Clarification on fasting on the day of Arafah in Sri Lanka

All praise is due to Allah alone. May Allah bestow peace and blessings upon His final Messenger, Muhammed (Peace be Upon Him) and upon the Family of Muhammed (Peace be Upon Him) and his Companions!

It is mentioned in Hadiths that good deeds done during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are more meritorious than doing such deeds on any other day.

It was narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There are no days during which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” They said: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for Jihad taking his wealth with him and does not come back with anything.” (Al-Bukhari, 969)

It is also recorded in books of Hadith like Musnad Ahmed and Sunan Abi Dawood that Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed fasting during the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah.

Furthermore, fasting on the ninth day, which is the day of Arafah, is a meritorious deed.

The following Hadith bears evidence to this:

It was narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked about fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah. He said, “It expiates the sins of the previous year and of the coming year.” (Muslim, 1162)

Gathering on Arafat on the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah (the day prior to Eid-ul-Adha) is an obligatory act performed by the Haj pilgrims. As for those who are not performing the pilgrimage of Haj, fasting on that day is a Sunnah.

Some scholars are of the opinion that fasting of Arafah should be observed in all countries, on the same day the Haj pilgrims gather on Arafat. Even those who determine the Islamic months based on the sighting of local crescent, have differed in opinion regarding the day of fasting.

However, the majority of the scholars are of the opinion that the ninth day when the Haj pilgrims gather on Arafat in Makkah, and the ninth day when fasting is observed in other countries, could be different based on the determining of the beginning of the Lunar month.

Geographically too, it is a known fact that the dawn of a new day could differ due to the different timings in different regions. The beginning of months too, could differ in a similar manner. Therefore, it is impossible that the time when the Haj pilgrims gather on Arafat on the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah, could correspond with the same day in entire countries.

It is also known to everyone that there exists the possibility of sighting the crescent in other regions, a day prior or a day after the sighting of the crescent in Makkah. Hence, the ninth day of Dhul Hijjah in Makkah could correspond with either the eighth or tenth day of Dhul Hijjah in other regions. Accordingly, if fasting was to be observed based on the observance of the day of Arafah in Makkah, that could be for those who sighted the crescent the previous day, the tenth day of Dhul Hijjah, which is the day of Eid, on which fasting is Haram.

It is the opinion of the majority of religious scholars including the Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League, that the Islamic months could differ from country to country according to the differences in sighting the crescent in different regions.

This could be established based on the following:

Allah says in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning):

“So whoever of you sights (the crescent of and attains) the month (of Ramadan), let him observe fasting during that month” [Al-Baqarah 2:185]

This means that those who did not attain the month of Ramadan (in areas where moon-sighting for Ramadan was not declared) need not fast on that day.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Observe fasting on sighting the crescent and break it on sighting it.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim) This Hadith too explains that one need not fast if the crescent is not sighted.

Further, in a Sahih Muslim, Kurayb (may Allah be pleased with him) is narrated to have said that when Umm al-Fadl sent him to Mu’awiyah in Syria, and Kurayb (may Allah be pleased with him) told Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the people had seen the new moon of Ramadan on Friday night in Syria. Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “But we saw it on Saturday night, so we will carry on fasting until we complete thirty days or until we see it.” Kurayb (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Is not the sighting and fasting by Mu’awiyah sufficient for you?” He said: “No; this is what the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) instructed us to do.”

This Hadith too, clearly demonstrates that the dawn of the lunar month could differ from region to region.

Therefore, as the day of Arafah differs from country to country based on the sighting of the crescent, the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah in Sri Lanka is the day of fasting the Sunnah fast of Arafah.

With regard to fasting on the day of Arafah, scholars like Sheikh Ibn Uthaymin (may Allah have mercy on him) and many present day religious scholars, including the Darul Iftaa, Darul Uloom of Deoband and the Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League, are of the similar opinion.

Allah knows best.