Is fasting Thurs, Fri and Sat in the sacred months equivalent to 700 years of worship?
What is the status of the following narration: “Whoever fasts a Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the sacred months (Rajab, Dhū al-Qaʿdah, Dhū al-Ḥijjah and Muḥarram) will get the reward of 700 fasts.”
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
The narration is not authentic.
This narration has been transmitted in several books; however, the narrations we have come across do not specifically mention 700 fasts. They either mention:
- 700 years of worship (Faḍāʾil al-Awqāt li al-Bayhaqī, 308; Faḍāʾil Shahr Rajab li al-Khallāl, 14; al-Jawāhir al-Mukallalah, p.351; Tārīkh Dimashq, 19:116; Bugyat al-Ṭalab, 9:3889, latter two via Tammām; al-Targīb of Ibn Shāhīn, as cited in Jamʿ al-Jawāmiʿ, 9:397 and Kanz al-ʿUmmāl, 24173) or
- 900 years or worship (Fawāʾid Tammām, 1009; Tārīkh Asbihān, 1:337; Mūḍiḥ Awhām al-Jamʿ, 1:118; al-ʿIlal al-Mutanāhiyah via Ibn Shāhīn, 2:63; al-Ḍuʿafāʾ of Azdī, as cited in Takhrīj al-Iḥyāʾ, p.280), or
- 60 years or worship (al-Muʿjam al-Awsaṭ, as cited in Majmaʿ al-Zawāʾid, 3:191 and al-Jawāhir al-Mukallalah, p.355) or
- 2 years of worship (published version of al-Muʿjam al-Awsaṭ, 1789, also cited in al-Durr al-Manthūr, 4:185; al-Jāmiʿ al-Ṣagīr, 12424 and Kanz al-ʿUmmāl, 24237) or
- 1 year of worship (Tārīkh Wāsiṭ, p.58).
Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī (d. 911/1505) suggests that according to Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar (d. 852/1149) the narration which mentions two years appears to be preferred (al-Ḥāwī, 1:420). ʿAllāmah Ibn Ḥajar al-Makkī (d. 974/1567) suggests that according to Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar, the narration of 60 years is preferred (al-Fatāwā al-Fiqhiyyah, 2:86). It appears that ʿAllāmah Ibn Ḥajar al-Makkī’s source is Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī, therefore, there is an error in either published version.
Either way, Ḥāfiẓ Sakhāwī (d. 902/1497) writes after citing most of the aforementioned sources and wordings of this narration:
وبالجملة فهذا الحديث باطل متنا وتسلسلا، كذا في الجواهر المكللة (ص ٣٥٥) للسخاوي، وأقره أبو المحاسن محمد بن خليل بن إبراهيم القاوقجي الطرابلسي الحنفي في اللؤلؤ المرصوع (ص ١٨٤)۔
“In summary, this ḥadīth is bāṭīl (null/baseless) both the text and its tasalsul (the unique and uniform way in which it is transmitted i.e. each transmitter saying ‘may my ears become deaf if I did not hear this ḥadīth from the transmitter’)” (al-Jawāhir al-Mukallalah, p.355).
Likewise, Imam Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597/1201) does not regard this ḥadīth established (al-ʿIlal al-Mutanāhiyah, 2:64).
Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Hajar (d. 852/1149) has cited the narration of Imam Tammām (d. 414/1023) in Tabyīn al-ʿAjab bimā Warada fī Shahr Rajab (p.30) and mentioned thereafter, “in its chain are weak and unknown narrators”. It appears that Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar does not regard the narration fabricated, however, he has affirmed (p.23) that there is no sound ḥadīth that can be used as evidence for the desirability of the fasts of Rajab or any specific days therein (refer to our earlier answer: Rajab Fasts Ḥadīth Status). This suggests that according to him, the narration is at best extremely weak.
On the other hand, Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī (d. 911/1505) suggests that the isnād (chain) is weak (Jamʿ al-Jawāmiʿ, 9:397). Shaykh ʿAlī al-Muttaqī (d. 975/1567) concurs with this (Kanz al-ʿUmmāl, 24173). Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī suggests in another place that it is “better than a weak narration, close to being ḥasan (agreeable)” (al-Ḥāwī, 1:420). This, however, is questionable and Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī is known for his leniency. The preferred view is that of Ḥāfiẓ Sakhāwī, as indicated by the wording of the narration and the various versions. It is worth noting that ʿAllāmah Ibn Ḥajar al-Makkī (d. 974/1567) appears to attribute the aforementioned quote of Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī to Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar (al-Fatāwā al-Fiqhiyyah, 2:86). Although the source is not mentioned, it is clear that the source is Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī, and whilst Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī’s quote can be a continuation of Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar’s statement mentioned above regarding the wording of the narration, the more likely possibility is that it is Ḥāfiẓ Suyūṭī’s own judgement. Clear evidence for this is what has been mentioned above from Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar’s book.
In conclusion, the ḥadīth is unestablished or at best extremely weak.
Note: The ḥanafī jurist ʿAllāmah Abū Bakr ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaddādī (d. 800/1398) cites the aforementioned ḥadīth with the 700-year wording in al-Sirāj al-Wahhāj (Zahiriyah manuscript, p. 507/a) and suggests that fasting Thursday, Friday and Saturday in these four months is mustaḥab (desirable). The desirability of these fasts is also quoted from al-Sirāj al-Wahhāj in al-Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah (1:201) without the ḥadīth. It is, however, worth noting that earlier ḥanafī jurists have not mentioned the desirability of these fasts. Given that the ḥadīth is unestablished or at best extremely weak, it cannot be relied upon.
Allah knows best
6 Dhū al-Ḥijjah 1441 / 27 July 2020
Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmed and Mufti Muhammad Tahir