QUESTIONS ON FASTING AND EXTRA WORSHIP IN RAJAB AND SHA`BAN

The "Salafis" try to prevent the people from treating the night of Isra' and Mi`raj on 27 Rajab and the night of mid-Sha`ban (Laylat al-bara'a) as special. They claim that honoring these nights are innovations that must not be allowed. Yet practically all Muslims hold these two nights in high reverence and consider it good, not blameworthy, to celebrate or commemorate them through gathering, feeding the people, reciting Qur'an and Sira, reading hadith, performing supererogatory prayers etc.
"Salafi" literature also abounds with condemnations of those who fast in Rajab. Since pious people in my background fast the three blessed months of Rajab, Sha`ban, and Ramadan in a row as far back as I can remember, and like to offer extra worship and invocation (du`a) on the nights of 27 Rajab and 15 Sha`ban, I wanted to confirm that these are recommended in the fiqh of Ahl al-Sunna, not blameworthy, and what is the evidence for either position?

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It is recommended to fast the months of Rajab and Sha`ban as a nafila or supererogatory worship, with the intention of following the Sunna of the Prophet which has established the merit of this fast. As for extra devotions on certain nights of Rajab and Sha`ban there is grounds for prohibiting them as the "Salafis" try to do now and then, and only the those with deficient understanding or faith would object to increasing remembrance of Allah on such nights as Laylat al-isra' or 15th of Sha`ban.

The following paragraph is a translation of `Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri's chapter entitled "Fasting Rajab, Sha`ban, and the Rest of the Holy Months" in his book al-Fiqh `ala al-madhahib al-arba`a (Islamic law according to the Four Schools):

Fasting the months of Rajab and Sha`ban is recommended (mandub) as agreed upon by three of the Imams, while the Hanbalis differed in that they said fasting Rajab singly is disliked, except if one breaks the fast during it then it is not disliked. Regarding the holy months -- Dhul Qi`da, Dhul Hijja, Muharram, and Rajab -- fasting them is recommended according to three of the Imams, while the Hanafis differed in that they said what is recommended in the Holy months is to fast three days from each of them, which are Thursday, Friday and Saturday.1

Hadiths on Rajab

Commentaries on Fasting Rajab

DHIKRA AL-ISRA' WA AL-MIRAJ:

COMMEMORATING THE PROPHET'S RAPTURE AND ASCENSION TO HIS LORD

(Night of the 27th of Rajab)18

 

The Shaykh of Mecca -- may Allah grant him long life and health -- Sayyid Muhammad `Alawi al-Maliki al-Hasani composed an excellent booklet entitled al-Anwar al-bahiyya min isra' wa mi`raj khayr al-bariyya (The resplendent lights of the rapture and ascension of the Best of creation) in which he says:

I. Introduction

II. The striving of the scholars in organizing the account of isra' and mi`raj into a single version

III. The Collated Hadith of Isra' and Mi`raj

 

The Night of Mid-Sha`ban (laylat al-bara'a) and

the First Day and Night of the First Friday of Rajab

(laylat al-ragha'ib)

 

The Night of Mid-Sha`ban (laylat al-bara'a)

the First Day and Night of the First Friday of Rajab

 

ISTIQBAL SHAHR RAMADAN:

(Welcoming the Month of Ramadan)

 

Anas said that just before the month of Ramadan came the Prophet said: "Glory to Allah! If you knew what you are facing now! If you knew what is coming ahead!" `Umar ibn al-Khattab said: "My father's life be ransom for you, and my mother's! O Prophet of Allah, what is it? Did you receive revelation, or is an enemy coming?" He replied: "No, but the month of Ramadan has come, in which Allah forgives all the people of this Community."

The Prophet also said: "If Allah's servants knew what Ramadan was, they would have wished it lasted for the whole year."

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an is a time of tremendous blessings and the gate of repentance and return to Allah. The Prophet also said: "The month of Ramadan has come to you, a blessed month for the duration of which Allah has prescribed fasting for you. In it the gates of the heaven are open and the gates of Gehenna are shut." Another version adds: "And devils are put in chains."

The Prophet named fasting "the poor-tax of the body" (zakat al-jasad) and he named it "a shield" (junna) from the fire and he named restraint "half of the fast" (al-sabru nisfu al-sawm) and "pure light" (al-sabru diya'). When asked who were the wanderers in the verse:

Those that turn to Allah in repentance;
that serve Him, and praise Him;
that wander in devotion to His cause (al-sa'ihun);
that bow down and prostrate themselves in prayer;
that enjoin good and forbid evil;
and observe the limits set by Allah... (9:112)

the Prophet said: "The wanderers in the cause of Allah are those who fast" (hum al-sa'imun). Thus a true dervish fasts, and many of the great shaykhs said that tasawwuf consists in hunger. The Prophet also said: "There is no conceit in fasting."

The month of Ramadan is a tremendous witness on the Day of judgment, and the Prophet said: "I declare myself clear of them whose prosecutor is Ramadan." It brings immense rewards as he said: "Those who fast the month of Ramadan believing (in Allah and his Messenger) and seeking a reward, all their past sins are forgiven." Another version adds: "and pray (the voluntary night-prayer) in it" and in the end: "he comes out of his sins as on the day his mother gave birth to him."

Every good deed in Ramadan carries more weight that at any other time, particularly giving. Ibn `Abbas said: "The Prophet was the most generous of people, and he was at his most generous in Ramadan," and when Anas asked "What is the best charity (sadaqa)?" the Prophet replied: "A gift in Ramadan (sadaqatun fi ramadan)."

According to the Companion `Ubada ibn al-Samit the Prophet used to say upon entering this month:

Allahumma sallimni li ramadana wa sallim ramadana wa sallimhu minni mutaqabbilan

O Allah, greet me and preserve me for Ramadan; greet and preserve Ramadan; and greet and preserve Ramadan on my behalf, and grant me its acceptance.

The following is a traditional address of welcome recited by our Naqshbandi Shaykhs upon entering Ramadan. May Allah accept the intention of those who fast this month, and forgive us for its sake. May Allah place us in the best company of His creation in this month, and reform us, supply us, and forgive us for their sake.

Ramadan Welcome Recitation-click here

The great Indian poet Iqbal said about fasting:

Fasting six days of Shawwal

As-Sunna Foundation of America