Q: I was recently informed by a friend that there is no need to fast on the 9th or 11th of Muharram together with the 10th in this era, as the element of tashabbuh (emulation) of the jews is no longer found. Is this correct?
A: Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) commanded the ummah to fast on either the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th of Muharram, in order to oppose the Jews who only fasted on the 10th. Though opposing the Jews was the initial reason for Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) commanding the ummah to fast an extra day, once this practice has become a sunnah, it will not change, even if the Jews of today do not fast on the day of Aashura.
There are certain sunnah practices which the Sahaabah were commanded to carry out for certain reasons. However, despite those reasons no longer remaining in today’s times, since these practices have become practices of Deen, they will remain Sunnah for the rest of time. One such example is that of ramal in the tawaaf of Hajj and Umrah. In the Mubaarak era of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), when Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the Sahaabah came to Makkah Mukarramah to perform umrah, the Sahaabah were commanded by Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to make ramal during tawaaf to show the mushrikeen of Makkah their bodily strength and might. The mushrikeen were under the impression that the Sahaabah had become very weak through staying in Madinah Munawwarah (as the climatic conditions of Madinah Munawwarah prior to the hijrat of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) were not conducive to good health and people would fall ill and succumb to sicknesses very easily). Despite this reason no longer remaining after the demise of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), ramal is still carried out as a sunnah practice in the tawaafs.
عن زيد بن أسلم عن أبيه قال : سمعت عمر يقول : فيم الرملان الآن وقد أطأ الله الإسلام ونفى الكفر وأهله وأيم الله ما ندع شيئا كنا نفعله على عهد رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم ( سنن ابن ماجه ص211)
Hazrat Zaid bin Aslam (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports from his father who mentioned: I once heard Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) saying, “Why do we need to make ramal presently, whereas Allah Ta‘ala has strengthened Islam and banished disbelief and the people of disbelief? (Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) thereafter explained the reason for the practice of ramal remaining) By the oath of Allah! We will not abandon a practice which we would carry out during the blessed era of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).”
It should be borne in mind that at times the Sunnah will be established through the Mubaarak words or actions of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and at times it will be established through the tawaaruth and taaamul of the ummah (i.e. a practice existing in the Mubaarak era of Sahaaba and continuing in the ummah throughout the centuries of Islam till this day). When we view the issue of fasting for two days in the Mubaarak month of Muharram, we realize that it conforms to the taamul of the the ummah throughout the centuries of Islam and will therefore continue to be practiced in this manner.
Hence, even if the Jews of today do not fast on the day of Aashura, the sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) regarding fasting on the 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th will not change. It is for this reason that the Fuqahaa have declared that fasting only on the day of Aashura is makrooh. (For further details on this issue, refer to http://muftionline.co.za/node/21912).
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Zakaria Makada
Checked & Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)