The fasting of the day of `Ashura‘ is established by authentic traditions. In addition to this, it is recommended to fast a day before it so as to be different from the Jews. As regards making children happy and spending on them generously, there were some controversial reports recommending it.
However, applying Kohol and adorning oneself on this day is not established through any authentic Hadith.
Regarding this, Dr. Rif`at Fawzi, former professor of Shari`ah at Cairo Univ., said the following:
The day of `Ashura’ is a blessed day. It witnessed victories of truth over falsehood and belief over polytheism and on it Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemy (in Egypt).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came to Medina and saw the Jews fasting on the day of `Ashura‘. He asked them about that, and they replied, “This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued the Children of Israel from their enemy. So, Musa fasted this day.” The Prophet said, “We have more right, and have a closer connection with Moses than you.” The Prophet fasted on that day and ordered the Muslims to fast on that day also. (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The day of `Ashura’ has many virtues. In this regard Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: “I never saw Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of `Ashura‘, and this month, meaning Ramadan.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Abu Qatadah narrated that when he was asked about the day of `Ashura’, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied that it expiates the sins of the previous year.
Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever offers fast on the day of `Arafah, shall have all his evil deeds of the previous year and the following one pardoned. And whoever fasts on the day of `Ashura’ shall have his deeds pardoned for a year.” (Sunan ABu Daud)
There are many Hadiths regarding spending generously on children on this day. For instance, there are some Hadiths reported by Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri, Abu Hurairah, and Ibn Mas`ud with weak chains of transmission. Nevertheless, if the narrations of the aforementioned figures are combined, the Hadiths will become sounder.
This Hadith was reported on the authority of Jabir said that whoever spends on his children generously on that day, Allah will increase his provision throughout the year.
At the same time, there are no authentic Hadiths regarding applying kohl and similar practices.
Ibn `Abdul Barr said: “Muslim scholars agreed that offering the fast on the day of `Ashura’ is not obligatory, rather it is mustahab (recommendable).”
It is important to note that Muslim scholars have stated that there are three levels of fasting on the day of `Ashura’:
1. Fasting for three days, i.e., on the 9th, 10th, and 11th of Muharram,
2. Fasting on the 9th and 10th of Muharram, and
3. Fasting only the 10th of Muharram.
It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said after ordering the fast of the tenth of Muharram: “If I live until the following year, I shall (also) fast on the 9th day.” But the Prophet passed away before the following year.
Imam Ahmed reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
said: “Observe fast on the day of `Ashura’, but do not follow the Jews in their way of fasting; fast one day before it and one day after it.” (al-Sunna al-Kubrah)
Based on the above, it can be concluded that there are no authentic Hadiths regarding adornment and applying kohl on the day of `Ashura’. The Prophet observed fast on that day and urged Muslims to fast due to its great significance.