Fasting: For forty days

Q205 :In some parts of India, some people observe fasting for forty days. I read in some religious books that it is discouraged. Some people argue, however, that it is perfectly permissible. [Please comment.]

A205 : The Prophet (peace be upon him) left nothing of importance to us in our worship or in matters of faith, generally, without telling us about it. If there were somethings which bring us nearer to Allah, he has certainly pointed them out. When we follow his example, we follow the most perfect man who ever lived. Moreover, he did nothing of his own accord. Everything that he told us about our faith was revealed to him by Allah. His revelations include the Qur'an and the Hadith. The first is expressed in Allah's own words, while the second in his own expression of what Allah has revealed to him. We know that the Prophet did not fast a whole month at any time except the month of Ramadhan. In other months, he fasted on some days and did not fast on others. He also encouraged us to fast on certain days. What the Prophet has taught us is the correct thing and what he has omitted is not part of our faith. We notice that in all his teachings about voluntary fasting, he has not recommended us to fast more than three days consecutively. He recommended to fast on the middle days, i.e. 13, 14 and 15 of lunar months. He also spoke about fasting on Mondays and Thursdays and when he was pressed by one or two of his companions about more voluntary fasting, he said that the maximum was that practiced by Prophet David, which was to fast on alternate days. Taking all his teachings together, I would say that fasting for forty days consecutively is discouraged. Voluntary fasting, on the other hand, is encouraged according to the Prophet's teachings and on the basis named by him.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )