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Ashura-History and Significance

by | Jul 26, 2023

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The Day of Ashura is a significant observance in Islamic tradition that holds great religious and historical importance. It is observed on the 10th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This article delves into the historical and cultural significance of the Day of Ashura, its observance among Muslims worldwide, and the lessons it teaches about sacrifice, faith, and compassion.

What is Ashura?

The day of Ashura is marked on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the lunar calendar, considered one of the sacred months. Ashura is the holy day for Muslims worldwide, and it has a great significance in the history of Islam. Before Islam, even after Islam, the believers fasted on the day of Ashura his gratitude for the freedom of the Israelites. And now, many Muslim fast and worshipped this day in remembrance of the Battle of Karbala and the Martyrdom of Husayn Ibn Ali. 

When is Ashura 2023?

The day of Ashura, the 10th of Muharram will be on the 29th of July, 2023. 

Significance of Ashura in Islam? 

The day of Ashura is an important occasion in the Islamic Calendar that carries great historical significance for Muslims and even believers before Islam. 

Allah bestowed salvation to His Prophets on the Day of Ashura on the 10th of Muharram. 

  • Splitting the Red Sea

Allah bestowed Prophet Musa (AS) the miracle of splitting the Red Sea and saved him and his people from Pharoah and his army. 

It is mentioned in the Quran,

فَأَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰٓ أَنِ ٱضْرِب بِّعَصَاكَ ٱلْبَحْرَ ۖ فَٱنفَلَقَ فَكَانَ كُلُّ فِرْقٍ كَٱلطَّوْدِ ٱلْعَظِيمِ

Then We inspired Moses, “Strike with your staff the sea,” and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain.

وَأَزْلَفْنَا ثَمَّ ٱلْءَاخَرِينَ

And We advanced to it the others [i.e., the pursuers].

وَأَنجَيْنَا مُوسَىٰ وَمَن مَّعَهُۥٓ أَجْمَعِينَ

And We saved Moses and those with him, all together.

ثُمَّ أَغْرَقْنَا ٱلْءَاخَرِينَ

Then We drowned the others.

Therefore, Prophet Musa and his followers fasted on that day to thank Allah Almighty for saving their life. 

  • Prophet Nuh’s Arc 

On the 10th of Muharram, Ashura day, The Arc of Prophet Musa (A.S.) landed on Mount Judi. 

Prophet Nuh (AS) delivered Allah’s message to his people and urged them not to stray from Allah’s guidance. Some people made Prophet Nuh’s life difficult and drove him away from their valley. He asked Allah Almighty for help, and Allah ordered Him to build an Ark. He and his followers started practising Allah’s order, whereas non-believers made fun of them because there was no water for miles around.

When the Ark was ready, dark storms-cloud gathered, heavy raindrops began to fall, and it rained for many days and nights. The non-believers drowned in flood, and Prophet Nuh and his followers were saved. 

Allah commanded the storm to end, and the Ark came to rest safely on the side of Mountain Judi. Prophet Nuh and his followers stepped out from Ark and thanked Allah for saving them from the flood. 

  • Prophet Yunus (Jonah) got out of the belly of the fish.

Prophet Yunus (A.S.), Allah’s messenger, sent toward a group of people of Ninevah. He delivered Allah’s message to the Ninevah’s people, who refused to listen to him. He tried to deliver Allah’s message many times, but people refused to listen. He got disappointed and decided to leave Ninevah without Allah’s order. 

He used a ship to leave Ninevah but unfortunately, because of imbalance, he was thrown from the ship by Allah’s order; a massive fish then swallowed him in his stomach for a few days. Then the fish spit him out on a shore. 

  • Prophet Adam’s Repentance

Allah accepted Prophet Adam’s repentance on the day of Ashura. The story of Prophet Adam’s repentance is mentioned in Islamic literature and revolves around his expulsion from Paradise after eating the forbidden fruit. It is believed that Adam and his wife Eve were both forgiven by Allah for their mistake on the day of Ashura. As a result, Ashura became a day of gratitude and reflection for Muslims, reminding them of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.

  • Prophet Yusuf came out of the well.

Prophet Yusuf, the son of Prophet Yaqub (AS), was beloved and beautiful among all the brothers. His brothers got jealous because Hazrat Yaqub loved him a lot, and he was the messenger of Allah. They planned to misplace Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), so their father could also give others importance. They asked their father if they would play and wanted to take Prophet Yusuf with them. The following day Prophet Yusuf went with his brothers, where they placed him into the well. 

Prophet Yusuf found himself alone in the well and was in a humiliating situation. Then a group of people stopped for water and saw a kid in the well. Then, the Prophet Yusuf (A.S.) Came out of the well where his brothers threw them. 

  • Prophet Isa (Jesus) was born. 

Prophet Isa was born on the 10th of Muharram and ascended to heaven on the day of Ashura. 

  • Prophet Abraham was born. 

Prophet Abraham was born on the day of Ashura. 

  • Prophet Yaqub’s recovered his eyesight. 

Allah blessed Prophet Yaqub from his eyesight which he had lost when the Prophet Yusuf was misplaced. 

The Day of Ashura is well known and has more significance nowadays in the remembrance of Imam Hussein (AS). 

The battle of Karbala was the military engagement that took place on the 10th of Muharram in Karbala, Iraq. The battle between the relative and companion of Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), son of Caliph Ali and Sayeda Fatima (R.A.). 

When Yazid, the son of Muawiya, declared himself a ruler of the Ummah, he demanded Imam Al-Hussein (A.S) follow his rules and instructions; therefore, Imam Hussein (A.S) rejected his principles. To protect Islam, He (A.S) confronted and collided with Yazid’s rulership irrespective of consequences. 

In the end, Yazid ordered His commanders to seize the Imam’s allegiance of loyalty at any cost, even by brutal force. The grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) faced death for the noble cause of Islam. 

Fasting on the day of Ashura. 

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) observed fast on this day and advised His companion to fast on Ashura. Even before Prophethood, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) fasted in the month of Muharram

The Holy Prophet (SAW) says that:

 “The one that keeps a fast in the month of Muharram will receive the reward of thirty fasts for each fast (in this sacred month).”


“This fast is a compensation for the (minor) sins of the past year.”


Although the fasting of Muharram is Nafl ( the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him.) yet the above Hadith gives importance to the significance of Muharram fasting that is most reward able after Farz fasting in Ramadan.

Hazrat Abbas (R.A.), a companion of the Holy Prophet (SAW) when the Holy Prophet (SAW) migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th of Muharram. They said it was the day the Holy Prophet Musa (A.S.) and his followers miraculously crossed the Red Sea, and the Pharaoh drowned in its water.

On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet (SAW) said, 

“We are more closely related to Musa than you.” 

So the Prophet (SAW) directed the Muslims to fast on the day of Ashura. (Abu Dawood)

As Jews used to fast on the day of Ashura, it is advised by the Holy Prophet (SAW) that we should fast on the 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th of Muharram so that Muslims can be distinguished from Jews.

Dua for Ashura

Hazrat Imam Zainul Abidin reports that whoever recites Dua Ashura on the tenth of Muharram any time after sunrise and before sunset or listens to its recitation from someone else, Allah will certainly make it insurance for a year’s life for him by keeping death away from him. 


In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

Ya Qaabila tawbati Adama Yawma ‘Ashuraa-a 

O You who accepted the repentance of Adam on this day of Ashura; 

Ya faarija Karbi Dhin-nuwni yawma ‘Ashuraa-a 

O You who delivered Jonah from his burden on this day of Ashura; 

Yaa jaami’a shamli Ya’qooba yawma ‘ashooraa; 

 O You who reunited Jacob (with his son) on this day of Ashura; 

Yaa saami’a daw’wati Moosaa wa Haaroona yawma ‘ashooraa; 

O You who heard the plea of Moses and Aaron on this day of Ashura;  

Yaa mugheetha Ibraaheema min an-naari yawma ‘ashooraa; 

 O You who rescued Abraham from the fire on this day of Ashura;

Yaa raafi’a Idreesa ilas-samaa-i yawma ‘ashooraa; 

 O You who raised Idris to heaven on this day of Ashura; 

Yaa mujeeba daw’ati Saalehin fin-naaqati yawma ‘ashooraa; 

O You who answered the plea of Saleh with a she-camel on this day of Ashura;

Yaa naasira sayyidinaa Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallama) yawma ‘ashooraa;

O You who helped our Master Muhammad (the grace and peace of Allah be upon him) on this day of Ashura; 

Yaa rahmaan ad-dunyaa wal-aakhirati wa raheemahumaa; 

O Merciful One in this lowly world and the hereafter; O Merciful One in this lowly world and the hereafter; 

Salli ‘alaa sayyidinaa Muhammadin wa ‘alaa aali sayyidinaa Muhammadin wa salli ‘alaa jamee’il-ambiyaa-i wal-mursaleen; 

Bestow your grace upon our Master Muhammad, the people of Muhammad, and all the prophets and messengers! 

Waqdi haajatinaa fid-dunyaa wal-aakhirati wa atil ‘umranaa fee taa’atika wa mahabbatika wa ridaak!

And grant us our need in this life and the hereafter, and grant us many years in Your obedience, love, and pleasure! 

Wa ahyinaa hayaatan tayyibatan wa tawaffanaa ‘alal-eemaani wal-islaami bi rahmatika yaa arham ar-raahimeen. 

And return us to a life of purity and take us not (in death) except upon faith and submission by Your mercy, O You who is the most compassionate of all those who show compassion.

Allaahumma bi ‘izzil-hasani wa akhi wa ummihi wa abeehi wa jaddihi wa baneehi; Farrij ‘annaa maa nahnu feehi! 

 O, Allah! By the honour of Hasan and his brother, his mother and that of his father, and by the honour of his Grandfather(Peace be upon him) and that of his children. Relieve us of what has occurred to us! 

After reading the above Dua, recite the following Dua 7 times. 

Subhaan Allaahi , Hasbun Allahi mil-al-meezaani wa muntahaal-‘ilmi wa mablaghal-ridaa wa zinatal-‘arshi laa maljaa-a wa laa manjaa-a min Allaahi illaa ilayh.  

Glorious is Allah, as much as what is in His grand scale, and as far as His knowledge extends, and to such a degree as it attains His pleasure, and to whatever weight may be His Throne; there is no refuge and no safety from Allah except in Him.

Subhaan Allaahi’adadash-shaf’i wal watri wal Arshi, wa ‘adada kalimaati-llaahit-taammati kullihaa. Nas’alukas-Salaamata bi-Rahmatika yaa Arham ar-Raahimeen!

Glorious is Allah (He is declared so) as many as there be even (numbers) and as many as there be odd, and as many as there be perfect words of His; glory be to Him for them all. 

Nas’alukas-Salaamata bi-Rahmatika yaa Arham ar-Raahimeen! 

We ask of You (our Lord) for safety, by Your mercy.

Wa Huwa hasbunaa wa ni’mal-wakeel — ni’mal mawlaa wa ni’man-naseer!

O You who is the most merciful of all those who show mercy; And it [Your Mercy] is our sufficiency andour best protection

Wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billahil-‘aliyyil-‘adheem! 

And there is no power or strength except in Allah, the High, the Great!

Wa sall-Allaahu ta’aalaa ‘alaa sayyidinaa Muhammadin wa ‘alaa aalihi wa sahbihi wa ‘alaal-mumineena wal-muminaati wal-muslimeena wal-uslimaati ‘adada dharraatil-wujood wa ‘adada ma’loomaati-llaahi wal-hamduli-llaahi rabbil-‘aalameen.

 May the grace of Allah, the Exalted, be upon our Master Muhammad and his family and companions. The believer’s men and women, and upon those who submit (in Islam), as much as there be atoms in existence and as much as there be things known to Allah; and all praise is due to Him, Lord of the Worlds.


As we mark Ashura, let us extend our acts of kindness and charity to those in need, just as Imam Hussein exemplified. Let us emulate his unwavering faith and dedication to truth, even in the face of great adversity.

On this solemn day, let us also pray for peace and unity among the Muslim community and the world at large. May the lessons of Ashura inspire us to be better individuals, working towards a more compassionate and just society.

May Allah accept our worship, forgive our sins, and bless us abundantly in this blessed month of Muharram and on the day of Ashura. Let us make the most of this sacred time, striving to draw closer to Allah and seeking His pleasure in all that we do.


  • Why is the Day of Ashura important in Islam? 

The Day of Ashura is important in Islam as it marks the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, a revered figure who sacrificed his life for justice and truth.

  • Can non-Muslims participate in Ashura observances? 

While Ashura is primarily a Muslim observance, non-Muslims are often welcome to attend gatherings and learn about its cultural and historical significance.

  • Does the significance of Ashura go beyond religious aspects?

Yes, the Day of Ashura holds cultural and historical importance and is recognized as a symbol of resistance against oppression and injustice.

  • How is fasting on Ashura different from Ramadan fasting?

Fasting on Ashura is a voluntary act of devotion, unlike the mandatory fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.


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