Ashura porridge and other myths

Ashura porridge and other myths

October 23, 2015

Anisah Matasim

Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) narrated, “Quraysh used to fast on the day of Ashura in the Pre-Islamic period, and then Allah’s Apostle ordered [Muslims] to fast on it until the fasting in the month of Ramadan was prescribed; whereupon the Prophet said, “He who wants to fast [on Ashura] may fast, and he who does not want to fast may not fast.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith number 1893)

Oddly, this day is also marked as the time for ‘Ashura Porridge’. In some parts of the world, there are Muslims who believe that Prophet Nuh made ‘Ashura Porridge’ after the great flood. Hence, every tenth of Muharram, some Muslims cook this dish and give it away to friends, neighbors, families, and worshipers at mosques.

This innovation in the religion has become so widespread that even Google has recipes for this porridge, not that Google is such a reliable source of information on the religion of Islam.

This tradition has not been reported in the authentic Sunnah; it does not exist in the traditions and life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The myths and false practices surrounding Ashura are not limited to porridge, there are other practices done during Ashura, which have no basis in the Sunnah. People have introduced numerous innovations, ranging from the simple porridge, to body beating and much more.

Below is just a few of the many practices that have no foundation in what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught:

• Spending the evening of Ashura by praying 4 rakaah prayers (reciting surah Al-Ikhlaas 50 times in every rakaah), believing that if this prayer is performed the sins for the past 50 years before and 50 years in the future will be forgiven.

• Fasting 9 days before Ashura.

• Believing that bathing or performing the ghusl cleansing on the tenth day of Muharram protects from becoming sick for a year.

• Singling out Ashura to wear kohl (traditional, black eyeliner), believing that doing so will bring rewards.

• Self-mutilation and self-flagellation every Ashura in mourning of the day that the Prophet’s grandson was martyred. This practice is contrary to the Sunnah. Inflicting harm and physical pain on oneself is far from the Sunnah. The proper way that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught to mourn for the death of a loved one is to have natural sadness in the heart, tears drifting down the cheeks, but there is also patience and self-control; no wailing and no beating oneself. A Muslim expresses grief, but not by mutilating one’s body. When the Prophet’s own son, Ibrahim, died and when he buried the little body in the ground, all he did was weep and he (peace be upon him) said, “Our eyes shed tears and our hearts are filled with grief, but we do not say anything except that by which Allah is pleased. O, Ibrahim we are sorrowful due to your separation.” (Sahih Bukhari)

More and more of these innovated acts are promoted and encouraged, and each day, we keep forgetting the simple task that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has recommended, and that is fasting on the tenth day of Muharram. It is a simple act. It was stated by the Prophet (peace be upon him). It was observed by the companions our pious predecessors.

Whereas, these false and innovated acts have no basis, no history that links us to the Prophet (peace be upon him).

All we need to do is to stop and ask, is this Sunnah; did the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) practice these acts himself or teach these acts to his companions?

Hassaan ibn ‘Atiyah said, “No people introduce innovation into their religion but an equivalent amount of Sunnah will be taken away.” (Al-Laalkaa’i in Sharh Usool I’tiqaad Ahl as-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah)

Sufyaan Ath-Thawree said, “Innovation is more beloved to Satan than sin, since a sin may be repented from, but innovation is not repented from.” (Sharh Usool I’tiqaad Ahlis-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah, #238)

October 23, 2015