Fasting in Dhul-Hijjah

Hunaydah ibn Khaalid (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) reported from his wife that some of the wives of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, on the day of Aashoorah, on three days of each month, and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.” [(Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh Abi Dawood vol: 2, no: 462]

It is reported that when the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) was asked about the fasting on the day of ‘Arafah, he said: “It expiates the sins of the previous year and that of the following year.” [Muslim]

This fasting is Mustahab only for the non-pilgrims and not for the Haajis (pilgrims) because it was not the practice of Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) to fast on the day of ‘Arafah during Hajj and in a narration he also forbade doing so. At-Tirmidhee (rahimahullah) said: “The People of Knowledge consider it recommended (Mustahab) to fast on the day of ‘Arafah, except for those at ‘Arafah.” [Jaami’ut-Tirmidhi (3/377)]

Prohibiting the pilgrims from fasting on these days is a great mercy for them, for fasting will exert undue hardship on the person performing the Hajj, while they are primarily concerned with their Hajj. Above all, the Haaji would not be fasting anyway because he is travelling.
Umm al-Fadl (RadiyAllahu ‘anhaa) said: “The Companions doubted whether the Prophet was fasting on ‘Arafah or not. She decided to prove to them that he was not, so she said, ‘I sent to him milk, which he drank while he was delivering the khutbah (sermon) on ‘Arafah.’ ” [Bukhari]

The wife of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam), Hafsah (RadiyAllahu ‘anhaa) said: “Four things the Messenger of Allah never neglected: Observing fast on the day of ‘Aashooraa, ‘Arafah, three days every month (Ayyaam-ul Beedh), and offering fajr sunnah prayers early in the morning.” [Muslim] This shows that fasting on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, the day before ‘Eid ul-Adha, was a lifelong practice of Rasoolullah (Sallallhu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam).

There is controversy amongst some people who say one should fast the entire nine days of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Fasting is obviously prohibited on the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah as it is Yaum-un Nahr or Eid-ul Adhaa. Those who fast all nine days from the 1st to the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah use this hadeeth as daleel (evidence) for doing so. Hunaydah ibn Khaalid (RadiyAllahu ‘anhu) reported from his wife that some of the wives of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, on the day of Aashoorah, on three days of each month, and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.” [(Saheeh) by Shaikh al-Albanee in Saheeh Abi Dawood vol: 2, no: 462]

With regard to the above narration of Hunaydah ibn Khaalid, the wording is “KAANA AN NABIYYU (SALLALLAHU ‘ALAYHI WA SALLAM) YASOOMU TIS’AH DHIL-HIJJAH.” Some of the scholars have understood this as, The Messenger(Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) used to fast on first nine days of Dhil-Hijjah and some others have understood as he (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah.
There is confusion on whether to fast for the first nine days is permissible or not. Some regard fasting the first nine days as bid’ah. I think it is a bit strong to say that although I personally only fast on the ninth (Yaum-ul ‘Arafah). The Mondays and Thursdays fasts are sunnah so I would be fasting more than just a day in Dhul-Hijjah and this is within Shari’ah. Let me explain my reasoning.

A narration is found in Sahih Muslim from Ummul Mu’mineen ‘Aa’ishah (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhaa) as follows: “I never saw the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) fasting in the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.”

Now before we jump to conclusions thinking that Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) never fasted all nine days, let us understand the words of Aa’ishah (RadiyAllahu ‘anhaa). Those familiar with the ahaadeeth narrated by Aa’ishah (RadiyAllahu ‘anhaa) will be aware that she had a habit of using expressions of negation when she in fact did not intend a complete negation.
An example of this is the hadeeth of Aa’ishah (RadiyAllahu ‘anhaa) “I never saw Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) pray the Duhaa prayer, yet I pray it. [Muslim, no. 718] Then she says he would pray four raka’ahs, and then he would increase as much as he chose. [Muslim, no.719] Does this mean that Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) never ever prayed Salaat-ud Duhaa? Of course not! Aa’ishah (RadiyAllahu ‘anhaa) must have meant it was not his practice to always pray the Duhaa prayer, or that he would only pray it occasionally. There are many similar examples from the statements of Aa’ishah (RadiyAllahu ‘anhaa) as well that show that she uses expressions of negation which are not intended to be taken at face value.

Now back to the hadeeth on fasting in Dhul-Hijjah narrated by ‘Aa’ishah (RadiyAllahu ‘anhaa). The wording of this hadeeth suggests that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhu wa Sallam) did not fast at all during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, including the Day of ‘Arafah. No one will agree this to be true, even those who say fasting all of the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah is bid’ah. Hence, Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) could have fasted all of the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah or just on the ninth day itself. Majority of scholars agree that he used to fast on the 9th and that it is best to fast on the 9th Dhul-Hijjah.

Undoubtedly Yawm-ul ‘Arafah is a great day. A celebration that Allah had perfected our religion for us, as narrated from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhu) that a Jewish man said to him: “O Ameer al-Mumineen (O head of the Muslims)! There is a verse in the Qur-aan, which if was revealed on us, the Jews, we would have taken that day as an Eid (festival).” ‘Umar asked: “Which verse?” He said: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Soorah 05/al-Maa-idah, v:3] ‘Umar (radhiyAllahu ‘anhu) said: “We know on which day and in which place was this verse revealed to Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam). It was when he was standing in ‘Arafah on a Friday.”

Aa’ishah (RadhiyAllahu ‘anhaa) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said: “There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Fire than the day of ‘Arafah. He comes close and expresses His pride to the angels saying, ‘What do these people (the pilgrims) want?’” [Muslim] Even though it is better for the pilgrims not to fast on this day, their wuqoof (standing on the plain and praying) is for seeking Allah’s forgiveness.

In conclusion, I think it is a bit strong to say fasting all of the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah is bid’ah, although I personally only fast on the ninth (Yaum-ul ‘Arafah) which is agreeable to most eminent ‘Ulamaa (scholars). The Mondays and Thursdays fasts are sunnah so if one fasts them, one would be increasing in good deeds in this meritorious time. So one would be fasting more than just a day in Dhul-Hijjah and this is within Shari’ah.

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