Siyam al-Dahr: How to Fast all Your Life


On p. 258, Vol. 1, of ‘Ilal al-Sharai’, and also on p. 92, Vol. 94, of Bihar al-Anwar, Imam al-Rida (as) was asked why an optional fast is recommended for the entire year, and he answered by saying that it served to complement obligatory fast. Then he was asked, "Why is there an optional fast for one day out of each ten days?" He (as) said, "It is so because Allah, the Praised and Exalted One, says, ‘Whoever does a good deed will be rewarded ten-fold' (Surat al-An’am, verse 16); therefore, one who fasts one day in each ten days will be regarded (according to this verse) as though he had fasted the whole time."

Salman al-Farisi, may Allah be pleased with him, used to say, "Fasting three [non-consecutive] days a month equals fasting the whole dahr, the whole time; so, if one can find anything beyond that, let him fast it!" Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as) was asked why a Thursday of the first tenth days is to be fasted, a Thursday of the last, and a Wednesday in-between are the designated days for such fast, and his answer was, "The deeds of each servant of Allah are displayed before Allah on each Thursday; therefore, He wished that it should be done while such servant is observing a fast. "Why another Thursday's fast at the end of the month, then?" the Imam (as) was asked. "It is so because if his deeds for eight days are displayed while he is fasting is more honorable for him and better than if he is not fasting.

The reason for choosing a Wednesday in the second (middle) ten days of the month, according to Imam al-Sadiq (as), is due to the fact that Allah, the most Honored, the most Sublime, created hell on that day; it was on it that He annihilated the early generations; it is a day of continuous bad omen; so, He wished that His servants should shun such a bad omen by fasting that day."

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as) quotes his forefathers (as) saying that the Messenger of Allah (S) once asked his companions, "Which one of you fasts the whole time?" Salman al-Farisi, may Allah have mercy on his soul, said, "I do, O Messenger of Allah!" The Messenger of Allah (S) asked them, "Which one of you says prayers the whole night?" Salman al-Farisi, may Allah have mercy on his soul, again said, "I do, O Messenger of Allah!" The Messenger of Allah (S) asked them, "Which one of you recites the entire text of the Qur'an every day?" Salman al-Farisi, may Allah have mercy on his soul, for the third time said, "I do, O Messenger of Allah!" One of the Prophet's companions became angry and said, "O Messenger of Allah! Salman is a Persian who wants to brag and demonstrate his superiority over us, we men of Quraysh.

You asked us, ‘Which one of you fasts the whole time?' and he said he does so, while he eats most of the time. And you asked us, ‘Which one of you says prayers the entire night?' and he again said he did so, while he sleeps most of the night. And you asked us, ‘Which one of you recites the entire text of the Qur'an every day?' and he for the third time said that he did so, while most of the time he is silent." The Messenger of Allah (S) rebuked that man and said, "Keep your silence, so-and-so, for how far you are from Luqman the Wise! Ask him, and he will explain to you," whereupon that companion turned to Salman and asked him thus: "O father of Abdullah! You have claimed that you fast the whole time, haven't you?"

Salman answered him in the affirmative, so the companion said, "But I have seen you eating most of the time!" Salman said, "It is not what you say! I fast three days in every month, and Allah, the most Exalted, the most Glorified One, says,

‘Whoever does a good deed will be rewarded ten-fold' (Quran Surat al-An’am, 6: 16).

One may wonder whether offering sadaqa (charity) is more rewarding than fasting. It is. On p. 102, Vol. 94, of Bihar al-Anwar, it is stated that Imam Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq (as) was asked once by Ibrahim al-Muthanna, one of his followers, "I have found it very hard for me lately to fast three days a month; so, is there any way I can make it up by, say, giving one dirham by way of charity for each of these days?" The Imam (as) answered, "One dirham's charity is even better than fasting one day."

In the same reference, on p. 106, Salih ibn ‘Uqbah said to Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (as), "May my life be sacrificed for your sake! I have grown to be an old man, and I feel too feeble to observe the fast of these days." The Imam (as) responded by saying, "Then offer sadaqa of one dirham (cash equivalent in value to 3.12 grams of silver) for each day." The Imam noticed that the man did not seem to be fully convinced, so he said to him, "Do you think one dirham for each of these days is too little? Feeding one indigent person is better than the fast of a whole month."


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