Fatwa n°: 766
Category: Fatwas of fasting
Concerning observing the voluntary fasting before making up for the obligatory one
Is it allowed to observe the voluntary fasting before making up for the missed days of Ramadan? May Allah reward you with what is best.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
There is no divergence [among the scholars] that making up for the obligatory fast precedes observing the voluntary one, because the obligatory thing is stronger and higher in position than the recommendable one. Moreover, obligations and prescriptions are the greatest acts of worship for Allah عزَّ وجلَّ. Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said in a Qudusi (sacred) hadith: “The most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him”(1).
On another hand, the obligation of making up for the missed days of Ramadan before observing the voluntary fasting is stressed if one fears to be unhealthy, unable or that he would not have time to observe it. As a consequence, he would be a sinner if he delays making up for the missed days of Ramadan in case he could not observe it later, because the absolute obligation became restricted to time. So, one should accomplish his obligation at once, or he would be considered as a negligent as regards his duties.
In all cases, one should hurry to accomplish the acts of obedience by making up for his obligations, because Allah عزَّ وجلَّ said:
﴿فَاسْتَبِقُوا الخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى اللهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ﴾ [المائدة: 48].
﴾…so compete in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allâh; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ﴿ [Al-Mâ'ida (The Table Spread with Food):48]. He also said:
﴿وَسَارِعُوا إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ﴾ [آل عمران: 133].
﴾And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqûn (the pious)﴿ [Âl-Imrân (The Family of Imran)):133].
In addition, the hadith about the benefit of fasting the six days of Shawwâl states, apparently, that one will not get the reward of fasting Dahr (a year) except by fasting the month of Ramadan and following it up with the six days of Shawwâl, according to the hadith of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم: “He who fasts Ramadan and follows it up with six days of Shawwâl, he will be considered as he has fasted Dahr (a year)”(2). So, fasting the six days of Shawwâl before making up for the missed days of Ramadan implies a non accomplishment of the month of Ramadan. This contradicts the term of the stated hadith. For that reason, it is recommended to begin with compensating the missed days of Ramadan, then fast those of Shawwâl in order to put into practice the apparent meaning of that hadith and get the reward of fasting Dahr.
However, I have stated the recommendation rather than the obligation of beginning with making up for the days of Ramadan, because the message maybe addressed to the people as a whole, because the majority of the fasting persons, who are incited by the sharia to observe voluntary fasting, fast all the month of Ramadan. This supports the probability that the term of the hadith in the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّمsaying: “And follows it up with six days of Shawwâl” is stated as regards the usual case and it has not the meaning of opposition. This probability is confirmed by the hadith reported by Thawbân that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “He who fasts Ramadan has ten months as reward for every month, and fasting six days after Eid Al-Fitr is a complete year of fasting”(3).
The apparent meaning of the hadith states that the reward of fasting Ramadan is ten months, because one Hasana (good deed) equals ten. The same thing applies for the six days of Shawwâl. So, in both cases the reward of fasting Dahr is attained whether one begins with making up for the missed days or starts with the voluntary one.
In sum, if this probability becomes strong and is made clear, regardless of the precedence of the obligatory fast over the voluntary one, it is allowed to fast the six days of Shawwâl before compensating the missed days of Ramadan, especially for someone who has just few days of Shawwâl due to the compensation of the missed days of Ramadan.
As for the fasting of all the other voluntary days, such as that of `Arafa, Ashoura the Bîd days (13th, 14th and 15th days of every month of Hegira) and others, it is permissible to observe the voluntary fast first, according to the most correct saying of the scholars. It is the opinion of the Hanafis and Shâfi`s and one of the two opinions of Ahmad, as there is no proof from the sharia that forbids that. However, there is a text from the Quran indicating that the time of compensation is unlimited:
﴿فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ﴾ [البقرة: 184].
﴾There are other days﴿ [Al-Baqara: 184]. The verse proves that it is allowed to delay making up for the missed days of Ramadan unlimitedly without obliging [people] to hurry to compensate the fasting once one is able to do it. Moreover, the opinion that the time of compensation is unlimited is shared by the overwhelming majority of the scholars; whether the predecessors or the successors.
This opinion is also supported by the approbation of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم to the act of `Aicha رضي الله عنها. She said: “I used to have some days to make up for and I could not compensate them except in Sha`bân”(4). Ibn Hajar, may Allah be merciful with him, said: “It is permissible, according to the hadith, to delay the compensation of Ramadan absolutely, whether one has an excuse or not, because that addition is included as we have proven it(5). And if this addition was not Marfu`a (elevated to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم), its permissibility would be necessarily limited, because the hadith has the ruling of Raf` (elevation to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم). Furthermore, it seems that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم knew that and there were reasons for which his wives asked him concerning the matters of sharia. So, if this had not been legal, `Aicha رضي الله عنها would not have done it regularly”(6).
I said: It was permissible for her to delay making up for the missed days of Ramadan and there was no doubt that she رضي الله عنها wanted to get the benefits of the voluntary fasting during the year as she cared about `Umra (lesser pilgrimage); she was sad to see her girl friends coming back with performing hajj and `Umra independently and she came back with performing just `Umra included in hajj. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, then, ordered her brother to accompany her to perform `Umra from At-Tan`îm to soothe her(7).
From the reasonable point of view, if it is permissible as regards “the extensive obligation” to begin with the voluntary act which is of the same kind of the obligation before performing it, such as Ar-Rawâtib (voluntary prayers) which are offered before the prescribed prayers, it is permissible a fortiori as regards “the absolute obligation” as it is the case in making up for the missed days of Ramadan.
The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers: Shawwâl 12th, 1428
October 15th, 2007
(1) Reported by: Al-Bukhâri; chapter of “softening the hearts”, concerning modesty (hadith 6137) and Ibn Hibbân in his “Sahîh” (hadith 347), according to the hadith reported by Abu Hurayra. It is also reported by Ahmad in his “Musnad” (hadith 25794), according to the hadith reported by `Aicha رضي الله عنها.
(2) Reported by: Muslim; chapter of “fasting”, concerning the recommendation of fasting the six days of Shawwâl successively (hadith 2758), At-Tirmidhi; chapter of “fasting”, according to what is stated about the fast of the six days of Shawwâl (hadith 759), Abd Ar-Razzâq in “Al-Musannaf” (hadith 7918) and Al-Bayhaqi in “As-Sunan Al-Kubra” (hadith 8516), according to the hadith reported by Abu Ayyûb Al-Ansâri رضي الله عنه.
(3) Reported by: Ahmad in his “Musnad” (hadith 21906), according to the hadith reported by Thawbân رضي الله عنه. This hadith is authenticated by Al-Albâni in “Sahîh At-Targhîb” (hadith 1007).
(4) Reported by: Al-Bukhâri; chapter of “fasting”, concerning the time of making up for Ramadan (hadith 1849), Muslim; chapter of “fasting”, concerning making up for Ramadan in the month of Sha`bân (hadith 2687), Ibn Khuzayma in his “Sahîh” (hadith 2046) and Al-Bayhaqi in “As-Sunan Al-Kubra” (hadith 8302), according to the hadith of `Aisha رضي الله عنها.
(5) He means the narration in which she has delayed making up for the fast of Ramadan till the month of Sha`bân, because she was needed by the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم.
(6) “Fath Al-Bâri” of Ibn Hajar (4/191).
(7) “Zâd Al-Mi`âd” of Ibn Al-Qayyim (2/94). See fatwa number (712) (concerning the ruling of repeating `Umra).