Category: fatwas about fasting
The meaning of the hadith concerning fasting the day of `Arafa expiates the sins of two years and fasting `Ashurâ' expiates one year
The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said in a hadith that, “Fasting `Arafa expiates the sins of two years, and fasting `Ashura’ expiates the sins of one year.” (1)
Ibn Hajar said: “Because fasting `Arafa belongs to the Sharia of Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, whereas fasting `Ashura belongs to the Law of Mûssa (Moses) عليه السلام, and the Law of Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم is better than that of Moses”
So I wondered: “But why is the reward of a person who fasts `Arafa the double of the person who fasts `Ashura, and not ten multiples or more or less. I looked up for an answer about this but did not find. And once I was reading the hadith: “The Jews acted from dawn (prayer) to midday, so Allah gave them a Qirât(2), the Christians acted from noon till `Asr (afternoon), so Allah gave them one Qirât, and the nation of Muhammad صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم acted from `Asr to sunset, so Allah عزَّ وجلَّ gave them two Qirâts”(3), I said to myself: the hadith means that the reward of one act of this nation is the double of that of the Jews and Christians. In addition, as the fasting of `Ashura expiates the sins of one year at the origin, it is appropriate that fasting `Arafa which is from our Law expiates the double of fasting `Ashura, which is two years. And Allah knows best.
If this statement is correct, direct us, and if it is wrong correct us, and may Allah protect you.
Your obedient student, Abu Sulaymân Kamâl Sa`d Sa`ûd.
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.
As regards what you mentioned concerning the comment of Ibn Hajar and the reconciliation with the hadith (you mentioned), it is not valid in my opinion, only if it is established that `Ashura does not belong to our Sharia at the origin or afterwards.
What we mean by saying that fasting `Ashura belongs to our Sharia is that it is not by way of imitation of people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians), as it is established that the Prophet صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم used to fast `Ashura before asking the Jews about it. Moreover, people of Quraish used to fast it, as it is established in the hadith of `Âisha رضي الله عنها who said: “Quraish used to observe fast on the day of `Ashura in Al-Jâhiliyya (the Pre-Islamic period of ignorance). The Messenger of Allah صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم used to observe fast on it too. When he emigrated to Medina, he observed fast on it too and ordered (Muslims) to fast on it. When the fasting of the month of Ramadan was prescribed, the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said, “He who wants to fast (on that day) may fast, and he who does not want to fast may not fast”(4), and in the narration of Al-Bukhâri: “…On that day the Ka`ba used to be wrapped with a cover”(5).
If it is established that there is no imitation of the Jews, so the saying of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم : “We have more claim over Mûssa (Moses) than you”(6), after asking the Jews about fasting `Ashura is only by way of confirmation of the legitimacy of fasting it and in order to show to the Jews that we also do what they do in order to abide by what Mûssa عليه السلام does. Thus, we have more claim over Mûssa than the Jews. Moreover, the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم used to fast it as being of our Sharia after approving of fasting it and contradicting the Jews by fasting one day before it.
If this is made clear for you, then saying that fasting `Arafa is better than fasting `Ashura because the first belongs to the Law of Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم whereas the second is not, as it is mentioned by Ibn Hajar and what you declared in your answer by approving such statement, is not correct, as we have previously stated that `Ashura belongs to the Law of Muhammad صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم at the origin. In such case, we should see if there is another explanation which is more successful. However, if we do not know the reason, we should accept it as though, with the belief that there exists a reason and a wisdom that Allah تعالى knows, because among His Attributes: Knowledge and Wisdom.
This is what we can give you as directions, asking Allah تعالى to bestow us success, pertinence, help and guidance.
The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزَّ وجلَّ. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers, Shawwâl 15th, 1420H.
Corresponding to: January 24th, 2000.
(1) Reported by Muslim, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 2804), Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 2425) and Ahmad (hadith 23290) on the authority of Qatâda Al-Ansâri. See “Irwâ' Al-Ghalîl” (4/108).
(2) Qîrât: means here a share, a reward and a part.
(3) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of "Prayer times" (hadith 557) and Ahmad (hadith 6277) on the authority of `Abd Allâh Ibn `Umar رضي الله عنهما.
(4) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of "Fasting" (hadith 2002), Muslim, chapter of “fasting” and Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 8681) on the authority of `Âisha رضي اله عنها.
(5) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of "Hajj" (hadith 1592) on the authority of `Âisha رضي الله عنها.
(6) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of "Fasting" (hadith 2004), Muslim, chapter of “fasting” (hadith 2712), Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 2444), Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Fasting” (hadith 1734) and Al-Humaydi in his “Musnad” (hadith 543) on the authority of Ibn `Abbâs رضي الله عنهما.