What is your advice for the one that fasts the Ten Days of Dhul Hijah then leaves off attending the circles of knowledge, reviewing, and teaching knowledge with the understanding that these days are for doing righteous actions?
Righteous actions in these ten days are not limited to fasting, it is very important that you understand that. Rather righteous actions are unlimited. From (righteous actions are) voluntary prayers, likewise fasting, reciting the Qur’an, the remembrance of Allah, seeking knowledge and calling to Allah the Most-High. Also, memorizing knowledge based text, and reviewing them. These are from the most virtuous types of righteous actions.
Beneficial knowledge is from the most virtuous types of righteous actions, and it is from the science that benefit others. So if a scholar desires to fast and also teach the people, however his fasting will prevent him from teaching and sitting with the people, to give them understanding in the religion, then we say it is better that he breaks his fast. Because his fasting will not benefit others unlike his teaching the people and giving them understanding, for verily this benefits him and others. He will gain (great rewards) from this as well as them. And for this reason it was made permissible to break the fast in Ramadan in order to save someone who’s drowning or trapped in a burning house, to rush a sick person to the hospital or defending an attack from the enemy and other than these. So it is permissible to break the fast in Ramadan for the purpose of these actions because one seeks (by breaking his fast) the benefit of others.
Hence the one that fasts in these ten days of Dhul Hijah -and actually it is nine days because the tenth is the day of Eid and the consensus of the scholars say it is not permissible to fast the day of Eid- if he is not prevented from giving others their rights in the religion and in the worldly affairs then he has the right to fast. Therefore this person is able to fast and he’s not prevented from praying all his prayers in the masjid in congregation, and he’s not prevented from performing all the duties Allah has prescribed upon him or seeking knowledge. Rather he’s able to study and teach, and he doesn’t become lazy or break his fast. However if his fasting will cause him to be unable to fulfill his responsibility as an employee, or he has some work for people and they request that he finishes it in these days, then we advise him to break his fast and complete the work that he was entrusted by the people.
Likewise if his fasting will make it difficult for him to perform his obligatory duties, such as making all his prayers in congregation, then his fasting would be considered forbidden for him. Because it has prevented him from completing that which is obligatory and this fast is only preferred. So in this case, fasting would not be permissible for him.
Furthermore if this fast will prevent him from fullfiling the rights of the people, for example, he was placed in charge of settling some affairs for some people by the 5th of Dhul Hijah, then he became busy fasting, and as a result, he didn’t complete their affair, it is said that he broke his promise. Hence in this case he is advised to break his fast and fulfill the rights of the people. So what has happened is that righteous actions have been limited (to fasting only) and this is a mistake. The word “righteous actions” is unrestricted. Many different types of actions enter into this general term from those things that are mandatory to those things that are preferred. As fasting these ten days was never confirmed from the actions of the Prophet ﷺ. It has been authenticated on A’isha that she never witnessed the Prophet ﷺ fasting the ten days of Dhul Hijah. However, it is recommended based on the generality of performing righteous actions. As for limiting righteous actions to fasting and looking down on the one that doesn’t fast, thinking that he doesn’t have any righteous actions, then this understanding is incorrect. Perhaps teaching the Muslims their religion, with a pure intention, is more beneficial.
As mentioned previously, if one is able to fast, study, teach, and perform other righteous actions, then we say go ahead and fast. This is good, continue upon these good deeds. As for if this fasting will prevent him from these righteous actions then he has prevented much good for himself. For verily ordering with the good and preventing the evil is from the non-tangible charities (sadaqah). Commanding the good is sadaqah. And forbidding evil is sadaqah. So if you meet the people and you teach them you have given them sadaqah.
And Allah knows best.
Answered by: Shaikh Abu Abdillah Muhammad Ba Jamaal (May Allah preserve him)
Translated by: Abu Yusuf Bilal ibn Howard Robinson