Dhul-Hijjah: Is Fasting the First Nine Days Bidah?

21 July, 2020
Q As-salamu `alaykum. I have been part of the Jami Mosque/Islamic Foundation Jamaat for the past 30 years, with exposure to scholars who have been imams at mosques, and fasting on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah was never mentioned. Is this a new thing? What are the references for performing good deeds (especially fasting) on these days?

Answer

Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- The first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah are an opportunity for every Muslim to gain abundant reward.

2- The rewards of the good deeds performed during these specific days are maximized.

3- It is definitely not a bidah (innovation in religion) to fast on these days.


Responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

Coming to the issue you have raised, I think there is some misunderstanding on your part. It stands to reason to think that it is more than likely that you had failed to take notice of the references made to this topic in the various sermons and lectures at the Jami Mosque, as well as the Islamic Foundation.

The first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah are definitely days of special blessings. We should exert ourselves vigorously in acts of devotion, worship, and virtuous deeds.

Thus, it is definitely not a bidah (innovation in religion) to fast on these days. It is rather a well-established sunnah confirmed by the clear statements and practice of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the pious predecessors.

I served as an imam at both the Jami Mosque and the Islamic Foundation for a number of years. I definitely mentioned the excellence and merits of the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah in my sermons, as well as in various sessions that I conducted there from time to time.

On the merits and ethics of the first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah, Sheikh Kutty adds,

Merits and Ethics of the First 10 Days of Dhul-Hijjah

The first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah have been singled out especially for great merits and excellences like no other days in the Islamic calendar.

Allah in His infinite wisdom and mercy has chosen to dispense infinite spiritual blessing and rewards. Thanks to the high status these days enjoy, Allah has made them worthy of making an oath by them, when He says {By the Daybreak, by the Ten Nights.} (Al-Fajr 89:1-2)

According to some Quran commentators, the ten nights mentioned here are none other than the first ten nights of Dhul-Hijjah. Others, however, hold the view that these nights specifically refer to the last ten nights of Ramadan. Anyhow, no one denies the fact that the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah possess tremendous blessings and excellence.

Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet said, “There are no days on which righteous deeds are beloved to Allah more than [the righteous deeds on] these 10 days.” The people asked, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even jihad for the sake of Allah, except for the case of a man who went out, giving up himself and his wealth for the cause of Allah, and came back with nothing.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet also said; “Fasting on the day of `Arafah expiates the sins of two years, the past year’s and the next year’s.” (Al-Bukhari)

Things to Do and to Avoid during Dhul-Hijjah Days

Based on this and similar traditions, scholars have stressed that the days and nights of Dhul-Hijjah must be set aside for intensive dedication to worship, increased preoccupation with virtuous acts, and contemplation. Virtue and contemplation go hand in hand in Islam.

📚 Read Also: Tips to Reap Rewards of Dhul-Hijjah Days… Even if You’re Non-pilgrim

Works that are especially worthy of mentioning include reading the Quran; making dhikr and duaa; performing supererogatory prayers; sending benedictions on the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him); rendering acts of kindness and compassion; visiting the sick; counseling what is good and forbidding what is wrong; bringing peace, reconciliation, and harmony among people; helping those who are in distress or need, and so on. While all of these works are to be active concerns of all Muslims every single day of their life, we must multiply them in these days more than any other time.

Fasting During Dhul-Hijjah Days

Fasting is especially mentioned as a most meritorious act of devotion to be performed in the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah; this is true of those who are not performing Hajj. According to some traditions, by fasting these days, one enjoys a tremendous opportunity to gain repentance and forgiveness. If, however, a person cannot afford to fast all nine days, he may at least fast the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah; the Day of Arafah.

However, it is also worth mentioning that while fasting the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah is recommended, it is not permissible to fast during the days of the Eid. This prohibition extends also to the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth, for all of these are days of festivities and celebrations.

Finally, it is perhaps worth mentioning that the special merits and excellences of the days of Dhul-Hijjah are in no small measure due to the fact that they coincide with the performance of the greatest rites of Hajj. The foremost days of Hajj are the following: the day of tarwiyah, which falls on Dhul-Hijjah 8 and is the day the pilgrims resume ihram and proceed to Mina; the day of Arafah, which is on the ninth, the day of the great ritual of standing on the plain of Arafah; and the day of nahr, which falls on the tenth and is the day of sacrifice and stoning the Jamarat.

The fact that the pilgrims are gathering in the sacred sites to perform the greatest rites of Hajj is itself a most significant event; it is, therefore, becoming of those who are not pilgrims to show spiritual and emotional solidarity with the pilgrims.

Therefore, as the pilgrims are busy with performing the great rites of Hajj, Muslims wherever they are, are also encouraged to partake something of the great spiritual feast and experience by performing such acts of virtue and devotion as they are capable of.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

About Sheikh Ahmad Kutty
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a Senior Lecturer and an Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada