Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research

Episode 5: Fasting the First 9 Days

The Prophet ﷺ used to fast numerous days throughout the year. In episode 5 of the Virtues of Dhul Hijjah, Dr. Omar Suleiman walks us through Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ sunnah of fasting the first 9 days of Dhul-Hijjah in addition to other notable days such as ‘Ashura and 3 days in the middle of each month.

Episode Transcript

(Note: the transcript has been edited for clarity)

0:00 – 0:45 The days that the Prophet SAW used to fast 

Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmah Allah wa Barakatu everyone, welcome back to the virtues of Dhul Hijjah.

So there’s an interesting narration in which it’s narrated from Hunayda bin Khalid from his wife that one of the wives of the Prophet SAW said that the messenger SAW used to fast the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah, and the day of Ashura, and three days each month, the first Monday of the month and two

So I’ll say that again, (it) says that the Prophets SAW used to fast the first nine days of the Dhul Hijjah, and the Day of Ashura, and three days of the month, and the first Monday of the month and two Thursdays.

0:46 – 2:00 Ayyam al-Beed and why the Prophet SAW fasted these days

So let’s break this down a little bit.

So typically speaking, we think of fasting Arafah right? We don’t really think about fasting the first eight days of Dhul Hijjah. We think about the day of Arafah.

The day of Ashura is in Muharram. It comes in the very next month. The Prophet SAW used to also fast that day of Ashura, once again commemorating the victory of Musa (as) over Firaun, the Pharaoh.

The Prophet SAW used to fast three days of each month. The three days are the 13th 14th and 15th of each month and these are called Ayyam al-Beed, the White Days. Why? Because the moon is fuller on those months. So in accordance with the very middle of the month the Prophet SAW would fast them.

In this narration, the first Monday of the month and two Thursdays. The Prophet SAW used to fast Mondays and Thursdays because he said that the deeds are presented to Allah SWT on those days during the week and he hoped that his deeds would be presented to Allah when he is in a state of fasting. He also marked Monday because he was born on the day of Monday and the Prophets SAW said that was an expression of gratitude for him being born on that day, that he would fast in obedience or in worship to Allah SWT.

2:01 – 4:52 Combining intentions for multiple voluntary good deeds 

So in this narration the Prophet SAW fasted all of these days. There’s another narration from Aisha (ra) that the Prophet SAW did not fast all of the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah.

The way that the scholars reconcile these two is that the Prophet SAW did not fast all of them but certainly he fasted a lot of them. It was a habit of the messenger SAW to fast not just the ninth of Dhul Hijjah, and not just the day of Arafah. If good deeds are beloved to Allah in these 10 days, then a person should take advantage of the first eight as well, especially when it comes to fasting.

One of the blessings of Allah SWT is that Allah allows us to combine the intentions or that we find the reward in combining intentions for multiple voluntary good deeds. What does that refer to?

So within a voluntary good deed you could have multiple intentions that make the reward more blessed. So the Prophet SAW mentioned two reasons for fasting Mondays, for example. One of them is that the deeds are presented to Allah on that day. The other one is that the Prophet SAW was born on that day. So it was two intentions or two good things combined within the same voluntary good deed.

We also find that we are able to mix intentions for multiple voluntary good deeds that fall upon a day that combines two blessings. For example, with prayer, when you walk into the Masjid you can combine the intention for tahiyyat al-masjid, for the entrance upon the masjid, the two ra’kahs of entering the masjid, as well as for example, the two sunnah ra’kahs of Fajr. You could combine them with two before Dhuhr.

So the point is that you can combine intentions for voluntary good deeds. Hence you have the reward for the two entering upon the masjid as well as the two before fajr.

Likewise when it comes to fasting a person can combine the intention, if for example, within the first nine days you have a Monday or a Thursday, then you could fast one of
those days with the intention of it being the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah as well as a Monday or a Thursday. As a result of that, you would amplify your own reward. And the Prophet SAW said that actions are but by intentions.

So you have the opportunity not just to get the benefit of following the sunnah of the Prophet SAW in fasting, Musa (as) was (also) fasting these days, and the Prophet SAW used to fast a lot of these eight days. So you have the intention of not just fasting one of the first ten of Dhul Hijjah but you also could have the intention of fasting a Monday or Thursday, also in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW, also in hopes that Allah sees your deeds and he’s pleased with you, within those days.

4:53 – 5:19 Which days to fast in Dhul Hijjah

If you’re looking for a few days to fast within these nine and you’re not gonna be able
to fast all of them, and there is not a complete precedence that the Prophet SAW or a solid proof that the Prophet SAW some fasted all nine of them but he certainly fasted some of them, then it could be a good way for us that we choose, for example, a Monday or a Thursday and we make those two days and add another three or four days insha’Allah Ta’ala before the ultimate day of Arafah in which all of us should be fasting bithnillahi Ta’ala.

5:20 – 5:40 Du’a

We ask Allah SWT to accept all of our good deeds, our fasting in these 10 days.
Allahumma ameen.

JazakumAllahu Khairan. Wassalamu Alaikum wa Rahmah Allah wa Barakatu.

Dr. Omar Suleiman

Dr. Omar Suleiman

President | Imam Dr. Omar Suleiman is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at Southern Methodist University.