Fasting in the Month of Muharram & verdict on singling out Saturday for Fasting.
Abu Hurairah (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said,
“The Best month for observing fasting next after Ramadan is the month of Allah, the Muharram, and the best Salaat next after the prescribed Salaat is Salaat at night (Tahajjud prayers).” [Muslim]
Muharram is one of the Sacred Months. This Hadith points out that fasting in the month of Muharram is better than any other month of the year after Ramadan.
The Most stressed days for fasting is ‘Ashoura (the 10th of Muharram).
He (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was asked about observing fast on the tenth day of Muharram, and he replied,
“It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.” [Muslim]
And He (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:
“If I remain alive till the next year, I shall also observe fast on the ninth of Muharram.” [Muslim]
Why is it recommended to fast on this day?
It is the day on which Allah granted Prophet Musa (‘Alayhissallaam) emancipation from Pharoah and so they (the Jews) observed Sawm (Fasting) in token of their joy. On this, he (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said that Muslims have greater right to observe Sawm than the Jews , consequently, he (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) also observed Sawm on the 10th of Muharram. Then he said that if he lived the following year, he would observe Sawm on the 9th of Muharram also, so that muslims would be different from the Jews.
Many scholars are of opinion that the fasting of ‘Ashoura was obligatory in the beginning then it was abrogated by the fasting of Ramadan.
There is a hadith which says we should not observe fasting on Saturday, except the obligatory fasts, and since Ashoora is going to be on Saturday what should we do?
The scholars differed regarding this hadith’s authenticity and ruling because there are hadith’s which are more authentic than it reported by Bukhari and Muslim:
Abu Hurayrah (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) who said: I heard the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) say: “No one of you should fast on Friday, unless he fasts (a day) before it or after it.”
Juwayriyah bint al-Haarith (may Allaah be pleased with her), said that the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) entered upon her on a Friday and she was fasting. He said; “Did you fast yesterday?” She said, “No.” He said: “Do you intend to fast tomorrow?” She said: “No.” He said: “Then break your fast.”
So we have two evidences which are more authentic than that Hadith. Therefore whenever we have a Hadith which contradicts any Hadith which is more authentic, then this is Ash-Shad (strange). Therefore, we take what is more authentic in this case.
There is another Hadith which says that the Prophet Muhammed (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) used to observe fast Saturdays and Sundays to contradict the Jews and Christians, as these were the days of Eid for them, and the Prophet was keen to contradict them. (An-Nasaai)
Generally speaking, singling out Saturday with fasting is a weak opinion. This is the opinion of Shaykh bin Uthaymeen (Rahimahullaah) in Bulugh Al maraam.
Imam Ahmed (Rahimahullaah) said most likely we cannot say it is forbidden, but at least we can say that it is disliked to single Saturday out with fasting.
It is Sunnah to observe the 9th and 10th, and even better the 11th.
- When the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said that the best month for fasting next after Ramadan is the month of Muharram. It is does not indicate that fasting the whole month, but fasting in this month.
- The Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) used to fast Sha’baan more than Muharram because fasting Sha’baan is considered a restricted voluntary fast while fasting Muharram is considered unrestricted voluntary fast, and the restricted is better than the unrestricted. Fasting Sha’baan is like a ‘Ratibah’ for the month of Ramadan. Similarly, Fasting the day of ‘Arafah is better than fasting Muharram because it is restricted to fasting the day of ‘Arafah. With regards to the prayers, the ‘Ratibah’ prayer is better than the unrestricted Tahajjud prayer, because the Ratibah is joined (follows) the obligatory prayer.
Also the Dhikr; the one said after the prayer is better than the one said at other times.