The month of Muharram is the month of sadness for the Ahlul-Bayt (peace be upon them) and their followers. In this respect, Imam al-Rida (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “With the beginning of Muharram, my father (peace be upon him) would never smile at all. He would be dominated by depression for ten days. The tenth of this month would be the day of his misfortune, sadness, and weeping. He used to say that on this day Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) was slain.”
Sayyid Ibn Tawus, in Iqbal al-A`mal, has mentioned that a number of prayers should be advisably offered at this night:
First: A one hundred unit prayer with Surahs al-Fatihah and al-Tawhid recited once in each unit.
Second: A two unit prayer at the first of which Surahs al-Fatiha and al-An`am (No. 6) are recited and at the second unit Surahs al-Fatiha and Yasin (No. 36).
Third: A two unit prayer in each of which Surah al-Fatiha is recited once and Surah al-Tawhid is repeated eleven times.
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) is reported to have said that whoever offers this prayer at this night and observes fasting the next day, which is the first day in the new year, the new year will be wholly good for him, and he will be saved throughout the year, and if he dies, he will be allowed Paradise.
It is recommended to observe fasting on this day. Rayyan ibn Shabib has reported that Imam Ridha (peace be upon him) said, “Just as He responded to the prayer of Prophet Zachariah, Almighty Allah shall respond the prayer of one who observes fasting on this day and prays to Him.”
Imam Ridha (peace be upon him) is reported to have said that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his family), on the first of Muharram, used to offer a two unit prayer. When he finished, he would raise his hands towards the heavens and repeat the following supplicatory prayer three times:
اَللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ ٱلإِلٰهُ ٱلْقَدِيمُ
allahumma anta al-ilahu alqadimu
O Allah, You are the Eternal God
وَهٰذِهِ سَنَةٌ جَدِيدَةٌ
wa hadhihi sanatun jadidatun
and this is a new year;
فَأَسْأَلُكَ فِيهَا ٱلْعِصْمَةَ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَانِ
fa-as'aluka fiha al`ismata mina alshshaytani
I therefore request Your safety from Satan,
wa hab lana min ladunka rahmatan innaka anta alwahhabu
and grant us mercy from You; surely, You are the most liberal Giver.
Shaykh al-Tusi says: It is recommended to observe fasting on the first nine days of Muharram.
Sayyid Ibn Tawus has mentioned the merits of observing fasting during the whole month of Muharram adding that such a deed protects against committing any sin.
Third Muharram: On this day, Prophet Joseph was freed from his prison. Hence, if one observes fasting on this day, Almighty Allah will make easy any difficulty he may face and will relieve any trouble that may face him. According to a Hadith reported from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his family), Almighty Allah will respond to the prayer of him who observes fasting on this day.