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Voluntary Fasting

Fasting in general and voluntary fasting in particular is a great worship at all times. Fasting is not restricted to Ramadaan, 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 Allaah and closer to perfection.

 1- Six days of the month of Shawwal:

Abu Ayyoub reported that the Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaahu alaihi wa sallam said :
"Whoever fasts the month of Ramadhan and then follows it by fasting six days during the month of Shawwaal will be rewarded as if he had fasted the entire year."
[Related by 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 Allaah's reward.

Why does the fasting of six days of Shawaal after Ramadaan equate to that of the whole year ? Some `Ulamaa' explain this from the fact 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 (360 days).

2- The day of `Arafah (9th Dhu-al-Hijjah) :
This is for those who are not performing the Hajj (pilgrimage).
Abu Qatadah said : the Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaahu 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' [10th of Muharram] 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 : The Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaahu alaihi wa sallam 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; Saheeh]

 Abu Dharr Al-Ghifaari said: "The Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaahu alaihi wa sallam, said
 "Whoever fasts from every month three days, it is like fasting the whole year, then Allaah 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 Dharr Al-Ghifaari said: "The Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaahu alaihi wa sallam, said
 "O Abu Dharr! 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]". [Note these are dates of the Islaamic Month!]  [Ahmad, an-Nasaa'i and at-Tirmithi; Sahih]

 4- Fasting Mondays and Thursdays:
Aa'ishah said : The Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaahu alaihi wa salam, used to fast Mondays and Thursdays".  [an-Nasaa'i; Saheeh]
Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet, salla Allaahu alaihi wa sallam, would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said: "The deeds of people are presented to Allaah on every Monday and Thursday. Allaah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other. He says: "leave them for later."  [Ahmad; Hasan]

 5- Fasting Tasu'a and `Aashuraa':
Tasu`aa' and `Aashuraa' are respectively the ninth and the tenth day of the month of Muharram.
Ibn Abbas reported: "The Prophet came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting the day of Ashura. He asked them: "Why are you fasting this day?" They said: "This is a great day. Allaah saved Moosa (Moses) and the tribes of Israel from their enemies on this day and therefore Moosa fasted on it. "The Prophet said: "We have more of a right to Moosa than you." So he fasted on that day also and ordered the people to fast on that day."  [al-Bukhari and Muslim].

 When the Prophet, salla Allaahu alaihi wa salam, fasted the day of Ashura, the people told him that this day is a day that Jews and Christians honor. The Prophet said: "When the following year comes, Allaah willing, we shall fast both the ninth and the tenth day of Muharram (that is to be different from the Jews and the Christians.)" The Prophet, salla Allaahu alaihi wa salam, died before the following year."  [Muslim].

 These hadeeth contain two important benefits :

 1) The principle of differing from the Kuffaar. It is obligatory for the Muslims not to imitate the Kuffaar, as the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam said that 'whoever imitates a people is one  of them.'

 2) These hadeeth prove the falsehood of the belief that the fasting of the 10th of Muharram is out of remembrance of al-Husayn (radiAllaahu anhu) the grandson of the Prophet - who was martyred on this day. Maybe Allaah decreed that this terrible event (the martyrdom of al-Husayn) would happen on the same day as the day that the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam recommended us to fast, as a test for the believers, to see who acts according to the sunnah and who acts according to his desires.
 May Allaah guide us to that which pleases Him, correct our 'aqeedah and establish us firmly upon the True Deen. 

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