By Tasnim Nazeer
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
There are unprecedented benefits of keeping voluntary fasts throughout the year, in addition to compulsory fasts during Ramadan. Fasting is known to provide a ‘shield’ for the Muslims and is a blessing for us to guard ourselves from sins. The Prophet (sa) said: “Fasting is a shield.” (Muslim)
We will now explore some of the merits and benefits of keeping voluntary fasts during the year.
Following the Sunnah
Our beloved Prophet (sa) recommended us to fast on certain days. If you fast voluntarily on these days, we will follow the Sunnah and gain the virtues of fasting.
Allah mentions in the Qur’an: “…Obey Allah and the Messenger…” (3:32)
Voluntary fasting is one of the ways in which we obey the Messenger (sa) and follow what he guided us to.
Health benefits of fasting
There are many health benefits of observing regular voluntary fasts. These benefits include reducing oxidating stress and inflammation in the body, maintenance of a healthy body weight, improvement of blood pressure, and removal of waste from cells that can help prevent heart diseases. Fasting also gives rest to the digestive tract. In short, voluntary fasts, just like obligatory fasts, have immense benefits for our overall mental and physical wellbeing.
Benefits of fasting on Mondays and Thursdays
The Prophet’s recommendation was to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: “The Messenger of Allah was keen to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i; graded sound by al-Albâni)
The reason behind that was reported in the following hadith:
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (sa) used to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. It was said: “O Messenger of Allah, why do you fast on Mondays and Thursdays?” He responded: “On Mondays and Thursdays, Allah forgives every Muslim except for the two who have forsaken one another. He says: Leave these two until they reconcile.” (Ibn Majah; graded sound by al-Albani)
Merits of fasting three days a month
The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever fasts for three days each month has fasted for a lifetime. Then he said: Allah has spoken the truth in His Book: Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit.” (an-Nasa’i; graded sound by al-Albani)
Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) used to fast three days of each month: Monday at the beginning of the month, the following Thursday, and then the Thursday after that.” (an-Nasa’i; authenticated by al-Albani)
Benefits of fasting on Ashoora and the Day of Arafah
Muharram is the first month of the Hijri calendar, and it is recommended to fast on the day of Ashoora.
Abu Qatadah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) was asked about fasting on the tenth day of Muharram, and he replied: “It is an expiation for the sins of the preceding year.” (Muslim)
Ashoora falls on the 10th of Muharram, and fasting on this day can help expiate your sins, enabling you to work towards pleasing Allah (swt). Same goes for fasting on the Day of Arafah.
The Day of Arafah falls on the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah. It is the day when pilgrims gather on the plains of Arafah to perform one of the obligatory rites of Hajj. Abu Qatadah al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sa) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafah, and he replied: “Fasting on the Day of Arafah is an expiation for the preceding year and the following year.” (Muslim)
Seek rewards by following the example of Prophet Dawood
The Prophet (sa) cautioned people about keeping voluntary fasts excessively. He mentioned the fasting of Prophet Dawood (as) and encouraged people to follow his example in keeping voluntary fasts.
Abdullah ibn Amr reported that the Prophet (sa) said to him: “The most beloved fasting to Allah was the fasting of (Prophet) Dawood, who used to fast on alternate days. The most beloved prayer to Allah was the prayer of Dawood, who used to sleep for (the first) half of the night and pray for one-third of it and (again) sleep for a sixth of it.” (Bukhari)
Tasnim Nazeer is an award winning Freelance Journalist/Writer and Author who has written for a variety of print and online publications including CNN International, The Muslim News, Your Middle East, Islam Channel and many more. She was awarded The Muslim News Award for Excellence in Media 2013 and is an UN Universal Peace Federation Ambassador for Peace. For more information visit her website at www.tasnimnazeer.com or follow her on Twitter: @tasnimnazeer1
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© IIPH 2015