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Concerning Fasting
  Voluntary Fasting in Islaam
Author: Abdul Kader at-Tayebi
Article ID : IBD090001  [30702]  
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Voluntary Fasting

As we are beginning our new year with the great month of Muharram in which there is the great day of `Ashourah that the Muslims fast in revival of the practice of the Prophet Mousa alaihi as-Salam, I thought sharing with my dear brothers and sisters some important facts regarding voluntary fasting.

Fasting in general and voluntary fasting in particular is a great worship of all time. Fasting is not restricted to Ramadhan, it is an act of worship that can be [and should be in some cases] performed at any time and at any place except when not recommended. Indeed, it is a worship that draws the believer closer to Allah and closer to perfection.

In prayer most of us pray Sunna [supererogatory/optional/voluntary] prayer before or after mandatory prayer, called Rawatib, such as four Rak`at before and two after, two after Maghrib and `Isha and the two rak`at of Fajr. These are prayers we pray before or after a mandatory prayer.

Similarly, there is a mandatory fasting and that is in Ramadhan. Just as the one performs the Rawatib before and after the Fardh prayer one should fast before and after Ramadhan, and just as the Rawatib were set by the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam the in some specific manner and amount, the Nafl [optional] Fasting was also set by the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam. In this short article we shall review the fasting of some days that were recommended by the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam.

1- Six days of the month of Shawwal:

Abu Ayyoub reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said "Whoever fasts the month of Ramadhan and then follows it by fasting six days during the month of Shawwal will be rewarded as if he had fasted the entire year. [Muslim, at-Tirmithi, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawood and Ahmad by way of Jabir].

These days can be anytime during the month of Shawwal except the first day because it is unlawful to fast the day of Eid. These days do not have to be at beginning of the month nor do they have to be consecutive. Hence, Muslims should seize this opportunity and fast these six days to get Allah's reward.

Why the fasting of six days of Shawal after Ramadhan equates that of the whole year? Some `Ulamaa' say that the good deed is rewarded ten times. Thus fasting six days is like fasting 60 days, added to 30 days of Ramadhan times 10 (i.e. 300) it makes it a year.

2- The day of `Arafah: This is for those who are not performing the Hajj (pilgrimage)

Abu Qatadah said : the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: "Fasting on the day of `Arafah is an expiation [of sins] for two years, the year preceding it and the year following it and the fasting the day of `Aashuraa' is an expiation for the year preceding it. [Muslim, an-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawood].

3- Fasting three days of every month:

`Amr Ibn Sharhabeel said : A man came to the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, and said : O Messenger of Allah! what do you say in a man who fasts the whole year [time], on this the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said : I wish he would not eat anything during the year, he said what about two thirds of the year, he replied "more", he said what about half of it, he said more and then 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-Nasaa'i; Sahih]

Abu Tharr Al-Ghefari said: "The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, 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 and at-Tirmithi].

Abu Tharr Al-Ghefari said: "The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said "O Abu Tharr! 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]". [Ahmad, an-Nasaa'i and at-Tirmithi; Sahih]

4- Fasting Mondays and Thursdays:

`Aa'ishah said : The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam, used to fast Mondays and Thursdays". [an-Nasaa'i; Sahih]

Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam, would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said: "The deeds of people are presented to Allah on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other. He says: "leave them for later." [Ahmad; Hasan]


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