Singling Out Rajab for Fasting

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Those who object to fasting part or all of Rajab and Sha’ban cite the same few reasons.  They state that ‘Umar (r.a.) punished the mutarajjibun, those who fasted the month of Rajab according to a practice carried over from the Jahiliyyah, by striking their hands until they broke their fast.  However, this does not constitute a valid objection as `Umar’s (r.a.) act was solely due to some people's emphasis of Rajab, which used to be fasted during the Jahiliyyah, over Ramadhan as the fasting month.  This is clearly not feared for present-day Muslims.  There was also a sacrifice named rajabiyyah performed in that month, a practice carried over from the Jahiliyyah.  Several ahadits in Sunan Abu Dawud and Musnad Ahmad show that it became obligatory in Islam until the obligation was abrogated.  Certain pre-Islamic practices were fought over even in the time of ‘Umar (r.a.), as is shown by the latter's uprooting of a tree for fear of its veneration by some people.

It must be understood that ‘Umar (r.a.) never said, “Do not fast.”  Rather, he said, “Break your fast,” which meant to not complete it as though one was be obliged to if it were Ramadhan.  And no one of the swahabah fasted Rajab and Sha’ban completely in the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.), this was reserved for Ramadhan.  However, if someone makes the intention to fast Rajab and Sha’ban completely, it is permitted in the shari’ah, with the understanding that it is mustahabb to break it shortly before Ramadhan begins.

Imam ibn Qudamah (r.a.) stated in al-Mughni, “It is disliked that Rajab be singled out for fasting.  Ahmad said, ‘If a man fasts during that month, let him break the fast for one day in it, or several, just so as not to fast it all.’"

The reason for this is what Imam Ahmad (r.a.) narrated with his chains the following.  Kharashah ibn al-Harr (r.a.) said, “I saw ‘Umar striking the hands of the mutarajjibin until they helped themselves to the food, and he would say, ‘Eat!  For it is only a month which the Jahiliyyah used to magnify.’”

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) said that he disliked seeing people make preparations for Rajab and would say, “Fast some of it and break fast some of it.”  ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.) said something similar.

Abu Bakr (r.a.) said he saw his household preparing new baskets and clay jugs and asked, “What is this?”

They said, “For Rajab, so that we may fast it.”

He replied, “Did you change Rajab into Ramadhan?”  Then he took apart the baskets and broke the jugs.

Imam Ahmad (r.a.) said, “Whoever fasts all year round may fast all of Rajab.  Otherwise, let him not fast all of it but only some of it so that he will not liken it to Ramadhan.”

The above makes it clear that singling out the month of Rajab for fasting is not forbidden, but at worst disliked; it is not even disliked as long as fast is broken to the extent that the similitude with the month of Ramadhan is eliminated; and even the unbroken fast is not disliked if the person fasts all year round.


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