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.
In this fatwa:
In his response to the question, Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, the prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author, stated:
It is mustahab (preferable) to fast a great deal in the month of Shaban.
It was narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast the whole of Shaban.
Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “I never saw the Allah’s Messenger fast two consecutive months apart from the fact that he used to join Shaban and Ramadan.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah)
According to a version of this hadith narrated by Abu Dawud, “The Prophet never used to fast any complete month in the year, apart from Shaban, which he used to join to Ramadan.” (Al-Albani, Sahih Abu Dawud)
The apparent meaning of this hadith is that the Prophet used to fast the entire month of Shaban.
But it was also narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast all of Shaban apart from a few days.
Abu Salamah said: “I asked Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) about the fasting of the Allah’s Messenger, 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 Shaban. He used to fast all of Shaban, and he used to fast all of Shaban 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 Shaban, 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-Shaykh Ibn Baz, 15:416)
Others said that the Prophet never fasted any month in full apart from Ramadan, and they interpreted the hadith of Umm Salamah as meaning that he fasted all of Shaban 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-Hafizh Ibn Hajar said,
“The hadith of Aishah 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 Shaban 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…”
Imam At-Taybi said:
“It may be interpreted as meaning that he used to fast all of Shaban sometimes and most of Shaban at other times, lest people think that it is obligatory to fast the entire month, like Ramadan.”
Then al-Hafizh said:
“The former is the correct view – in other words, that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not fast all of Shaban. 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 Shaban to Ramadan” means that he fasted them both together. The apparent meaning is that he fasted all of Shaban. 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 Shaban? The answer is:
“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 Shaban.’ 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)
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.