Sunnah Fasting on Saturdays, Is It Allowed?

There is a hadith, from Ash Shama’ bintu Busr Al Mazini, that the Prophet -peace be upon him- said:

لا تصوموا يومَ السبتِ إلا في ما افتُرِضَ عليكم وإن لم يجدْ أحدُكم إلا لِحَاءَ عنبةٍ أو عودَ شجرةٍ فليمضغْه

Don’t fast on Saturdays! Except the fasting that is mandatory to you. If you don’t find (something to eat) except the roots of the vine or tree trunk, then chew it” (Narrated by Abu Daud no. 2421, At Tirmidhi no. 744, An Nasa’i no. 2762, Ibn Majah no.1726, and others).

Every hadits of this issue was narrated from Tsaur bin Yazid, from Khalid bin Ma’dan, from Abdullah bin Busr As Sulami, from Ash Shama ‘bintu Busr.

The problem with this hadith is the existence of mukhalafah in its sanads. There are 4 paths of the hadits that are at odd between each other.

Therefore, scholars have different opinions regarding to the status of this hadith. Some scholars say that the hadits is dhaif (weak), like Abu Daud and Al Auza’i. An Nasa’i said that this hadith is mudhtarrib. Even Imam Malik said: “This hadith is kadzab (lie)”. But At Tirmidzi says this hadith is hasan (good) and even Al Hakim said: “This hadith is sahih (valid) according to Bukhari-Muslim’s requirements”.

Wallahu a’lam, this hadith is saheeh (valid) because between the four paths of the hadith, one path has narrators that considered as tsiqah (good quality). That is the path of Tsaur bin Yazid, from Khalid bin Ma’dan, from Abdullah bin Busr As Sulami, from Ash Shama ‘ bintu Busr. As for the other paths, there are weaknesses, so that it does not need to be bumped with this authentic path. This is the explanation of Al Albani in Irwaul Ghalil (4/118).

People who hold the opinion that this hadith is dhaif (weak), so no further problem with them, fasting on Saturday is permissible. As for those who hold to the opinion that this hadith is valid, so the next issue is related to the law of fasting on Saturday. It is true that some scholars forbid fasting on Saturday absolutely, whether they are alone or coupled with other days, whether they intend to glorify Saturday or not. Among those who think so is Shaykh Al Albani rahimahullah.

However, the strongest opinion in this matter, fasting on Saturday is permissible when:

  1. The fasting is mandatory, such as Ramadan fasting or nazar fasting, or
  2. Coupled with fasting the day before or after, or
  3. It coincides with other fasting like the fasting of Ashura or the fasting of Ayyamul Bidh, or
  4. Coinciding with the fasting of prophet Daud (doing fasting every two days)

This is the explanation of Shaykh Muhammad bin Salih Al Utsaimin. Shaykh Abdul Aziz bin Baz is also one of those who allows. Among his arguments, the Prophet -peace be upon him- said:

لاَ يَصُومَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ يَوْمَ الجُمُعَةِ إِلاَّ يَوْمًا قَبْلَهُ أَوْ بَعْدَهُ

Don’t fast on Friday, unless he fasts the day before or after it” (Narrated by Bukhari no. 1985). The day after Friday is certainly Saturday. Then the Prophet -peace be upon him- said to Juwairiyah binti Al Harits when she is fasting on Friday:

«أَصُمْتِ أَمْسِ؟»، قَالَتْ: «لاَ»، قَالَ: «تُرِيدِينَ أَنْ تَصُومِي غَدًا؟» قَالَتْ: «لاَ»، قَالَ: «فَأَفْطِرِي»

Did you fast yesterday?” Juwairiyah answered: no. The Prophet said: “Will you fast tomorrow (Saturday)?” He replied: no. The Prophet said: “then stop your fasting” (Narrated by Bukhari). This hadith also allows the fasting on Saturday. Then the Prophet -peace be upon him- also said about fasting of prophet Daud:

صُمْ يَوْمًا وَأَفْطِرْ يَوْمًا

Fasting in a day the don’t fast a day after it” (Narrated by Bukhari no.1978, Muslim no. 1159). Of course if this is done it will certainly meet on Saturday, but the Prophet does not give a note or exception. The Prophet -peace be upon him- also said:

مَنْ صامَ رمضانَ . ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَهُ ستًّا مِنْ شوَّالٍ . كانَ كصيامِ الدَّهْرِ

Whoever is fasting for Ramadan, then followed by fasting 6 days in the month of Shawwal, as if he fasted fast (all year)” (Narrated by Muslim no. 1164).

If someone immediately fasts Shawwal starting on the 2nd of Shawwal as zahir of this hadith, then surely he will meet the Saturday. If not this year, it could be next year or other years. But again, the Prophet gave no notes or exceptions. And many other hadiths that indicate the possibility of fasting on Saturday. Therefore At Tirmidzi said: “The meaning of the prohibition of fasting on Saturday is if someone specializes in fasting on Saturday, because Jews glorify fasting on Saturday” (Jami ’At Tirmidzi, 3/111).

An Nawawi said: “The truest of the opinions of our Muslim scholars that we have described, it is makruh to do fasting on Saturday to fast, if it does not coincide with his Sunnah fasting habits” (Al Majmu ‘, 6/429).

Imam Ahmad said: “As for the fasting on Saturday, there are hadiths from Ash Shama’ (bintu Busr). Yahya bin Sa’id did not want to convey this hadith to me. But I heard it from Abu Ashim. The fasting on Saturday is makruh if it is set aside, if it is coupled with another day it will not makruh” (Al Mughni, 3/166). Wallahu a’lam.

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