The Days Prescribed To Observe Naafil Fast

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

All the Praise be to Allah.  Peace and blessing be peace upon his messenger Prophet Muhammad.

By His Wisdom, Allah has prescribed that His slaves should voluntarily seek to draw closer to Him, after performing the obligatory acts of worship, by doing more of the same kinds of acts of worship, and He has assigned to that great rewards, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that the Lord said:

“My slave does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My slave continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I will love him, When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, he seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.” [Al-Bukhari, 6502].

The Naafil Fast Fall into Various Main Categories:

1. General Voluntary Fast that is not restricted to any particular time or circumstances.

The Muslim may observe a voluntary fast on any day of the year that he wishes, except those which are known to be forbidden, such as the Two Eid Days, on which fasting is haram, and Aiyaam Al-Tashreeq (the three days following Eid al-Adha), on which fasting is haram except on Hajj for those who do not have a hadiy (animal for sacrifice). It is not permissible to  deliberately singling out Friday for fasting. One of the best forms of voluntary fasting is to fast alternate days for those who are able to do that, as it says in the hadith: “The most beloved prayer to Allah is the prayer of Dawud [David] (peace be upon him), and the most beloved fasting to Allah is the fasting of Dawud. He used to sleep half the night, stand in prayer for one-third of the night, and sleep for one-sixth, and he used to fast alternate days.” [Al-Bukhari, 1131; Muslim, 1159]. In order for this kind of fasting to be regarded as virtuous, it should not weaken a person and make him unable to do his primary duties, as it says in the hadith: “he used to fast alternate days, and he never ran away from battle (because he used to break his fast at times of jihad).” [Al-Bukhari, 1977; Muslim, 1159]

2. Specific Voluntary Fast.

These are superior to general voluntary fast, and are of two types:

The first type is fasts which are specific to a type of person, such as young men who cannot get married,guarding chastity as mentioned in the hadith of ‘Abdallah Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him): “We were young men with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and we did not have anything (i.e., we could not afford to get married). The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to us, ‘O young men, whoever among you can afford to get married, then let him do so, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and guarding chastity. And whoever is not able to do that, then let him fast, for that will be a shield for him.’” [Al-Bukhari, 5066; Muslim, 1400].

This kind of fasting is more emphasized so long as a person is single, and this prescription is more emphatic the more provocation there is. There is no mention of any specific number of days in this case.

The second type is fasts prescribed at specific times, which vary, with some being weekly, some monthly and some annual.

The weekly fasts are on Monday and Thursday, on which days fasting is mustahabb. It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was keen to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.” [An-Nasa’i, 2320; classified as sahih by Al-Albani in Sahih Al-Jami’ Al-Sagheer, 4827]. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked about fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, and he said: “Those are two days on which people’s deeds are shown to the Lord of the Worlds, and I want my deeds to be shown to Him when I am fasting.” [An-Nasa’i, 2358; Ibn Majah, 1740; Ahmad, 8161; classified as sahih by Al-Albani in Sahih Al-Jaami’, 1583]. He was asked about fasting on Mondays and he said, “On that day I was born and on that day revelation came to me.” [Muslim, 1162].

With regard to the monthly fasts, it is mustahabb to fast on three days of each month. It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “My close friend [i.e., the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)] advised me to do three things which I will never give up until I die: fasting three days each month, praying Duha, and sleeping after praying Witir.” [Al-Bukhari, 1178; Muslim, 721].

It is mustahabb to observe this fast in the middle of the hijri month, on the days called Aiyaam Al-Beed. It was narrated that Abu Dharr said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to me, ‘If you fast any part of the month then fast on the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth.’” [An-Nasa’i, 2424; Ibn Majah, 1707; Ahmad, 210; classified as sahih by Al-Albani in Sahih Al-Jaami’ Al-Sagheer, 673].

3. The Annual Voluntary Fast Observed On Specific Days

The specific days include the following:

1. The Day of ‘Ashura’ which is the tenth of Muharram. It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’. He said, “I do not know of any day on the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted that was better than this day and any month that was better than this month, meaning Ramadhan.” [Al-Bukhari, 2006; Muslim, 1132]. It is Sunnah to fast the day before or the day after along with ‘Ashura’, in order to be different from the Jews.

2. The Day of ‘Arafah, which is the Ninth Day of Zulhijjah. It is mustahab only for those who are not standing in ‘Arafah itself, as the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said concerning the virtue of the three fasts mentioned above: “The observance of three days’ fast every month and that of Ramadhan every year is equivalent to fasting for the entire year. I seek from Allah that fasting on the day of ‘Arafah may atone for the sins of the preceding and the coming years, and I seek from Allah that fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ may atone for the sins of the preceding year.” [Muslim, 1162].

4. The periods during which it is Sunnah to Observe the Naafil.

The period of fast include the following:

1. The month of Shawwal. It is Sunnah to fast six days of Shawwal, because the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadhan then fasts six days of Shawwal, it is as if he fasted for a lifetime.” [Muslim, 1164].

2. The month of Muharam: it is Sunnah to fast whatever one can of this month, because of the hadith: “The best of fasting after Ramadhan is the month of Allah Muharram, and the best of prayer after the obligatory prayers is prayer at night [Qiyamulail].” [Muslim, 1163].

3.The month of Sya’ban, as it was narrated that ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast until we thought that he would never break his fast, and he would not fast until we thought that he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fast an entire month apart from Ramadhan, and the month in which I saw him fast the most was Sha’ban. He used to fast all of Sya’ban or all of it apart from a few days.”  [Al-Bukhari, 1969; Muslim, 1156].

Muslim who is keen to do good must realize the great virtue of performing voluntary fasts for the sake of Allah, as it says in the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Whoever fasts one day for the sake of Allah, Allah will keep his face seventy years’ distance from Hell,” [An-Nasa’i, 2247; classified as sahih by Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan Al-Nasa’i, 2121]

May  Allah  bless us.

©Islam Q&A

About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

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