Nafila (supererogatory) Fasting

Details of the Question
Selam Aleykum, Are there any special days in holy months except for ramadan we need to do extra fasting and extra praying? If it is yes is there any clear authentic hadith? People are talking about some special days in this months I should pray and fast extra. Is it a pious people making up thing or it is coming form Prophet (S.A.S). ? Could you give me hadiths please? Thank you in advance
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Nafila (supererogatory) fasting

Our Prophet performed fasting outside Ramadan, too. They are generally nafila (supererogatory) fasting. That is, they are not compulsory. Nafila worship is also called sunnah, mustahab or mandoob.

Essentially, nafila acts of worshipping are those that make man gain reward when they are performed but there is no punishment when they are skipped.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) performed supererogatory fasting in certain months and on certain days and advised fasting on those days mentioning their virtue and reward. The Companions of the Prophet performed fasting on those days as they saw the Prophet perform. There are a lot of narrations regarding the practices of our Prophet.

It is sunnah to perform fasting on the 9th and 10th or on the 10th and 11th days of the month of Muharram. That fasting is called the fast of Ashura. It is stated in a hadith that the fast of Ashura would eliminate the sins committed in the previous year. That fasting should be performed by adding one day either before or after to the tenth of Muharram. It is makrooh (abominable) to perform fasting only on the 10th day of Muharram.

It is mandoob (recommended) to perform fasting on the 13th, 14th and 15th days of each lunar month. Those days are called ‘ayyam al-bid’ (white days; full moon days). It is also mandoob to perform fasting on Mondays and Thursdays of every week and six days in the month of Shawwal, which comes after the month of Ramadan. When the Messenger of Allah was asked about fasting on Monday, he said,

"It is the day on which I was born, I was sent as a Prophet and the Quran was sent down to me."  As for performing fasting in the month of Shawwal for six days, he said,

"A person who performs fasting in Ramadan and then adds six more days in Shawwal is regarded as if he has performed fasting in the whole year (in terms of reward)." ... It is also mandoob to perform fasting every other day as Hazrat  Dawud (David) did. That kind of fasting is called the fast of Dawud. Our Prophet said:

"The most desirable kind of fast before Allah is the fast of my brother Dawud. He fasted every other day." and encouraged his ummah to perform fasting like that. The month of Shaban is one of the most rewarded and virtuous months of the year in terms of fasting. Our Prophet did not perform fasting in other months as much as he did in Shaban. When he was asked about it, he said:

"This month is between Rajab and Ramadan; most people are ignorant of this month. As a matter of fact, it is the month in which the deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds. Therefore, I want my deeds to be presented to Allah when I am fasting."

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: “Sometimes, the Messenger of Allah did not perform any fasting in a whole month and sometimes he performed fasting (without interrupting) so much in a month that we thought he would fast the whole month.” (Bukhari, Sawm: 53, Tahajjud: 11; Muslim, Siyam: 180; Tirmizi, Sawm: 57)

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: “The Messenger of Allah did not fast in the whole month except Ramadan.” (Bukhari, Sawm: 53; Muslim, Sawm: 178; Nasai, Sawm: 70)

The month of Shawwal, six-day fast

Ayyub (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“A person who performs fasting in Ramadan and then adds six more days in Shawwal is regarded as if he has performed fasting in the whole year.” (Muslim, Siyam: 204; Tirmizi, Sawm: 53; Abu Dawud, Sawm: 58)

As soon as the month of Ramadan ends, the month of Shawwal starts. The first day of Eid al-Fitr is also the first day of Shawwal. Therefore, no one is allowed to fast on that first day; it is eid day therefore it is not permissible to fast. Beginning from the second day, the six-day fast can be performed until the beginning of the month of Dhul Qadah. It is not necessary to fast six days on end. One can fast without interruption or intermittently.

The fast of Dhul Hijjah

According to the narration of Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “There are no days more lovable to Allah than the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah in terms of worshipping. The reward of fasting of each day on those days is equal to that of a year; the prayers performed each night are equal to those of the Night of Power (Qadr).” (Ibn Majah, Siyam: 39)

What is meant by the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah is the first nine days in terms of fasting because it is not permissible to fast on the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah since it is also the first day of Eid al-Adha. The fasting that is mustahab (recommended) are the first nine days before Eid al-Adha.

The following hadith explains the issue:

Hunayda Ibn Khalid reports from his wife, who reports from some of the wives of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh): “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) performed fasting on the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah, on the day of Ashura, on three days of each month and the first Monday and Thursday of each month.” (Abu Dawud, Sawm: 61)

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

Abu Qatada (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: 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.” (Tirmizi, Sawm: 46; Ibni Majah, Siyam: 40; Muslim, Siyam: 196)

Ata al-Horasani (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)

Haris 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.” 
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.”

The month of Muharram and the fast of Ashura

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: When our Prophet (pbuh) migrated to Madinah, he found out that the Jewish people were fasting.

He asked, “What fasting is it? The Jews said, “Today is the day when Allah rescued Moses (Musa) from his enemies and when He drowned the Pharaoh. Hazrat Musa performed fasting today to thank Allah.

Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “We are closer to Musa and reviving his sunnah than you” and fasted that day; he also ordered his companions to fast. (Abu Dawud, Sawm: 64)

Hazrat Aisha, our mother, says the following regarding the issue: “Ashura was a day on which Quraishis performed fasting during the age of Ignorance (Jahiliyya).  The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) acted accordingly.

When he migrated to Madinah, he continued that fasting and ordered others to fast too. However, when the fast of Ramadan became compulsory, he stopped fasting on the day of Ashura.

After that, the Muslims who wanted to fast on that day fasted; those who did not want did not fast.” (Bukhari, Sawm: 69)
Another narration is as follows:

Qays ibn Sa’d ibn Ubada (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

“We used to fast on the day of Ashura and paid alms. When the fast of Ramadan and zakat became compulsory, we were not ordered to fast on the day of Ashura, and we were not prevented from it; we went on fasting.” (Nasai, Zakat: 35)

The following hadiths are narrated about the virtue of the fast of Ashura:

A person came to our Prophet (pbuh) and asked:
“When do you recommend me to fast after Ramadan?”

Our Prophet (pbuh) said, “Perform fasting on the month of Muharram because it is the month of Allah. There is such a day in it that Allah accepted the repentance of a nation on that day; He may forgive another nation.” (Tirmizi, Sawm: 40)
In another hadith in Tirmizi, our Prophet (pbuh) said the following:

“I certainly hope that the fasting performed on the day of Ashura will eliminate the sins committed in the previous year.” (Tirmizi, Sawm: 47)

The following hadith expresses the virtue of the fasting on the day of Ashura: “The most meritorious fast after the fast of Ramadan is the fast performed in the month of Muharram, the month of Allah.” (Ibn Majah, Siyam: 43)

Explaining that hadith, Imam Ghazali said, “The month of Muharram is the beginning of the Hegira year. It is nice to base the new year on a good foundation like fasting. It is hoped that the abundance will continue.”

It is recommended that the fast of Ashura should be performed on the ninth, tenth, and eleventh days of Muharram so as not to resemble the Jews and not to fast only on the day of Ashura.

Haram months and the fast of Rajab

Abbad ibn Hanif narrates: I asked  Sa’id ibn Jubayr (may Allah have mercy on him). He answered me as follows:

I listened to Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him); he said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sometimes fasted so much in the month of Rajab that we would say, ‘He will probably not eat ; he will fast every day. In some years, he ate every day, we would say ‘He will probably not fast this month.’” (Bukhari, Sawm: 53; Muslim, Siyam: 179; Abu Dawud, Sawm 55)

Bahili narrates: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following:

“Hold some of the haram months and release some of them; hold and release in haram months, hold and release in haram months.”

Bahili says: “as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said ‘Hold’, he clenched three of his fingers; when he said ‘Release’, he released his three fingers.” (Abu Dawud, Sawm: 54)

Thus, it is understood that our Prophet told that person “to fast for three days and to break the fast for three days”.
Haram months are the months of Dhul Qada, Dhul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.

It is not appropriate to fast during the whole month of Rajab because it is necessary to avoid likening the month of Rajab to the month of Ramadan.

The fast of Shaban

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

They asked our Prophet (pbuh):

“O Messenger of Allah! What month is the most meritorious other than Ramadan in terms of fasting?”

Our Prophet (pbuh) replied:

“It is the fasting in Shaban in order to show respect to Ramadan.” (Tirmizi, Zakat: 28)

According to the statements of the companions of the Prophet, primarily Hazrat Aisha, our mother, the Prophet sometimes fasted in the whole month of Shaban and he often fasted on most days of Shaban.

Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) fasted so much in some months. We even thought he did not break his fast in that month. In some months, he broke his fast so much that we would say he did not fast on any days in this month.”

“I did not see the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) fast in the whole month except Ramadan. I never saw him fast in any month more than he did in Shaban.” (Bukhari, Sawm: 51, Abu Dawud, Sawm: 59)

In another narration, Hazrat Aisha says the following regarding the issue: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) never fasted in any month more than he did in Shaban. And he said the following:

“Do the deeds that you can afford. Unless you get tired of them, Allah will not regard you as you have got tired. The best deed in the presence of Allah is the deed that a person constantly does even if it is little.” (Muslim, Siyam: 177)

In another narration in Ibn Majah, Hazrat Aisha said, “He (the Messenger of Allah) fasted in the whole month of Shaban and connected it with Ramadan.” stating that he fasted more in that month. (Ibn Majah, Sawm: 4)

From both narrations, the judgment that it is permissible to fast in the whole month of Shaban or to fast on some days of Shaban is reached.

Usama ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) asks the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) this question:

Oh Messenger of Allah! I never saw you fast in any other month as much as you did in Shaban.”

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following:

“This month is between Rajab and Ramadan; People are ignorant of this month, which is between Rajab and Ramadan. It is the month in which the deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds. I want my deeds to be presented to Allah when I am fasting.” (Nasai, Sawm: 70)

Besides, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) worshipped more in Shaban in comparioson to the other months.
He exalted the value of the month of Shaban by saying “Shaban is my month.”, “Shaban is the cleaner of the sins.” (Kashfu’l-Khafa, 2:9)

What days should be preferred for nafila fasting?

Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sought rewards by fasting on Mondays and Thursdays.” (Tirmizi, Sawm: 44; Nasai, Sawm: 70; Ibn Majah, Siyam: 42)

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

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following:

“The deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds on Mondays and Thursdays. I want my deeds to be presented to Allah when I am fasting.” (Tirmizi, Sawm: 44)

Fasting on the days of ‘ayyam al-bid’ (white days).

Abdullah ibn Qatada (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ordered us to perform fasting on the days of ‘ayyam al-bid’ (that is on the 13th, 14th and 15th of each month) and said they are like fasting the whole year.” (Abu Dawud, Sawm: 68; Nasai, Sawm: 83)

Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) never gave up fasting on the days of ‘ayyam al-bid’ whether he was in his town (muqim) or he was traveling (musafir).” (Nasai, Sawm: 70)

Fasting three days each month

Muazatu’l-Adawiyya narrates:

I asked Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her):

“Did the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) fast three days each month?”

She answered, “Yes!”

I asked again, “On what days of the months did he fast?”

She answered, “He did not give importance on what day he fasted.” (Muslim, Siyam: 194; Abu Dawud, Sawm: 70; Tirmizi, Sawm: 54)

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

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following:

“A person who fasts three days in a month, it becomes like the fast of the whole year for him.” Allah sent down the following verse to confirm it:

“‘He that doeth good shall have ten times as much to his credit.’ (al-An’am 160) One day is regarded s ten days.” (Tirmizi, Sawm: 54; Nasai, Sawm: 82)

Fasting on the days other than those mentioned above and except on makrooh (abominable) days are nafila. Nafila means worshipping performed apart from fard and wajib (obligatory) duties, only for the sake of virtues and rewards although there is no religious obligation.

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