fasting in the 10th of Moharam month

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salam everybody,

We Muslims fast in the 10th of Moharam thanks to Allah for it is the day when God saved Moses(pbuh) and his people from Pharoah and his injustice. Our prophet Mhammed(pbuh) used to fast this day, and asks us to do the same.

I need to know if you fast this day?

sis, DB
In what sense do you mean that this is "the" day when God saved Moses? Muharram occurs at a different time every year, so a date in Muharram is not an anniversary of anything (except once in a while, by accident).
Hey, BobX,

Sorry for the mistake.... I meant that 10th of Moharam is the date, not the day(of course, that date occurs at different days each year),when Moses was saved from Pharoah....I need to know if you fast in this day as we do.......thank you

with my best wishes, BobX
sis. DB
I meant that 10th of Moharam is the date, not the day(of course, that date occurs at different days each year),when Moses was saved from Pharoah
When Moses was saved from Pharoah, there was no such "date" as the 10th of Muharram, since that whole system of dating would not be invented until Muhammad's time.
Hello Dauer,

Thanks a lot for the site. for us, we celebrate this occassion by refraining ourselves from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset. It is wonderful that we share celebrating the same occassions....Our prophets were,shall we

with my best wishes
sis, DB

Hey bob x,

It is good to know what? your question was at the point, and I said to myself:yes, bob x is true. How can they define an exact hijri date to that ocassion while that happened before the coming of Muhammed(pbuh)? well, I went and surfed the net, and I found out that the Jews wasnt working by the Christian date, but according to the shape of the moon, and it is the same system of Islamic date.....I hope it s clear

God bless you,
sis, DB
We do have a different calendar but it's not the same as the Muslim one. It's both lunar and solar. Imo originally the calendar used was probably more similar to that used by Karaites which, while lunar, does not cycle around the seasons. It's anchored by the barley harvest. This would make more sense given the seasonal qualities of many biblical holidays.

Yes, Dauer is expressing it more clearly: the Jewish months are tied to a particular position in the seasons (when 12 lunar months are not enough to get from spring equinox to spring equinox, a 13th is inserted). The Muhammadan months, that float around the seasons, don't correspond in any fixed way to the months in any system that existed before Muhammad's day, so as far as I can tell it doesn't even MEAN anything to say "it was the month of Muharram" on some occasion back in Moses' time.
OK, I've looked up my old notes about early calendars, and I think I have figured out what this means.

Before Muhammad, the Arabic calendar, like the Jewish calendar and for that matter the Babylonian and Assyrian and Sumerian calendars, was INTENDED to keep the months aligned with the seasons, by inserting 13th months in certain years. But the formula that was in use didn't work right, not inserting 13th months often enough, so that the months had fallen back from their intended positions one whole season by the "Hegira year" (when Muhammad decreed that 13th months should be abolished and the months allowed to "float" freely). That is, "Ramadan" means the "scorching" month and was originally intended to be at summer solstice, but had fallen back to the spring; and "Muharram" was intended to be the autumn equinox month, corresponding to Jewish "Tishri", but Muharram 1 AH = approx. July 622 AD (in Christian reckoning; approx. Iyyar 4382 AM by Jewish reckoning).
So, saying that "the date was Muharram 10" must mean that it was what the Jews now call Tishri 10, THAT IS TO SAY, YOM KIPPUR. This is indeed a fasting day for the Jews, the very most important one in their calendar.

And yes, the Torah does say that the date Tishri 10 was set in Moses' time, though I don't know of any background story explaining the choice of date by any story about some incident between Moses and Pharaoh. But maybe if there is no such story in the Torah, there might be a rabbinic tradition about it in the Talmud somewhere: Dauer? Bananabrain? Know of anything on these lines?
this *is* interesting. i understand that yom kippur is traditionally considered to be the day on which moses received the second set of tablets with the 10 commandments on them and is also therefore considered to be the time at which the israelites' atonement for the sin of the golden calf was actualised. i believe the source for this is in midrash tanhuma:

'The first time [moses] went down on the 17th of Tammuz. He saw the calf and he broke the tablets. For two days he punished the people. He remained there from the 20th of Tammuz through the whole month of Ab, 40 days. Then he went up on the first day of Elul, staying 40 days, being the 10th of Tishri.'

the midrash also notes that this anniversary was a victory over "the enemy" insofar as it was ha-satan who was presenting the counter-arguments against giving the people the replacement tablets and G!D finally ruled against this on yom kippur - it is likely that this story may also be conflated into the understanding of the jews of medina and hence the Qur'anic account.

i understand further that the original 10th of muharram fast (ashura) is based on a jewish fast of some sort, where the reason given to muhammad for observing it was to do with deliverance from pharaoh. now, there can be two reasons for this. firstly, "ashura" is related to the number 10 and, as we know, kippur is the 10th of tishri, which as bob says, would have probably been the same as muharram in the C7th before muhammad floated the calendar. however, it is possible that the confusion arises from the fast of the *first-born*, which i think is the anniversary of the 10th plague, the killing of the first-born egyptians, which takes place, however, in the month of nisan. however, there is a debate as to which is the "first" month. nisan is described as the "first month" in Torah, i seem to remember, although new year (and hence the calculation of the year) goes from tishri - therefore they're *both* the "first month", both have fasts in and both relate to the number 10. it is not impossible that the jews of medina (who were somewhat ignorant from what i know of them) were confused about this themselves, or gave muhammad incorrect information. it is even possible that the connection with the number 10 may even relate to the number of the commandments themselves.

the ever-reliable eliezer segal has an article on it on his website:

The Islamic "Yom Kippur"


Hello, brothers,

Actually, I was having no idea that I will gain that amount of information when I asked my question.....Thanks for clarification, dauer.......a great debt to bob x for solving up the controversery between the Islamic and Jewish calender..I really admired the way you got to "yom kippur" and that it is a fasting day for the Jews.....Also, special thanks go indeed to BB for the more explanation and the site, too...

God bless you all
sis, DB

I'm sorry this thread has been pretty awesome. Each post added something that the next one built upon.
I would have to disagree with what is said about Ramadan "replacing" the Ashura fast. My understanding is that many cultures had a seasonal period when fasting was enjoined, out of sheer prudent practicality, at whatever time of year the food-stocks would be getting lowest. For northern Europe, it was the winter months that were the leanest, and this is the origin of Christian "Lent". But in the Middle East, the hot months were the worst, and I would assume that Ramadan was established in Arabia as a month to conserve food back when it was still reliably tied to the start of summer.
The Jews have a vestigial preservation of such a period (rather than single day) of fasting. An "omer" is a week of weeks, particularly the 7 weeks from Passover to Shavuoth (the day of "sevens", source of Christian Pentecost), and it appears explanatory to assume that at one time the second half of the omer (largely overlapping with Ramadan, when Ramadan equalled Sivan) was a time of food-restriction, when it was no longer to permissible to cull lambs from the flock and not yet allowed to pluck any more grain from the fields; the mid-point of the omer would be three WEEKS and three days into it, that is the "33rd" in base-seven. I hypothesize that the "Lag b'Omer", 33rd day of this period in base-ten, arose from a misunderstanding of the old base-seven counting.
bob_x said:
I hypothesize that the "Lag b'Omer", 33rd day of this period in base-ten, arose from a misunderstanding of the old base-seven counting.
quite apart from the lack of evidence to support this anthropological explanation, it seems to me that you're assuming a remarkable amount of both ignorance and poor mathematical skills on the part of the sages, unless i am misreading what you're saying or you are merely speculating.

i would also venture to suggest that muhammad's decoupling the arabian year from the middle eastern seasons showed *remarkable* foresight - it suggests he was future-proofing against a time when islam would be observed around the globe, which would mean every few years the inconvenience of fasting would be minimised by the change of seasons. something to think about for those of us who have to put up with tisha be'ab in the summer!


quite apart from the lack of evidence to support this anthropological explanation, it seems to me that you're assuming a remarkable amount of both ignorance and poor mathematical skills on the part of the sages, unless i am misreading what you're saying or you are merely speculating.
Time-intervals were traditionally counted in base-seven, not base-ten (seven days to a week, or a little more for one quarter-phase of the moon; seven weeks to an omer; seven omers approx. to a year; seven years to a week of years; seven weeks of years to a jubilee; seven jubilees to a ger or "sojourn"). Since shloshiym just means "threes", it could mean "seven threes" just as easily as "ten threes"; which base was meant would depend on what was being counted. There was nothing "ignorant" about the use of base seven, which is very handy for tracking sun and moon together. The system was lost during the Babylonian Captivity, however.
I will have to get all long-winded on you...

Multiple numeral systems are found in Phoenician texts, and although numbers are always spelled out in our current ashurith ("Assyrian" script, or "squarehand") text, it is likely that numeral-symbols were used instead in the pre-Captivity "Paleo-Hebrew script" texts: Phoenician and Hebrew were not really separate languages but just dialects of "Canaanite"; the scripts used in surviving fragments from the kingdom of Judah (the "Gezer alphabet stone", the "Hezekiah tunnel" inscription, the Lachish battle-dispatches) are all quite similar to the Phoenician rather than the ashurith (such scripts were revived under the Hasmoneans, but failed to catch on long-term; only the Samaritans use a kind of Paleo-Hebrew script now). The "gematria" style of numerals (first nine letters for 1-9, next nine for 10-90, filling in the 100-900 set with specialized letters) did occur, but "Egyptian" style, with multiple repetitions of glyphs, each glyph for a different-sized unit, was more common. Unfortunately there was little uniformity in the glyphs used, or their assignments.

There are several cases in the Tanakh best explained on the assumption that the editors of our ashurith text were confronted with numeral symbols in the original which they had difficulty interpreting. There is a Kings/Chronicles parallel (sorry I don't have the cites handy) saying "600 chariots" in Kings and "6000 chariots" in Chronicles, evidently reflecting a numeral written as six glyphs, with the editors uncertain whether that glyph meant a hundred or a thousand and making two different decisions. There is the wonderful sentence in Samuel, "Saul was a year old when he began to reign, and reigned two years in Israel" (very precocious toddler! and very busy, too!). Easiest explanation is that the reign-length was something like "XVII" and the editor knew what the "II" was (repeated single-stroke marks are practically pan-human for the low numbers; China writes them horizontally instead of vertically but that's as much variation as you find) but wouldn't hazard a guess about "X" or "V" (or whatever the glyphs were); and that the age was in round numbers with no units-digit, so the editor just left it blank. (Like the garbled sentences in Samuel where it seems some words were illegible in the original text the editor worked from, this is a GOOD sign for the basic integrity of the text: the editor is giving what he can read, faithfully, and refusing to invent any gap-fillers.)

There are also cases which make better sense if it is assumed that numeral glyphs for the base-seven time-units (pervasively referred to throughout the Tanakh) have been read in base-ten. Moses died at "120" years old after "40" years of wandering in the desert? Perhaps instead he dead at one jubilee and two weeks (64 years old) after wandering for four weeks (28 years). Then he was in his mid-thirties, not pushing eighty, when he challenged Pharoah: a more typical age for a rabble-rouser! Abraham was "100" when Isaac was conceived: or one jubilee (50). Sarah's age was tish'iym "lacking (plural)", interpreted as "90" (lacking ten, from a hundred) but could be a subtractive numeral (like "IX" or "XC" in Roman numerals) for "lacking one week, from a jubilee", that is 43 (as opposed to six weeks = 42). And this is now a normal human story: of course a childless woman who stops menstruating at 43 assumes she has hit menopause, and laughs at the suggestion she is, instead, finally pregnant.

You will, of course, say that these interpretations are speculative. But there are some clearer cases. The interval from the sack of Jerusalem to the fall of Babylon is conventionally described as shiv'iym "70" years of Captivity, although the archaeologists date these events as 585 and 536 BCE (seven weeks apart). The interval from the Exodus to the foundation of Solomon's Temple is given as "480" years: it is odd that it would be expressed as four jubilees and eight weeks = 256, rather than five jubilees and six years, but this interval makes chronological sense. The city-sacks in Canaan were around 1200 BCE, not 1450; the Hebrews in Egypt were said to have built the city of Ramesses (founded by Ramses II); the Philistines' arrival (under Ramses III) is just after the Exodus (the city called 'Azzah in Exodus becomes Gaza early in Judges; the Philistine language had no glottal stop). The cross-correlation between the reigns of the kings of Judah and Israel is notoriously difficult; reading the numbers in base-seven clears up contradictions (though not totally; some problems remain).