Fasting in the Month of Sha’ban
The month of Sha’ban comes between the two major months mentioned in the Qur’an; the month of Rajab, one of the sacred haram months, and the fasting month of Ramadan. The following hadith draws attention to the importance of this blessed month:
Usamah bin Zaid said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Shaban.’ He said: ‘That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting.”‘ [Sunan an-Nasa’i 2357]
According to the statements of Aisha and the other companions, the Prophet (ﷺ) often fasted most of the days of Sha’ban and sometimes fasted the entire month. But his advice was to do good deeds to the best of one’s ability.
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would fast until we said he will never break his fast, and he did not fast until we said he would never fast. I did not see the Prophet (ﷺ) complete an entire month of fasting except for Ramadan, and I did not see him complete more voluntary fasts than in the month of Sha’ban. [Sahih al-Bukhari 1969, Sahih Muslim 1156]
In another narration, Aisha said: “He used to fast all of Sha’ban, until he joined it to Ramadan.” [Sunan Ibn Majah 1649]
Fasting in the Second Half of Sha’ban
The ulama stated that starting to fast in the second half of Sha’ban is makruh for those who don’t already have the habit of fasting regularly. This is to prevent adversely affecting their fast during Ramadan. But fasting after halfway through Sha’ban is permissible for those who are continuing their fast following the first half of Sha’ban, or those who already have the habit of fasting either on Mondays and Thursdays or alternate days as stated in the following hadith:
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “When a half of Sha’ban remains then do not fast.” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 738]
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Do not anticipate Ramadan by fasting one or two days before, except for a man who has a habitual pattern of fasting, in which case let him fast.” [Sunan Ibn Majah 1650]
The night that coincides with the 15th of Sha’ban is called Laylat al-Baraat meaning the “night of forgiveness”. Spending this night of special merit in worship and prayer and observing a fast on the following day is the practice of many great scholars. (In the Islamic lunar calendar, sunset marks the beginning of a new day therefore the day begins with the previous night.)
It was narrated that ‘Ali bin Abu Talib said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘When it is the night of the middle of Sha’ban, spend its night in prayer and observe a fast on that day. For Allah descends at sunset on that night to the lowest heaven and says: ‘Is there no one who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is there no one who will ask Me for provision, that I may provide for him? Is there no one who is afflicted by trouble, that I may relieve him?’ And so on, until dawn comes.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah1388]
On this night, prayers are accepted, sins are forgiven, sustenance is determined, yearly decrees such as important events including births and deaths are written and actions are presented to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى).
Aisha narrated: “I could not find the Messenger of Allah one night. So I left and found him at Al-Baqi. He said: ‘Did you fear that you had been wronged by Allah and His Messenger?’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I thought that you had gone to one of your wives.’ So he said: ‘Indeed Allah, Mighty and Sublime is He, descends to the lowest Heavens during the night of the middle of Sha’ban, to grant forgiveness to more than the number of hairs on the sheep of (Banu) Kalb.'” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi 739]
With His mercy Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) forgives everyone, but those who are committing big sins such as murder, practicing magic and soothsaying, drinking, hating other Muslims, hurting ones parents, continuing adultery, and associating partners with God are not forgiven unless they repent.
It was narrated from Abu Musa al-Ash’ari that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all His creation, apart from the idolater and the Mushahin.” [Sunan Ibn Majah 1390]
How to Spend the Month of Sha’ban
Another hadith narration from the Prophet (ﷺ) is as follows: “Rajab is the month of Allah; Sha’ban is my month; Ramadan is the month of my ummah.” [Kanzu’l-Ummal, XII/310]
The best way to reap the blessings of the month of Sha’ban is to be involved with actions that will draw us closer to the Prophet (ﷺ). Therefore, it is most relevant to say salawats on the Prophet (ﷺ), read the seerah and study hadiths.
Increasing voluntary fasts in this month is in accordance with the sunnah. Voluntary fasts help train the mind, body and soul for the upcoming Ramadan fast so there won’t be any hardship of fasting at the beginning of Ramadan, but rather one can enter this month strong and energetic.
Giving in charity, reciting the Qur’an, making dhikr, increasing acts of ‘ibadah and offering sincere repentance are the beautiful ways of reviving this month as well.
May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) allow us to benefit from the blessings of this holy month and the Laylat al-Baraat.
May He (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) forgive our sins, increase our provision and relieve us of any hardship.
May He (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) bless us in the month of Sha’ban and enable us to reach the month of Ramadan.
Compiled by Filiz Arslan
Feb 2023 / Sha’ban 1444