Is it permissible to observe fast during the whole month of Muharram?
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.
Before answering your question, I want to draw attention to a spread mistake which consists in designating the term “Muharram” without the letters Alif and Lâm (Al-)(1). The correct form is to say “Al-Muharram” as it is mentioned in many prophetic hadiths, and because the Arabs did not mention this month in their speeches and poetry but with the definite article “Al”, which is not the case with the other months. So, this denomination is unwritten and not according to a rule.
Hereupon, one can fast during the month Al-Muharram, that is why it is recommended to observe much of fasting in it, in accordance with the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying:
Fasting `Âshurâ’ which is the tenth of the month of Al-Muharram is more recommended, in accordance with the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying: “This is the day of `Âshurâ’ (tenth of Al-Muharram). Allah has not enjoined its fasting on you but I am fasting it. You have the choice either to fast or not”(3).
Moreover, fasting `Âshurâ’ expiates the precedent year, in accordance with the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّمsaying: “…Moreover, I expect from Allah that the fasting of the day of `Âshurâ’ will expiate (the sins of) the preceding year”(4). It is also recommended to fast the day preceding `Ashura’ which is the ninth day of the month Al-Muharram as it is mentioned in the hadith of Ibn `Abbâs رضي الله عنهما who said: “When the Messenger of Allah observed fast on the day of `Ashura, and ordered Muslims to fast on it, they said to him: “O Messenger of Allah! This is a day which both the Jews and the Christians venerate. Upon this, the Messenger of Allah said, “When it is the next year, Allah willing, we would observe fast on the ninth day (of Al-Muharram besides that day)”. But, it was not until the next year that the Messenger of Allah صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم had died”(5), and in another narration: “If I survive to the coming year, I would surely observe fast on the ninth (day of Al-Muharram)”(6).
Furthermore, it is recommended to fast a day after `Âshurâ’, that is to say, the eleventh day of the month of Al-Muharram, as it is narrated in an authentic and Mauqûf(7) text according to Ibn `Abbâsرضي الله عنهما: “Fast the day of `Âshurâ’, be different from Jews, fast one day before it or one day after it”(8). Al-Hâfidh (Ibn Hajar) رحمه الله said, “…Fasting `Âshurâ’ comes under three categories, the lowest is to fast it alone, better than it, is to fast the ninth day with it, and the best is to fast the ninth and the eleventh days with it”(9).
It is worth mentioning that it is permissible to fast during Allah’s month Al-Muharram but without specifying the last day of the year with the intention of bidding a farewell to the lunar year of Hegira, nor the first day of Al-Muharram with the intention of welcoming the new year by fasting, except what has been previously mentioned regarding fasting the day of `Âshurâ’ and the two days in order to differ from Jews (i.e. the ninth and eleventh days).
In fact, those who specify the first day and the last day of the year by fasting, support their opinion with a fabricated hadith: “Whoever fasts the last day of Dhu Al-Hijja and the first day of Al-Muharram, has surely ended the last year and begins the current year by a fast which has the reward of expiating fifty years”(10). This is in fact an invented hadith which is falsely attributed to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم. Abu Shâma said, “There is nothing reported about the first night of Al-Muharram. Besides, I made a research concerning the reported traditions whether authentic or weak and have examined weak hadiths, but I have found no one who mentioned something about that subject. Therefore, I fear-may Allah preserve us- that some prevaricator invents a hadith concerning this topic” (11).
Nothing is recommended then during the month of Al-Muharram, not even in `Âshurâ’ except fasting. As for performing a `Umra on the first of Al-Muharram or observing a special supplication or an invocation, or to devote oneself during the night of `Âshurâ’ to worship, supplications and invocations. Nothing of the aforesaid things were done, neither by the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم nor by his Companions رضي الله عنهم not even by the noble successors. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “Whoever does an action that is not in accordance with our tradition will have it rejected”(12)
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, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers, Al-Muharram 4th, 1429H.
Corresponding to: January 11th, 2008.
(1) Al: a definite article in Arabic.
(2) Reported by Muslim, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning the merit of observing fast in the month of Al-Muharram (hadith 2755), Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning fasting during the month Al-Muharram (hadith 2429), At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “Prayer”, concerning what is reported about night prayer (hadith 438), An-Nassâ’i, chapter of “Night prayers and the supererogatory prayers of the day”, concerning the merit of night prayers (hadith 1613) and Ahmad in his “Musnad” (hadith 8329) on the authority of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.
(3) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning fasting `Âshurâ’ (hadith 1899), Muslim, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning fasting `Âshurâ’ (hadith 2653), Mâlik in “Al-Muwatta’” (hadith 663) and Ahmad in his “Musnad” (hadith 16425) on the authority Mu`âwiya Ibn Abi Sufyân رضي الله عنهما.
(4) Reported by Muslim, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning the recommendation of fasting three days in each month…(hadith 2746), Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning fasting the whole year by way of supererogation (hadith 2425), Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning fasting `Âshurâ’ (hadith 1738) and Ahmad in his “Musnad” (hadith 23290) on the authority of Abu Qatâda Al-Ansâriرضي الله عنه.
(5) Reported by Muslim, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning on which day fasting is observed for `Âshurâ’ (hadith 2666), on the authority of Ibn `Abbâs رضي الله عنهما.
(6) Reported by Muslim, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning on which day fasting is observed for `Âshurâ’ (hadith 2667), Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Fasting”, concerning fasting the day of `Âshurâ’ (hadith 1736) and Ahmad in his “Musnad” (3203) on the authority of Ibn `Abbâs رضي الله عنهما.
(7) Mauqûf: A tradition attributed to a Companion.
(8) Reported as being attributed to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم by Ibn Khuzayma in his “Sahîh” (hadith 2095), and Ahmad in his “Musnad” (hadith 2155). Al-Albâni said in “Sahîh Ibn Khuzayma” (3/290): “Its chain of narration is weak because the memorization of Ibn Abi Layla is bad, and because `Atâ’ contradicted him as well as others. In fact, `Atâ’ reported this hadith according to Ibn `Abbâs as attributed to him; its chain of narration is authentic according to At-Tahâwi and Al-Bayhaqi”. This hadith is reported Mauqûf by At-Tabari in “Tahdhîb Al-Âthâr” (Musnad `Umar/1430), this tradition has been judged as authentic by Al-Albâni as it is aforementioned and by Zakariya Ibn Ghulâm Al-Pâkistâni in “Fî Mâ Sahha Min Âthâr As-Sahâba Fi Al-Fiqh” (2/675).
(9) See, “Fath Al-Bâri” by Ibn Hajar (4/246).
(10) Ibn Al-Jauzi has judged this hadith as being fabricated in “Al-Maudhû`ât” (2/199), As-Suyûti in “Al-La’âli’” (2/108) and Ash-Shaukâni in “Al-Fawâ’id” (page: 96).
(11) See, “Al-Bâ`ith `Ala Inkâr Al-Bida` Wal-Hawâdith” (239).
(12) This version of the hadith is reported by Muslim, chapter of “Judgments”, concerning canceling the invalid judgments and abrogating the heresies (hadith 4590). The two Sheikhs, Al-Bukhâri in the chapter of “Reconciliation” (hadith 2697) and Muslim, chapter of “Judgments” (hadith 4589) agreed to report it according to the following version: “If somebody innovates something which is not involved in the principles of our religion, that thing will be rejected” on the authority of `Âishaرضي الله عنها and in Al-Bukhâri’s “Sahîh” : “…which is not part of it…”.
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