Published in  
June 17, 2023

Fasting The Day of Arafah: According to Makkah or Moon?

Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari narrated, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked about fasting on the day of Arafat. He ﷺ replied, “Fasting on the day of Arafat is an expiation for the preceding year and the following year.” [Muslim] So now the big question arises - Should one fast Arafah according to the standing of the hujjaj in Arafah or as per the local lunar calendar? The scholars differ on this matter.

The Day of Arafah is the 9th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah. It is legislated for the one performing Hajj to stand at the mountain of Arafah on this tremendous day. Standing at Arafah is considered the biggest pillar of Hajj as the Prophet ﷺ said, “Hajj is Arafah.”

Allah says:

وَالْيَوْمِ الْمَوْعُودِ وَشَاهِدٍ وَمَشْهُود

And by the Promised Day (Day of Resurrection); And by the witnessing day (Friday), and by the witnessed day (Day of Arafah) [Surah al-Burooj, 2-3]

Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali رحمه الله‎ said: "Upon this basis; if the day of Arafah falls on a Friday – then there is incorporated into that day the witness and the witnessed." [Lataa-if Wal Ma’aarif]

The Day of Arafah is the 9th day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah. It is legislated for the one performing Hajj to stand at the mountain of Arafah on this tremendous day. Standing at Arafah is considered the biggest pillar of Hajj as the Prophet ﷺ said, “Hajj is Arafah.”

It is the day that Allah completed the religion and perfected His favour and was pleased with Islam for us as a religion. A man from the Jews came to Umar ibn al-Khattab رضي الله عنه and said: O Leader of the Believers! We read an Ayah in your Book, if it had descended down on us Jews we would have adopted that day as an Eid. Umar رضي الله عنه said, “Which Ayah?” The Jew said: ﴾Today I have completed your religion for you, perfected My favour upon you and am pleased with al-Islam as a religion for you.﴿ [Surah Al-Ma’idah, 3] Umar said, “Indeed, we know that day and the place where it descended down on the Prophet ﷺ. He was standing on Arafah on the day of Jumuah.”

Abu Qatadah al-Ansari رضي الله عنه narrated, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked about fasting on the day of Arafat. He ﷺ replied, “Fasting on the day of Arafat is an expiation for the preceding year and the following year.” [Muslim].

Imam al-Nawawi رحمه الله‎ said: “Its meaning is that it expiates the sins of the one who fasts it for that of two years, and the intent by that is of the minor sins, and this is similar to the expiation of the errors through performance of wudhu. Thus, if there are no more minor sins, then it is hoped for a lessening from the major sins, and if there are not to be; then through the raising of the ranks.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim]

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله‎ said, “There is two viewpoints: The first is that the Day of Arafah is in a sacred month, (the month) before it is a sacred month; and (the month) after it is a sacred month, in contrast to Ashurah. The second is that fasting the Day of Arafah is from the exclusive characteristics of our legislation, in contrast to Ashura.” [Bada’i’ al-Fawaid]

Imam al-Mannawi رحمه الله‎ said: Allah will safeguard His slave from sinning in the coming year if he fasts on the Day of Arafah. Allah gives reward equal to the sins committed in the following year and this is how fasting on the Day of Arafah nullifies sins. Allah forgives all upcoming (minor) sins in reality and the expiator precedes the expiated. [Fayd al Qadeer]

Imam al-Mardawi رحمه الله‎ states, “It is recommended to fast the ten of Dhul Hijjah, without any disagreement. Of these, the most virtuous is the 9th which is the Day of Arafah, then the 8th which is the Day of Tarwiyah. This is the position of the (Hanbali) Madhab, as affirmed by the Imams.” [Al-Insaf]

Allah emancipates more of His worshippers from the Fire on that day than others. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “There is no day in which Allah emancipates more worshippers from the Fire than the Day of Arafah. [Muslim]

Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali رحمه الله‎ stated: "The Day of Arafah is the Day of Emancipation from the Fire. Allah sets free those who are upon (Mount) Arafah and those (from amongst the) Muslims who are not present (but elsewhere). Thus the following Day is a Day of celebration and festivity for all Muslims; those who participated in Hajj and those who did not; they are all included and will be participants together; freed from the Fire and bestowed Allah’s forgiveness. [Lataif al-Ma’arif]

Imam Abdullah Ibn al-Mubarak رحمه الله‎ said: “I came to Sufyan at-Thawri on the eve of Arafah while he was sitting on his knees and weeping excessively. He turned towards me and I asked him: ‘Who is the worst in condition among this gathering?’ He replied: ‘The one who thinks Allāh will not forgive him’” [Lataif al-Ma’arif]

Allah descends and comes close to them, and then He boasts about the people to the Angels and he says, ‘What are these people seeking.’" Allah boasts about the people of Arafah to the Angels. It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah who said: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Indeed, Allah boasts to the Angels about the people of Arafah. He says, ‘Look at My worshippers with disheveled hair and covered in dust.’” Imam Ibn Abdul-Barr said: "This shows that they are forgiven because the people of mistakes and sins are not boasted about except after repentance and forgiveness." And the descending of Allah to the sky of the dunya is true in a manner that befits His Majesty and Greatness.

Imam Ibn Abdul-Barr رحمه الله‎ said: This shows that they are forgiven because the people of mistakes and sins are not boasted about except after repentance and forgiveness.

The dua on the Day of Arafah is the best supplication. It is narrated on the authority of ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather that the The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The best supplication is the one made on the Day of Arafah. The best supplication ever said by myself and the previous Prophets is:

لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ، وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ، وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

‘There is no deity worthy of worship (in truth) other than Allah, who is alone, having no partner or associate. His is the dominion, and to Him belongs all praise. He has power over all; everything, All-Capable.’” [Tirmidhi]

Imam al-Nawawi رحمه الله‎ advised, "This is the best day in the year for supplicating, thus it befits a person to fully devote his efforts in making Dhikr, Dua and reciting the Quran; and he should supplicate with the different kinds of duas and read the different kinds of Dhikr. He should supplicate for himself, his parents, relatives, teachers, companions, friends, loved ones and any one else who was good to him as well as all the Muslims. And let him be fully cautious from falling short in any of these as this day cannot be made up." [al-Adhkar]

Imam al-Nawawi رحمه الله‎ stated, "It has reached us from Salim Ibn Abdillah Ibn Umar, that he saw a petitioner asking from the people on the day of Arafah, so he said: ‘O feeble one! On this day is other than Allah, The Mighty and Majestic to be asked from?’" [Al-Adhkar]

Imam Ibn al-Humam says that Imam Ibn Uyaynah رحمه الله‎ was asked, "This is praise, so why did Allah’s Messenger ﷺ call it supplication (dua)?’ He replied, ‘Praising the generous one is to supplicate, because He knows your need.’

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, "Shaytan is not considered more abased or more cast out or more contemptible or more angry on any day than on the Day of Arafah. That is only because he sees the descent of the Mercy and Allah's disregard for great wrong actions (by his great forgiveness on this day). That is except from what he was shown on the Day of Badr " [Muwatta Imam Malik]

So now the big question arises - Should one fast Arafah according to the standing of the hujjaj in Arafah or as per the local lunar calendar? The scholars differ on this matter.

As Per Local Lunar Calendar

When it comes to Ramadan, the two Eids, Ashura etc everyone acts according to the moon that is sighted locally. When it comes to salah timings, we act according to our local times. Then why is it that when it comes only to Arafah that we cause confusion? It is impossible for people across the world to all collectively fast only on the day when the hujjaj are standing on the plains of Arafah. For some parts, they cannot fast as it is night time for them while for others it is already time for Eid - this is all happening while the hujjaj are in Arafah. Fasting on the day of Eid is haram by consensus.

Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet(ﷺ) said: "The fast is the day the people fast, the breaking of the fast is the day the people break their fast, and the sacrifice is the day the people sacrifice." [Tirmidhi]

Imam al-Bayhaqi رحمه الله‎ relates by way of Abu Hanifah رحمه الله‎, who said: ‘Ali ibn al-Aqmar related to me, from Masruq, who said: I entered upon ‘Aisha رضي الله عنها on the day of Arafah, so she said: “Serve Masruq with some gruel, and make it more sweet.” Masruq said: Nothing prevented me from fasting this day except that I feared that it may be the day of Sacrifice. So ‘A’ishah said to me: “The day of Sacrifice is when the people sacrifice, and the day of ending the fast is when the people end their fast.”

Imam al-Tirmidhi رحمه الله‎ says after quoting the hadith: “One of the people of knowledge has explained this hadeeth by saying: Its meaning is to fast and end the fast along with the Jama’ah and the majority of people.”

Imam as-San’aani رحمه الله‎ said: “In this (hadith) is a proof that being in agreement with the people is accepted in establishing Eid, and that the individual person who believes that it is the day of Eid – because of the sighting of the moon – then it is obligatory upon him to be in agreement with the people, and that the ruling of the people – concerning the Prayer, breaking the fast, and sacrificing – is binding upon the individual.” [Sublus-Salaam]

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله‎ said: “It is said: In it a refutation of those who say that whosoever knows the positions of the moon due to astronomical calculations, then it is permissible for him to fast and end the fast, even if others do not know. It is also said: That the individual witness who sees the moon, but the qaadee (judge) has not accepted his testimony, then there is no fasting for him, just as there is no fasting for the people.” [Tahdheeb as-Sunan]

Abul-Hasan as-Sindi رحمه الله‎ said: “And its apparent meaning is: That there is no room for individual (opinions) to enter into these affairs, nor to act individually in this. Rather, this affair goes back to the Imam (the Leader of the Muslims) and the Jamaa’ah (united body of Muslims under the Imam). It is obligatory upon the individuals to follow the Imam and the Jama’ah. From this is that is an individual sights the moon, but the qadhi rejects his witness, then the individual has no right in these matters, but rather he must follow the Jama’ah in this.” [Haashiyah ‘ala Ibn Majah]

Coming to the Day of Arafah:

Imam Ibn Qudamah رحمه الله‎ linked the Day of Arafah to 9th Dhul Hijjah as well. He wrote, "As  for  the  day  of  Arafah,  it  is  the  9th  of  DhuI-Hijjah.  It  is  called  this because the Hujjaj stand on Arafah on this day. Regarding its name, it has also been said: Arafah has been called Arafah because Prophet Ibrahim was shown on the day of Tarwiyah that he was to slaughter his son. When he saw this vision, he was unsure, was it a nightmare or from Allah? Thus the 8th  day of Hajj was called ‘The Day of Tarwiyah’. On the second night he had the same vision and he then realized this was from Allah; thus the 9th  day was called the Day of Arafah." [Al-Mughni 4/442]

Abu Hurairah reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: "Observe fast on sighting it (the new moon) and break (fast) on sighting it (the new moon), but if the sky is cloudy for you, then complete the number (of thirty)."  [Muslim]

Shaykh Ibn al-Uthaymeen رحمه الله‎ also said: “…The most correct view is …if the moon rises at the same point for two countries they become like one country, so if it is sighted in one of them that ruling applies to the other. But if the rising points differ, then each country has its own ruling. This is the view favoured by Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah; this is the apparent meaning of the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah and what is implied by analogy. In another place he said, "Those who did not see the moon in their own location have not seen it. Just as people are unanimously agreed that the times for dawn and sunset vary according to their own location, so too the months are also worked out by location, just like the daily timings."

Sheikh al-Islam bin Taymiyyah رحمه الله‎ said: “…a person who learns about the sighting of the moon in good time to be able to utilise it for fasting, for ending his fast, or for sacrifice, he must definitely do so. The texts (of lslam) and the reports about the Salaf point to this. To limit this to a certain distance or country would contradict both the reason and the Islamic law.” [Al-Fatawa]

Hunaydah ibn Khalid narrated from his wife on the authority of one of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) who said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to fast the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, Ashura' and three days of every month, that is, the first Monday (of the month) and Thursday. [Abu Dawud] Other narrations show that this was Umm Salamah رضي الله عنها.

The Prophet ﷺ lived for a decade in Madinah, and we find no evidence of him dispatching messengers, or striving to determine when the hujjaj were standing in Arafah. Even when the Prophet ﷺ himself performed Hajj and stood in Arafah, he did not dispatch messengers to Madinah to inform them about it. Even during the time of the Khulafa Rashidun, there are no reports of them dispatching messengers to other cities like Madinah, Kufah, Basrah, Najd, Bahrain, Yemen, Damascus, etc to inform them of when the hujjaj are standing in Arafah even though they could easily have done that as they would have a weeks time for it. Add to that, for centuries people have fasted according to their lunar calendar and not according to when the hujjaj stand on the plains of Arafah. We have no records that the Ummah strived to find out when the hujjaj are standing in Arafah and they only strived to fast on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah. There is no mention of this in any of the standard books of fiqh across the entire wide spectrum of madhaib as well. It is only today that because of technology that we know of when exactly the hujjaj are standing in Arafah. If we link Arafah to them then we should link our Eid to them as well. It is upon the authorities to sight the moon and declare the ruling accordingly.

Narrated Kuraib: That Umm al-Fadl, daughter of al-Harith, sent him to Mu'awiyah رضي الله عنه in Syria. He said: I came to Syria and performed her work. The moon of Ramadan appeared while I was in Syria. We sighted the moon on the night of Friday. When I came to Median towards the end of the month (of Ramadan), Ibn 'Abbas asked me about the moon. He said: When did you sight the moon ? I said: I sighted it on the night of Friday. He asked: Did you sight it yourself ? I said: Yes, and the people sighted it. They fasted and Muawiyah also fasted. He said: But we sighted it on the night of Saturday. Since then we have been fasting until we complete thirty days or we sight it. Then I said: Are the sighting of the moon by Muawiyah and his fasts not sufficient for us? He replied: No. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) commanded us to do so. [Abu Dawud]

Narrated Abu 'Umair bin Anas bin Malik on the authority of some of his paternal uncles who were among the Companions, that some riders came and testified that they had seen the new moon the previous day. The Prophet (ﷺ) therefore commanded the people to break the fast and go out to their place of prayer in the morning [Ahmad and Abu Dawud]. This hadith is used as proof for fasting according to the global sighting. In this narration, these caravan riders were from the vicinity of Madinah and not from distant lands. The sighting that they reported to the Prophet that they saw was merely a few hours ago the night before and thus the Prophet ordered, according to the narration, to not fast that morning but to do Eid the next day. This shows that sighting was from a caravan journey of merely few hours in the vicinity of Madinah and not another city such as Makkah.

If we take the special status of Arafah to begin after Dhuhr when the hujjaj are standing in Arafah, then people in Malaysia and neighbouring countries would not be able to fast as its already nearly Maghrib for them. The people need to fast on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah as per their lunar calendar.

Look at the headings chosen by the Imams of Hadith in their books:
- Imam Muslim رحمه الله‎ wrote: "Each land has its own sighting of the moon, and if they see the crescent in one land, that does not necessarily apply to regions that are far away from it." [Sahih Muslim]
- Imam al-Tirmidhi رحمه الله‎ wrote: "What Has Been Related About: For The People OF Every Land There Is A Sighting: [Jami`at-Tirmidhi]
- Imam Abu Dawud رحمه الله‎: "When The Crescent Is Sighted In A Land A Night Before It Is Sighted In Other Lands" [Sunan Abi Dawud ]
- Imam an-Nasai رحمه الله‎: "The People Of Different Lands Differing In Sighting (The Moon)" [Sunan an-Nasai]

The Days of Hajj and eventually the Day of Arafah can only be calculated if one has established the beginning of the month of Dhul Hijjah.

This is the predominant position of Ibn Abbas, the Shafi'i madhab, Ishaq Ibn Rahawayh, Abdullah Ibn al-Mubarak, and Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah. In recent times, this was the opinion of Sheikh Ibn al-Uthaymeen, Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Jibreen, Sheikh Ibn Baz, Sheikh Salih al-Fawzan, Sheikh Muhammad Adam al- Ityoobi, Mufti Taqi Usmani, Mufti Habibur Rahman, Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League, All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (Sri Lanka), Muslim Judicial Council (South Africa), Mufti Wilayah (Malaysia) and MUIS Singapore, as well as some of our teachers like Sheikh Dr. Wasiullah Abbas, Sheikh Maqsood al-Hasan Faizi, Sheikh Yasir Jabri, Sheikh Mashhoor al-Suhaibi, Sheikh Sohaib Meer Muhammadi, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Madni, Sheikh Abdul Ghaffar Salafi, Sheikh Abu Zaid Zameer, Sheikh Dr. Meraj Rabbani, Sheikh Badi uz Zaman Madani and many more.

As Per Standing of The Hujjaj

The Day of Arafah and the Day of Eid al-Adha are to be determined by the actual stay of Hujjaj in the plain of Arafah and their slaughtering the animals in Mina.

The Day of Arafah is linked to the place or the plain of Arafah. Arafah is the name of a mountain range, along with the surrounding plains, just east of Makkah. The Day the pilgrims gather on the plains of Arafah is when the non-pilgrims are supposed to fast. The Prophet linked the fasting on this day to the day of Arafah and not the 9th Dhul Hijjah.

The Prophet ﷺ said: “Hajj is Arafah.” [Abu Dawud]

What if the day of Arafah in Makkah clashes with the day of Eid in another country? Everyone who does no have Eid on that day are supposed to fast based on the standing of the hujjaj in Arafah. For those whom it clashes with Eid, then they have missed it. These people should fast the 9th of Dhul Hiijjah which is the 8th of Dhul Hijjah according to Makkah as it is still under the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah. InshaAllah they will be rewarded for their intention.

Imam al-Bhaghawi رحمه الله‎ states that Ibn Abbas, Imam Malik and Imam Shafa’i are of the opinion that Muslims all over the globe are to follow the timings of Hujjaj vis-à-vis Takbeerat of Tashreeq. Imam al-Khazin attributes this opinion also to Ibn Umar. Imam al-Sarkhasi reports that Imams Shafi’i and Abu Yusuf were of the same opinion. This indicates that many established authorities within the four known schools of Islamic Fiqh agree that Muslims all over the globe are to follow the Hujjaj in the Takbeerat al-Tashreeq timings as the original Quranic ruling of Takbeerat al-Tashreeq is primarily addressed to the Hujjaj and through them to the Muslim Ummah. Hence it makes sense to extend the same ruling to establishing the Day of Arafah as well. Also, unlike Eid al Fitr, Eid al-Adha is as much connected with the sacred places as with the sacred timings.

Imam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله‎ narrates that there is a consensus among the Muslim jurists that the acts of Hajj and the month of Eid al-Adha must be observed in unison. The two Eids were not prescribed by the Prophet except that they were directly connected with completion of the acts of Ramadan and Hajj.

Qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi رحمه الله‎ mentions in his book, Ahkamul Quran, while addressing the Tafseer of Ayah 203 in Surah Al-Baqarah: “And mention Allah in specific days… People of different areas are followers to the pilgrims in this issue.”

This is the position of many scholars from the Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali madahib as the predominant position is that of global sighting but that being said, there are differences on this matter internally among them. In recent times, this was the opinion of the International Fiqh Council, The Council of Senior Scholars (Saudi Arabia) and Dar Ifta of Egypt as well as some of our teachers like Sheikh Dr. Ibrahim Nuhu and Sheikh Anisur Rahman Umri Madni


Shekh Ahmad al-Mukhtar al-Shinqiti رحمه الله‎ says,“In recent times, it has happened often, especially in the lands that have not been accustomed to having judgments of the sacred law embrace them, like the lands of the African desert―that the people have differed much about fasting, breaking fasts, and the sacrifice. They did not know that it has been related from ‘Aisha رضي الله عنها that she said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The discontinuance of the fast (fitr) is the day that the people discontinue the fast, and the sacrifice is the day the people sacrifice.” Tirmdhi related it and said: “This is a sound hadith related of a singular origin (hadith hasan gharib). And some of the people of knowledge explained this hadith saying that it means that the discontinuance of the fast and the commencement of the fast are to be done with the group (jama’ah) and the majority of the people…” And in it is proof that a person is to give consideration to being in conformity with the people8 in establishing (the worship).” [Mawahib Al-Jalil min Adillati Khalil]

To summarize, based on weighing the above points - the fast of the day of Arafah is on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah, which is defined for each country according to their sighting of the new moon of Dhul Hijjah. So it may be on Thursday for the people of Makkah, and for others it may be on Wednesday or Saturday. It is absolutely not essential to follow the people of Makkah when there are differences in the sighting of the new moon. All acts of worship and prayer rituals are accorded their own specific timings, and would differ based on the geographical factors and different time zones of the respective countries.

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