Assalaamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh.
1) The Tenth of Muharram, known as ‘Aashooraa, is a very virtuous and significant day in the Islamic Calendar. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) advised and encouraged his Ummah to fast on this day.
*Abdullaah Ibn Abbaas (radhiallaahu ‘anhu) reports: The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came to Madeenah and found the the Jews (who were followers of Musa) fast on the tenth of Muharram. Hence the Holy Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) inquired of them, “What is the significance of this day on which you fast?” They replied, “This is a righteous day. This is the day on which Allaah rescued the Bani Israa-eel from their enemy. Thus Moosa (alayhis-salaam) fasted on this day.” The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ” I am more owrthy (of following in the footsteps of) Moosa than you.” From this day onward, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) fasted on this day himself, and commanded others to fast as well. (Muslim)
*Abu Qataadah (radhiallaahu anhu) narrates: The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was once asked regarding the fast of ‘Aashooraa, upon which he replied, ” It compensates for the sins of the past year.” (Muslim)
However, since the Jews also observe the fast of this day, The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) advised us to be different from them and fast on two days. Thus we fast on either the 9th and the 10th, or the 10th or the 11th. According to most scholars it is makrooh (abominable) to fast on only the 10th, as it is the way of the Jews. The great Muhaddith, Shaah Waliyyullaah Dehlawi writes in the footnotes of Tirmizhi Shareef that it is best to fast on all three days (9th, 10th and 11th).
2) Other than fasting, the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) also encouraged to spend on one’s family on this day.
*Abu Hurayrah (radhiallaahu anhu) narrates that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allaah will be (especially) generous for the rest of the yea, on the person who is generous on his family on the day of ‘Aashooraa.”
And Allaah knows best.
A. Z. Pandor