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Fasting the Whole Month of Sha`ban

Question and answer details
Muslim
2014/05/30
As-salamu `alaykum. Is it Sunnah to fast the entire month of Sha`ban?
Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid
Answer

Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

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Dear brother, thank you for your good question that shows your interest to know more about Islam and its teachings.

There is a difference among scholars concerning fasting the whole month of Sha`ban. But it is clearly known that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has never fasted a complete month other than Ramadan.

In his response to the question, Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, the prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author, stated,

It is mustahabb (preferable) to fast a great deal in the month of Sha`ban.

It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast the whole of Sha`ban.

It was narrated that Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “I never saw the Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) fast two consecutive months apart from the fact that he used to join Sha`ban and Ramadan.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’I, and Ibn Majah)

According to a version of this hadith narrated by Abu Dawud: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never used to fast any complete month in the year, apart from Sha`ban, which he used to join to Ramadan.” (Al-Albani, Sahih Abu Dawud, 2048)

The apparent meaning of this hadith is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast the entire month of Sha`ban.

But it was also narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast all of Sha`ban apart from a few days.

It was narrated that Abu Salamah said: “I asked ‘A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) about the fasting of the Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), 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 not fast, but I never saw him fast in any month more than he fasted in Sha`ban. He used to fast all of Sha`ban, and he used to fast all of Sha`ban apart from a few days.’” (Muslim)

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

Some of them said that this had to do with differences of time; in some years the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) fasted all of Sha`ban, and in other years he fasted all of that month apart from a few days. This was the view favored by Sheikh Ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him). (See Majmu’ Fatawa ash-Sheikh Ibn Baz, 15/416)

Others said that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never fasted any month in full apart from Ramadan, and they interpreted the hadith of Umm Salamah as meaning that he fasted all of Sha`ban 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-Hafiz said:

"The hadith of ‘A’ishah explains what was said in the hadith of Umm Salamah, which says that he did not fast any month of the year in full apart from Sha`ban which he used to join to Ramadan; this means that he used to fast most of it. At-Tirmidhi narrated that Ibn Al-Mubarak 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…"

At-Tibi said:

It may be interpreted as meaning that he used to fast all of Sha`ban sometimes and most of Sha`ban at other times, lest people think that it is obligatory to fast the entire month, like Ramadan.

Then al-Hafiz said:

"The former is the correct view – in other words, that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not fast all of Sha`ban. He quoted as evidence for that the report narrated by Muslim (746) from ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said: “I do not know that the Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) 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.”

He also quoted the report narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never fasted any month in full apart from Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In his commentary on the hadith of Umm Salamah Al-Sindi said:

“He joined Sha`ban to Ramadan” means that he fasted them both together. The apparent meaning is that he fasted all of Sha`ban. 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."

If it is asked, what is the reason for fasting a great deal during Sha`ban? The answer is:

Al-Haafiz said:

The reason is explained in the report narrated by An-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud, and classed as sahih by Ibn Khuzaymah, according to which Usamah Ibn Zayd said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any month more than in Sha`ban.’ He said, ‘That is a month concerning which many people are heedless, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is the month in which people’s deeds are taken up to the Allah, and I would like my deeds to be taken up whilst I am fasting.’” (Al-Albani, Sahih An-Nasa’i, 2221)

Allah Almighty knows best.

Excerpted with slight editorial modification from, islamqa.com


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