We’re halfway there…Ramadan is half a month away. And this weekend marks the three “white days”, the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the month, when we are encouraged to fast. We are actually encouraged to fast the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every month voluntarily, but if that is not currently a part of your practice, now might be a good time to start.
A’isha (ra) said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not observing voluntary fasting so frequently during any other month as he did during Sha’aban. He observed fasting throughout the month of Sha’aban.” In one variant, “He used to fast Sha’aban except for a little.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The 13th through 15th are called the “white days” because those are the days when the moon is full, white, and brilliant throughout the whole night. They mark the middle of the month whereas the crescent marks the beginning of a month. And this year, our white days come sandwiched in between a Friday and Monday, two very blessed days–Monday, being another day of recommended fast on top of being the 15th of the month! What a blessing!
Usamah ibn Zayd said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any month more than in Sha’aban.’ He said, ‘That is a month concerning which many people are heedless, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is the month in which people’s deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds, and I would like my deeds to be taken up whilst I am fasting.’” (al-Nasaa’i, Abu Dawud)
Allah gives us many opportunities to draw close to him and supplicate to him. We have the 13th-15th, Mondays, and Thursdays, and countless other days where voluntary fasting is recommended. But I think the more important point is this: Islam is not to just be practiced on a few days. Sincere devotion is not just for one day out of the week, month, year, decade, or century. How we act on the more blessed and meritorious days and months is how we should be acting all the time. So whether one believes it to be a sunnah or an innovation to make special du’a on the eve of the 15th of Sha’aban (which would be this Sunday night in North America), there is a general consensus that weak hadiths may be acted upon for virtuous acts that uphold the sunnah of rasulAllah (saws). And his sunnah has always been going above and beyond the call of duty of being a Muslim (i.e. the obligatory acts). Making du’a and fasting have always been virtuous acts inherent in the deen of Allah that we are encouraged to do. And they go hand in hand–the du’a of the fasting person is accepted, not only at the time of iftar but during the fast. Bonus points for acceptance if the supplicant is a parent praying for his/her child(ren), a child praying for his parent, or just a plain old Muslim praying for another Muslim. Any travelers, just rulers, or people suffering from injustice or oppression out there? Yep, you too get bonus du’a acceptance, insh’Allah. And if you just so happen to be making sujud, waiting between the adhan and iqamah, in the vicinity of the holy sites, or singing in the rain…well, your du’a comes under the category of those most likely to be accepted as well! Just pick up any hadith collection courtesy of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, an-Nasa’i, Abu Dawud, Hakim, Ahmad (radhiAllahu anhum)! This list goes on…
The Prophet (saws) said: “There is at night an hour, no Muslim happens to be asking Allah any matter of this world or the Hereafter, except that he will be given it, and this (occurs) every night.” (Muslim)
So if you’re a little weary about whether or not you should fast on the 15th of Sha’ban and spend its eve in prayer, rest assured, you’re covered. This year, alhamdulillah, it’s all lined up. And actions are by intentions, and Allah knows best. Just make sure you don’t fast all the way up until Ramadan so that you have enough energy for the whole month of fasting! Besides, Abdullah ibn Amr bin Al-‘As (ra) reported: The Messenger of Allah (saws) said, “Observing fasting on three days of every month is equivalent to a full month’s fasting.” (Bukhari and Muslim). So you’ve already fasted a whole month just by fasting this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Subhanallah! So which of the favors of your Lord can you deny?