Q. There are people who only keep the 10th fast of Muharram. They do not fast a day before or after. They say that the Jews Today do not fast on the 10th of Muharram so they are is no imitation of the Jews. Is this correct?
A. Initially, Muslims and Jews used to follow the same lunar calendar. However, today, Muslims and Jews do not follow the same lunar calendar. Muslims follow the lunar calendar whilst Jews follow the lunisolar calendar i.e. the Hebrew calendar. Accordingly, Muslims fast on the 10th of Muharram, which is a different day on which Jews fast, which they refer to as Yaum-Kippur, “the day of atonement.”
This year, Yaum-Kippur of the Jews on which they fast for approximately 24 hours fell on the eve of Tuesday, 18th September 2018 and finished by the eve of Wednesday, 19th September 2018.
In terms of the Islamic (Lunar) calendar of 1440, the 10th of Muharram fell and commenced on the eve of Wednesday, 19th September 2018 and finished by the eve of Thursday, 20th September 2018. As it is clear, for Muslims, the 10th of Muharram is a different day and for Jews, it is a different day based on following two different calendars.
Accordingly, there are Ulama who opine and allow for fasting only on the 10th of Muharram as the Jews do not observe the fast on the same day as Muslims. Therefore, the fast of Muslims on the 10th of Muharram are distinguished from the Jews and hence there is no imitation of fasting on the same day as the Jews which was the basis for fasting a day before or after the 10th of Muharram.
Having said that, the fasting on the 10th of Muharram with a day before or after should still be adhered to according to many Ulama, more so, as this was the practice of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam until his demise.
Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
Mufti Ismaeel Bassa