Fasting in Shaʿbān
ʿĀʾishah reports, ‘I did not see Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) fast a complete month except Ramaḍān, and I did not see him fast more in (any other month) than Shaʿbān.’ (Bukhārī & Muslim)
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) used to fast in Shaʿbān more than any other month, fasting most of it. He (SAW) explained that it is a month whose virtue people forget. Usāmah b. Zayd asked, ‘Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), I have not seen you fast as much in any month as you have in Shaʿbān.’ He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) replied, “That is a month that people forget between Rajab and Ramaḍān, and it is a month in which the deeds are raised to Allāh, Lord of the worlds, and I want my deeds to be raised to Him while I am fasting.” (Nasāʾī)
Scholars have also mentioned other benefits of fasting in Shaʿbān:
• Acclimatising to fasting such that by the time Ramaḍān arrives, a person can be used to fasting and reap the full benefit of fasting and worship during Ramaḍān with relative ease, tasting the sweetness of fasting in Ramaḍān.
• Fasting in Shaʿbān and Shawwāl is like the regular Sunnah prayers that precede and follow the obligatory prayers and has similar benefits, like making up for shortcomings in the obligatory fasts.
(cf. Ibn Rajab, Laṭāʾif al-Maʿārif)
Abū Bakr b. al-Warrāq al-Balkhī said, ‘Rajab is the month to sow the seeds, Shaʿbān is the month to irrigate the crop, and Ramaḍān is the month to reap the harvest.’ It has similarly been related from him, ‘Rajab is like the wind, Shaʿbān is like the water-laden clouds, and Ramaḍān is like the rain.’
Amongst the blessings of this month is the middle night of Shaʿbān. Muʿādh b. Jabal (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Allāh looks to His creation on the night of the middle of Shaʿbān and forgives all of His creation except for the one who ascribes partners to Him and the one who shows enmity.” (Ibn Ḥibbān). Other ḥadīth mention that our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during during this night.
Imām Aḥmad was asked, ‘Does Allāh descend to the lowest heaven in Shaʿbān as mentioned in the narration?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’
Imām al-Shāfiʿī states, ‘It has reached us that it is said: The supplications are answered on five nights: the night of Friday, The night of al-Aḍḥā, the night of al-Fiṭr, the first night of Rajab and the night of the middle of Shaʿbān…and I prefer everything that I have reported about these nights without it being compulsory.’
Ibn Rajab states, “It is desirable for a believer to free himself up on that night for remembering Allāh, supplicating to him for forgiveness, (asking Allāh) to veil his faults and remove distress. (It is better) to precede that with repentance, since Allāh forgives the one who repents in it.”
As regards the end of this month, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Let not one of you precede Ramaḍān with one or two days of fasting, unless it is part of a man’s fasting routine, in which case he may fast.” (Bukhārī & Muslim)
Finally, we should realise that the view that sustenance, life and death is determined during the night of the 15th is a weak opinion. Ibn Kathīr writes, ‘As for those who say it is the night of the middle of Shaʿbān – as is reported of ʿIkrimah – they have departed from the truth. The Qurʾān clearly stipulates that this happens in Ramaḍān.’ There is also nothing authentic reported praying any special prayers during this night, or for specifically fasting on this day (but there is nothing wrong with fasting it as one the ‘3 White Days’). There is also nothing authentic to prove that the souls of the deceased visit their families during this night.
And Allāh knows best.