Fasting a day along with the Day of `Arafah

Q 1: May we, in our country, observe Sawm (fast) for two days as a precaution to be sure of observing Sawm on the Day of `Arafah (9th of Dhul-Hijjah)? Radio broadcasts tell us that tomorrow is the Day of `Arafah, while it coincides with the 8th of Dhul-Hijjah according to our calendar.

A: The Day of `Arafah is the day when pilgrims stand in `Arafah (performing one of the rituals of Hajj). Observing Sawm on this day is permissible except for a person who is actually performing Hajj. Thus, if you like, you may observe Sawm on this day. However, it is unobjectionable to observe Sawm on the day preceding it. Moreover, it will be good to observe Sawm on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah. In fact, they are honorable days in which observing Sawm is recommendable as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah)." Then some companions of the Prophet said, "Not even Jihad?" He replied, "Not even Jihad, except that of a man (Part No. 10; Page No. 394) who does it by putting himself and his property in danger (for Allah's sake) and does not return with either of those things." (Recorded by Al-Bukhari.) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.