Q: Assalamu Alaykum,
I had a quick question; why do we fast in Ashura? I know the hadith concerning it and my father told me that we fast because it’s the death of Firown (Pharaoh).
وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته
As you can tell from the works of Ibn Kathir, this fast is not limited to the death of Firown.It is a fast that extends itself to sunnah as well as showing us the link to Musa (AS) and the great attributes Allah blessed him with. We do keep one fast like the jews. Rather, we keep two fasts, to show greater affection to Musa (AS) and the sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW).
According to Ibn kathir
﴿فَالْيَوْمَ نُنَجِّيكَ بِبَدَنِكَ لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ ءَايَةً﴾
(So this day We shall deliver your (dead) body (out from the sea) that you may be a sign to those who come after you!) Ibn `Abbas and others from among the Salaf have said: “Some of the Children of Israel doubted the death of Fir`awn so Allah commanded the sea to throw his body — whole, without a soul — with his known armor plate. The body was thrown to a high place on the land so that the Children of Israel could confirm his death and destruction.” That is why Allah said,
(“So this day We shall deliver your..”) meaning that We will put your body on a high place on the earth. Mujahid said,
(your (dead) body) means, `your physical body. ”
﴿لِتَكُونَ لِمَنْ خَلْفَكَ ءَايَةً﴾
(that you may be a sign to those who come after you!) meaning, so that might be a proof of your death and destruction for the Children of Israel. That also stood as a proof that Allah is All-Powerful, in Whose control are all the creatures. Nothing can bear His anger. Fir`awn and his people were destroyed on the day of `Ashura’, as recorded by Al-Bukhari, Ibn `Abbas said, “When the Prophet arrived at Al-Madinah, the Jews fasted the day of `Ashura’. So he asked,
«مَا هَذَا الْيَومُ الَّذِي تَصُومُونَهُ؟»
(What is this day that you are fasting) They responded `This is the day in which Musa was victorious over Fir`awn.’ So the Prophet said,
«أَنْتُمْ أَحَقُّ بِمُوسَى مِنْهُمْ فَصُومُوه»
(You have more right to Musa than they, so fast it.)
Allah Certainly Knows Best.