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Is there a difference in the determination of the day of Arafah which affect the day of which it is sunnah to fast and for people to perform wukuf?



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

The determination of the day of Arafah depends on when is the 1st of Zulhijjah itself. Thus, there will be clear differences for certain places due to the difference of matholi’ which is when the new moon is sighted.

In the issue of moon sighting, there are differing opinions among scholars. Due to this difference of opinion, results in the following opinions:

  • First: Madhab Syafie, Ishak bin Rahawaih, Abdullah bin al-Mubarak and Ibn Abbas RA hold the opinion: Every place of great distance with each other, will follow the ijtihad of each region regarding the matters of moon sighting.

This is also the opinion of Syeikh al-Islam Ibn Taimiyyah Rahimahullah and Syeikh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen Rahimahullah. It is in accordance with the following hadith:

عَنْ كُرَيْبٍ، أَنَّ أُمَّ الْفَضْلِ بِنْتَ الْحَارِثِ، بَعَثَتْهُ إِلَى مُعَاوِيَةَ بِالشَّامِ، قَالَ: فَقَدِمْتُ الشَّامَ، فَقَضَيْتُ حَاجَتَهَا، وَاسْتُهِلَّ عَلَيَّ رَمَضَانُ وَأَنَا بِالشَّامِ، فَرَأَيْتُ الْهِلَالَ لَيْلَةَ الْجُمُعَةِ، ثُمَّ قَدِمْتُ الْمَدِينَةَ فِي آخِرِ الشَّهْرِ، فَسَأَلَنِي عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا، ثُمَّ ذَكَرَ الْهِلَالَ فَقَالَ: مَتَى رَأَيْتُمُ الْهِلَالَ؟ فَقُلْتُ: رَأَيْنَاهُ لَيْلَةَ الْجُمُعَةِ، فَقَالَ: أَنْتَ رَأَيْتَهُ؟ فَقُلْتُ: نَعَمْ، وَرَآهُ النَّاسُ، وَصَامُوا وَصَامَ مُعَاوِيَةُ، فَقَالَ: " لَكِنَّا رَأَيْنَاهُ لَيْلَةَ السَّبْتِ، فَلَا نَزَالُ نَصُومُ حَتَّى نُكْمِلَ ثَلَاثِينَ، أَوْ نَرَاهُ، فَقُلْتُ: أَوَ لَا تَكْتَفِي بِرُؤْيَةِ مُعَاوِيَةَ وَصِيَامِهِ؟ فَقَالَ: لَا، هَكَذَا أَمَرَنَا رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ " وَشَكَّ يَحْيَى بْنُ يَحْيَى فِي نَكْتَفِي أَوْ تَكْتَفِي

“That Umm al-Fadl, daughter of al-Harith, sent him to Mu'aqiyah 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 Mu'awiyah 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 Mu'awiyah and his fasts not sufficient for us? He replied: No. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) commanded us to do so.”

Sahih Muslim (1087)

  • Second: Majority of scholars of Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali including the International Fiqh Council, The Council of Senior Scholars (Saudi Arabia) and Dar Ifta of Egypt are of the opinion: “There is no difference, for regions that have sighted the moon first, then other countries, whether they are close or far from it should follow it. The difference of the moon sighting (Matla’ al-Qamar) is not taken into consideration in this matter.

We are inclined towards the first opinion for the basis of the argument is in accordance with other wajah istidlal (indication) of evidence. It is also in line with a renown Islamic legal maxim:

حُكْمُ الْحـَاكِمِ يَرْفَعُ الخِلَافَ

“The decision of a judge (ruler) removes the khilaf (difference of opinions by scholars).”

This means the decision made by the ruler of a place should be followed and obeyed in order to maintain the peace and showcase the spirit of unity among Muslims in performing worship.

For example, according to the moon sighting performed by The Office of Mufti of Federal Territories on 1st September 2016, it was reported that 1st Zulhijjah falls on 3rd September 2016, which then means 9th Zulhijjah falls on a Sunday of 11th September 2016.

Sunnah Fasting of Arafah Day in Malaysia

According to the above example, then Arafah day (wuquf) which is 9th Zulhijjah falls on a Sunday, 11th September 2016. On the date, it is sunnah for those who are not performing wuquf to fast and those who do will receive a great reward as stated in a hadith of the Prophet PBUH:

صِيَامُ يَوْمِ عَرَفَةَ أَحْتَسِبُ عَلَى اللَّهِ أَنْ يُكَفِّرَ السَّنَةَ الَّتِي قَبْلَهُ وَالسَّنَةَ الَّتِي بَعْدَهُ

“Fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah, I hope from Allah, expiates for the sins of the year before and the year after.”

Sahih Muslim (1162) & Sunan Ibn Majah (1730)

Al-Imam al-Nawawi Rahimahullah in Al-Minhaj Syarh Sahih Muslim (2nd edition, 2/51), commented on the above hadith stating that for those who fast on the day of Arafah, all of his sins for two years are forgiven. And the sins meant here is minor sins and not major sins.

The Issue of Fasting on Sundays

It is permissible to fast on Sundays; without it be accompanied by another fasting on the previous or following day for the fast has a reason, which is in accordance with the encouragement of fasting on Arafah day which just coincidently falls on a Sunday in Malaysia.