Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Asalamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah, insha’Allah Sha’ban will start on August 14th according to Islamicfinder.com so its coming up fast!!
The Month of Sha’bân
Sha’bân is the name of the (eighth) month, and it is so called because in this month the Arabs used to disperse (tasha’aba) 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 sha’aba (branches out or emerges) i.e., it appears between the months of Rajab and Ramadân. The plural forms of the word Sha’bân are Sha’bânât and Sha’âbîn.
Fasting in Sha’bân
‘Â’ishah (may Allâh be pleased with her) said: “The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allâh 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 Allâh fasting for an entire month except in Ramadân, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’bân.” (Narrated by al-Bukhârî, no. 1833; Muslim, no. 1956).
According to a report narrated by Muslim (no. 1957), “He used to fast all of Ramadân , he used to fast all but a little of Sha’bân.”
A group of scholars, including Ibn al-Mubârak and others, thought that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) did not fast all of Sha’bân, but he fasted most of it. This is supported by a report in Sahîh Muslim (no. 1954) narrated from ‘Â’ishah (may Allâh be pleased with her), who said: “I never knew of him – meaning the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) – fasting for any entire month apart from Ramadân.” According to another report also narrated by Muslim (no. 1955), ‘Â’ishah said: “I never saw him fast for any entire month from the time he came to Madînah, apart from Ramadân.”
It was reported in as-Sahîhayn that Ibn ‘Abbâs said: “The Messenger of Allâh (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) did not fast any entire month apart from Ramadân.” (Narrated by al-Bukhârî, no. 1971, and Muslim, no. 1157). Ibn ‘Abbâs regarded it as makrûh to fast any entire month apart from Ramadân. Ibn Hajar (may Allâh be pleased with him) said: “He observed more voluntary fasts in Sha’bân than in any other month, and he used to fast most of Sha’bân.”
Usâmah ibn Zayd (may Allâh be pleased with them both) said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allâh, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Sha’bân.’ He said, ‘That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadân, 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 an-Nasâ’î, see Sahîh al-Targhîb wa’l-Tarhîb, page 425). According to a report narrated by Abû Dâwûd (no. 2076) she said: “The most beloved of months for the Messenger of Allâh (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) to fast in was Sha’bân, and his fasting in Sha’bân was continuous with his fasting in Ramadân.” (Classed as sahîh by al-Albânî, see Sahîh Sunan Abî Dâwûd, 2/461).
Ibn Rajab (may Allâh have mercy on him) said: “Fasting in Sha’bân is better than fasting in the Sacred Months, and the best of voluntary fasts are those that are (observed in the months) closest to Ramadân, before or after. The status of these fasts is like that of as-Sunan al-Rawâtib which are done before and after fard (prayers) and which make up for any shortfall in the number of obligatory prayers. The same applies to fasts observed before and after Ramadân. Just as al-Sunan al-Rawâtib are better than other kinds of voluntary prayers, so fasts observed (in the months) before and after Ramadân are better than fasts at other times.”
The phrase “Sha’bân is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadân” 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 Sha’bân. Many people think that fasting in Rajab is better than fasting in Sha’bân, because Rajab is one of the Sacred Months, but this is not the case.
In the hadîth 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 ‘Ishâ’ with prayer, saying that it was a time when many people were negligent. Another example is the remembrance of Allâh ( 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 nâfil 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 Mas’ûd said: “When you get up in the morning and you are fasting, then apply perfume.” Qatâdah 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 Allâh. Muslim (no. 2984) narrated from the hadîth of Ma’qil ibn Yassâr: “[The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) 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 Islâm are doing something difficult.)
The scholars differed as to the reasons why the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) fasted so much in Sha’bân. 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 Sha’bân. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) began to do some nâfil 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 Ramadân in Sha’bân, so he used to fast because of that. This is the opposite of what was reported from ‘Â’ishah, that she used to delay making up days that she had missed in Ramadân until Sha’bân because she was too busy with the Messenger of Allâh (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) 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 hadîth of Usâmah quoted above, in which it says: “That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadân.” (Narrated by an-Nasâ’î, see Sahîh al-Targhîb wa’l-Tarhîb, p. 425)
When Sha’bân began, if the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) still had some voluntary fasts outstanding that he had not fasted, he would make them up during Sha’bân so that his nâfil fasts would be complete before Ramadân came. Similarly, if he had missed some Sunnah prayers or he had missed Qiyâm al-Layl, he would make it up. ‘Â’ishah used to make the most of this opportunity to make up any obligatory Ramadân fasts that she had missed because of menstruation; during other months she was too busy with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) 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 Ramadân comes. It is not permissible to delay it until after the following Ramadân except in cases of necessity (such as a valid excuse that continues between the two Ramadâns). Whoever is able to make them up before the (second) Ramadân and does not do so, has to make them up after the (second) Ramadân 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 Mâlik, ash-Shâfi’î and Ahmad.
Another benefit of fasting in Sha’bân is that it is a kind of training for the Ramadân fast, in case a person finds it difficult to fast when Ramadân starts; if he fasts in Sha’bân he will have gotten used to fasting and he will feel strong and energetic when Ramadân comes. Sha’bân is like an introduction to Ramadân and it has some things in common with Ramadân, such as fasting, reciting Qur’ân and giving in charity. Salamah ibn Suhayl used to say: “The month of Sha’bân is the month of reciters (of the Qur’ân).” Habîb ibn Abî Thâbit used to say, when Sha’bân came, “This is the month of reciters (of the Qur’ân).” When Sha’bân came, ‘Amr ibn Qays al-Malâ’î used to close his store and devote his time to reading the Qur’ân.
Fasting at the end of Sha’bân
It was reported in as-Sahîhayn from ‘Imrân ibn Husayn (may Allâh be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) said to a man, “Have you fasted anything of the sirâr of this month?” He said, “No.” He said: “If you have not fasted, then fast two days.” According to a report narrated by al-Bukhârî: I think he meant Ramadân. According to a report narrated by Muslim, (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him)) said: “Have you fasted anything of the sirâr of Sha’bân?” (Narrated by al-Bukhârî, 4/2000; Muslim, no. 1161).
There was some dispute as to the meaning of the word sirâr. The most well known view is that it refers to the end of the month. The end of the month is called sirâr because the moon is hidden (istisrâr) at that time. Someone may raise the point that it was reported in as-Sahîhayn from Abû Hurayrah (may Allâh be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) said: “Do not pre-empt Ramadân by one or two days, except for those who have the habit of fasting regularly, in which case they may fast.” (Reported by al-Bukhârî, no 1983; Muslim, no. 1082). How can we reconcile the hadîth which encourages fasting at this time with the hadîth which says not to fast at this time? The answer is: many of the scholars and most of those who commented on this hadîth said: this man to whom the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) addressed this question was known to have the habit of fasting regularly, or else he had made a vow, so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) 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 Sha’bân.
The first scenario is when a person fasts at the end of Sha’bân with the intention of being on the safe side and not missing the first day of Ramadân. 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 Ramadân that he missed or as an act of expiation ( kafârah ), etc. This is permissible according to the majority.
The third scenario is when this is purely a voluntary fast. This is regarded as makrûh by those who said that we should differentiate between Sha’bân and Ramadân 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, Mâlik and those who agreed with him permitted this, but al-Shâfi’î, al-‘Awzâ’î, Ahmad and others made a distinction between cases where it is a fast which a person habitually observes or otherwise.
In conclusion, the hadîth of Abû Hurayrah quoted above is what we should follow according to the majority of scholars. It is makrûh to observe a voluntary fast one or two days before Ramadân for those who do not habitually fast on those days and who have not previously fasted until the end of Sha’bân. It may be asked: why is it makrûh to fast just before Ramadân (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 Ramadân 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”. ‘Ammâr said: whoever fasts on this day has disobeyed Abu’l-Qâsim (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him).
The “day of doubt” is a day when people are not sure whether it is Ramadân 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 ‘ulamâ’ 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 nâfil (supererogatory) fasts, because making a clear distinction between fard actions and nâfil actions is prescribed in Islâm. Hence it is harâm to fast on the day of ‘Eid, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) forbade following an obligatory prayer immediately with another prayer unless they are separated by saying salâm 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 (peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him) saw a man praying at the time when the iqâmah had been given for Fajr, he said to him: “Al-Subh is four rak’ahs.” (Narrated by al-Bukhârî, no. 663).
Some ignorant people may think that the reason why we do not fast just before Ramadân 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 Allâh knows best.
Latâ’if al-Ma’ârif fimâ li Mawâsim al-‘Âm min al-Wazâ’if, by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalî
Al-Ilmân bi shay’in min Ahkâm as-Siyâm , by ‘Abd al-‘Azîz al-Râjihî
And Allâh is the Source of strength