Did our Prophet fast on the day of Arafa (one day before Eid al-Adha)?

Details of the Question

Did our Prophet fast on the day of Arafa (one day before Eid al-Adha)?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“I have the hope from the mercy of Allah that the fasting performed on the day of Arafa will eliminate the sins committed last year and the sins to be committed next year.”(Tirmidhi, Sawm: 46; Ibni Majah, Siyam: 40; Muslim, Siyam: 196)

Ata al-Khorasani (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

Abdurrahman, the son of Abu Bakr, went to the presence of Hazrat Aisha. She was fasting. Somebody was sprinkling water on her because of the heat. Abdurrahman said to her, “Break your fast.”

Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

“Shall I break my fast though I heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say, ‘fasting on the day of Arafa eliminates the sins of the year before it’?” (at-Targhib wa’t-Tarhib, 2:112)

According to a narration of Bayhaqi, Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“Fasting on the day of Arafa is like fasting one thousand days.”
(at-Targhib wa’t-Tarhib, 2:112)

However, fasting on the day of Arafa is only for those who are not on pilgrimage (hajj) that year. That is, it is for those who are not on Arafat for waqfa. The hadith relating to the issue is as follows:

Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) prohibited fasting on Arafat on the day of Arafa.”
(Abu Dawud, Sawm: 63)

Harith bint Ummu’l-Fazl narrates:

People disagreed about whether the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was fasting on Arafat on the day of Arafa or not. Some said, “He is fasting”; others said, “He is not fasting.”

I sent a glass of milk to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) while he was on his camel for waqfa on Arafat, and he drank it. (Muslim, Siyam: 110-111)

The explanations of hadith scholars regarding the issue are as follows:

Hafiz says: “Scholars disagreed about fasting on Arafat on the day of Arafa.”

Ibn Umar said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman did not fast on the day of Arafa; I do not, either.”

Imam Malik and Imam Thawri preferred fasting.

Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Hazrat Aisha tended to fast.
Ata said, “I fast in winter, I do not fast in summer.”

Qatada said, “There is no drawback to fasting on Arafat on the day of Arafa if it does not make you weak and prevent you from praying.”

Imam Shafii said, “It is mustahab (recommended) for those other than pilgrims to fast on the day of Arafa.”  As for hajjis, it is better for them not to fast since eating gives them strength to pray in my opinion.

Imam Ahmad said, “If a person can afford to fast, he can fast. If not, it is all right because one needs strength on the day of Arafa.”

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