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Friday, July 16, 2010

Fasting in Sha'ban

Shabaan is the name of the (eighth) month, and it is so called because in this month the Arabs used to disperse (tashaaba) in search of water, or it was said that they dispersed to carry out raids and forays. Or it was said
that it is so called because it shaaba (branches out or emerges) i.e., it appears between the months of Rajab and Ramadaan. The plural forms of the word Shabaan are Shabaanaat and Shaaabeen.


Fasting in Shabaan


Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger (saw) used to fast until we thought he would never break his fast, and not fast until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allaah fasting for an entire month except in Ramadaan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Shabaan. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 1833; Muslim, no. 1956).

According to a report narrated by Muslim (no. 1957). He used to fast all of Shabaan, he used to fast all but a little of Shabaan.

A group of scholars, including Ibn al-Mubaarak and others, thought that the Prophet (saw) did not fast all of Shabaan, but he fasted most of it. This is supported by a report in Saheeh Muslim (no. 1954) narrated from Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), who said: I never knew of him - meaning the Prophet saw - fasting for any entire month apart from Ramadaan.


According to another report also narrated by Muslim (no. 1955), Aaishah said: I never saw him fast for any entire month from the time he came to Madeenah, apart from Ramadaan.


It was reported in al-Saheehayn that Ibn Abbaas said: The Messenger of Allaah (saw) did not fast any entire month apart from Ramadaan.(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 1971, and Muslim, no. 1157). Ibn Abbaas regarded it as
makrooh to fast any entire month apart from Ramadaan. Ibn Hajar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: He observed more voluntary fasts in Shabaan than in any other month, and he used to fast most of Shabaan.


Usaamah ibn Zayd (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: I said, O Messenger of Allaah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Shabaan. He said, That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadaan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting. (Narrated by al-Nasaai, see Saheeh al-Targheeb wal-Tarheeb, page 425).


According to a report narrated by Abu Dawood (no. 2076) she said: The most beloved of months for the Messenger of Allaah (saws) to fast in was Shabaan, and his fasting in Shabaan was continuous with his fasting in Ramadaan. (Classed as saheeh by al Albaani, see Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 2/461).


Ibn Rajab (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Fasting in Shabaan is better than fasting in the Sacred Months, and the best of voluntary fasts are those that are (observed in the months) closest to Ramadaan, before or after. The status of these fasts is like that of al-Sunan al-Rawaatib which are done before and after fard (prayers) and which make up for any shortfall in the number of obliagtory prayers. The same applies to fasts observed before and after Ramadaan. Just as al-Sunan al-Rawaatib are better than other kinds of voluntary prayers, so fasts observed (in the months) before and after Ramadaan are better than fasts at other times.


The phrase "Shabaan" is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadaan indicates that because it comes between two important months, the Sacred Month of Rajab and the month of fasting, people are preoccupied with those two months and they do not pay attention to Shabaan. Many people think that fasting in Rajab is better than fasting in Shabaan, because Rajab is one of the Sacred Months, but this is not the case.


In the hadeeth quoted above there is an indication that even though certain times, places and people may be commonly thought to posses a particular virtue, there may be others that are better than them.


It also indicates that it is mustahabb to make good use of the times when people tend to be negligent, by doing acts of worship. A group of the Salaf used to fill the time between Maghrib and Isha with prayer, saying that it
was a time when many people were negligent. Another example is the remembrance of Allaah (dhikr) in the marketplace, because this means one is remembering Him in a place where people tend to be negligent and among people who are negligent. There are a number of benefits that come from making good use of times when people are often negligent, and using these times for worship, including the following:


It is more concealing of one's good works, and hiding and concealing naafil actions is better, especially fasting, because it is a secret between a slave and his Lord. Hence it was said that there is no element of showing off in
fasting. One of the Salaf used to fast for years without anybody knowing about it; he would go from his home to the marketplace carrying two loaves of bread, which he would give away in charity, and he would fast. His family thought that he ate the bread, whilst the people in the marketplace thought that he had eaten at home. The Salaf thought it was mustahabb for a person who was fasting to do things that would conceal the fact that he was fasting.


It was reported that Ibn Masood said: When you get up in the morning and you are fasting, then apply perfume. Qutaadah said: It is mustahabb for the [man] who is fasting to apply perfume so that there will be no sign that he is fasting.


By the same token, doing righteous deeds at times when people are distracted and negligent is more difficult. One of the indications of how virtuous a deed is, is how difficult it is: if everyone is doing a certain action, it is easy, but if most people are negligent, this makes it more difficult for those who do remember Allaah. Muslim (no. 2984) narrated from the hadeeth of Maqil ibn Yassaar: [The Prophet (saw) said:] Worship at times of tribulation (fitnah) is like Hijrah to me. (The phrase "worship at times of tribulation" refers to times of upheavals and trials, when people follow their own desires, and those who adhere to Islam are doing something difficult.)


The scholars differed as to the reasons why the Prophet (saw) fasted so much in Shabaan. Their various opinions were as follows:


* That he had been unable to fast three days out of every month because he was travelling or for some other reason, so he made them all up together in Shabaan. When the Prophet (saws) began to do some naafil action, he would persist in it, and if he missed it, he would make it up later.


* It was said that his wives used to make up the days that they missed of Ramadaan in Shabaan, so he used to fast because of that. This is the opposite of what was reported from Aaishah, that she used to delay making up days that she had missed in Ramadaan until Shabaan because she was too busy with the Messenger of Allaah (saw) to fast.


* It was said that it was because this is a month which people do not pay attention to. This is the most correct view, because of the hadeeth of Usaamah quoted above, in which it says: That is a month to which people do
not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadaan. (Narrated by al-Nasaai, see Saheeh al-Targheeb wal-Tarheeb, p. 425)


When Shabaan began, if the Prophet (saw) still had some voluntary fasts outstanding that he had not fasted, he would make them up during Shabaan so that his naafil fasts would be complete before Ramadaan came. Similarly, if he had missed some Sunnah prayers or he had missed Qiyaam al-Layl, he would make it up. Aaishah used to make the most of this opportunity to make up any obligatory Ramadaan fasts that she had missed because of menstruation; during other months she was too busy with the Prophet (saw) to fast. We should also note here that anyone who has any missed fasts to make up has to make them up before the next Ramadaan comes. It is not permissible to delay it until after the following Ramadaan except in cases of necessity (such as a valid excuse that continues between the two Ramadaans). Whoever is able to make them up before the (second) Ramadaan and does not do so, has to make them up after the (second) Ramadaan and in addition to that, he has to repent and to feed one poor person for each day that he missed. This is the view of Maalik, al-Shaafai and Ahmad.


Another benefit of fasting in Shabaan is that it is a kind of training for the Ramadaan fast, in case a person finds it difficult to fast when Ramadaan starts; if he fasts in Shabaan he will have gotten used to fasting and he will feel strong and energetic when Ramadaan comes. Shabaan is like an introduction to Ramadaan and it has some things in common with Ramadaan, such as fasting, reciting Quraan and giving in charity. Salamah ibn Suhayl used to say: The month of Shabaan is the month of reciters (of the Quraan). Habeeb ibn Abi Thaabit used to say, when Shabaan came, This is the month of reciters (of the Quraan). When Shabaan came, Amr ibn Qays al-Malaai used to close his store and devote his time to reading the Quran.





Fasting at the end of Shabaan


It was reported in al-Saheehayn from Imraan ibn Husayn (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (saw) said to a man, Have you fasted anything of the sirar of this month? He said, No. He said: If you have not fasted, then fast two days.

According to a report narrated by al-Bukhaari: I think he meant Ramadaan.
Accordingto a report narrated by Muslim, (the Prophet saw) said: Have you fasted anything of the sirar of Shabaan? (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4/2000; Muslim, no. 1161).

There was some dispute as to the meaning of the word siraar. The most well known view is that it refers to the end of the month. The end of the month is called siraar because the moon is hidden (istisraar) at that time. Someone may raise the point that it was reported in al-Saheehayn from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (saw) said: Do not pre-empt Ramadaan by one or two days, except for those who have the habit of fasting regularly, in which case they may fast. (Reported by al-Bukhaari, no 1983; Muslim, no. 1082).


How can we reconcile the hadeeth which encourages fasting at this time with the hadeeth which says not to fast at this time? The answer is: many of the scholars and most of those who commented on this hadeeth said: this man to whom the Prophet (saw) addressed this question was known to have the habit of fasting regularly, or else he had made a vow, so the Prophet (saw) commanded him to make up his fast. There are also other points of view on this issue. In brief we may say that there are three scenarios for fasting at the end of Shabaan.


The first scenario is when a person fasts at the end of Shaaan with the intention of being on the safe side and not missing the first day of Ramadaan. This is forbidden.


The second scenario is when a person fasts with the intention of fulfilling a vow or of making up a day of Ramadaan that he missed or as an act of expiation (kafaarah), etc. This is permissible according to the majority.


The third scenario is when this is purely a voluntary fast. This is regarded as makrooh by those who said that we should differentiate between Shabaan and Ramadaan by not fasting for a while. Among those who said this was al-Hasan. If it happens to coincide with a day when a person habitually fasts, Maalik and those who agreed with him permitted this, but al-Shaafai, al-Awzaai, Ahmad and others made a distinction between cases where it is a fast which a person habitually observes or otherwise.


In conclusion, the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah quoted above is what we should follow according to the majority of scholars. It is makrooh to observe a voluntary fast one or two days before Ramadaan for those who do not habitually fast on those days and who have not previously fasted until the end of Shabaan. It may be asked: why is it makrooh to fast just before Ramadaan (for those who do not have a prior habit of fasting)? The answer is that there are a number of reasons why this is so, such as:


Firstly: lest extra days be added to the fast of Ramadaan that are not part of it. Fasting on the day of Eid is prohibited for the same reason, lest we fall into the same trap as the People of the Book with regard to fasting, as they added to their fasts because of their own whims and desires.


For the same reason it is also forbidden to fast on the day of doubt. Ammaar said: whoever fasts on this day has disobeyed Abu-Qaasim (saw). The day of doubt is a day when people are not sure whether it is Ramadaan or not, when news of the sighting of the crescent moon comes from one whose word cannot be accepted. As for a cloudy day, some of the ulamaasaid that this was also a day of doubt and said that fasting was not allowed on this day. This is the view of the majority.


Secondly: to make a distinction between fard (obligatory) fasts and naafil (superogatory) fasts, because making a clear distinction between fard actions and naafil actions is prescribed in Islam. Hence it is haraam to fast on the day of Eid, and the Prophet (saw) forbade following an obligatory prayer immediately with another prayer unless they are separated by saying salaam or speaking, especially in the case of the Sunnah prayer performed just before Fajr. It is prescribed to make a clear separation between this prayer and the obligatory prayer. Hence it is prescribed to pray it at home and to lie down afterwards.


When the Prophet (saw) saw a man praying at the time when the iqaamah had been given for Fajr, he said to him: Al-Subh is four rakahs. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 663).


Some people may think that the reason why we do not fast just before Ramadaan is so that we can make the most of eating and have our fill of our desires 
before we have to deny ourselves by fasting. This is an ignorant mistake on the part of those who think this. And Allaah knows best.


And Allaah is the Source of strength


References:
Lataaif al-Maaarif fimaa li Mawaasim al-Aam min al-Wazaaif, by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali
Al-Ilmaan bi shayin min Ahkaam al-Siyaam, by Abdal-Azeez al-Raajihi








It is mustahabb to fast a great deal in the month of Sha’baan. 
It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast the whole of Sha’baan. 
Ahmad (26022), Abu Dawood (2336), al-Nasaa’i (2175) and Ibn Maajah (1648) narrated that Umm Salamah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) fast two consecutive months apart from the fact that he used to join Sha’baan and Ramadaan.” 
According to a version narrated by Abu Dawood: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never used to fast any complete month in the year, apart from Sha’baan, which he used to join to Ramadaan.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2048. 
The apparent meaning of this hadeeth is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast the entire month of Sha’baan. 
But it was also narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast all of Sha’baan apart from a few days. 
Muslim (1156) narrated that Abu Salamah said: “I asked ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) about the fasting of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and she said: ‘He used to fast until we thought that he would always fast, then he would not fast until we thought that he would always not fast, but I never saw him fast in any month more than he fasted in Sha’baan. He used to fast all of Sha’baan, and he used to fast all of Sha’baan apart from a few days.’”
 The scholars differed as to the way of reconciling between these hadeeths. 
Some of them said that this had to do with differences of time – in some years the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) fasted all of Sha’baan, and in other years he fasted all of that month apart from a few days. This was the view favoured by Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him). See Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 15/416. 
Others said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never fasted any month in full apart from Ramadaan, and they interpreted the hadeeth of Umm Salamah as meaning that he fasted all of Sha’baan apart from a few days. They said that this is possible from a linguistic point of view, that if a man fasts for most of a month it may be said that he fasted the whole month. 
Al-Haafiz said: 
The hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah explains what was said in the hadeeth of Umm Salamah, which says that he did fast any month of the year in full apart from Sha’baan which he used to join to Ramadaan; this means that he used to fast most of it. Al-Tirmidhi narrated that Ibn al-Mubaarak said: It is possible in the language of the Arabs, if a person fasts most of a month, to say that he fasted the whole month… 
Al-Teebi said: It may be interpreted as meaning that he used to fast all of Sha’baan sometimes and most of Sha’baan at other times, lest people think that it is obligatory to fast the entire month, like Ramadaan. 
Then al-Haafiz said: The former is the correct view – in other words, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not fast all of Sha’baan. He quoted as evidence for that the report narrated by Muslim (746) from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said: “I do not know that the Prophet of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) recited the entire Qur’aan in one night, or spent an entire night in prayer until dawn, or fasted an entire month apart from Ramadaan.” 
And he quoted the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (1971) and Muslim (1157) from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never fasted any month in full apart from Ramadaan.” 
Al-Sindi said in his commentary on the hadeeth of Umm Salamah: 
“He joined Sha’baan to Ramadaan” means that he fasted them both together. The apparent meaning is that he fasted all of Sha’baan… but there are reports which indicate something different. Hence it is to be understood as meaning that he used to fast most of it, so it was as if he fasted all of it and joined it to Ramadaan. 
If it is asked, what is the reason for fasting a great deal during Sha’baan? The answer is: 
Al-Haafiz said: 
The reason in explained in the report narrated by al-Nasaa’i and Abu Dawood, and classed as saheeh by Ibn Khuzaymah, according to which Usaamah ibn Zayd said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I do not see you fasting in any month more than in Sha’baan.’ He said, ‘That is a month concerning which many people are heedless, between Rajab and Ramadaan. It is the month is which people’s deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds, and I would like my deeds to be taken up whilst I am fasting.’” Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i, 2221. 
And Allaah knows best.

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