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Fasting in Sha’baan

Sha’baan is the name of the (eigth) month of the Islamic lunar calendar, 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 it is so called because it sha’aba (branches out or emerges) i.e., it appears between the months of Rajab and Ramadaan.

Many people think that fasting in Rajab is better than fasting in Sha’baan, as Rajab is one of the (Arba’atunn Hurum) Sacred Months, but this is not the case.
Usaamah ibn Zayd (radhiAllahu ‘anhumaa) said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Sha’baan.’ 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.'” [Nasaa’i].

With a little over 20 days left to go for Ramadaan, Sha’baan is is a great month to prepare for Ramadaan. If you still have to make up any qadhaa (missed) fasts of the last Ramadaan, now would be a good time to hasten to keep them before the next Ramadaan arrives. Aa’ishah (radhiAllahu ‘anhaa) says, ‘It used to be that I had days to make up for Ramadaan and I would not be able to do so except in Shabaan.” [Bukhari]

It is not good to delay missed fasts until after the following Ramadaan, except in cases of necessity (such as a valid excuse that continues between the two Ramadaan). According to Imaams Malik, al-Shafi’ee and Ahmad Anybody who is able to make up the missed fasts before the (second) Ramadaan and does not do so has to make them up after the (second) Ramadaan and in addition, he should repent and feed one poor person for each day that was missed. In the madh-hab of Ahnaf, the person should just keep the missed fasts and repent.

Fasting the whole month of Shabaan is Makrooh (disliked) and against the Sunnah of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam). Ibn ‘Abbās (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) did not fast any entire month apart from Ramadaan.” [al-Bukharee] Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) said: “He observed more voluntary fasts in Sha’baan than in any other month, and he used to fast most of Sha’baan.”
It is also prohibited to fast at the end of Sha’baan with the intention of not missing the first days of Ramadaan, except for those who have the habit of fasting regularly and the last day of Sha’baan coincides with a day when the person habitually fasts, those who are bound by vows or have to make up some obligatory fasts. It is reported in Bukhari from Abu Hurayrah (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) 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.” Fasting at the end of Sha’baan is prohibited to maintain distinction between the fardh (obligatory) and nafl (voluntary) fasts. For this same reason, it is also prohibited to fast on the ‘day of doubt.’ A day of doubt is when people are not sure about the start of Ramadaan, because of cloudy weather, or some other reason.

We should make the most of the time we have left of this month. Before we know it, Ramadaan will be here InshaaAllah and we should be spiritually prepared.

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