Preparing for Ramadan in Sha’baan: ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

al-Haafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali concluded his discussion of fasting during the month of Sha’baan (the eight month of the Islamic calendar, immediately preceding Ramadan) with the following notes:

وقد قيل: في صوم شعبان معنى آخر: أن صيامه كالتمرين على صيام رمضان لئلا يدخل في صوم رمضان على مشقة وكلفة بل قد تمرن على. الصيام واعتاده ووجد بصيام شعبان قبله حلاوة الصيام ولذته فيدخل في صيام رمضان بقوة ونشاط. ـ

Some have said that one of the effects of fasting during Sha’baan is that it acts like a training for the fast of Ramadan, in order that one can enter into Ramadan in good shape, being prepared for it and accustomed to fasting. And through fasting during Sha’baan, one will find and savor the sweetness of the fast, and so he will enter into Ramadan with vigor and determination.

ولما كان شعبان كالمقدمة لرمضان شرع فيه ما يشرع في رمضان من الصيام وقراءة القرآن ليحصل التأهب لتلقي رمضان وترتاض النفوس بذلك على طاعة الرحمن ـ

Sha’baan is like a precursor to Ramadan. The things which are legislated in Ramadan – such as fasting and reciting the Qur’an – are also legislated in Sha’baan so that one can be prepared to meet Ramadan and accustom himself to obeying al-Rahman. Continue reading

“The Signs of the Hypocrite are Three” in the Qur’an

Abu Hurayrah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

آيَةُ اَلْمُنَافِقِ ثَلَاثٌ: إِذَا حَدَّثَ كَذَبَ, وَإِذَا وَعَدَ أَخْلَفَ, وَإِذَا ائْتُمِنَ خَانَ

The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted, he betrays his trust.

[al-Bukhari and Muslim]

In part of his extensive commentary on al-Nawawi’s 40 ahaadeeth, ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brought the following point of benefit related to this hadeeth:

وقد روي عن محمد بن كعب القرظي أنه استنبط ما في هذا الحديث – أعني حديث : آية المنافق ثلاث – من القرآن ، فقال : مصداق ذلك في كتاب الله تعالى : إذا جاءك المنافقون قالوا نشهد إنك لرسول الله إلى قوله : [ ص: 490 ] والله يشهد إن المنافقين لكاذبون [ المنافقون : 1 ] ، وقال تعالى : ومنهم من عاهد الله لئن آتانا من فضله إلى قوله : فأعقبهم نقاقا في قلوبهم إلى يوم يلقونه بما أخلفوا الله ما وعدوه وبما كانوا يكذبون [ التوبة : 74 – 77 ] ، وقال : إنا عرضنا الأمانة على السماوات والأرض والجبال الأحزاب إلى قوله : ليعذب الله المنافقين والمنافقات [ الأحزاب : 72 – 73 ] . ـ

It has been related that Muhammad ibn K’ab al-Qurathi extracted the contents of this hadeeth – meaning the hadeeth “the signs of the hypocrite are three” – from the Qur’an. For he said: This is confirmed in the Book of Allah,

إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ وَاللَّـهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ

When the hypocrites come to you, [O Muhammad], they say, “We testify that you are the Messenger of Allah.” And Allah knows that you are His Messenger, and Allah testifies that the hypocrites are liars. [63:1]

And He said: Continue reading

The Four Stages of Fasting ‘Aashooraa’: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

In his book detailing the different activities of the year, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote the following discussion concerning the Day of ‘Aashooraa’ (the 10th day of the month of Muharram) and its fasting:

وكان للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في صيامه أربع حالات: ـ

The Prophet (ﷺ) went through four different stages regarding the fasting of ‘Aashooraa’:

الحالة الأولى: أنه كان يصومه بمكة ولا يأمر الناس بالصوم ففي الصحيحين عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت: كان عاشوراء يوما تصومه قريش في الجاهلية وكان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يصومه فلما قدم المدينة صامه وأمر بصيامه فلما نزلت فريضة شهر رمضان كان رمضان هو الذي يصومه فترك يوم عاشوراء فمن شاء صامه ومن شاء أفطره وفي رواية للبخاري وقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “من شاء فليصمه ومن شاء أفطر”. ـ

○The First Stage: That he used to fast it in Mecca but he did not command the people to fast. There is a narration in the Saheehayn on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah who said:

The Day of ‘Aashooraa’ was a day that the Quraish used to fast during the times of al-Jaahiliyyah and the Prophet (ﷺ) also used to fast it. Then when he came to al-Madinah he fasted it and he commanded its fasting. Then when the obligation of fasting the month of Ramadan was revealed, it was Ramadan that he fasted and thus he left off the Day of ‘Aashooraa’, so whoever wished could fast it and whoever wished did not have to fast it.

And in the narration of al-Bukhari, “And the Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘Whoever wishes then let him fast and whoever wishes then do not fast.'”

الحالة الثانية: أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لما قدم المدينة ورأى صيام أهل الكتاب له وتعظيمهم له وكان يحب موافقتهم فيما لم يؤمر به صامه وأمر الناس بصيامه وأكد الأمر بصيامه والحث عليه حتى كانوا يصومونه أطفالهم ففي الصحيحين عن ابن عباس قال: قدم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم المدينة فوجد اليهود صياما يوم عاشوراء فقال لهم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ما هذا اليوم الذي تصومونه؟ قالوا: هذا يوم عظيم أنجى الله فيه موسى وقومه وأغرق فرعون وقومه فصامه موسى شكرا فنحن نصومه فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “فنحن أحق وأولى بموسى منكم” فصامه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وأمر بصيامه. ـ

○The Second Stage: That the Prophet (ﷺ) came to al-Madinah and he saw the Ahl al-Kitaab fasting it and holding it in high regard, and he was pleased with his having been in accord with them in in the fast which he had not previously ordered the people to do. So he then commanded the people to fast that day and emphasized the command to fast it. He encouraged the people to do so to the extent that even the children would fast it. So there is a report in the Saheehayn on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas who said: Continue reading

Notes on Perfecting One’s Deeds and their Acceptance: ibn Rajab

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali made the following beneficial points in one of his smaller monographic work:

وكان السلف يوصون بإتقان العمل وتحسينه دون مجرد الإكثار منه ، فإن العمل القليل مع التحسين والإتقان أفضل من الكثير مع عدم الإتقان ، قال بعض السلف : < إن الرجلين ليقومان في الصفّ بين الصلاتيهما كما بين السماء والارض ، كم بين من تصعد صلاته لها نور وبرهان كبرهان الشمس ، وتقول : حفظك الله كما حفظتني ، وبين من تلفّ صلاته كما يلفّ الثوب الخلق ويضرب بها وجه صاحبها ، وتقول : ضيعك الله كما ضيعتني > . ـ

The salaf used to advise one another to perfect their deeds and to beautify them rather than merely performing an abundance of them. For surely a small amount of deeds performed excellently and perfected is more virtuous than a large amount done without excellent performance. One of the salaf said:

Two men might stand to pray in the same row while the difference between their two prayers is as great as the distance between the heavens and the earth, such that one’s prayer will raise him up in honor with light and a proof like the sun for him and it will say, “Allah will preserve you just as you preserved me.” And such that the other’s prayer will envelope him just as a garment envelopes the body and strike him on the face and say, “Allah will neglect you just as you neglected me.”

ولهذا قال ابن عباس وغيره : < صلاة ركعتين في تفكر خير من قيام ليلة والقلب ساه > . ـ

And in this regard, ibn ‘Abbaas and others said, “Two raka’a of prayer with deep thought is better than standing the entire night in prayer with an inattentive heart.” Continue reading

The Three Legislated ‘Eids for the Believers: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

In his discussion of the virtue of the Day of ‘Arafah and the Day of Sacrifice (the 9th and 10th days of the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah, respectively), Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote the following:

في الصحيحين عن عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه أن رجلا من اليهود له: يا أمير المؤمنين آية في كتابكم لو علينا معشر اليهود نزلت لا تخذنا اليهود نزلت لا تخذنا ذلك اليوم عيدا فقال: أي آية: قال: {الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْأِسْلامَ دِيناً} [المائدة: 3] فقال عمر: إني لأعلم اليوم الذي نزلت فيه والمكان الذي نزلت فيه: نزلت ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قائم بعرفة يوم الجمعة وخرج الترمذي عن ابن عباس نحوه وقال فيه: نزلت في يوم عيد من يوم جمعة ويوم عرفة. ـ

It comes in the Saheehayn on the authority of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab that a man from the Jews said to him, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, there is an ayah in your book that if it were to have been revealed to we Jewish people, then the Jews would have taken that day as an ‘Eid.” So he said, “Which ayah is that?” He replied:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَ‌ضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا

This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion [5:3]

So ‘Umar said, “Indeed, I know the day on which it was revealed and the place in which it was revealed: it was revealed while the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was standing at ‘Arafah on the day of Jumu’ah.”

The likes of this was narrated by al-Tirmidhi on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas and he said about it, “It was revealed during a day of ‘Eid – the day of Jumu’ah and the day of ‘Arafah.”

والعيد هو موسم الفرح والسرور وأفراح المؤمنين وسرورهم في الدنيا إنما هو بمولاهم إذا فازوا بإكمال طاعته وحازوا ثواب أعمالهم بوثوقهم بوعده لهم عليها بفضله ومغفرته كما قال تعالى: {قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُوا هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ} [يونس: 58] قال بعض العارفين: ما فرح أحد بغير الله إلا بغفلته عن الله فالغافل يفرح بلهوه وهواه والعاقل يفرح بمولاه وأنشد سمنون في هذا المعنى: ـ

And the ‘Eid is a time of joy and happiness, and the joys and happinesses of the believers in this worldly life are only in their Lord when they achieve the completion of obedience to Him and attain the rewards of their deeds with their being certain of His promise of those rewards to them due to His bounty and forgiveness. This is as He has said:

قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُوا هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ

Say, “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they accumulate.” [10:58]

And one of the cognizant ones said, “What joy does one have in other than Allah except out of his own heedlessness of Allah?” For the heedless one rejoices in his idle amusements and desires while the intelligent one rejoices in his Lord. Continue reading

“Whatever I have forbidden for you, avoid it…”: Ibn Rajab

In part of his famous collection of comprehensive statements of the Prophet (ﷺ), Imam al-Nawawi mentioned the hadeeth:

مَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْهُ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ، وَمَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِهِ فَأْتُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ، فَإِنَّمَا أَهْلَكَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ كَثْرَةُ مَسَائِلِهِمْ وَاخْتِلَافُهُمْ عَلَى أَنْبِيَائِهِمْ

Whatever I have forbidden for you, avoid it. And whatever I have commanded you, do as much of it as you can. For verily, it was only their excessive questioning and disagreeing with their Prophets that destroyed [the nations] who were before you.”

[Arba’een al-Nawawi #9. Recorded by both al-Bukhari (#7288) and Muslim (#1337), with the wording of Muslim here.]

In one section of his commentary on this hadeeth, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote:

وقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم ” إذا نهيتكم عن شيء ، فاجتنبوه ، وإذا أمرتكم بأمر ، فأتوا منه ما استطعتم ” قال بعض العلماء : هذا يؤخذ منه أن النهي أشد من الأمر ، لأن النهي لم يرخص في ارتكاب شيء منه ، والأمر قيد بحسب الاستطاعة ، وروي هذا عن الإمام أحمد . ويشبه هذا قول بعضهم : أعمال البر يعملها البر والفاجر ، وأما المعاصي ، فلا يتركها إلا صديق . ـ

The statement of the Prophet (ﷺ), “Whatever I have forbidden for you, avoid it. And whatever I have commanded you, do as much of it as you can”.

Some of the scholars have said: It is derived from this that prohibitions are more severe than commands, because the prohibitions offer no concessions for committing them at all while the commands are specified according to one’s ability. And this is narrated from Imam Ahmad, and it resembles the statement of some that, “The deeds of righteousness are done by both the righteous and wicked, but as for the acts of disobedience, then no one abandons them except for a siddeeq (truthful one).” Continue reading

The Multiplication of Rewards during Ramadan: Ibn Rajab

In the opening of his discussion of the month of Ramadan, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentioned the following points of benefit regarding the multiplication of rewards for deeds, which particular attention given to the multiplication during the month of Ramadan:

واعلم أن مضاعفة الأجر للأعمال تكون بأسباب . ـ

Know that the multiplication of rewards for deeds takes place due to several causes.

منها شرف المكان المعمول فيه ذلك العمل كالحرم ولذلك تضاعف الصلاة في مسجدي مكة والمدينة كما ثبت ذلك في الحديث الصحيح عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: “صلاة في مسجدي هذا خير من ألف صلاة فيما سواه من المساجد إلا المسجد الحرام” . وفي رواية: “فإنه أفضل” وكذلك روي: “أن الصيام يضاعف بالحرم” وفي سنن ابن ماجة بإسناد ضعيف عن ابن عباس مرفوعا: “من أدرك رمضان بمكة فصامه وقام منه ما تيسر كتب الله له مائة ألف شهر رمضان فيما سواه” وذكر له ثوابا كثيرا . ـ

Among these is the distinction of the place in which that deed is performed such as the Haram. And in this vein is performing al-salaah in the two masjids of Mecca and al-Madinah, as has been confirmed in the authentic hadeeth that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “al-salaah in my masjid is better than one thousand salaat in any other masjid, except for Masjid al-Haraam“. And in another narration, “for indeed it is more meritorious”. And likewise it is narrated “that (the reward of) fasting is multiplied in the haram“, and with a weak isnaad in Sunan ibn Maajah a marfoo’ hadeeth on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas, “whoever reaches Ramadan in Mecca and fasts it and stands whatever is easy for him (in night prayer), Allah has written (the reward) of one hundred thousand months of Ramadan observed elsewhere,” and for that person he mentioned an abundant reward. Continue reading

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: Continue reading

The Ruling on Fighting during the Sacred Months: Ibn Rajab

In his chapter concerning the sacred month of Rajab, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brought forth the following discussion on the ruling of fighting during the sacred months (al-Ashhoor al-Hurum):

وقد اختلف العلماء في حكم القتال في الأشهر الحرم هل تحريمه باق أو نسخ ؟ فالجمهور على أنه نسخ تحريمه ونص على نسخه الإمام أحمد وغيره من الأئمة . وذهبت طائفة من السلف ، منهم عطاء ، إلى بقاء تحريمه ورجحه بعض المتأخرين واستدلوا بآية المائدة والمائدة من آخر ما نزل من القرآن وقد روي: “أحلوا حلالها وحرموا حرامها” ـ

The scholars have differed concerning the ruling of fighting during the Sacred Months – does its prohibition remain or was it abrogated? The majority are of the opinion that its prohibition was abrogated, and Imam Ahmad and others from the scholars specifically stated that. And a group of the salaf held the position – and among them was ‘Ataa’ – that its prohibition remained, and some of the latter-day scholars held that to be correct and they used the ayah of surah al-Maa’idah* as evidence since al-Maa’idah was one of the last parts of the Qur’an to be revealed. And it is narrated [concerning surah al-Maa’idah], “Consider halaal its halaal, and consider haraam its haraam.” Continue reading

The Seasons of the Year Remind One of the Hereafter: Ibn Rajab

In part of his chapter discussing the merits of the different seasons of the year, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brings the following beneficial reminder:

فصول السنة تذكّر بالآخرة : فشدّة حر الصيف يذكّر بحرّ الجهنم ، وهو من سمومها ؛ وشدة برد الشتاء يذكّر بزمهرير جهنم وهو من زمهريرها ، والخريف يكمل في اجتناء الثمرات التي تبقى وتدخّر في البيوت ، فهو منبه على اجتناء الثمرات الأعمال في الآخرة . وأما الربيع فهو أطيب الفصول السنة ، وهو يذكّر بنعيم الجنة و طيب عيشها ، فينبغي أن يحث المؤمن على الاستعداد لطلب الجنة بالأعمال الصالحة . ـ

The seasons of the year remind one of the Hereafter:

For the severity of the summer heat reminds one of the fire of Jahannam, and it comes from its hot wind.

And the severity of the winter’s cold reminds one of the Zamhareer of Jahannam, and it comes from its Zamhareer.

And the Autumn completes the acquisition of produce which is stored up and saved in store-houses, and this is a incitement to acquire the fruits of good deeds in the hereafter.

And as for the Spring, it is the best of the seasons of the year, and it reminds one of the enjoyments of al-Jannah and its good living. So it the believer should feel behooved to prepare himself for seeking al-Jannah by means of righteous good deeds.

[Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif pg. 540-541]

See also: The Sacred Months

See also: Khutbah at the Close of the Year: Imam al-Sa’di

Click Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif to read more from this beneficial work discussing the different months of the Hijri calendar, including the recommended and innovated practices therein, as well as a wealth of beneficial notes and reminders.