Fasting on the Day of Arafah

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The ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah (the 12th and final month of the Islamic calendar) 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, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:

“Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah absolves the sins for two years: the previous year and the coming year, and fasting on ‘ashura, (the tenth day of Muharram) atones for the sins of previous years.” [Reported by all except al-Bukhari and Tirmidh] 

In another saying the Prophet’s wife Hafsah, may Allah be pleased with her, said:

“Four things the Messenger of Allah never neglected: Observing fast on the day of ‘ashura, ‘Arafat, 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, 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 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.’ ” [Recorded by 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.

Tajuddin B. Shu’aib is an Islamic author and speaker and writes about Islamic theology.


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  1. We pray Allah accept our Ibadah in the last days of the Liyalin ashara the ten days of Zul Hijja in which Allah (S.W.T) loves seeing His servants performing amaala Salihan more than any other days.These days are so special to such an extent that fasting on the Arafah Day brings the reward of two years of Kaffara as mentioned. Imagine if you fast in the Month of Ramadan and then fast additional six days of Shawwal you get the reward of one year but then fasting alone on the Arafah Day brings two years reward.So we should take advantage of this very Sunday which has been declarded Universally as the Arafah Day which majority of the Ummah have agreed on.I believe most of the brothers and sisters have fasted on this very day so Allah accept all of us amen.The Arafah is a Universal Day which should and must be observed by all Muslims all over the World without any exception.The Arafah is only observed in Mecca not anywhere in the World. No body should invent his or her own Arafah and we cannot agree with any Fatwah given by anybody.Therefore when it is declared the whole Ummah should unite not cause any unnecessary confusion celebrating it on another day as some segment of the Ummah might have done which is very unfortunate.May Allah give us guidance and accept our Ibadah and those who have been to Hajj Allah accept their Hajj we say Hajjin Mabrur.