous month for fasting after Ramadan is the month of Muharram (Muslim, Siyam, 202-203).
There are narrations indicating that the fast on the day of ashura will redeem the sins committed in the previous year.
There is not a verse about ashura. However, one of the forbidden months mentioned in the 36th verse of chapter at-Tawba is the month of Muharram.
Currently there are two kinds of calendars now. Both of them are related to prophets. One of them accepts the birth of Prophet Jesus as its beginning and the other accepts the migration of Prophet Muhammad.
The calendar starting with the birth of Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is called the Gregorian calendar. And the calendar based on the migration performed by the last prophet of the world is called Hijri (migration) calendar. That is to say; both calendars are based on prophets.
The Gregorian calendar starts with the month of January; Hijri calendar starts with the month of Muharram; it is known as the first month of Hijri year in which the first migration group set out.
The setting out of the first group of migration is not the only reason for the month of Muharram to be the first month of the year. This month has also been the location and beginning of marvelous events throughout the history. Due to those events, the month of Muharram was deemed worthy of being the first month of hijri calendar.
Above all, there is a day called the day of ashura in this month which was accepted to be a different day by all previous prophets and many blessed and also sad events happened on the tenth day of Muharram.
According to the resources, the wisdom behind the fact that this day was called the day of ashura is that the Supreme Lord blessed ten different bounties and gifts upon His messenger on this day. Those bounties and gifts are as follows:
1. Allah blessed a miracle upon Prophet Moses (pbuh) and by splitting the sea into two, He drowned Pharaoh and his army in the water on this day.
2. Prophet Noah cast the anchor of his ark on the mount of Judi on this day.
3. Prophet Jonah (pbuh) was saved from the stomach of the fish on this day.
4. Prophet Adam’s (pbuh) repentance was accepted on this day.
5. Prophet Joseph (pbuh) was taken out of the well into which he was thrown by his brothers on this day.
6. Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was born on this day and also he was elevated to heaven on this day
7. Prophet David’s (pbuh) repentance was accepted on this day.
8. Prophet Ishmael (Samuel), the son of Prophet Abraham, was born on this day.
9. Prophet Jacob’s eyes started to see again on this day, after being blinded by the longing for his son Prophet Joseph.
10. Prophet Job recovered his illness on this day (see: Sahih-i Muslim, 6:140).
For this reason, the dessert of ashura is cooked by mixing several cereals in almost all Islamic countries on the tenth day of Muharram. In order to memorialize those historical events, people have joyful and cheerful days and continue the tradition of serving ashura to their neighbors, relatives and guests.
Actually, this dessert is neither ordered nor rejected in Islam. That is to say; Islam does tell the people who cook it not to do it, nor does it tell the ones who do not cook it to do it. It is a matter of perception and tradition.
Ashura, when cooked to memorialize the dessert of thankfulness which was prepared by mixing all the left-over cereals by survivors on the day Prophet Noah’s ark cast anchor, probably gives an opportunity to refresh one’s soul and to smile in our barren lives. Its meaning is as sweet as its taste.
Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) saw that Jews were fasting the day of ashura when he arrived in Madinah and asked what kind of a fasting it was. They replied as follows:
“Today is a good day. Allah saved Israelis from the cruelty of Pharaoh on this day. Prophet Moses (pbuh) fasted on this day to show his thankfulness to Allah. So, we do it too.” Prophet Muhammad said “We are closer to the sunnah of Moses than you are” and fasted that day. He also told his companions to fast as well (Bukhari, Savm, 69; Tajrid-i Sarih, 6, 308, 309).
It can be understood that the Prophet fasted on the day of ashura before the era of Makkah from the hadith narrated from Aisha.
“People of Kuraysh used to fast on the day of ashura in the time of ignorance. The Prophet (pbuh) used to fast on the day of ashura before migration (hijrah) too. After migrating to Madinah, he continued to fast that day; also told his companions to fast. In the following year, when the Ramadan Fasting was made obligatory (fard), he quitted the fast of ashura. Whoever wished to fast that day continued it and whoever did not wish to do it quitted.” (Bukhari, Savm, 69; Tajrid-i Sarih, 6, 307-308).
Islamic scholars agreed on that the fast of ashura is not obligatory (wajib) but sunnah. However, Abu Hanifa said it was wajib in the first years of Islam and Imam Shafi’i said it was a clear sunnah. After Ramadan fasting was made obligatory, this fasting became mustahab. Moreover, fasting on the 9th, 10th and 11th days of Muharram in order not to resemble Jews has been considered advisable.
It would be appropriate to do other good deeds and to continue some other good traditions such as sadaqah (voluntary charity) on this day. Everybody offers food, etc to their family, relatives and neighbors as much as they can afford. If one offers, remembering the events pointing out the wisdom of this day, they will surely be awarded with lots of rewards. Our Prophet (pbuh) especially advised believers to offer more than ever to their family members on the day of ashura.
The Prophet says in one hadith:
“Allah the Supreme bestows abundance and wealth of boons upon the ones who offer to their family and relatives on the day of ashura.” (at-Targhib wa’t Tarhib, 2/116).
This notion of family includes relatives, fatherless children, orphans and neighbors too. However, it is unnecessary to spend too much and exceed the limit of home budget. Everybody should offer within the limits of their economic condition.
On the other hand, the haziness from the darkness of Karbala is also seen above the clearness of the day of ashura. Hazrat Imam Hussain was martyred cruelly by a traitor called Sinan bin Anas in Karbala when he was 55 years old on the tenth of Muharram, in the hijri year of 61. Amawi Khalif Yazeed and his governor of Ibn al Ziyad were behind this traitorousness and cruelty. Fifty years before this event, the Prophet (pbuh) told that it would happen and the event elevated Hazrat Hussain to the honor of being the lord of Heaven’s youngsters.
The martyrs were rewarded and elevated to the most honorable position. We do not doubt that Allah the Most Glorious will punish the cruel and unjust people with what they deserve, in the fairest way. Every believer who submits to the judgment given by the Fate grieves for it, yet, pursues their imperturbability and decency. Their emotions do not turn into fallacy and rampage. In fact, all events that occur are the decision of Allah the All-knowing. In this sense, turning this into a ceremony of mourning contradicts the followers of sunnah's creed and belief.