What is the status of the fasting on the day of the 15th of Sha’ban. I have read conflicting rulings regarding this. Could you kindly shed some light and clarify this in the light of Hadith?
Although it’s not a proven sunnah, one may observe this nafl (optional) fast in light of the following 10 points:
1. To observe nafl (voluntary) fasts throughout the year is extremely rewarding.
General fast in Sha’ban
2. Sha’ban is a month in which we have been specifically encouraged to observe additional nafl (voluntary) fasts.
Hafiz Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah) says: ‘Since Sha’ban is a prelude to Ramadan, the recital of Quran and the observance of fasts in Sha’ban have been endorsed, just like we do in Ramadan.
(Lataiful Ma’arif, pg.258)
3. Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) would fast excessively in this month; more than in other months.
(Sahih Bukhari, hadith: 1970 & Sahih Muslim)
4. ‘Aishah (radiyallahu’anha) says: The month in which Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) enjoyed fasting most [outside Ramadan] was Sha’ban
(Sunan Nasai, hadith: 2922 & Sunan Abi Dawud, hadith: 2423)
5. When asked about the reason for this, Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) said:
a) ‘That is a month in which people become neglectful as it occurs between [2 sacred months] Rajab and Ramadan.’
(Nasai, hadith: 2678 with a sound chain.)
b) In a narration of Abu Ya’la, Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Allah Ta’ala [orders the angles to] write [copy from the lawh mahfuz] all those souls that will die in the coming year. I like to have my death [written] while I am fasting’
(Musnad Abu Ya’la, hadith: 4911 declared sound (hasan) by ‘Allamah Mundhiri in Targhib, vol.2 pg.117 & slightly weak by others.)
c) In the sound (hasan) narration of Nasai quoted above, (hadith: 2678) Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) also said: ‘It is a month in which the deeds [of man] are raised up to Allah. I love that my deeds be raised while I am fasting’
6. ‘Allamah Munawi (rahimahullah) has specified that the deeds are lifted on the 15th night. (At Taysir; Also see: Su’udul Aqwal wa Raf’ul A’mal of Shaykh ‘Abdullah Sirajuddin, pg.70)
A unique angle
7. Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah) writes: ‘The best optional fasts are those that are observed close to the month of Ramadan; whether before or after (i.e, in Sha’ban or Shawwal). This is just like the optional (what we commonly refer to as sunnah) salats before and after the fard salats. Their virtue is similar to the fard itself. These [salats and fasts] will mend our shortcomings in the fard [salats and fasts]’
(Lataiful Ma’arif, pg.249)
Fasting on the 13th, 14th & 15th of every month
8. We have been encouraged in many a Hadith to observe optional fasts on the 13th, 14th & 15th of every lunar month. These days are labelled as: ‘Ayyamul bid’ (the white days)
(see Targhib, vol.2 pgs.123-124)
9. In addition to this, the following Hadith adds support for fasting on these days specifically in Sha’ban.
Sayyiduna ‘Imran ibn Husayn (radiyallahu’anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) asked him: ‘Have you observed the fast of the middle of Sha’ban?’
When he replied in the negative, Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) instructed him to make up for it after Ramadan.
(Sahih Muslim, hadith: 2737)
The word used in this particular version of the narration is: surrah – سرة – which translates as middle.
Imam Muslim (rahimahullah) has quoted this version of the above Hadith together with the Hadiths that discuss observing fasts on ayyamul bid (the 13th, 14th & 15th).
(For more, see: Sharh Nawawi, hadith: 2737 & Fathul Bari, hadith: 1983)
Some scholars state that this is further supported by the general encouragement of fasting in the middle of every month.
(See Fathul Bari, hadith:1983 & Majma’u Biharil Anwar, vol.3 pg.59-60)
10. When discussing the fast of the 15th of Sha’ban, Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah) writes: ‘We have not been prohibited from observing the fast on the middle day (15th) of Sha’ban. It is in fact part of the ayyamul bid (the 13th, 14th & 15th) which is encouraged every month…’
(Lataiful Ma’arif, pg.261)
In light of the above Hadiths, the ideal would be to fast on the 13th, 14th and 15th of this month (and every other month).
This is an ideal time to at least make an intention of observing these 3 fasts every lunar month.
If one observes the fast of the 15th of Sha’ban only, he should not be stopped. At the same time, the Hadiths on this topic are broad, and not sufficient to label the specific fast of the 15th as sunnah.
1. One should avoid fasting after the 15th of Sha’ban to keep his strength for Ramadan. (Sunan Nasai, hadith: 2923)
2. This year (2014), in our country (South Africa) the 15th of Sha’ban will be on a Saturday. Some people misquote a Hadith that prohibits fasting (nafl) on Saturdays. See here for my response to this.
Although my response in the link is about fasting on ‘Ashura Saturday, it applies to this issue too.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar