Question # 419: Assalaam allaikum . Is it true that the prophet(saw) forbade us to fast on a Saturday except for compulsory fasting? What should I do on this coming day of arafat which will fall on a Saturday?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: It is makrooh (disliked) to single out Saturday for fasting because the Jews venerate Saturday; however, it is permissible to fast on a Saturday at times, other than Ramadan, if one fasts Friday along with Saturday  or if the Saturday happens to be on one of the following days: Ayyaam al-Beed (the 13th, 14th and 15th of each hijri month), ‘Arafah, ‘Ashoora’, six days of Shawwal, and the nine days of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Lastly, if it is one’s habit to fast every other day, it is not disliked for him to fast on Saturday.

Long Answer: It is makrooh (disliked) to single out Saturday for fasting, because of the report narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah from ‘Abd-Allah ibn Busr, from his sister, that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Do not fast on Saturdays apart from days when you are obliged to fast. If any one of you cannot find anything other than grape stalks or the twigs of a tree, let him chew it (to make sure that he is not fasting).” (Classed as sahih by al-Albani in al-Irwa’; Abu ‘Eesa al-Tirmidhi said: This is a hasan hadith) [However, there is a disagreement among the scholars regarding the soundness of this hadith: Ibn Al Qayyim reported that ‘Imam Malik said that that hadith was wrong.’  Abu Dawud said: ‘This hadith is abrogated’.  Al Nasa’i said: ‘It is a mixed up hadith’.] What is makrooh in this case is for a man to single out Saturday for fasting, because the Jews venerate Saturday.

Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Mughni: Our companions said: It is makrooh to single out Saturday for fasting … what is makrooh is singling out that day. If he fasts another day along with it, then it is not makrooh, because of the hadith of Abu Hurayrah and Juwayriyah. If it coincides with a day that a person regularly fasts, it is not makrooh.

What is meant by the hadith of Abu Hurayrah is the report narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) who said: I heard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) say: “No one of you should fast on Friday, unless he fasts (a day) before it or after it.”

The hadith of Juwayriyah was narrated by al-Bukhari from Juwayriyah bint al-Haarith (رضي الله عنهما), that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) entered upon her on a Friday and she was fasting. He said; “Did you fast yesterday?” She said, “No.” He said: “Do you intend to fast tomorrow?” She said: “No.” He said: “Then break your fast.”

This hadith and the one before it clearly indicate that it is permissible to fast on a Saturday at times other than Ramadan, for the one who fasts the Friday before.

It is proven in al-Sahihayn that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The most beloved of fasting to Allah is the fast of Dawood; he used to fast one day and not the next.” In this case it is bound to happen that he will sometimes fast on a Saturday on its own. So, it may be understood from this that if Saturday coincides with a day that he habitually fasts, such as ‘Arafah or ‘Ashoora’, there is nothing wrong with fasting on that day, even if it is on its own. Al-Haafiz stated in al-Fath that an exception to the prohibition on fasting on Friday is made if a person habitually fasts on a certain day, such as ‘Arafah, and it coincides with Friday. The same applies to Saturday. We have quoted the words of Ibn Qudamah concerning that above.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“It should be noted that different scenarios may apply with regard to fasting on a Saturday.

  1. It may be obligatory, such as observing a Ramadan fast during Ramadan or making it up later on, or observing a fast as expiation (kafarah), or instead of offering a sacrifice when performing Hajj tamattu’, and so on. There is nothing wrong with that so long as he does not single it out deliberately thinking that there is some virtue in that.
  2. If he fasts on the Friday before, there is nothing wrong with it, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said to one of the Mothers of the Believers who was fasting on a Friday: “Did you fast yesterday?” She said: “No.” He said: “Are you going to fast tomorrow?” She said, “No.” He said: “Then break your fast.” The words, “Are you going to fast tomorrow?” indicate that it is permissible to fast Saturday along with Friday.
  3. If it happens to be one of the days when it is prescribed to fast, such as Ayyaam al-Beed (the 13th, 14th and 15th of each hijri month), ‘Arafah, ‘Ashoora’, six days of Shawwal for one who has fasted Ramadan, and the ninth of Dhu’l-Hijjah. There is nothing wrong with that, because he is not fasting because it is Saturday, rather it is because it is one of the days when it is prescribed to fast.
  4. When it happens to be a day when he habitually fasts, such as a person whose habit is to fast alternate days, and the day that he fasts happens to be a Saturday, then there is nothing wrong with it, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said when he forbade fasting one or two days before Ramadan begins: “except a man who (habitually) observes a fast, in which case let him fast.” This is similar.
  5. If he singles it out to observe a voluntary fast for one day only. This is what is forbidden, if the hadith forbidding it is proven to be sahih.”

(Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Rasaa’il al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

(Unless stated otherwise, the above reply is based on various answers provided by Islamqa.info on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam