In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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, 1833; Muslim, 1956)
“He used to fast all of Shabaan, he used to fast all but a little of Shabaan.”(Report narrated by Muslim,1957)
A group of scholars, including Ibn al-Mubaarak and others, thought that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not fast all of Shabaan, but he fasted most of it. This is supported by a report narrated from Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), who said: “I never knew of him – meaning the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) – fasting for any entire month apart from Ramadaan.”(Saheeh Muslim, 1954)
Ibn Abbaas said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not fast any entire month apart from Ramadaan.”(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 1971, and Muslim, no. 1157)
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-Nasaa’i, see Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, page 425)
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.
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 Quraan.
Fasting at the end of Shabaan
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. For the same reason it is also forbidden to fast on the “day of doubt”. Ammaar said: whoever fasts on this day has disobeyed Abul-Qaasim (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
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 ulamaa said 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 (supererogatory) 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 (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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.
Some ignorant 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.
Lataaif al-Ma’aarif fimaa li Mawaasim al-‘Aam min al-Wazaa’if, by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali Al-Ilmaan bi shay’in min Ahkaam al-Siyaam, by ‘Abd al-‘Azeez al-Raajihi
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