Someone from Nigeria wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, stating, “I have read in a hadith that one cannot fast on Friday. However, this year, the Day of ‘Arafah will fall on a Friday. Should we observe the fast of Friday on that day?” Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 7 August 2022, provided the following response to this query:
“From the ahadith, it is clear that the Holy Prophetsa prohibited fasting solely on Fridays or solely on Saturdays. (Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitab as-sawm, Bab ma ja’a fi karahiyati sawmi yawmi l-jumu‘ati wahdahu; Bab ma ja’a fi sawmi yawmi s-sabt)
“Hadith scholars have presented various reasons for this. Among these reasons is the fact that Friday is considered a day of Eid for Muslims, and Eid is a day of eating and drinking; hence, one should not fast on the festive day of Eid. Another reason for the prohibition of exclusively singling out Friday for fasting is to prevent Muslims from overexaggerating the outward veneration of this day. This is to ensure that Muslims do not fall into the same excess as the Jews did with their veneration of Saturday (Sabbath), which led them to trial. (Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi bi Sharh Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab as-sawm, Bab ma ja’a fi karahiyati sawmi yawmi l-jumu‘ati wahdahu)
“Furthermore, the reason for prohibiting fasting solely on Saturdays is that Jews observed fasting on this day. Therefore, to distinguish Muslims from the Jews and to avoid resemblance, Muslims were instructed not to fast solely on Saturdays. (Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-sawm, Bab ma ja’a fi sawmi yawmi s-sabt)
“In addition to these injunctions, the Holy Prophetsa emphasised the merit of fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah (9th of Dhul-Hijjah) and the Day of ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram). (Sahih Muslim, Kitab as-siyam, Bab istihbabi siyami thalathati ayyamin min kulli shahrin wa sawmi yawmi ‘arafata wa ‘ashura’a wa l-ithnayni wa l-khamis) However, those present at Hajj are prohibited from fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah. (Sunan ibn Majah, Kitab as-siyam, Bab siyami yawmi ‘arafah)
“In summary, it is prohibited to single out a day for fasting based on one’s own judgement, surpassing the commands of Allah the Almighty and His Messengersa. However, regarding specific days wherein God and His Messengersa have permitted fasting, if a Friday or Saturday falls within those days, there is no issue with fasting solely on a Friday or Saturday.
“Thus, the Day of ‘Arafah and the Day of ‘Ashura’ are those days regarding which the Holy Prophetsa has elaborated on the merits of observing voluntary fasts. Hence, there is no prohibition on observing a fast exclusively on a Friday or solely on a Saturday during these particular days.”