By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Bestower of Mercy
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him exactly till the Day of Judgement.
Respected servants of Allah! Know that in the Islamic calendar, the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah (12th Month in the calendar) is called the Day of Arafah. This day is the culminating event of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Because the Day of Arafah, like other Islamic Days, is based on a lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian solar calendar, its date changes from year to year.
The Day of Arafah falls on the second day of pilgrimage rituals, which will In Shaa Allah going to be tomorrow Saturday, August 10, 2019. At dawn on this day, over two million Muslim pilgrims will make their way from the town of Minah to a nearby hillside and plain called Mount Arafah and the Plain of Arafah, which is located about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) from Makkah, the final destination for the pilgrimage. Muslims believe that it was from this site that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) gave his famous Farewell Sermon in his final year of life, which I read to you in the previous Khutbah.
My beloved people! Every Muslim is expected to make the pilgrimage to Makkah once during his or her lifetime; the pilgrimage itself is not considered complete unless the stop at Mount Arafah is also made. Thus, the visit to Mount Arafah is synonymous with the Hajj itself. Completion involves arriving at Mount Arafah before noon and spending the afternoon upon the mountain, remaining until sunset. However, individuals who are physically unable to complete this portion of the pilgrimage are allowed to observe it by fasting, which is not practiced by those making the physical visit to Arafah.
During the afternoon, from about noon until sunset, Muslim pilgrims stand in earnest supplication and devotion, praying for peace and Allah’s abundant forgiveness, and listening to Islamic scholars speak on issues of religious and moral importance. Tears are shed readily as those who gather make repentance and seek Allah’s mercy, recite words of prayer and remembrance and gather together as equals before their Lord. The day closes upon the recitation of the evening prayer of Al-Maghrib.
For many Muslims, the Day of Arafah proves to be the most memorable part of the Hajj pilgrimage, and one that stays with them forever.
For the Muslims around the world who are not participating in the pilgrimage often spend this day in fasting and devotion. Both government offices and private businesses in Islamic nations are generally closed on the Day of Arafah to allow employees to observe it due to it’s importance. The Day of Arafah is, therefore, one of the most important Days in the entire Islamic year. It is said to offer expiation for all sins of the prior year, as well as all sins for the upcoming year.
Dear brothers and sisters! As mentioned earlier, the ninth Day of Dhul-Hijjah is the day of Arafah. It is the day when pilgrims stand on the plain of Arafah to pray. On this day, Muslims all over the world who do not witness the annual Hajj should spend the day in fasting, in preparation for the three days festivity following Eid-ul-Adha (the celebration marking the end of the Hajj, commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness of sacrifice).
Abu Hafsah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “Fasting on the day of Arafah absolves the sins for two years: the previous year and the coming year, and fasting on Ashurah, (the tenth day of Muharram) atones for the sins of previous years.” [Reported by all except Al-Bukhari and Tirmidhi]
In another saying the Prophet’s wife Hafsah said:
“There are four things which the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) never neglected: Observing fast on the day of Ashurah, Arafah, three days every month, and offering fajr Sunnah prayers early in the morning.” [Muslim]
These statements are proof that fasting on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, the day before Eid-ul-Adha was a lifelong practice of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as his wife reported.
There are some reports that fasting is prohibited on the day of Arafah. However, it must be understood that this refers to a person performing the Hajj. If a person is on the Hajj, there is no fast for him or her on the day of Arafah. That is undoubtedly a blessing for him because of the hardships of the pilgrimage. In a saying reported by Umm Al-Fadl, may Allah be pleased with her, she said:
“The Companions doubted whether the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was fasting on Arafah or not. She decided to prove to them that he was not, so she said, ‘I sent to him milk, which he drank while he was delivering the Khutbah (Sermon) on Arafah.’ ” [Al-Bukhari]
Prohibiting the pilgrims from fasting on these days is a great mercy for them, for fasting will exert undue hardship on the person performing the Hajj, while they are primarily concerned with their pilgrimage. Above all, the pilgrim would not be fasting anyway because he is travelling.
– Some Virtues of Fasting on Arafah Day
1. It is the day on which the religion was perfected and Allah’s Favour was completed.
In Al-Sahihain (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) it was reported from Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (RA) that a Jewish man said to him, “O Amir Al-Mu’minin, there is an Ayah (Qur’anic verse) in your Book which you recite; if it had come to us Jews, we would have taken that day as an Eid (festival).” Umar said, “Which Ayah (verse)?” He said: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Al-Ma’idah 5:3]
Umar (RA) said:
“We know on which day and in which place that was revealed to the Prophet (Peace be upon him). It was when he was standing in Arafah on a Friday.”
2. It is a day of Eid for the people who are in that place.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Yawm Arafah (the day of Arafah), Yawm al-Nahr (the Day of Sacrifice) and Ayyam al-Tashriq (the three days following Yawm al-Nahr) are Eid (festival) for us, the people of Islam. These are days of eating and drinking.” [This was narrated by the authors of Al-Sunan]
It was reported that Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA) said:
“It – i.e., the Ayah (verse) ‘This day I have perfected…’ was revealed on a Friday, the Day of Arafah, both of which – praise be to Allah – are Eids for us.”
3. It is a day by which Allah swore an oath.
Allah the Almighty cannot swear by anything except that which is mighty. Yawm Arafah is the “witnessed day” mentioned in the verse:
“By the witnessing day [Friday] and by the witnessed day [the Day of Arafah].” [Al-Buruj, 85:3]
It was reported from Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The promised day is the Day of Resurrection, the witnessed day is the Day of Arafah, and the witnessing day is Friday.” [At-Tirmidhi – classed as Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani]
It is the “odd” [i.e., odd-numbered, Witr] by which Allah swore in the verse:
“And by the even and the odd.” [Al-Fajr, 89:3]
Ibn Abbas said:
“The even is the Day of Al-Adha [i.e., 10th Dhul-Hijjah] and the odd is the Day of Arafah [i.e., 9th Dhul-Hijjah] This is also the view of Ikrimah and Al-Dahhak.
4. Fasting on this day is an expiation for two years.
It was reported from Abu Qatadah (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafah. He said:
“It expiates for the sins of the previous year and of the coming year.” [Sahih Muslim]
This (fasting) is mustahabb for those who are not on Hajj. In the case of the one who is on Hajj, it is not Sunnah for him to fast on the Day of Arafah, because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not fast on this day in Arafah. It was narrated that he forbade fasting on the Day of Arafah in Arafah (i.e the one making Hajj who is in Arafah).
5. It is the day on which Allah took the covenant from the progeny of Adam.
It was reported that Ibn Abbas (RA) said: the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Allah took the covenant from the loins of Adam in Na’man, i.e., Arafah. He brought forth from his loins all his offspring and spread them before Him, then He addressed them, and said: ‘Am I not your Lord? They said, ‘Yes, we testify,’ let you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily, we have been unaware of this.’ Or lest you should say: ‘It was only our fathers aforetime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practised Al-Batil (i.e., polytheism and committing crimes and sins, invoking and worshipping others besides Allah)?’ [Al-A’raf, 7:172-173].” [Narrated by Ahmad and classed as Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani]
Therefore there is no greater day than this and no greater covenant than this.
6. It is the day of forgiveness of sins, freedom from the Fire and pride in the people who are there.
In Sahih Muslim it was narrated from Aisha (RA) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Fire than the Day of Arafah. He comes close and expresses His pride to the angels, saying, ‘What do these people want?’”
It was reported from Ibn Umar that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Allah expresses His pride to His angels at the time of Isha’ on the Day of Arafah, about the people of Arafah. He says, ‘Look at My slaves who have come unkempt and dusty.’” [Narrated by Ahmad and classed as Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani]
– The Ruling Of Fasting The Day Of Arafah If It Happens To Fall On Saturday
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Busr who said: The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Do not fast on Saturday except that which is an obligation upon you. If anyone of you cannot find anything other than grape stalks or the bark of a tree, let him suck on it.” [At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah]
Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) said:
“This Hadith has been abrogated, the Hadith of Juwairiyah abrograted it.”
Imam At-Tirmidhi said:
“This Hadith is Hasan. The meaning of forbiddance here applies to the man who singles out Saturday with fasting – due to the fact that the Jews revere this day.”
Imam Abu Dawud also said:
“The majority of Scholars hold that it is not forbidden.”
The Hadith of Juwairiyah:
“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to Juwairiyah (one of his wives) who was fasting on a Friday: “Did you fast yesterday?” She said: “No.” He said: “Are you going to fast tomorrow (i.e. Saturday)?” She said: “No.” So he said: “Then break your fast.” [A Sahih Hadith, Abu Dawud; also Bukhari] – thus proving the permissibility to fast on a Saturday so long as one fasts Friday with it.
Al-Athram (student of Imam Ahmad) said:
“The proof utilised by Abu Abdillah [Ahmad bin Hanbal] in allowing fasting on a Saturday is that all of the Hadiths oppose the Hadith of Ibn Busr (i.e. the Hadith above) – and from them is the Hadith of Umm Salamah (RA) when she was asked: On which days did the Prophet (Peace be upon him) predominantly fast? So she responded: Saturday and Sunday.” [Ahmad]
Umm Salamah (RA) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) used to fast more often on Saturdays and Sundays than on the other days. He would say, “They are the Eids of the polytheists, and I love to act contrary to what they do.” [Related by An-Nasa’i and was rendered authentic by Ibn Khuzaimah, and the wording is his]
Narrated Abu Hurairah:
“I heard the Prophet (Peace be upon him) saying, “None of you should fast on Friday unless he fasts a day before or after it.” [Reported by Bukhari]
This Hadith is a proof that Saturday can be fasted with the condition that Friday is fasted before it – so the Hadith forbidding the Saturday fast is not absolute in forbiddance.
Shaykh Ibn Uthaimin (rahimahullah) stated:
“It is known that fasting on a Saturday has different scenarios:
1. That which is obligatory like that of Ramadan, so he fasts – or it is making up of an obligatory fast or an expiation, or in replacement for the one who did not sacrifice whilst at Hajj (At-Tamattu). So in this there is no harm, so long as he does not single it out with fasting believing it to be [more] virtuous.
2. That he fasts the day before it, Friday, then there is no harm in that. This is because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to one of the Mothers of the Believers who fasted on a Friday: “Did you fast yesterday?” She said: “No.” He said: “Are you going to fast tomorrow (i.e. Saturday)?” She said: “No.” So he said: “Then break your fast.” [Bukhari] So his saying, “Are you going to fast tomorrow?” proves the permissibility of fasting Saturday along with Friday.
3. That the legislated fast happens to coincide with Saturday, such as the middle of month recommended fasts, or the day of Arafah, or the day of Ashurah, or the six days of Shawwal for the one who fasted Ramadan, or the nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, then there is no harm in fasting on Saturday because one is not fasting it because it is a Saturday, rather he fasts because it is legislated to fast on these occasions.
4. That fasting on a Saturday happens to coincide with one’s habit such as the one who fasts one day and leaves off fasting the next day [and so on] – so the day he is fasting happens to coincide with a Saturday – in this case there is no harm. This is like the the saying of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in forbidding fasting a day or two days just prior to Ramadan except for the one who is in the habit of fasting. [Bukhari] So here there is no forbiddance, so this case is similar.
5. That a person singles out Saturday alone for the optional fast, then this is forbidden, if it is assumed that the Hadith of forbiddance of fasting on a Saturday is authentic.”
[See Majmu’ Fatawa Ibn Al-Uthaimin, Volume 20, page 57-58 – slightly adapted to assist ease of understanding]
Shaykh Ibn Uthaimin also stated:
“It is established from the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) in speech and action that fasting on a Saturday is not forbidden. The Scholars differ with respect to the Hadith that forbids fasting on Saturday as to whether it is acted upon. From them are those who say that it is not to be acted upon at all, and there is no harm in fasting on a Saturday, whether it be on its own or not on its own because the Hadith is not authentic. And a regulation cannot be established from a Hadith which is not authentic. From them are those who have said the Hadith is Sahih or Hasan, and they said: The reconciliation between this Hadith [that forbids fasting on a Saturday] and the other Hadiths [that allow fasting on a Saturday], is that it is forbidden to single out Saturday on its own – meaning that Saturday is singled out without Friday or Sunday. This was the position of Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah), wherein he said: “If one fasts alongside Saturday another day, then there is no harm, such as fasting with it Friday or Sunday.” We, likewise say: If Saturday coincides with a day upon which it is legislated to fast such as Arafah, or the 10th of Muharram (Ashurah), then it is not disliked (or forbidden) to fast it, because the dislike is when you fast it because it is a Saturday, i.e. that you have singled it out believing it is more special than other days. Indeed I have heard that when some of the people fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram (Ashurah) or the Day of Arafah and one of those days happens to be a Saturday, some of the brothers forbid them and command them to break the fast – this is wrong and it is upon this brother to ask (the scholars) before issuing a verdict without knowledge.”
[See Majmu Fatawa Ibn Al-Uthaimin, volume 20, page 37]
May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and upon his family and Companions.
Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, writes from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.