Saturday, February 12, 2005

Fasting for Ashura from the perspective of the Maliki madhab

(originally written February 9, edited and slightly revised)

What is said about fasting for Ashura within the Maliki school of thought? I tried to go down this avenue, but it didn't lead to much. It's rather difficult to find anything translated into English here, but I am working from two key sources found online: The Risala of 'Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani and Al-Muwatta' by Imam Malik ibn Anas . Both are found through Aisha Bewley's website. (the links will take you to the page i'm pulling the information from).

So, actually, not much is said about it. This hadith, found in Al-Muwatta', kinda relates the origins of the optional fasting during Ashura:

Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn 'Urwa from his father that 'A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The Day of 'Ashura' was a day the Quraysh used to fast in the Jahiliyya, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used also to fast it during the Jahiliyya. Then when the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to Madina he fasted it and ordered that it be fasted. Then Ramadan was made obligatory, and that became the fard instead of 'Ashura', but whoever wanted to, fasted it, and whoever did not want to, did not fast it."
[cf Bukhari 1898]

And from the Risala:

Voluntary fasting is desirable. It is desirable to fast the day of 'Ashura', the month of Rajab, the month Sha'ban, the day of 'Arafa and the Day of Tarwiyya. Fasting the Day of 'Arafa is better for someone not performing hajj than for the one on hajj.

[ This is fasting at times when it is not forbidden to fast. It is better explained by the words of the Almighty, "The steadfast will be paid their wages in full without any reckoning." (39:10) Steadfastness is explained as meaning fasting.

'Ashura' is the 10th of Muharram.

[Hash: It is desirable to fast it based on what Muslim transmitted that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said when he was asked about fasting the Day of 'Arafa. He said, "It expiates the past and future year." He was asked about fasting 'Ashura' and said, "It expiates the past year."]

This basically told me the same thing I learned by the earlier searches. It's recommended but not obligatory to fast, with the past year of sin wiped away. No mention of the events at Karbala.

So, that really didn't get anywhere, at least in terms of spiritual development. My next project is to take the historical retellings of Karbala and view it through three different viewpoints: A Shi'ite history, a Sunni history, and the Western textbook history and take a look at the similarities and differences of how it is viewed. Hey, I'm an anthropologist and am very wary of any possibility of "revisionist" history.

2 comment(s):

  • Salaam 'Alaikum

    I wanted to mention one other thing. Like many other works involving historical events, there *are* indeed works (poems, books, etc) about Karbala, 'Ashura, Sayiduna Hussein, and so on written from the Sunni perspective that have not been translated into English. I'd wager (ha) that you could find these works in Turkish, Arabic, and Persian most likely. I've heard selected translations here and there in lectures, but ... unfortunately, the entire texts aren't available (like so many other works of history and literature, poetry, etc. written from an Islamic view in classical times).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/14/2005 07:42:00 AM  

  • I'm positive you are right, UmZ. Why aren't they being translated, though.

    By Blogger Leila M., at 2/14/2005 10:23:00 AM  

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