Ashura: Why Shia Muslims do not fast on the day of Ashura?

Ashura is the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar. Shia muslims consider Ashura a day of sorrow and grief as the holy prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain, and all 72 of his companions were martyred on this day in Karbala. Therefor it is recommended not to eat or drink on Ashura till noon to mimic the one with a great sorrow, but fasting on the day of Ashura is disapproved (Makruh) according to religious opinions (Fatwas) of Shia scholars such as Imam Khamenei.




Although Ashura is a day of sorrow for Imam Hussain lovers but it was a celebration for the enemies of the prophet Muhammd’s grandson. They fast on this day and even built some mosques to show their happiness. That’s why Shia Imams recommend us not to fast on the day of Ashura:

Asking Imam Reza (the 8th Imam of Shiite Muslims) about fasting on the day of Ashura; Imam Reza replayed: “Do you ask about fasting of Marjanah’s son? The day of Ashura is a day in which Ziyad family’s wicked members fast for the happiness of Imam Hussain killing…” [1]

There is another quote by Imam Reza (PBUH) that Ashura is not the day of fasting, it’s the day of sorrow and grief for the inhabitants of the earth and heaven and for all the believers and the day of happiness and enjoyment for the Marjanah’s son and Ziyad family and for the inmates of the fire [of the hell]. 

Sorrow and grief on Ashura was also mentioned in a quote by the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
“O’ Fatimah! Every eye shall be weeping on the Day of Judgment except the eye which has shed tears over the tragedy of Hussain (PBUH) for surely, that eye shall be laughing and shall be given the glad tidings of the bounties and comforts of Paradise.” [2]

Thus each year in the first ten days of Muharram and especially on the day of Ashura, free food and drink offered to the mourner and all the people at public places such as streets and mosques by some others for the love of Imam Hussain (PBUH). Free foods which is called Nazri food in Iran, even may be offered to you by your neighbors when you are at home.











Muharram and Ashura in Iran: Offering free food and drink at public places


Muharram and Ashura in Iran


Nazri food  offered to the tourists on the day of Ashura in Iran


+ I tried to translate the above quotes carefully but I apologize in advance if there are any mistakes in them.


[1] Tahzib, Vol.4, p.301

وَ عَنْهُ عَنِ الْحَسَنِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ الْهَاشِمِيِّ عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ عِيسَى بْنِ عُبَيْدٍ قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا جَعْفَرُ بْنُ عِيسَى أَخِي قَالَ: سَأَلْتُ الرِّضَا ع عَنْ صَوْمِ يَوْمِ عَاشُورَاءَ وَ مَا يَقُولُ النَّاسُ فِيهِ فَقَالَ عَنْ صَوْمِ ابْنِ مَرْجَانَةَ لَعَنَهُ اللَّهُ تَسْأَلُنِي ذَلِكَ يَوْمٌ مَا صَامَهُ إِلَّا الْأَدْعِيَاءُ مِنْ آلِ زِيَادٍ بِقَتْلِ الْحُسَيْنِ ص وَ هُوَ يَوْمٌ تَشَاءَمَ بِهِ آلُ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ يَتَشَاءَمُ بِهِ أَهْلُ الْإِسْلَامِ وَ الْيَوْمُ الْمُتَشَائِمُ بِهِ الْإِسْلَامُ وَ أَهْلُهُ لَا يُصَامُ وَ لَا يُتَبَرَّكُ بِهِ وَ يَوْمُ الْإِثْنَيْنِ يَوْمُ نَحْسٍ قَبَضَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ نَبِيَّهُ ص وَ مَا أُصِيبَ آلُ مُحَمَّدٍ ع إِلَّا فِي يَوْمِ الْإِثْنَيْنِ فَتَشَاءَمْنَا بِهِ وَ تَبَرَّكَ بِهِ أَعْدَاؤُنَا وَ يَوْمُ عَاشُورَاءَ قُتِلَ الْحُسَيْنُ ع وَ تَبَرَّكَ بِهِ ابْنُ مَرْجَانَةَ وَ تَشَاءَمَ بِهِ آلُ مُحَمَّدٍ ع فَمَنْ صَامَهُمَا وَ تَبَرَّكَ بِهِمَا لَقِيَ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ مَمْسُوحَ الْقَلْبِ وَ كَانَ مَحْشَرُهُ مَعَ الَّذِينَ سَنُّوا   صَوْمَهُمَا وَ تَبَرَّكُوا بِهِمَا

تهذیب الاحکام، ج4، ص301

[2] Bihar Al-Anwar, vol.44, p.293

قال رسول الله صلی الله علیه و آله و سلم: یا فاطمة! کل عین باکیه یوم القیامة الا عین بکت علی مصاب الحسین فانها ضاحکة مستبشرة بنعیم الجنة

بحار الانوار، ج 44، ص .293


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