Voluntary Fast – Tatawwu’u

Voluntary Fast

Voluntary Fast – Tatawwu’u

It has been mentioned earlier that there are two kinds of fast-
ing, obligatory (Fard) and voluntary (Tatawwu’u). The first has
been discussed in some detail. Now we will discuss voluntary

In Islam, deeds do not end with nor rest only on the obligatory
deeds. Far dare the minimum duties required on an average
believer. Thus, the Lawgiver instituted voluntary deeds, to as-
sist a devoted believer who has the will to do more, and also
assist the believers in general in repairing and complementing
their obligatory deeds with voluntary deeds. The voluntary
deed comes with every pillar in Islam, including fasting.

The voluntary fast is for men as well as for women. The
method and restriction of this fast is no different from regular
Ramadan fast. The difference is in the niyyah (intention).

Fasting Six Days of Shawwal (Sittu min Shawwal)

Shawwal is the tenth month in the lunar calendar, as mentioned
earlier. The first of Shawwal is Eidul Fitr. After the festivity of
Eid it is recommended to observe six days of fast. This fast
may be observed continuously non-break, or it may be ob-
served one day at a time. If you observe it continuously, you
may start on the fourth day and end on the ninth of day Shaw-
wal, or you may select days at random, provided you complete
six days before the end of Shawwal. For instance, you may ob-
serve the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, 14 th and 15 th days. Abu
Ayyub Al-Ansari (raa) related the Messenger of Allah, (saas),

“Whoever observes the Ramadan fast and follows it
with six days of fast in Shawwal, it is as if he has fasted
Dahr (the whole year).” (Bukhari)

It has been mentioned earlier that Dahr means the whole year.
Possibly it may also mean forever, or for life.

Analyzing this hadith, our jurists CUlama) explained how ac-
cording to this hadith, a Muslim who fasts during Ramadan
every year and follows it with six days fast of Shawwal, will be
credited for fasting a whole lifetime. The Jurists correctly said:
a good deed (hasanah) is rewarded a minimum of ten times its
equivalent. It follows, then, that one Ramadan is equivalent to
ten months of fasting, and the clincher, six days, is equal to two
months, (6×10=60). That undoubtedly completes the year’s
twelve months. Thus, we see the wisdom and the reason why
the Prophet (saas) mentioned six days after Ramadan in Shaw-
wal, not five or seven.

Fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah

The ninth day of Zulhijjah 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 ^Eidul Adha.

Abu Hafasah (raa) said the Prophet (saas) said:

“Fasting on the day of ‘Arafah absolves the sins for two
years: the previous year and the coming years, and fast-
ing on ‘Ashura, (the tenth day) of Muharram atones for
the sins of previous years.” (Reported by Jama’ah except
Bukhari and Tirmidhi)

In another hadith, the Prophet’s wife Hafsah (raa) said:

“Four things the Messenger of Allah never neglected:
Observing fast on the day of ‘Ashura, (on the tenth of
Muharram), three days every month, and offering Fajr
sunnah prayers early in the morning.” (Muslim)

These ahadiths are proof that fasting on the tenth of Zulhijjah,
the day before ^Eidul Adha was a lifelong practice of the
Prophet (saas) 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 Hajj. If a person is on 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 hadith reported by Umm al-Fadl (raa) 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 on

‘Arafah:” (Bukhari)

Prohibiting the pilgrim from fasting on these days is a great
mercy for him, for fasting will exert undue hardship on the per-
son performing the Hajj, while he is concerned with his pil-
grimage. Above all, the pilgrim would not be fasting anyway
because he is traveling.

Fasting in Muharram (theFirst Month of Islamic Year)

Fasting in the month of Muharram is highly desired, especially
on the tenth day, Ashura. The Messenger of Allah (saas) has
been reported as saying when asked which prayer is better after
obligatory prayer:

“Prayer in the middle of the night.”

He was asked again which fast is better after Ramadan. He

“In the month that is called Al-Muharram” (Ahmed,
Muslim, and Abu Dawud)

This hadith clearly indicates the importance of voluntary fast-
ing in Muharram, among all the months. The Prophet (saas)
however, emphasizes the fast of the tenth day, ‘Ashura. The
word “Ashura” is derived from Ashara, which means ten.
The observation of this day goes back to Prophet Musa bin
‘Emran (saas). In a hadith related by Ibn Abbas (raa) when the
Messenger of Allah (saas) came to Medina, he found the Jews
fasting the day of Ashura. He inquired why do they did so.
They replied that it was a good day, the day which Allah deliv-
ered Prophet Musa (saas) and the children of Israel from their
enemy. As gratitude Musa (saas) fasted that day.

The Prophet (saas) responded:

“I have more right to Musa than you.” He fasted the
day and commanded the believers to fast.” (Agreed

This hadith indicates that the Prophet (saas) was in complete
agreement with Prophet Musa (saas) as well as the other
prophets. The point here is that the Messenger of Allah would
always do an act of worship if it was prophecy reported from
any of the prophets. Earlier, we see how he told us that the best
voluntary fast is the fast of Dawud.

This is why the following hadith is of great interest to us. Ibn
Abbas related when Prophet Muhammad (saas) observed the
day of Ashura and commanded his followers to observe it,
they asked him:

“O Messenger of Allah (saas) this is the day the Jews,
and Christians respect and honor…”

The Prophet (saas) promised them that:

“Next year Allah willing, we shall fast the ninth,
tasuu ‘aa, along with the tenth.”

By the next Muharram, the Prophet (saas) had already passed
away. Because the believers, desire to emulate Prophet Musa in
fasting on ‘Ashura do so with the desire not to participate in the
festivity of the People of the Book, who have reduced the day
to a mere formality. The Prophet (saas) decided to remove this
ambiguity with the fast of the ninth day.

Our ‘Ulama, analyzing all reports from the Prophet (saas) re-
garding Muharram, stated the fast of Muharram can be viewed
in three ways:

  1. Fasting three days of Muharram, the ninth, tenth and elev-
  2. Fasting on the ninth and tenth days because of two previous
  3. Fasting on the tenth day alone.

It is to celebrate on the day of ^Ashura. In a hadith by Jabir Bin
Abdullah, the Messenger of Allah (saas) said:

“Whoever spends generously on himself and his family
on the day of ^Ashura, Allah will provide for him gener-
ously the rest of his year.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

Fasting of Sha ‘aban

It is recommended to fast most of the eighth month Sha’aban.
However, there is no proof or merit to the fasting half of Sha’a-
ban (nisf Sha’aban), as is commonly known, because there is
no verifiable evidence {daleel) to support that fasting. Aisha
(raa) related:

“I have never seen the Prophet (saas) complete the fast-
ing of a month at all, except the month of R amadan. I
have never seen him fast most of a month, except Sha’a-
ban.” (Bukhari/Muslim)

The hadith indicates clearly the Prophet’s Sunnah in prepara-
tion for the month of Ramadan is fasting most of the eighth
month, Sha’aban, in anticipation for Ramadan. Thus, the be-
liever may fast during Sha’aban as much as he or she pleases,
the more the better.

Again, there is no evidence, or at least the hadith is incorrect,
that Sha’aban is the month in which the annual recording of
deeds is done. The hadith in question is reported by Osamah
Bin Zaid (raa) who asked the Prophet (saas):

“O Messenger of Allah, why don’t you observe fast in
other months as you do in Sha’aban?”‘

The Messenger responded:

“This is a month most people neglect, between Rajab
and Ramadan, the month in which (the annual deeds of
humanity) are raised to the Lord of the worlds. So, I
want my deeds to be raised while I am observing fast.”

(Abu Dawud, Nasa’e, and Ibn Khuzaimah)

This Hadith is not authentic, for it contradicts a verse in Al-
Qur’an, according to many scholars. They stated Allah (SWT)

“We sent it down during a blessed night, for We
(ever) wish to warn against evil. In that night is
made distinct every affair of wisdom.”

(Al-Qur’an, 44-3)

This is the Night of Power (Lailatul Qadr), the night in which
the deeds of humanity are returned and the decrees for the fol-
lowing year are announced to the angels, not as the above

hadith alleged. The Qur’anic commentators said: On this night,
Allah will decree and explain what will take place in the affairs
of humanity and the world, their earnings, longevity, who will
live or die, what type of deeds, good or bad, virtues or non-
virtues and what type of work. Allah (SWT) will reveal from
the protective slate, Lawhul-Mahfuz the record of every living
being to the Angels as the annual records are being raised and
stored away.

Fasting on Monday and Thursday

It has been reported that the Messenger of Allah (saas) fasted
the second and fifth days of the week, namely, Monday and
Thursday. These two days, as the Hadith explained, are the
days in which, twice weekly, the deeds are raised into the
heavens and are the days of forgiveness. Abu Hurairah related
the Messenger of Allah (saas) was asked why he rarely missed
these two days of fasting. He replied:

“Indeed, the deeds of humanity are exhibited every
Monday and Thursday. Then Allah will further pardon
every Muslim for every behavior, except the two believ-
ers who part from each other’s company; Allah will say
to the angels delay the two of them. (Ahmed)

He (saas) was asked again. He said,

“I observe this day in fasting because it was a day in
which I was born, and on it the revelation of (Al-
Qur’an) was inaugurated.” (Muslim)

This hadith added another reason for fasting on Monday. It was
the Messenger’s birthday. This is an indication of the fallacy of
the annual celebration of the Prophet’s birthday, which some
Muslims observe every year on the 12 th of Rabee’ual Awwal.
This is nothing but innovation, because there is no record of a
hadith regarding it. The only thing reported in respect to the

birth of Muhammad (saas) is this hadith, and that is celebrated
with fasting on Mondays.

One may ask also why is his birth celebrated? Undoubtedly,
the birth of the Seal of the Prophets represents a mercy to hu-
manity, as it marked the dawning of a new era in human his-

The inauguration of the Book of Allah, Al-Qur’an, which con-
firmed and updated previous scriptures occurred on a Monday,
when Allah (SWT) revealed the first ayah of Al-Qur’an in the
cave of Hira. That was an important event because that was the
time humanity began receiving the correct updated manual of

For a believer who seeks nearness to Allah (SWT) fasting, as
mentioned earlier, is an important and proper way to offer wor-
ship (Ebadah). Abu Az-Zarr Al-Ghifari (raa) reported that:

“The Messenger of Allah (saas) commanded us to fast in
every calendar month three days: the thirteenth, four-
teenth and fifteenth. The Prophet added fasting these
days is like fasting a whole year.” (Nasa’e)

There is room in the way these days are observed, because
there are other Ahadiths relating to the Sunnah of three days
fasting that can be observed in a different way. The report indi-
cated that the Prophet (saas) fasted every month on Saturday,
Sunday and Monday. In different months, he would fast Tues-
day, Wednesday and Thursday. Elsewhere, he was observed
fasting on the first Thursday of the month, and the following
Monday, and the following Monday. Of these methods, any
one you choose is proper and correct.

Essentials of Ramadan The Month of Fasting