47. Voluntary Fasting
The fasting of Ramadan is obligatory on every responsible and fit Muslim (Mukallaf). But there are other times when it is strongly recommended, after the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
Among these times are Mondays and Thursdays of every week, a few days of each month in the two months heralding the coming of Ramadan, i.e., Rajab and Sha’ban, six days after Ramadan following the ‘Eid ul-Fitr day. Besides, it is always compensating to fast any day of any month of the year, except the ‘Eid days and certain days when no Muslim should fast. However, we may repeat that the only obligatory fasting is that of Ramadan.
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to encourage fasting in the following days:
The scholars said that the rewards of the good deeds are multiplied by ten. 30x 10= 300+ [6 days x 10]= 360 which is slightly longer than a lunar year, and next Ramadan he will fast again so it is as if he fasted his whole life.
- Six days in Shawwal (the month after Ramadan); the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan, then follows it up with six days in Shawwal, it is as if he fasted the whole (year).” (Muslim)
“Milk was sent to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)while he was giving his sermon on the day of Arafaat and he drank from it.” (Agreed upon)
- Fasting the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah and the day of ‘Arafaat (the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah) (for those who are not performing Hajj); the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)said: “Fasting on the day of ‘Arafaat expiates two years of sins last year’s and next year’s and fasting on the tenth of Muharram (‘Ashura) expiates the previous year’s (of sins).” (Muslim and others)
And Rasulallah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “If I live till the next year, I will fast definitely on the 9th (the day before “Ashura).” (Muslim)
- Fasting on the day of ‘Ashura, and its fasting is not mandatory on you, and I am fasting, so whoever wants should fast, and whoever wants should break his fast.” (Agreed upon).
(This shows that it is preferable to fast an extra day long with the tenth, preferably the ninth, but, if not possible, then the 11th).
- Fasting most of the month of Sha’ban: “Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)used to fast most of Sha’ban.” (Agreed upon)
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked about fasting on Monday, he said:” That is the day I was born and the day (the first Revelation) was sent down on me.” (Muslim)
- Fasting Monday and Thursday: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)mentioned that: “The deeds of the worshippers are presented before Allah on Monday and Thursday, I like my deeds to be presented while I am fasting.” (Nisaa’i)
6. Fasting three days of every month: `Amr Ibn Sharhabeel (RA) said: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)said: "Shall I not inform you of what takes away the whispers of the chest", they said yes tell us, he said “fasting three days from every month". (An-Nasai')
Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (RA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)said: "Whoever fasts from every month three days, it is like fasting the whole year, then Allah revealed what backs this in His book:"Whoever comes with a good deed, he is rewarded ten folds", one day for ten. (Ibn Majah, at-Tirmidhi)
Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (RA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)said: "O Abu Dharr! if you fast three days of every month, then fast the 13th, the 14th and the 15th [these are call the al-ayaam al-beedh, the white days]". [Note these are dates of the Islamic Month!] (Ahmad, an-Nisaa’i, at-Tirmidhi)
The Days when Fasting is prohibited:
It is taboo to fast during the first days of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid- Al-Adha in compliance with the directive of the Prophet (peace be on him) who was quoted by Omar (May Allah bless him), as having said: “Eid Al-Fitr is the day of the breaking of the fast, and the Eid-Al-Adha day is the day on which you should eat from your devotion and sacrifice”. The Hadith was related by Imam Ahmad.
Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (RA). The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)said: “No Saum (fast) is permissible on two days: ‘Eid-Al-Fitr and ‘Eid-Al-Adha. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith NO.288, Vol.2)
Undesirable Days of Fasting:
The Legislator has advised Muslims not to fast on certain days and explained the reasons and wisdom behind the exhortation. These days are:
- The days of the Tashrik, the three days following the Feast of the Sacrifice, Abu Hurraira (RA)related that Allah’s Apostle (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)had delegated Abdullah Bin Huzakah (RA) to tour throughout Mina and to advise Muslims not to fast during these three days which had been assigned for eating, drinking and mentioning of the name of Allah.
Jabir (RA)related that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said” “Do not fast on Friday if not preceded or followed by another day”.
- Specific fasting of Friday, the Muslim weekly holiday, if not preceded or followed by another day is undesirable but not taboo. In the two Hadith Books checked properly by well versed jurist and scholars,
3. Fasting on Saturday is undesirable because this is glorified by the Jews.
It is preferable for a pilgrim not to observe Saum (fast) on the day of ‘Arafaat in ‘Arfat.
Narrated Umm Al-Fadl bint Al-Harith (RA)On the day of ‘Arafaat, some people who were with me, differed about the Saum (fast) of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)some said that he was observing Saum while others said that he was not observing Saum. So I sent a bowl full of milk to him while he was riding his camel, and he drank that milk. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No 723, Vol.2)