Fasting during the month of Sha’baan

Abu Salamah said: “I asked ‘Aa’ishah (radi Allahu anha) about the fasting of the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam), and she said: ‘He used to fast until we thought that he would always fast, then he would not fast until we thought that he would always not fast, but I never saw him fast in any month more than he fasted in Sha’baan. He used to fast all of Sha’baan, and he used to fast all of Sha’baan apart from a few days.’”

[Sahih Muslim]

Commentary:

Praise be to Allaah!

It is mustahabb (recommended) to fast a great deal during the month of Sha’baan (the month we are currently in, which is the month before Ramadan).

The above Hadith indicates that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) used to fast all of Sha’baan apart from a few days.

The apparent meaning of the other Hadith (which we shall mention below) is that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) used to fast the entire month of Sha’baan.

Umm Salamah (radi Allahu anha) said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) fast two consecutive months apart from the fact that he used to join Sha’baan and Ramadan.” [Ahmad (26022), Abu Dawood (2336), al-Nasaa’i (2175) and Ibn Maajah (1648)]

According to a version narrated by Abu Dawood: “The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) never used to fast any complete month in the year, apart from Sha’baan, which he used to join to Ramadan.” [Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2048]

The scholars differed as to the way of reconciling between these ahadith:

Some of them said that this had to do with differences of time – in some years the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) fasted all of Sha’baan, and in other years he fasted all of that month apart from a few days.

Others said that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) never fasted any month in full apart from Ramadan, and they interpreted the Hadith of Umm Salamah (radi Allahu anha) as meaning that he fasted all of Sha’baan apart from a few days. They said that this is possible from a linguistic point of view, that if a man fasts for most of a month it may be said that he fasted the whole month.

Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajr (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: The Hadith of ‘Aa’ishah (radi Allahu anha) explains what was said in the Hadith of Umm Salamah (radi Allahu anha), which says that he did not fast any month of the year in full apart from Sha’baan which he used to join to Ramadan; this means that he used to fast most of it.

Al-Tirmidhi (may Allah have mercy upon him) narrated that Ibn al-Mubaarak (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: It is possible in the language of the Arabs, if a person fasts most of a month, to say that he fasted the whole month…

Al-Teebi (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: It may be interpreted as meaning that he used to fast all of Sha’baan sometimes and most of Sha’baan at other times, lest people think that it is obligatory to fast the entire month, like Ramadan.

Then al-Haafiz Ibn Hajr (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: The former is the correct view – in other words, that the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) did not fast all of Sha’baan.

He quoted as evidence for that the report narrated by ‘Aa’ishah (radi Allahu anha) who said: “I do not know that the Prophet of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) recited the entire Qur’an in one night, or spent an entire night in prayer until dawn, or fasted an entire month apart from Ramadan.” [Sahih Muslim]

And he also quoted the report narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas (radi Allahu anhu) who said: “The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) never fasted any month in full apart from Ramadan.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Al-Sindi (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in his commentary on the Hadith of Umm Salamah (radi Allahu anha) :

“He joined Sha’baan to Ramadan” means that he fasted them both together. The apparent meaning is that he fasted all of Sha’baan… but there are reports which indicate something different. Hence it is to be understood as meaning that he used to fast most of it, so it was as if he fasted all of it and joined it to Ramadan.

And Allah knows best!

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