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Ibn al-Qayyim On The Fasts
of Arafah & Ashura

Ibn al-Qayyim said,

“Some are deceived by fasting the days of `Ashura and `Arafah, such that some may even say that the fast of `Ashura’ expiates the whole year, and the fast of `Arafah remains as a surplus of reward.

Such people have failed to realize that the fast of Ramadan and the 5 daily prayers are greater and more noble than the fasts of `Arafah and `Ashura, and that [it is understood that] sins are [only] forgiven as long as major sins are avoided. So, [fasting] from one Ramadan to another, [praying] from one Jumu’ah to the next, act in a mutually strengthening manner to achieve forgiveness of minor sins, provided major sins are avoided.

So, how then can an optional fast expiate every major sin of a person while he still persists upon the sins, and has not repented from them? Also, it is possible that these two optional fasts expiate all sins in totality, but that this has certain prerequisites and conditions, such as avoidance of major sins, or that the expiation is achieved in conjunction with other good deeds, much the same as the 5 daily prayers and the fasting of Ramadan expiate minor sins in conjunction with the avoidance of major sins. “If you abjure the major things which you are prohibited from, We shall expiate you your evil deeds” [an-Nisaa : 31]


al-jawaab al-kaafi, p. 24

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