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The Prophet (SAW) has exhorted us to fast during certain days: six days of Shawwal, the Day of Arafah, the day of Ashura, most of the month of Sha’ban, Monday and Thursday, three days of every month and the fasting of Prophet Dawud.

 

  1. Six days of the month of Shawwal.

Fasting six days of Shawwal after the obligatory fast of Ramadhan is sunnah. It is recommended for the Muslim to fast six days of Shawwal, and in this there is great virtue and immense reward. Whoever fasts these six days will have recorded for him a reward as if he had fasts a whole year. Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari reported that the Prophet (SAW) said:” Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadhan and then follows it with six days of Shawwal will be rewarded as if he had fasted the entire year.” (Jamaah). According to Ahmad, one may fast on these days consecutively or non-consecutively, as neither practice is preferred over the other.

There are several ways that this fast may be done, as long as the first day of the month is not included. Some people may choose to fast all six days in a row immediately after the first day. This is actually good because the body is already used to fasting. There is no harm in performing the fast later in the month, whether it is one day after the other or random days during the month.

For those who have missed a few days, whether due to menstruation, traveling or illness may opt to make up their missed days first. After completing those they may choose to go ahead with the six days sunnah fasting of Shawwal.

  1. The day of Arafah, for those who are not performing the pilgrimage.

Abu Qatadah reported that the Messenger of Allah said:” Fasting on the day of Arafah is expiation for two years, the year preceding it and the year following it. Fasting the day of Ashura is an expiation for the year preceding it” (Jamaah).

  1. Fasting during the month of Muharram, especially the day of ‘Ashurah and the days immediately preceding and following it.

Ashura is significant as the day that Allah saved Prophet Musa (a.s.) and the Israelites by parting the Red Sea and drowning Pharaoh. When the Prophet Muhammad (saw) migrated to Medina, the Jews told him that Musa (a.s) fasted in gratitude on Ashura, and Jewish practice was to fast Ashura as well. Upon learning this, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) replied,”We have more right to Musa than you,” and he commended Muslims to fast Ashura. Abu Hurairah reported:” I asked the Prophet:’ Which prayer is the best after the obligatory prayers?’ He said:’ Prayer during the middle of the night.’ I asked:’ Which fast is the best after the fast of Ramadhan?’ He said,’ the month of Allah that you call Muharram.’ ” (Ahmad, Muslim and Abu Dawud)

  1. Fasting most of the month of Sha’ban.

The Prophet would fast most of the month of Sha’ban. ‘Aishah said:” I never saw the Messenger of Allah fast a complete month save for Ramadhan, and I have never seen fast more in a month than he did in Sha’ban.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

  1. Fasting Mondays and Thursdays.

Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said:” The actions are presented on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim or every believer, except for those who are boycotting each other. He says (about them):’leave them.’ (Ahmad). It is recorded in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet, when asked about fasting on Monday, said:” That is the day on which I was born and the day on which I received revelations.

 

  1. Fasting three days of every month.

Abu Dharr al-Ghifari reported:” The Messenger of Allah ordered us to fast for three days of every month-that is, on the days of the full moon (the 13th, 14th and 15th of the lunar month). And he said:’ it is like fasting the whole year.’ “

  1. Fasting one day and not fasting the next day.

Abu Salamah ibn Abdurrahman reported from Abdullah ibn Amr that the Prophet said to him:” I have been informed that you stay up in prayer during the night and fast during the day. Abdullah answered:” Yes, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said:” Fast and do not fast, pray and sleep, for your body, your wife and your guests have a right upon you. It is sufficient for you to fast three days a month.” Abdullah said:” I wanted to be stricter on myself and I said: “Then fast three days a week.” Abdullah said:” I have the strength to do more!” The Prophet said:” Fast the fast of the Prophet Dawud and do not do more than that!” The Prophet replied:” He would fast one day and then not fast the next.” (Ahmad and others).

It is permissible for one who is performing a voluntary fast to break his fast. Umm Hani reported that the Prophet (saw) entered her room during the day of the conquest of Makkah. He was offered something to drink and he drank from it. Then he offered to Umm Hani and she said:” I am fasting.” The Prophet (saw) said;” The one who is fasting voluntarily is in charge of himself. If you wish you may fast and if you wish you may break your fast.” This is recounted by Ahmad, Daraqutni and Baihaqi.

Most scholars maintain that one who is performing a voluntary fast can break it. It is, however, preferred to make up that day later on. The preceding view is clear and authentic hadiths are support for that position.

(Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim)