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By Ahmad Bello Dogarawa

Fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah is highly recommended for those who are not performing Hajj.

In _Sahīh Muslim_ (1162), Abu Qatādah al-Ansārī (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him – pbuh) was asked about fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah (9th of Dhul-Hijjah), whereupon he said: “It expiates the sins of the preceding year and the coming year.”

In the narration of Ibn Mājah (1731), Qatādah bin Nu’mān said, I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saying, ‘Whoever fasts the Day of ‘Arafah, his sins of the previous and following year will be forgiven.”

In the narration of Tabarānī (5923) and Abu Ya’lā (7548), the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Whoever fasts the Day of ‘Arafah, his sins of two consecutive years will be forgiven.”

There is a scholarly debate on whether it is permissible to fast the Day of ‘Arafah if it falls on a Saturday.

The debate stems from a Hadith narrated by Tirmidhi (744), Abu Dāwud (2421) and Ibn Mājah (1726) from ‘Abdullah ibn Busr, from his sister (Sammā bint Busr), that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Do not fast on Saturdays except that which is an obligatory upon you. If any one of you cannot find anything other than grape stalks or the bark of a tree, let him chew it (to make sure that he is not fasting).”

According to Abu Ja’far At-Tahāwī, in _Sharh Ma’ānil Āthār,_ 2/80 under Hadith 3315, some scholars relied upon the above Hadith to declare that it is _makrūh_ (disliked) to observe voluntary fast on Saturdays. However other scholars disagree with them.

The preferred scholarly opinion is that it is permissible to fast the Day of ‘Arafah if it falls on a Saturday. Similarly, it is permissible to observe the voluntary fast of Āshūrā.

It is permissible because Bukhāri (#1985) and Muslim (#1144) have narrated that Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, I heard the Prophet (pbuh) saying: “None of you should fast on Friday unless he fasts a day before or after it.” Also, according to a Hadith in _Sahīh al-Bukhari_ (1986), the Prophet (pbuh) visited his wife Juwairiyyah on a Friday and she was fasting. He asked her, “Did you fast yesterday?” She said, “No.” He said, “Do you intend to fast tomorrow?” She said, “No.” He said, “Then break your fast.”

According to many scholars, the Hadith of Sammā bint Busr that forbade voluntary fast on Saturdays provided a general ruling but the Hadith of Abu Hurairah and Juwairiyyah provided an exception to the general ruling that Friday should not be singled out for fasting except if it is joined with fasting a day before or after it. Since a day after Friday is Saturday, it means it is permissible to observe voluntary fast on Saturday if it is joined with Friday.

In addition, there are many authentic Hadīth on Prophet Dāwud’s (pbuh) fasting which our noble Prophet (pbuh) described as the most beloved form of voluntary fasting to Allah. According to our Prophet (pbuh), the most beloved (voluntary) fasting to Allah and most superior is the fast of Dāwud pbuh. He used to fast every other day. [See: Bukhāri (1131), Muslim (1159) and Nasā’ī (2344)]. Whoever wants to practice this type of fasting, within every two weeks, he or she would observe it on a Saturday.

There is also another Hadith on the merit of fasting on 13th, 14th and 15th of every lunar month (ayyāmul bīd) as narrated byTirmidhī (761) and Nasā’ī (2424). Again, whoever wants to observe it, he or she would find that, in every four/five months, one of the days will fall on Saturday.

Furthermore, observing the fast of ‘Arafah or Āshūrā if it falls on a Saturday is not the same as observing fasting for the sake of Saturday. In the former, it is just a coincidence that ‘Arafah or Āshūrā falls on a Saturday. It could fall on any other day of the week. The fast is therefore intended for ‘Arafah or Āshūrā NOT for Saturday. In the latter case, the fasting is intended for Saturday and no other day. Accordingly, if a specific type of legally recognised fast coincidentally falls on either Friday or Saturday, it is permissible to observe it.

This is the opinion of vast majority of past and contemporary scholars and the known fatwā and resolution of Councils and Committees on fatwā in many parts of the world including Saudi Arabia’s Al-Lajnah Al-Dā’imah and Egypt’s Dārul Iftā.

On the Hadith that forbade observing voluntary fast on Saturdays, many early scholars did not use it because, according to them, the Hadith is weak or inconsistent. For example, Imams Az-Zuhrī, Al-Awzā’ī, Mālik, Yahyā bin Sa’īd al-Qattān, An-Nasā’i and At-Tahāwī neither accepted the Hadīth nor applied the ruling it contains because, according to them, it is weak, inconsistent or irregular. On his part, Abu Dāwud concluded that the Hadith is _mansūkh_ (abrogated) but he neither mentioned nor referred to the _nāsikh_ (the one that abrogated it).

However, some scholars, including al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Hibbān, Ibn Khuzaimah, Hākim, Ibn Qudāmah, An-Nawawī, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibnul Qayyim, Ibnu Hajar and recently Al-‘Uthaymīn accepted its authenticity but considered its provision to be general and the Hadith of Abu Hurairah and Juwairiyyah as well as the Hadith on the fast of Prophet Dāwud, sittu Shawwāl and ayyāmul bīd (mentioned above) as exception. Consequent upon this, they concluded that it is permissible to fast the Day of ‘Arafah or Āshūrā if it falls on Saturday.

For example, after narrating the Hadīth of Sammā bint Busr that forbade voluntary fasting on Saturdays and grading it as _Hasan_ (good/acceptable), al-Tirmidhi said: “What is _makruh_ (detestable) in this case is for a man to single out Saturday for fasting, because the Jews venerate Saturday.”

Ibn Qudāmah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in _al-Mughni_ (4/428): “Our companions (i.e. scholars of Hanbali school) said: It is _makruh_ to single out Saturday for fasting…If he fasts another day along with it, then it is not _makruh,_ because of the Hadith of Abu Hurairah and Juwairiyyah (may Allah be pleased with them). If it coincides with a day that a person regularly fasts, it is not makruh.” An-Nawawī also made a similar statement in _Al-Majmū’,_ 6/440.

In _Fathul Bārī_ (4/234), Ibnu Hajar said, “an exception to the prohibition on fasting on Friday is made if a person habitually fasts on a certain day, such as ‘Arafah, and it coincides with Friday.”

The same applies to Saturday. Thus, in _Nihāyatul Muhtāj_ (3/209), Ar-Ramlī added, “the ruling of makrūh that occurs in the Hadīth does not cover the case of a person who regularly fasts on ayyāmul bīd or practice the fasting of Dāwud or when Arafah or Āshūrā falls on a Saturday.”

It is important to, at this juncture, mention that four scholars of the second generation were reported to have held the view that it is absolutely makrūh to observe voluntary fast on Saturdays irrespective of the circumstances. In _Nukhabul Afkār,_ 8/433, Badarud Dīn Al-‘Aynī has ascribed this opinion to Mujāhid, Tāwūs, Ibrāhim an-Nakha’ī and Khālid bin Ma’dān. Among the contemporary scholars, Sheikh Muhammad Nāsiruddīn Al-Albānī is of the opinion that it is not permissible to observe voluntary fast on a Saturday even if it is joined with Friday or it coincides with Arafah or Āshūrā. They all relied on the Hadīth of Sammā bint Busr quoted above. Similarly , in _Tamāmul Minnah fit Ta’līq ‘alā Fiqhis Sunnah,_ Sheikh Nāsiruddīn Al-Albānī relied on the Hadith to seriously argue in favour of the impermissibility view.

It is cristal clear from the Hadith of Abu Hurairah and Juwairiyyah (may Allah be pleased with them) that it is permissible to fast on a Saturday at times other than Ramadān, if it is joined with Friday. In addition, since the most beloved of fasting to Allah is the fast of Dāwud; he used to fast every other day, it is bound to happen that whoever wants to practice this type of fasting will sometimes fast on a Saturday on its own. Accordingly, Imams Tahāwī, Ibnu Taymiyyah and Ibnul Ƙayyim among others have responded to the impermissibility view and refuted it with superior scholarly arguments. [See: Tahāwī’s _Sharh Ma’ānil Āthār_ (2/80-81), Ibnu Taimiyyah’s _Iqtidā’ Sirāɗil Mustaƙīm_ (2/74-76) and Ibnul Qayyim’s _Tahdhīb as-Sunan_ (2/113-127)]. In _Sharh ‘Umdatil Fiqh,_ 3/540, Ibn Taymiyyah even went ahead to say that the Hadith that forbade voluntary fasting on Saturdays is apparently contrary to _ijmā_ (consensus).

Based on the above, it is permissible to observe the upcoming Arafah fasting even though it will fall on Saturday.

Wallahu A’lam.

DOGARAWA
5th Dhul-Hijjah, 1445
11.06.2024

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