Fasting on a Saturday if ‘Āshūrā or ‘Arafah happens to fall on it: Ibn Uthaimeen

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Ibn ‘Uthaimeen on Fasting on a Saturday if is the Day of ‘Āshūrā:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ بُسْرٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏ “‏ لاَ تَصُومُوا يَوْمَ السَّبْتِ إِلاَّ فِيمَا افْتُرِضَ عَلَيْكُمْ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ أَحَدُكُمْ إِلاَّ عُودَ عِنَبٍ أَوْ لِحَاءَ شَجَرَةٍ فَلْيَمُصَّهُ ‏”

Narrated `Abdullaah Ibn Busr who said: The Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) 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-Tirmidhee, 744. Abu Dawood, 2421. Ibn Maajah, 1726)

Abu Dawood (rahimahullaah) said: “This hadeeth has been abrogated, the hadeeth of Juwairiyah abrograted it.”

Imaam at-Tirmidhee said: “This hadeeth 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.”

Abu Daawood also said: “The majority of Scholars hold that it is not forbidden.”

The hadeeth of Juwairiyah: The Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) 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 saheeh hadeeth, Abu Daawood, 2322; also Bukhaaree, 1986) – 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 Abdillaah [Ahmad bin Hanbal] in allowing fasting on a Saturday is that all of the ahaadeeth oppose the hadeeth of Ibn Busr (i.e. the hadeeth above) –  and from them is the hadeeth of Umm Salamah (radhi Allaahu ‘anhaa) when she was asked: On which days did the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) predominantly fast? So she responded: Saturday and Sunday. (Ahmad, 6/324)”

وَعَنْ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ رَضِيَ اَللَّهُ عَنْهَا; { أَنَّ رَسُولَ اَللَّهِ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-كَانَ أَكْثَرَ مَا يَصُومُ مِنَ اَلْأَيَّامِ يَوْمُ اَلسَّبْتِ, وَيَوْمُ اَلْأَحَدِ, وَكَانَ يَقُولُ: ” إِنَّهُمَا يَوْمَا عِيدٍ لِلْمُشْرِكِينَ وَأَنَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَهُمْ “} أَخْرَجَهُ النَّسَائِيُّ, وَصَحَّحَهُ اِبْنُ خُزَيْمَةَ, وَهَذَا لَفْظ

Umm Salamah (radiyallaahu `anhaa) said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to fast more often on Saturdays and Sundays than on the other days. He would say, “They are the ‘eeds of the polytheists, and I love to act contrary to what they do.” Related by An-Nasa’ee and was rendered authentic by Ibn Khuzaimah, and the wording is his.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ لاَ يَصُومَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ، إِلاَّ يَوْمًا قَبْلَهُ أَوْ بَعْدَهُ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Abu Hurairah: I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, “None of you should fast on Friday unless he fasts a day before or after it.” (Reported by Bukhaaree #1985) This hadeeth is a proof that Saturday can be fasted with the condition that Friday is fasted before it – so the hadeeth forbidding the Saturday fast is not absolute in forbiddance.

Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) stated: “It is known that fasting on a Saturday has different scenarios:

  • The first scenario: That which is obligatory like that of Ramadaan, 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.
  • The second scenario: That he fasts the day before it, Friday, then there is no harm in that. This is because the Prophet (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) 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.” (Bukhaaree, 1986) So his saying, “Are you going to fast tomorrow?” proves the permissibility of fasting Saturday along with Friday.
  • The third scenario: 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 ‘Āshūrā, or the six days of Shawwaal for the one who fasted Ramadaan, 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. 
  • The fourth scenario: 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 (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) in forbidding fasting a day or two days just prior to Ramadaan except for the one who is in the habit of fasting (Bukhaaree, 1914). So here there is no forbiddance, so this case is similar.
  • The fifth scenario: That a person singles out Saturday alone for the optional fast, then this is forbidden, if it is assumed that the hadeeth of forbiddance of fasting on a Saturday is authentic.”

(See Majmoo’ Fatawa Ibn al-Uthaimeen, Vol. 20, p. 57-58 – slightly adapted to assist ease of understanding)

Ibn Uthaimeen also stated: “It is established from the Sunnah of the Messenger (salallaahu ‘alaihi wassallam) in speech and action that fasting on a Saturday is not forbidden. The Scholars differ with respect to the hadeeth 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 hadeeth is not authentic. And a regulation cannot be established from a hadeeth which is not authentic.

From them are those who have said the hadeeth is saheeh or hasan, and they said: The reconciliation between this hadeeth [that forbids fasting on a Saturday] and the other ahaadeeth [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 Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah), 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 (‘Āshūrā), 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 (‘Āshūrā) 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: Majmoo’ Fatawa Ibn al-Uthaimeen, vol. 20, p. 37)

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