Amongst the prescribed acts of worship during the month of Sha‘baan is to make great deal of fasting for the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, used to fast in Sha‘baan more than any other month. It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, fasting for a whole month except the month of Ramadan, and did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha‘baan.” [Reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Al-Bukhaari even reported another wording with an addition in which she, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: “He used to fast all of Sha‘baan.”

Imam Muslim has another narration with an extra addition: “He used to fast all of Sha‘baan, and he used to fast all of Sha‘baan apart from a few days.”

Moreover, An-Nasaa’i reported that ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: “The most beloved of months for the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him,  to fast in was Sha‘baan, and his fasting in Sha‘baan was continuous with his fasting in Ramadhaan.”

It was also narrated that she and Umm Salamah, may Allaah be pleased with them, said: “The Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, used to fast all of Sha‘baan apart from a few days; rather, he, peace and blessing be upon him, used to fast it as a whole.” [Reported by At-Tirmithi]

It was narrated that Umm Salamah, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, fast two consecutive months apart from the fact that he used to join Sha‘baan and Ramadhaan.”

 Usaamah ibn Zayd, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: "The Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, used to fast so many days in succession that we would say: ‘He will never break his fast.’ At other times he would go without fasting for so long until we said: ‘He will never again fast,’ except for two days in the week, which he would fast even if they occurred during the times he was not fasting consecutive days. Furthermore, he would not fast in any month as many days as he fasted during Sha‘baan. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah! Sometimes you fast so much it is as if you will never break your fast. At other times you leave fasting for such a long period it is as if you will never again fast [voluntarily], except for two days that you always fast.’ He, peace and blessing be upon him, asked: ‘Which two days are those?’ I replied, ‘Monday and Thursday.’ The Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: ‘Those are two days in which the deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds. I love that my deeds are presented [to Him] while I am fasting'. I said: ‘I do not see you fasting in any month like you fast during Sha‘baan.' The Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: ‘That is a month occurring between Rajab and Ramadhaan that many people neglect. It is a month in which the deeds ascend to the Lord of the Worlds, The All-Mighty and Majestic, and I love for my deeds to ascend while I am fasting.’” [Reported by Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaa'i]

A group of scholars, including Ibn Al-Mubaarak and others, are of the opinion that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, did not fast all of Sha‘baan, but he fasted most of it. This is supported by a report in Saheeh Muslim on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, who said: "I never knew of him – meaning the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, fasting for any entire month apart from Ramadhaan." According to another narration also reported by Muslim, ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: "I never saw him fast for any entire month since he came to Madeenah, apart from Ramadhaan."

In another narration reported by him, she, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: "I do not know that the Prophet of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, recited the whole Quran in one night, or that he ever fasted an entire month apart from Ramadhaan."      

In another narration reported by him, she, may Allaah be pleased with her, said: “I am not aware of the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, observing prayer during the whole of the night till morning, or observing fast for a whole month continuously except that of Ramadhaan.”

It was also narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, never fasted a full month apart from the month of Ramadan.” [Reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with them, used to dislike to fast any entire month apart from Ramadan. Abdur-Razaaq reported in his book from Ibn Jurayj from ‘Ataa’ that Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with them, regarded it as disliked to fast any entire month apart from Ramadan, and used to say: “One can fast it apart from some days.” He also used to prohibit singling out a day with fating or fasting certain days and used to say do not fast certain days.”

If it was said, how did the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, use to single out Sha‘baan with supererogatory fasting while he, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “The best fasting after [i.e., second to] Ramadan is that of [the month of] Muharram…"

Answer: A group of people answered this with weak answers believing that fasting in the month of Al-Muharram and other sacred months better than fasting in the month of Sha‘baan as it was expressed by Shaafi‘i scholars and others. The most preponderant opinion is unlike this i.e. Fasting in Sha’baan is better than fasting in the Sacred Months. This is proved by what At-Tirmithi reported from the Hadeeth of Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, was asked: “Which fasting is better after Ramdhaan.” He, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “Sha‘baan as a way of glorifying Ramadhaan.” [However, there is a doubt in its Isnaad (chain of transmission)]

In Sunan Ibn Maajah: “Usaamah used to fast in the sacred months, however, the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, said to him: ‘Fast in Shawwaal.’”And thus he used to fast in Shawwaal until he dies. [its Isnaad is Mursal (i.e. incompletely transmitted). It was also reported from another route that supports it] This is an evidence regarding preferring fasting in Shawwaal to the fasting of Al-Muharram. It is because it comes after Ramadhaan in much the same way Sha‘baan comes before it. However, fasting in Sha‘baan is better than Shawwaal because the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, fasted it. Accordingly, if fasting in Shawwaal is better than fasting in the sacred months, then fasting in Sha‘baan is even much better in a more appropriate way. It becomes clear that the best supererogatory acts of worship which is done before and after Ramadhaan, 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 As-Sunan Ar-Rawaatib (i.e. supererogatory prayers which are done before and after obligatory prayers) which make up for any shortfall in the number of obligatory prayers. The same applies to fasts observed before and after Ramadhaan. Just as As-Sunan Ar-Rawaatib are better than other kinds of voluntary prayers, so fasts observed (in the months) before and after Ramadhaan are better than fasts at other times. The statement of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him:  “"The best fasting after [i.e., second to] Ramadan is that of [the month of] Muharram…" refers to the general supererogatory of fasting; however, what immediately comes before and after Ramadhaan is much better as it was indicated in the statement of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, in the Hadeeth: “…and the best prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night voluntary prayer.”

He, peace and blessing be upon him, wanted to prefer offering prayer at night to the general supererogatory prayer away from As-Sunan Ar-Rawaatib according to the majority of scholars unlike some Shaafi‘i scholars and Allaah Knows best.

If it was said: “The Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “The best fasting is the fast of Daawood, may Allaah exalt his mention: he used to fast one day and not the next” while he did not do this; rather he, peace and blessing be upon him, used to fast for some successive days and breakfasting for some successive days, fast Sha‘baan, Mondays and Thursdays? It can be answered in the following way: As for the fasting of our dear Prophet Daawood, may Allaah exalt his mention, that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, preferred to all other fasts, he, peace and blessing be upon him, explained it in another Hadeeth that it is the fasting half of the year and if the fasting of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, is collected, it will be half of the year or even much more than it. In addition to the fasting stated above, he, peace and blessing be upon him, used to fast ‘Ashuraa’ and the 9th of Thul-Hijjah; however, he, peace and blessing be upon him, used to separate his fasting and not fasting every other day because he used to make his best to fast the virtuous times. There is no problem at all regarding separating fasting and breaking fasting for more than every other day if one intends to have power to do what is better than fasting such as conveying the message, Jihaad , fulfilling its rights and thus fasting every other day weakens him to do so. Therefore, when the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, was asked in the Hadeeth reported by Muslim from Abu Qataadah, may Allaah be pleased with him, regarding the one fasts one day and breaks fasting for two days? He, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “I wish, I were given strength to observe that.” When ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas, may Allaah be pleased with them, got old used to breakfasting for some days sometimes to have strength to fast and then fast for what he has missed, adhering to the way of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, left him on i.e. fasting half of the year. Thus, the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, got the reward of fasting the half of the year and even more than it through his scattered fasting and got the reward of successive fasting by hoping for that but kept busy to do it with what is more important and better than it. Allaah Knows best.   

From what we have previously stated, it becomes clear for us why the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, used to fast in the month of Sha‘aan more any other month and still there are many other reasons. The Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, stated two of them in the Hadeeth narrated by Usaamah, may Allaah be pleased with him. Firstly, the phrase “Sha‘baan is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadhaan” indicates that because it comes between two important months, the sacred month of Rajab and the month of Ramadhaan, people are preoccupied with those two months and they do not pay attention to Sha‘baan. Many people think that fasting in Rajab is better than fasting in Sha‘baan, because Rajab is one of the Sacred Months, but this is not the case. Ibn Wahb reported from ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, that it was mentioned to the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, that some people fast the month of Rajab? He, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “Where are they from Sha‘baan.” [also reported by Abdur-Razzaaq from Zayd ibn Aslam as Mursal (i.e. incompletely transmitted) Hadeeth]

In the narration 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. Thus, they busy themselves with what is common and miss the benefits of what is not common.

It also indicates that it is commendable to make good use of the times when people tend to be negligent, by doing acts of worship and that is like by Allaah The Almighty. A group of the Salaf (i.e. righteous predecessors), may Allaah have mercy upon them, used to fill the time between Maghrib (sunset) and ‘Ishaa’ (evening) with prayer and used to say, ‘It is an hour of heedlessness.’

Therefore, offering supererogatory prayer at the middle of the night is preferred to other times for people many people neglect remembering Allaah The Almighty in it and the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, said: “…so if you can be one of those who remember Allaah at that time, then do so.” Therefore, the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, wanted to delay offering ‘Ishaa’ prayer to the midnight; however, he did not do so fearing to cause hardship to people. When he, peace and blessing be upon him, came out and said to his companions while they were waiting for ‘Ishaa’ prayer: "None amongst the dwellers of the earth has been waiting for it (`Isha prayer) except you." [Reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

This refers to the great virtue of the one who remembers Allaah The Almighty at the times of heedlessness and in which no one remember Him.

Therefore, there are many Marfoo‘ (i.e. traceable) Hadeeths and Mawqoof (i.e. halted) narrations to the extent that Abu Saalih, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, "Allaah The Almighty marvels at the one who remembers Him in markets." That is because he remembers Allaah The Almighty in a place of heedlessness, among the people of heedlessness.

To be continued in the next episode, Allaah Willing.

 

 

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