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Sh’aban is the 8th month of the Hijrah dating system based on lunar counting, that precedes the glorious month of Ramadan. This month is highly significant yet greatly neglected by the adherents of Islam. Its significance and importance is hereby enumerated;
- It is the month where all recorded deeds and action of humans are taking to the Lord of the Worlds.
- It is the month where the Prophet (SAW) observes fasting for most of or all of its days as referenced in authentic narrations.
- It is a preparatory springboard for Ramadan.
How heavy on the scale is your recorded actions and deeds for the past one year? Will these recorded deeds be accepted by Allah? How you sure of admission into paradise by these your recorded deeds?
Usaamah bn Zayd (May Allah be pleased with them both) said to the Prophet (SAW) :“why do you observe voluntary fast most in the month of Sh’aban than others”. He (SAW) replied: “ this month which is between Rajab and Ramadan is mostly neglected, it is a month where records of deeds are taken to the Lord of the Worlds. I dearly love to be in a state of fasting when my records of deeds are taken to the heavens” [related by Abu Dawud, An-nasaaiy and Authenticated by ibn Khuzaimah]
This hadith is a call to enhance and upgrade all categories of our deeds, such as Qiyaamu layl (voluntary midnight solat) and other Nawafil (voluntary prayers), sodaqah (charity), Azkaar (remembrance of Allah(SWT)), fasting. This individual action will undoubtedly make our scale of deeds weigh heavier with good deeds.
Fasting was highly encouraged by the Prophetic action in this month for its virtues and reward on the on hand and for its preparatory role towards Ramadan on the other.
The observance of fasting in Sh’aban is based on varying options and positions of Islamic scholars of Fiqh (Jurisprudence). Their positions and options which were clearly based on the Sunnah (practice and statements) of the Prophet (SAW), are stated below;
- Legality of fasting for the first half of the month and resting for the remaining half before Ramadan.
- Illegality of specifically fasting in the second half of the month.
- Legality of fasting for more than half of the month.
- Legality of fasting for the whole of the month.
Legality of fasting in the First Half
A Muslim is permitted to observe fast in the first half of Sh’aban and rest for the remaining half in preparation for Ramadan. This is consequent on two traditions of the Prophet (SAW).
عن أبي هريرة عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: “إذا انتصف شعبان فلا تصوموا حتى يكون رمضان””.
On the Authourity of Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet who said: “when Sh’aban is halved do not fast till Ramadan” [Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, At-tirmidh, An-nasaaiy, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibaan and Al-haakim. It was authenticated as Sound by At-tirmidh, Ibn Hibaan, Al-haakim, al-tahaawiy and ibn abdul barr and others]
Hence Muslims can observe this voluntary fast for the first half only. They can observe any amount they wish within this range.
Illegality of specifically fasting in the second half
To specifically take the second half for fasting is illegal according to the tradition stated below;
قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : (إِذَا بَقِيَ نِصْفٌ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَلَا تَصُومُوا)
The Prophet (SAW) said: ” if the second half of Sh’aban remains, do not fast”
This tradition makes it illegal to specifically choose to fast only in the second half of Sh’aban. Scholars however declared that there are exceptions to this rule. Those excepted may fast for the second half. These exceptions are hereby outlined;
- Any that is accustomed to fasting on Mondays and Thursdays or on the white days (13th , 14th and 15th of every lunar month).
- Any that had fasted some days in the first half and wish to continue in the second half.
- Any that intends to observe compulsory fast, such as missed fast of Ramadan, pledged fast and fast for atonement.
[ Ibn Hajar Al-aytamiyy may Allah be pleased with Him, in Al-Fatawah Al-Fiqhiyyah Al-Kubrah, Vol 2, No: 82]
Legality of fasting for more than half of the month.
It is permitted to fast more than half of the days of Sh’aban based on the following traditions.
عن أبي هريرة أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: “لا تقدموا رمضان بصوم يوم أو يومين، إلا رجلاً كان يصوم صوماً فليصمه
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said:” do not approach Ramadan with fasting of a day or two, except a man that is accustomed to fasting he should observe his fast” [Related by Bukhaari and Muslim]
عن عائشة: “ما رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم استكمل صيام شهر قط إلا رمضان، وما رأيته في شهر أكثر صياماً منه في شعبان”
On the authority of Aisha “I do not observe the messenger of Allah fasting the whole days of a month beside Ramadan and fasting for most days of a month except Sh’aban” [Related by Bukhaari and Muslim]
ولمسلم في رواية: “كان يصوم شعبان إلا قليلاً
A Tradition related by Muslim has it that “ He (SAW) used to fast the whole of Sh’aban except few days”
These traditions make it legal for any one that wishes to increase his scale of good deeds to fast for most days of Sh’aban.
Legality of fasting for the whole of the month.
Some traditions established that the prophet at some times will fast the whole days of Sh’aban or combine it with fasting of Ramadan.
زاد البخاري في رواية: “كان يصوم شعبان كله”
He (SAW) use to observe fast for the whole of Sh’aban [related by Bukhaari]
رواية للنسائي: “كان أحب الشهور إليه أن يصومه شعبان كان يصله برمضان
The most beloved month he likes observance of fast is Sh’aban, he combines fasting it with Ramadan [related by An-nasaaiy]
عن أم سلمة وعائشة قالتا: “كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يصوم شعبان إلا قليلاً، بل كان يصومه كله” رواه الترمذي.
Um Salamah and Aisha narrated saying:” the messenger of Allah do fast the whole of Sh’aban except some few days or complete fasting of its days” [related by At-tirmidh]
عن أم سلمة قالت: “ما رأيت رسول الله يصوم شهرين متتابعين إلا شعبان ورمضان” رواه أبو داود والنسائي والترمذي وحسنه.
Um Salamah said: “I do not observe the Prophet (SAW) combining fasting of two consecutive months except Sh’aban and Ramadan.” [related by Abu Dawud, An-nasaaiy and At-tirmidh, it was declared as Sound]
Lastly, this month is a preparation period towards Ramadan. All manners of preparations are encouraged in this month before the final welcome to the month of Ramadan. The following Preparations are encourage; medical check-up and status, financial preparation, knowledge preparation, gradual practices of various acts of ebaadah.