What Are the Rulings Regarding the Fast of Prophet David?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: What are the legal maxims regarding the fast of Dawood (peace upon him)? How long can you do it?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

It is permissible to fast every other day as long as doing so: (a) does not weaken you from fulfilling your obligations of earning a living with the expected level of competency, supporting your dependents, praying whilst standing and the like, (b) does not entail harm to a spouse, whether physically, emotionally or otherwise, and (c) will not cause any harm to you in the long term.

If the aforementioned conditions are met, it would be a praiseworthy and recommended type of fast. Otherwise, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reminded us that, “Your eye has a right over you. Your body has a right over you. Your spouse has a right over you.” (Muslim) Accordingly, fasting in moderation would be superior. Consider starting with a fast once or twice a week, and then if you want to increase, see if it is reasonably possible.

The Fast of Prophet David

The fast of the Prophet Dawud (Allah bless him and give him peace) was described by the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) as being the “most beloved of fasting to Allah.” (Bukhari) He would fast every other day such that his body did not have time to fully recuperate and settle into a normative schedule.

Of course, that is likely to happen to a certain level eventually, so perhaps this is the reason why the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) didn’t actually do this himself. Rather, he would fast a month “until we thought he has no intention of stopping,” (Tirmidhi, al-Shama’il) and also the opposite.

The idea is that the irregularity maintains a sufficient level of hardship whereby a person can benefit more deeply from his sincere devotion and striving for the sake of Allah. Generally, what needs to be avoided is for worship to become a mere habit, or for one to lose sight of the purpose of the fast.

Important Sunna Fasts and Fasting Restrictions

However, please note that there are other, important, recommended sunna fasts which should not be omitted given the tremendous rewards transmitted regarding them. This includes the day of ‘Ashura (10th Muharram), optimally conjoined with the ninth or the eleventh of the month, and the day of ‘Arafa (9th Dhu’l Hijja). If your habit of fasting every other day would entail an omission of one of these two fasts, they should be given priority.

Moreover, it is impermissible to fast on the two ‘Eids and the three days after ‘Eid al-Adha, irrespective of whether or not you have a fasting habit. After all, fasting is a specific form of worship and if the Sacred Law (shari‘a) isn’t being followed, then one should think carefully about what one’s intentions are. I’d also recommend getting a book on praiseworthy intentions and supplications so that you can magnify the impact of the fast in your life.

(Razi, Tufat al-Muluk; Nahlawi, al-Durar al-Mubaha; Tahatwi, Hashiyat al-Tahtawi ‘ala Maraqi al-Falah; Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih)

Please also see: Fasting: A Comprehensive SeekersGuidance Reader

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan, and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based on his family.

Changing my Intention While Fasting

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: If I begin a make-up fast, then change my intention to a voluntary fast, does that affect the type of fast?

Answer: Jazak Allah Khairan for your question.

Your change of intention, after having started a fast, will not harm or alter your fast, whatsoever. The original intention upon which the fast was started will remain.

“…the fasting person, who is making up an obligatory fast, if after having started the fast, he intends to start a different fast, it would not harm (the original fast).” [Maraqi al-Falah]

Allahu ‘Alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Intention Of Fasting

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question: If I begin a make-up fast, then change my intention to a voluntary fast, does that affect the type of fast?

Answer: Jazak Allah Khairan for your question.

Your change of intention, after having started a fast, will not harm or alter your fast, whatsoever. The original intention upon which the fast was started will remain.

“…the fasting person, who is making up an obligatory fast, if after having started the fast, he intends to start a different fast, it would not harm (the original fast).” [Maraqi al-Falah]

Allahu ‘Alam
Yusuf Weltch

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences.

Tasting Something When Fasting

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Is my fast invalid if I taste something in my mouth?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

Merely getting a taste of something in your mouth does not invalidate your fast. It has to pass down your throat to invalidate the fast. In these situations, you merely tasted something, and that does not affect the fast.

Unavoidable Substances

Steam, smoke from traffic, flour that disperses in the air, and similar substances which are hard to avoid do not invalidate the fast if they are inhaled with a valid excuse. It would be pretty difficult to cook or have a shower without having any of the streams enter one’s mouth or nose, so it is excused. (Shurunbulali, Maraqi al Salah; Ibn Abidin, Radd al Muhtar)

Learn for Confidence

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Indeed [the practice of] the din is eased itself, and no one makes it hard on themselves except that it overwhelms them.” (Bukhari) This is a central hadith, and it clearly shows that following the sunna should make religious practice easy.

One of the ways to make things easy is to learn them properly from an experienced and qualified teacher. This goes a long way in alleviating unnecessary worries. Please register for a course, and actively take part in it to maximize the benefit you get. Registration will open in a week or so.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish, and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Prayer Timings In Places Far From the Equator

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question:

Assalamu alaikum, I’m considering moving to Anchorage, Alaska in a few months and i’m concerned about prayer timings. I know that fatwas have been issued about fasting in such regions, but I’m curious as to how prayer works in general. Have any fatwa in the Hanafi school been issued on this matter?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Praying in the summertimes is a challenging issue for those who live in higher latitudes across the world. Given that Anchorage is situated beyond approximately fifty degrees north of the equator, the days are very long in summer, and consequently, prayer times are very close together through the night.

The first thing which becomes clear is that there is an actual sunset on every day of the year. Accordingly, the sunset prayer (maghrib) would need to be prayed at its proper time, and nothing else will do. This is because the prayer only becomes due when the legal cause (sabab) is realised, namely, the setting of the sun.

Determining ‘Isha and Fajr Times

The difficulty arises in determining the beginning times for both the nightfall (‘isha) and dawn (fajr) prayers. The reason for this is that the normal signs for both are absent, or at least unclear for the latter prayer. The later Hanafi school concluded that the nightfall prayer (‘isha) remains binding even in places where the legal cause isn’t found. This is what Muslims in such latitudes do, and it is the more precautionary position.

Given that is the case, the question is how to calculate the beginning of the time. If the shift to the position of Imam Abu Hanifa’s two companions (sahibayn) isn’t possible or practical, which is clearly the case because of your geographical location, then an alternative would be to follow a dispensation (rukhsa) from another legal school (madhhab) in order to pray without much delay after sunset. Thereafter, if you would like to uphold precaution (ihtiyat), you may make up (qada’) one nightfall prayer (‘isha) after the summer period is over, and when actual times have returned. The reason for this is that the prayer would only enter your dues on the first day of the period after the entry of the dawn prayer (fajr), and thus praying before the legal cause has been met would have been invalid. According to the Hanafis, in the case that the prayer time does not enter, the nightfall prayer (‘isha) would enter your dues after the entry of the dawn prayer (fajr), but determining if this is in fact the case is normally a little more complex.

As for the dawn prayer (fajr), there are two primary methods proposed by senior contemporary scholars: (a) closest day (aqrab al-ayyam), where the last real time for dawn is maintained, and (b) half the night (nisf al-layl), where the night is split into two halves. For all intents and purposes, the difference between these positions is nominal, and both are acceptable to follow. The latter position is arguably more precautionary, but the common Muslim won’t be held responsible on the Final Day for scholarly differences of opinion as the expectation is merely that he follows upright, learned, righteous, respected scholars.

Resting Well and Planning Ahead

Practically, and if we take the summer solstice as an example, you could sleep till midnight, then rise to awaken for the sunset prayer (maghrib). According to my calculations, the second half of the night would begin at approximately 2am. Thus, you’d only be up for about two hours at this time, give or take some, in order to pray these three prayers. This could incidentally be the time you engage in remembrances (adhkar), recitation, supplication or other acts of devotion too. Alternatively, you could pray the sunset (maghrib), and then arise for the dawn prayer (fajr) later and towards the end of its respective time, ensuring to pray the nightfall (‘isha) prayer before it.

So this is certainly something that you should consider well as being able to take care of your religious duties is important. If you have decided to move, then consider researching how the local community deals with this issue, and pray the Prayer of Need (salat al-hajah) regularly, seeking divine facilitation in fulfilling your obligations. I’d also suggest following the sunnas of sleep with greater rigour, taking a midday nap (qaylula), resting well after work, and trying out alternative medicines, if needed, to help find a suitable cure for your condition. Allah Most High says, “And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them.” (Sura al-Talaq 65:2)

If, despite trying, you find much hardship in following all of this, you can consider following a different legal school (madhhab) in this matter, if there is more leeway therein, in order to make your religious life more manageable. Undoubtedly, matters like this are more difficult for some than others, and you aren’t bound by a particular position, as long as, at the end of the day, you follow sound, reliable scholarship correctly by meeting all conditions (shurut) and integrals (arkan).

Finally, there are many nuances to this discussion, and differing possibilities, so the aforementioned is clearly not an exhaustive study of the topic. In the context of community prayers and the mosque, there may be other factors which need to be taken into consideration, so please bear that in mind. For a detailed and comprehensive treatment of this issue, I’d recommend Dr. Asim Yusuf’s “Shedding Light on the Dawn.”

(Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (2.506); Marjani, Nazurat al-Haqq; Tahtawi, Hashiyat al-Durr al-Mukhtar)

Please also see: How Should I Pray in a Country Where the Sun Doesn’t Set? and: How Can I Know the Time for Fajr in a Country Where There Is No Real Darkness? and: Fasting in Extreme Latitudes

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, a small town on the east coast of England. He memorized the Qur’an in his youth and has led congregations in tarawih prayers at home and abroad. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Management from the University of Leicester, serving as the head of the university’s Islamic Society. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Amman, Jordan, to study the Islamic sciences full-time with a variety of distinguished traditional scholars. He is now an experienced teacher himself, answering religious questions regularly, and teaching students of knowledge privately and online. Presently, he is pursuing advanced studies and specialization in Amman where he resides with his wife and children.

Delaying an Expiation Fast

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked if it is sinful to delay an expiation fast for breaking an oath.

Is it sinful to delay fast for an oath expiation?

Yes, it is considered to be religiously sinful to delay the mandatory expiation (kaffara) of a nullified oath (yamin), unless you have a reasonable excuse to do so, such as being too poor to make the payment and too sick to fast.

The general basis with duties is that they are to be taken care of as soon as reasonably possible and without undue delay, except if you have a reasonable excuse to do the contrary. At the very least, you should include the expiation (kaffara), in this case, in a document containing any other unfulfilled duties which you owe to Allah Most High.

Allah Most High said, “And hasten towards forgiveness from your Lord and a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for those mindful of Allah.” (Sura Aal ‘Imran 3:133) The divine injunction here is to rush to that by which you will attain unto forgiveness, such as by fulfilling your duties (wajibat).

Note that if there is an undue delay, you should repent for your error.

(Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar)

Please also see How to Expiate a Broken Oath? and A Reader on Tawba (Repentance).

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Fasting while Using Contraceptive Implant

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked about fasting while using a contraceptive implant.

If one has a contraceptive implant fitted into their arm, are the fasts they keep legally valid?

Yes, your fasts are legally valid whilst you have a contraceptive implant in your arm. This is because there is no entry of a substance into your digestive system from a cavity or orifice of consequence. Such entry is required for the legal nullification of your fast.

Please also see The Complete Guide to Fasting.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Breaking Fast without Knowing the Rules

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat is asked about making up broken fasts.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

I had a question related to how I can make up missed fasts.  I’ve always fasted since I’ve hit puberty.  But due to an increased sexual desire when I was a youth, I often masturbated while fasting and there were times that I ejaculated. At the time I didn’t know that this invalidated the fast.

When I learned that this in fact does invalidate your fast, I began calculating and realized that there are perhaps hundreds of fasts that I might have invalidated unknowingly while under the impression that I was in fact fasting.

My question is, how do I make up these fasts? Am I required to fast 60 days for each missed fast? I certainly will not be able to do that because of the sheer number of fasts that I’ve invalidated. Your guidance on the subject will be much appreciated.

PS: I’m a Hanafi.

I pray you are well.

Making Up Fasts

Masturbating only breaks one’s fast if there is ejaculation. If this happened during a fast in Ramadan one would only have to make up the fast, as is the case with any other fast. No expiation (kaffara) is required. You should make a good guess about the number of fasts which need to be made up, and do so. Winter is perfect for making up fasts due to the shorter days. (Shurunbulali, Maraqi al Falah)

Repenting 

Due to His infinite mercy, Allah has made repentance after a sin a means for us to draw closer to Him, just as He has made good deeds an avenue for that too. In fact, repentance is one of the acts which people who Allah loves has: “Indeed Allah loves the frequent repenters, and He loves those who purify [themselves].” (Sura al-Baqara 2:222) Turn to Him – especially when you are about to break a fast at sunset – and you’ll see wonders.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Why Did the Prophet Fast on the White Days of the Month?

Shaykh Jamir Meah is asked about the significance, virtues, and blessings, of fasting on the white days of each month.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I was wondering why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, fasted on the white days of each month? Was there a specific logic behind these particular days? I’ve heard a lot about how the moon affects our moods and I was wondering if this had anything to do with why these days were chosen?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I hope you’re well insha Allah.

The white days of the month refer to 13th, 14th and 15th of each lunar month, when the moon is at its fullest and most luminous.

Fasting on these days (al ayam al beed) is an established sunna, mentioned in various ahadith such as, “If you fast three days of the month, then fast the 13th, 14th and 15th.” (Tirmidhi), and the words of Ibn Abbas, “The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, did not fail to fast the white days either when at home or on a journey.” (Nasa’i)

Reward of a Lifetime

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, informed us that fasting three days a month yields the rewards of fasting the whole month, “because for every good deed you will have [the reward of] ten like it, so that will be like fasting for a lifetime.” (Bukhari, Muslim) Each day earns 10 rewards, thus htree days equals thirty days reward. Thirty days being the maximum days of a lunar month. If one does this every month for twelve months, then they are rewarded for a whole year, and if they do this every year, then it is as if they fasted every year of their life.

While this reward can be achieved by fasting any three days of the month, the Prophet, blessing and peace be upon him, specifically mentioned this rewards alongside the sunna of fasting on the white days, as if indicating to the optimal combination of the general three days with the three white days, “Fasting three days of each month is fasting for a lifetime, and the shining days of whiteness, the 13th, 14th and 15th.” (Nasa’i)

The Lunar Effect

The word lunacy originates from the Latin “lunaticus,” meaning “of the moon,” and has long been associated with mental health. Aristotle is said to have held that the brain was the “moistest” organ in the body and thereby most susceptible to the influences of the moon, which triggers the tides.

Though scientific evidence is inconclusive, the gravitational hypothesis holds that the moon’s gravitational pull has the power to affect animal feelings and behavior, as animal physiology (particularly bodily fluids) are subject to seasonal, lunar, and circadian rhythms. Moonlight itself may have effects on the human physiology.

Some studies have shown that the lunar cycle has a particular impact on human reproduction, specifically fertility, menstruation, and birth rate. During the full moon, it is said that the lunar effect decreases sleep quality and diminishes melatonin levels. Animal studies reveal that the lunar cycle may affect hormonal changes.

The Lunar Effect and the White Days

Fasting in general certainly has many positive health benefits, among them harmonizing hormonal imbalances and lowering blood pressure and sugar levels. Given that the lunar effect theory maintains that bodily fluids and secretions are subject to increase and decrease during the full moon phase, fasting during these days makes sense.

However, there does not seem to be any textual reference to the wisdom or reasons behind fasting on the white days, therefore, it is not possible to say with any certainty whether the lunar effect is part of the wisdom or consideration behind the sunna of fasting on these days.

All good wishes and warmest salams,

Jamir

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


Invalid Ghusl, Prayer, and the Fast

Shaykh Abdul Rahim Reasat is asked about the conditions of a valid ghusl and if not having a valid ghusl invalidates the fast.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I got my first period when I was around ten years old. I was told that I would have to take a bath once it was over in order to uplift the impurity, but I was never taught the proper steps involved in the ghusl. I simply continued taking a bath for many, many years and thought that I had become pure.

Just recently came to know that what I was doing was completely wrong, and it’s really made me upset knowing that I prayed and fasted many Ramadans in a state of impurity.

My question is that, in addition to making up the missed prayers, do I have to make up all the fasts of Ramadan, too?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray you are well.

Purity is simple.

A valid ghusl is very simple. All a person has to do is rinse the mouth and nose, and make water flow over the rest of the body. There is very little to do to render it invalid.

If you submit another question with the reason why you think your ghusls have been invalid, it may be the case that they were valid – if not in the Hanafi school, then perhaps in another.

If the ghusls were indeed invalid then you would have to repeat all the prayers that were performed invalidly, but not the fasts. Purity is not a condition for the validity of a fast. (Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah).

If they were invalid, see it as it being better for you to realize it in this world, so you can have the reward of compensating for this deficiency, and as a means for you to draw closer to Allah.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.