Ashura is the name given to the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic Hijri calendar. In Arabic, the word ‘ashura’ literally means ‘the tenth’.

The month of Muharram is one of the four forbidden (haram) months. In these months, the rewards for good deeds are multiplied, and the consequences for bad deeds are intensified. Muslims are encouraged to avoid sinful behavior and increase their good deeds during these months. War is also prohibited during these months, except in response to aggression.

Fasting on this day is recommended in the hadiths of our Prophet (ﷺ).

It was narrated that Hafsah (Allah be pleased with her) said:

“There are four things which the Prophet never gave up: Fasting ‘Ashura’, (fasting during) the ten days, (fasting) three days of each month, and praying two Rak’ahs before Al-Ghadah (Fajr).”

[Sunan an-Nasa’i 2416]

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“The most excellent fast after Ramadan is Allah’s month, Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.”  


Narrated Ibn `Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) :

The Prophet (ﷺ) came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of Ashura. He asked them about that. They replied,

“This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Bani Israel from their enemy. So, Moses fasted this day.”

The Prophet (ﷺ) said,

“We have more claim over Moses than you.”

 So, the Prophet fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast (on that day).

[Sahih al-Bukhari 2004]

However, our Prophet (ﷺ) did not observe fasting on the day of Ashura in the same manner as the Jews did, to avoid resembling the practices of other religions. Instead, he recommended fasting for his ummah for at least two days: either on the ninth and tenth or the tenth and eleventh days of Muharram, or for three days, which include the ninth, tenth, and eleventh days.

Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), ordered fasting on the day of Ashura, the tenth of al-Muharram.

Al-Tirmidhi said, It is reported from Ibn Abbas that he said to fast on the ninth and tenth of the month and to do so differently from the Jews, and this tradition is the same as was said by Al-Shafi’i, Ahmad, and Ishaq.

[Sunan al-Tirmidhi 755]

‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) fasted on Ashura and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, ‘If I live to see the next year, inshaAllah, we will fast on the ninth day too.’ But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) passed away before the next year came.”

[Sahih al-Muslim, 1916]

When Ramadan fasting was made obligatory, Prophet (ﷺ) stated that those who wish may fast and those who wish may not.

Aishah (Allah be pleased with her) narrated:

“Ashura was a day that the Quraish used to fast during Jahiliyyah, and the Messenger of Allah used to fast it. But when (the fast of) Ramadan became obligatory, Ramadan was required and Ashura was left. So, whoever wanted to, he fasted it, and whoever wanted to, he left it.”

[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 753]

In the hadiths of our Prophet (ﷺ), it is expressed that fasting on the Day of Ashura is a very valuable act of worship and will lead to the forgiveness of the sins of the previous year.

Abu Qatada al-Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“Fast the Day of Ashura, for indeed I anticipate that Allah will forgive (the sins of) the year before it.”

[Jami` at-Tirmidhi 752]

On this day, considered important by various religions and sects, some Prophets (peace be upon them all) were relieved from hardships and were bestowed with blessings and rewards. Therefore, some scholars have suggested that the name “Ashura,” which means “10,” is associated with Allah’s bestowal of blessings on ten Prophets on this day.

Here are some of the events that took place on the day of Ashura: 

  1. Acceptance of Prophet Adam’s (peace be upon him) repentance,
  2. The ascension of Prophet Idris (Enoch) (peace be upon him) to the heavens,
  3. Prophet Nuh’s (Noah) (peace be upon him) ark’s coming to rest on Mount Cudi and his fasting for gratitude,
  4. Birth of Ibrahim (Abraham) (peace be upon him), receiving the title of “Halilullah” (Friend of Allah) and being saved from the fire of Nimrod,
  5. Return of the vision of Prophet Yakup (Jacob) (peace be upon him),
  6. Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (peace be upon him)  coming out of the well and getting out of prison,
  7. Prophet Ayub’s (Job) (peace be upon him) recovery from his illness,
  8. Prophet Yunus’ (Jonah) (peace be upon him) release from the belly of the whale,
  9. Granting sultanate to Prophet Suleiman (Solomon) (peace be upon him),
  10. Birth of Prophet Isa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) and his ascension to heaven.

[Taberani, el-Mu‘cemu’l-Kebir, 5538; el-Heysemi, Mecmau’z-Zevaid, 5132]

Sweet Tradition

On the Day of Ashura, there is also a sweet tradition of cooking and sharing a dessert that fosters love and affection among family and friends.

This dessert is called “Ashura” or “Aşure” in Turkish. It is a sweet porridge-like dish made from a combination of various ingredients, such as grains, legumes, dried fruits, and nuts.

The exact ingredients and preparation methods for Ashura dessert can vary from region to region, but it is generally a sweet and nutritious dish that is prepared and enjoyed as part of the Ashura observance.

Nurgül Çelik