Three reasons why it is disliked to fast one or two days before Ramadan: Ibn Rajab

As it comes in both Saheeh al-Bukhari and Saheeh Muslim, Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

لاَ يَتَقَدَّمَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ رَمَضَانَ بِصَوْمِ يَوْمٍ أَوْ يَوْمَيْنِ، إِلَّا أَنْ يَكُونَ رَجُلٌ كَانَ يَصُومُ صَوْمَهُ، فَلْيَصُمْ ذَلِكَ اليَوْمَ

None of you should fast a day or two before the month of Ramadan unless he has the habit of (optional) fasting, then in that case he can fast that day.

[al-Bukhari #1983, Muslim #1082, Abu Dawood #2335, al-Tirmidhi #684]

In his chapter on the month of Sha’baan, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali offers a long and beneficial discussion regarding the different rulings of fasting during the second half of this month leading up to Ramadan. After providing some of the different cases and rulings pertaining to the issue, he summarized and clarified the issue by writing:

وفي الجملة فحديث أبي هريرة هو المعمول به في هذا الباب عند كثير من العلماء ، وأنه يكره التقدم قبل رمضان بالتطوع بالصيام بيوم أو يومين لمن ليس له به عادة ولا سبق منه صيام قبل ذلك في شعبان متصلا بآخره. ـ

So in sum, the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah is acted upon by many of the scholars regarding this subject, and they disliked the practice of preceding Ramadan with one or two days of voluntary fasting for those for whom [voluntary fasting] was not their regular practice and who had also not done any fasting prior to that in the month of Sha’baan by which to connect that to fasting during its last part.

ولكراهة التقدم ثلاثة معان: ـ

And this aforementioned dislike is for three reasons:

أحدها: أنه على وجه الإحتياط لرمضان فينهى عن التقدم قبله لئلا يزاد في صيام رمضان ما ليس منه كما نهي عن صيام يوم العيد لهذا المعنى ، حذرا مما وقع فيه أهل الكتاب في صيامهم فزادوا فيه بآرائهم وأهوائهم وخرج الطبراني وغيره عن عائشة رضي الله عنه قالت: إن ناسا كانوا يتقدمون الشهر فيصومون قبل النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فأنزل الله عز وجل: {يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ} [الحجرات: 1] قالت عائشة: إنما الصوم صوم الناس والفطر فطر الناس ومع هذا فكان من السلف من يتقدم للإحتياط والحديث حجة عليه. ـ

First: It is done out of wariness or ‘to be on the safe side’ of Ramadan. So [fasting] (immediately) prior to Ramadan is prohibited lest one might increase the fast of Ramadan to include that which is not a part of it, just as it is prohibited to fast the day of the ‘Eid according to this reason, out of caution of what took place among the Ahl al-Kitaab in regards to their fasting. For they increased in it [i.e. in their obligatory fasting, beyond the legislated dates] according to their own opinions and desires. al-Tabaraani and others reported that ‘Aa’ishah said, “Indeed, some of the people used to anticipate the month (of Ramadan) such that they would fast before the Prophet (ﷺ) would, so Allah revealed:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّـهِ وَرَ‌سُولِهِ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

O you who have believed, do not precede Allah and His Messenger, but have taqwa of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. [49:1]

‘Aa’ishah said, “Indeed, the fast is only the fast of the people and the breaking of the fast is only the breaking of the fast of the people.” In spite of this, some of the salaf used to precede the month in order to be ‘on the safe side’, and this hadeeth is a proof against them.

ولهذا نهي عن صيام يوم الشك قال عمار: من صامه فقد عصى أبا القاسم صلى الله عليه وسلم . ـ

And for this reason it is prohibited to fast the day of doubt. ‘Ammaar said, “Whoever fasts it, then he has disobeyed Abu’l-Qaasim (ﷺ).

ويوم الشك هو اليوم الذي يشك فيه هل هو من رمضان أو غيره فكان من المتقدمين من يصومه احتياطا ورخص فيه بعض الحنفية للعلماء في أنفسهم خاصة دون العامة لئلا يعتقدوا وجوبه بناء على أصلهم في أن صوم رمضان يجزىء بنية الصيام المطلق والنفل ويوم الشك هو الذي تحدث فيه برؤيته من لم يقبل قوله . ـ

And the day of doubt is the day in which one doubts whether he is in Ramadan or otherwise. So among those who precede Ramadan is the one who fasts this day out of cautiousness. And some of the Hanafis scholars have made an allowance for this as it relates to themselves to the exclusion of the general people lest the general people believe that it  is compulsory to fast the day of doubt, based on the Hanafi principle regarding the fast of Ramadan that it is permissible to fast it with the intention of general or even voluntary fasting. And the day of doubt is what occurs when one whose testimony is not accepted claims to have seen (the new moon).

فأما يوم الغيم فمن العلماء من جعله يوم شك ونهى عن صيامه وهو قول الأكثرين ومنهم من صامه احتياطا وهو قول ابن عمر وكان الإمام أحمد يتابعه على ذلك وعنه في صيامه ثلاث روايات مشهورات ثالثها لا يصام إلا مع الإمام وجماعة المسلمين لئلا يقع الإفتيات عليهم والإنفراد عنهم وقال اسحاق: لا يصام يوم الغيم ولكم يتلوم بالأكل فيه إلى ضحوة النهار خشية أن يشهد برؤيته بخلاف حال الصحو فإنه يأكل فيه من غدوة. ـ

And as for a cloudy day, then there are those among the scholars who consider it as a day of doubt and prohibited fasting it, and this is the position of most of them. And among them are those who fast it out of precaution, and this is the position of ibn ‘Umar, and Imam Ahmad followed his example in this. And there are three well-known narrations from Imam Ahmad regarding fasting this day, and the third of them is that he did not fast except with the imam and with the jama’ah of the Muslims lest it should be taken as a ruling against them or a singling himself out from them. Ishaaq said, “he did not fast on the cloudy day, but he would refrain from eating during it until the mid-day out of fear that he might have seen (the new moon) were it a cloudless day. So then he would eat lunch.”

والمعنى الثاني: الفصل بين صيام الفرض والنفل فإن جنس الفصل بين الفرائض والنوافل مشروع ولهذا حرم صيام يوم العيد ونهى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن توصل صلاة مفروضة بصلاة حتى يفصل بينهما بسلام أو كلام وخصوصا سنة الفجر قبلها فإنه يشرع الفصل بينها وبين الفريضة ولهذا يشرع صلاتها في البيت والإضطجاع بعدها. ـ

And the second reason: There should be a separation between the obligatory fasting and the optional fasting, for a type of separation between obligatory actions and optional acts is divinely legislated. It is for this reason that fasting on the day of the ‘Eid is forbidden, and the Prophet (ﷺ) prohibited joining [i.e. immediately following up] the obligatory salaah with another (optional) salaah until one make a separation between the two of them by giving salaam to someone or speaking. And this was especially the case in regards to the sunnah prayer prior to salaat al-Fajr, for he legislated a separation between it and the obligatory prayer. For this reason he legislated it to be prayed in the home and lying down afterwards.

ولما رأى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم رجلا يصلي وقد أقيمت صلاة الفجر: “الصبح أربعا” ـ

And when the Prophet (ﷺ) saw a man praying [the sunnah prayer before Fajr] while the iqaamah for salaat al-Fajr has already been called, so he said, “Do you pray four raka’at in the Subh (Fajr) prayer?”

وفي المسند: أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: “افصلوا بينها وبين المكتوبة ولا تجعلوها كصلاة الظهر”. ـ

And in al-Musnad that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Make a separation between it and the obligatory prayer and do not make it like salaat al-Thuhr.

وفي سنن أبي داود: إن رجلا صلى مع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فلما سلم قام يشفع فوثب إليه عمر فأخذ بمنكبيه فهزه ثم قال: اجلس فإنه لم يهلك أهل الكتاب إلا أنه لم يكن لصلاتهم فصل فرفع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بصره فقال: “أصاب الله بك يا ابن الخطاب” ومن علل بهذا ؛ فمنهم من كره وصل صوم شعبان برمضان مطلقا وروي عن ابن عمر قال: لو صمت الدهر كله لأفطرت الذي بينهما وروي فيه حديث مرفوع لا يصح والجمهور على جواز صيام ما وافق عادة لأن الزيادة إنما تخشى إذا لم يعرف سبب الصيام. ـ

And in Sunan Abi Dawood, that a man prayed with the Prophet (ﷺ) and then when they made the taslim (to end the prayer), this man stood up to pray another prayer, so ‘Umar leaped up and grabbed him by the shoulders and then said to him, “Sit down! For indeed the Ahl al-Kitaab were destroyed for no other reason except that they did not make a separating interval between their [obligatory and optional] prayers.” So the Prophet looked up and said, “Allah has made you say what is right, O ibn al-Khattaab.” And there are other reports in the same vein. So due to this, some disliked joining the fasting of Sha’baan with Ramadan in any circumstance. And it has been narrated that ibn ‘Umar said, “Even if I were to fast all the time, I would still break my fasting for what is between these two [i.e. between Sha’baan and Ramadan]. And there is a marfoo’ hadeeth narrated concerning this issue which is not authentic. And the majority of scholars hold that fasting which is in line with one’s regular practice is permissible [i.e. even if it falls one or two days prior to Ramadan] because the practice of increasing [a day or two of fasting prior to Ramadan] is only feared when the reason for this fasting is not known.

والمعنى الثالث: إنه أمر بذلك ؛ للتقوي على صيام رمضان فإن مواصلة الصيام قد تضعف عن صيام الفرض فإذا حصل الفطر قبله بيوم أو يومين كان أقرب إلى التقوي على صيام رمضان وفي هذا التعليل نظر فإنه لا يكره التقدم بأكثر من ذلك ولا لمن صام الشهر كله وهو أبلغ في معنى الضعف لكن الفطر بنية التقوي لصيام رمضان حسن لمن أضعفه مواصلة الصيام كما كان عبد الله بن عمرو بن العاص يسرد الفطر أحيانا ثم يسرد الصوم ليتقوى بفطره على صومه ومنه قول بعض الصحابة إني أحتسب نومتي كما أحتسب قومتي وفي الحديث المرفوع: “الطاعم الشاكر كالصائم الصابر” خرجه الترمذي وغيره . ـ

And the third reason: It is commanded to do that, due to having taqwa of the fast of Ramadan, for indeed connecting the fasting [of Sha’baan and Ramadan] could weaken the obligatory fasting, for if one breaks the fast for one or two days prior, then that is closer to taqwa of the fast of Ramadan. And regarding this explanation there are different views, for it is not disliked to precede Ramadan with more days of fasting than that, nor it is disliked for one to fast the entire month even though that is more like this meaning of causing weakness. However not fasting with the intention of having al-taqwa of the fast of Ramadan is good for the one the one who might be weakened by the joining of the fasting, as was the case with ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas who would go on fasting sometimes and then go on for a while with without fasting in order to maintain taqwa of breaking the fast [i.e. so as not to make fasting merely a habit]. And in this same vein is the statement of one of the sahaabah, “Indeed I anticipate a reward for my sleeping just as I anticipate a reward for my standing (in night prayer)”. And in a marfoo’ hadeeth, “The one who eats and is grateful is like the one who fasts and is patient,” as reported by al-Tirmidhi and others.

[Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif pg. 273-276]

See also: Khutbah of Imam al-Sa’di on the eve of Ramadan

See also: Khutbah on Welcoming Ramadan in the Proper Way: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: From the benefits of fasting six days of Shawwaal: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

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3 thoughts on “Three reasons why it is disliked to fast one or two days before Ramadan: Ibn Rajab

  1. Pingback: Khutbah of Imam al-Sa’di on the eve of Ramadan | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Khutbah on Welcoming Ramadan in the Proper Way: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Preparing for Ramadan in Sha’baan: ibn Rajab al-Hanbali | Tulayhah

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