Are financial planners missing a trick?

Tax Fee Savings was introduced through legislation in March 2015 and is a new type of savings vehicle where savings could accumulate tax free and to encourage a culture of savings in South Africa. There are many advisers out there who are not making use of this fantastic product in their client’s portfolio. Out of billions invested in TFSA thus far, a larger percentage of business was done through banks, other non-financial institutions and online. 

The general features of a TFSA in terms of Legislation are:

Only natural persons (individuals) may invest in a TFSA.

The maximum contribution is R33 000 per tax year.

The maximum lifetime contribution per individual is R500 000.

Any contribution to a TFSA exceeding R33 000 per tax year will be taxed at 40%.

Premiums are not tax-deductible.

All growth in the plan is tax-free: i.e. no tax on interest, dividends or capital gains.

In addition to the above The Allan Gray, Absa and Kagiso Funds offer you the following:

  • Transparent fees and charges
  • You choose how you want to invest – with lump sums, regular investments or a combination of both
  • You have full access to your savings from day one – with no penalties
  • You can increase, decrease or stop your regular investments at any time
  • The choice of a range of selected underlying funds to meet your unique investment needs
  • The option to switch your underlying investment funds as many times as you like at no cost
  • There is no term attached to your plan, so you choose how long and how often you want to invest

The advantage you have of Investing in a TFSA through Anglowealth, is that you can choose between any of the major Fund Houses in South Africa. Almost every client should invest in a TFSA with a view to invest the maximum allowed each year and over their lifetime.  Whether you are addressing a short term or long term savings goal, or you are building an emergency fund, or you wish to supplement your Retirement savings – a TFSA should be one of the first products considered and very often can be the tandem product that you can tag on to any other investment you recommend. 

Weather the storm of low returns

You can’t fix a slump – stay with it – because feeling a tad disillusioned by your investment portfolio is a sign of the times, says Eugene Visagie of Morningstar Investment Management SA (MIMSA).

For the best part of five years, investors could be excused for thinking they’ve been hitting the replay button on a bad repeat of bleak market conditions, the portfolio specialist said. And in the time that global markets have rallied, South African investors have missed out.

“Stay the course, ride the storm and don’t feel tempted to make changes for the sake of trying to fix things,” Visagie said. After prolonged periods of low returns, we often find ourselves being tempted to ‘do something’, to make a change and to fix what’s not working. “However, this can be precisely how wealth is destroyed over time,” he said.

Nobody wants to get rich slowly

Equities deliver real returns to patient investors. “While nobody wants to get rich slowly, the irony is that it pays to stay the course,” said Visagie.

If an investor had been exposed to the South African equity market from 1 January 1995 to 30 April 2019, they would have generated an annual return of 14.2%, he pointed out.

This period includes tough market conditions, including the emerging market crisis in 1998, the tech bubble of the early 2000s and the global financial crisis in 2008/09 – and the last five years during which the local equity market has been relatively flat. After inflation is accounted for, this is an annualised real return of just over 8% per annum in 23 years.

“The numbers are clear; don’t worry about the noise, think long-term,” Visagie said.

In spite of the evidence, the temptation exists to attempt to time the market – that is, pick an entry and/or exit points. “We believe that trying to time the market is a fruitless exercise,” said Visagie.  “Often, the best time to invest is when things feel most uncomfortable.”

If you had tried to time the market over the past 23 years and missed just the best 100 days of the total 5,934 trading days, your return would have been -2.2% per annum, instead of 14.2% per annum for the full period, Morningstar said.

“It’s clear, staying the course works,” Visagie said. Yet, despite the compelling evidence, there has been a material move by investors out of equities and into more conservative money market and fixed income products. These asset classes provide a comfortable return profile with more predictable returns, and they have rewarded investors with positive returns over the past few years, the portfolio lead said.

Has this been an appropriate course of action?

Time will tell, Visagie said, but Morningstar hasn’t ruled out a comeback for the unit trust industry, “especially given that the largest casualty has been the multi asset/balanced funds which used to take the lion’s share of industry flows”.

“Despite disappointing performance from local risk assets and balanced funds in the recent past, we believe that investors with a medium- to long-term horizon need exposure to these assets to generate inflation-beating returns,” said Visagie. He said that investors run the risk of not achieving their financial goals if they move between different asset classes based on short-term performance.

The bigger picture

As we enter the mid-year mark in 2019,Visagie said interesting opportunities may present themselves when looking purely at valuations.

The economy is not the market. What matters most is to not overpay for a stream of long-term cash flows,” he said. According to Morningstar, many domestically-focused businesses remain out of favour due to the persistent gloomy economic outlook in South Africa.

“With the possibility of policy reform geared towards the goal of economic growth, investment managers are aware (albeit with caution) of any unlock that could potentially materialise from purchasing these assets below fair value,” it said.

“Our asset allocation framework provides a tried and tested method for building portfolios that is not reliant on one market outcome. Our view is that a diversified portfolio tilted towards asset classes with higher future expected returns, within appropriate risk constraints, provides the best chance of delivering outcomes in line with our investors’ objectives.”

Laylatul Qadr-The Night of Decree!

Allah Ta’ala in His infinite Mercy has favoured us in so many ways. Such blessings that we cannot possibly enumerate nor show sufficient gratitude to the Almighty. Amongst the many blessings include a very special GIFT..Laylatul Qadr- The Night of Decree.

It is an opportunity to gain closeness to our Creator, forgiveness of our sins and an elevated position in Jannah (Paradise). The Night of Power is better that a 1000 months (83 years, 4 months)!

Allah, Most Wise, says:

“The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.”(Quran 97:3 )

The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“Whosoever stands in “Ibaadah” (worship) on this night, with sincere faith and with genuine hopes of gaining reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Hadith-Bukhari and Muslim)

WHEN IS IT?

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“Seek it (laylatul qadr) in Ramadan in the last ten nights. For verily, it is during the odd nights, 21st 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th orthe last night of Ramadhan.” (Sahih Hadith Ahmad 5:318)

From traditions we learn that among the signs of this night is that it is a serene, quiet, shining night, neither hot, nor cold but temperate as if a moon is shining clear, and no meteors are shot at the “Shayateen” on that night; it lasts until the break of the dawn. Another sign is that at morn, the Sun rises without any radiant beams of light, appearing rather like the moon in it’s fullness. On that day, Allah prohibits th e”Shayateen” from rising up with the Sun.

WHAT TO DO ON THIS NIGHT?

Worship during this night can take on many forms. Here are a few suggestions to help you through Laylatul Qadr:

· Take a vacation for Allah! If possible, take a vacation for the last 10 days of Ramadan.Plan ahead if you are working.

· Discuss the importance of this night with your friends and family and Islamic Scholars(Ulama). Create an atmosphere for ibadah(worship).

· Perform Itikaaf (seclusion in a Masjid for worship) –Try to spend full ten days in I’tikaf. If you cannot spend all 10 days in Itikaaf, then do as many days as you can – even if it is only one day. According to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) “whosoever performs “I’tikaaf” for a day thereby seeking the pleasure of Allah, Allah will spread three trenches between him andthe fire of Hell, the width of each trench being greater than the distance between Heaven and the Earth.”

· Increase the recitation of the Qur’an- Try to recite as much Qur’an as possible. There is great virtue in recitation. (reflect onthe meaning of the verses, especially the verses used in Salah. This will help you concentrate)

· Increase Salah (prayer).Read as many Nawaafil (optional)Prayers as possible. Eg Tahajjud Salaah, Salatul Tasbih etc

· Make abundant Zikr (i.e remembering Allah, sending salawaat on our beloved Rasulullah(salallaho alaihe wassallam) and making Istigfaar(seeking forgiveness from Allah)

· Dua (Asking from Allah)- Spend lots of time begging from Allah to fulfil your needs and the needs of the Ummah both in this world and the hereafter. Ramadaan is replete with moments when duas are accepted. Aaisha (Radhiallaho anha) reports: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam), should I find myselfthe “Laylatul Qadr”, what shall I pray. The Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) replied: say,

Allaahumma innaka afuwwun tohibbul’afwa fa’fu anna

“O Allah, Thou art the One who grants pardon for sins. Thou lovest to pardon, so pardon me.” (Hadith- Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmithi)

· Make list of Things you need from Allah-Ask yourself what you really want from Allah. Make a list of each and everything, no matter how small or how big it is, whether it deals with this world or the hereafter. Allah loves to hear from us and wants us to beg of Him. Once this list is ready then use it in your prayers.

· Best time for dua– Make sincere and all-embracing Duas. One of the best times to do this is during the last part of the night especially at the time of suhoor (sehri). Abu Huraira, may Allah be pleased with him, related that Rasulullah (salallaho alaihe wassallam) said: When the last one-third of the night remains, our Lord, the Glorious One descends towards the heaven of the earth and proclaims: Who is that who supplicates for Me, and I grant his supplication? Who is that who begs Me for anything and I grant it to him? And who is that who seeks My forgiveness, and I forgive him? (Hadith-Bukhari, Muslim).

· Take regular breaks during the night to avoid getting over-exhausted. Try switching between different forms of worship.

May Allah accept our prayers and allow us to take full benefit of this Mubarak Night and let us not forget our brothers and sisters all over the world who are being oppressed and facing extreme hardships.

Source: Eislam 

Second Ashra – Days Of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is to do Astaghfaar for all sins committed so far by Muslims especially in the second Ashra of Ramadan and to repent unto Allah. Do Astaghfaar, feel sorry, desist from committing it again, and make sure not to fall for the same sin again.Dua for the second Ashra is:

Translation:  “I seek forgiveness from Allah, my Lord, from every sin I committed”

–    Days Of Maghfirah

These are the days of Maghfirah and in the mid of Ramadan Allah’s forgiveness is at peak. He forgives only those who prostrate in front of Him with ashamed spirit and pledge in heart not to do the same again ever. Do Tauba as Allah loves those who repent on their sins, verily He is the only forgiver.

–    Be Kind – Forgive All

While you are asking for Allah’s forgiveness in this Ashra make sure that you do the same to our fellow Muslims by adopting alike trait of your Lord and let forgive them for all their deliberate mistakes.

Faq pertaining to Zakaat

Zakah is Fardh (compulsory) upon every sane adult Muslim (male and female) who possesses net-Zakatable assets (i.e. Zakatable assets over and above one’s basic needs minus liabilities) to the value of Nisab (minimum threshold) for one’s Zakatable (lunar) year.

Zakatable Assets:

1. Gold and Silver: All forms of gold and silver, jewellery that contain 50% or more gold and silver content, gold and silver coins (e.g. Kruger coin), gold and silver ornaments, utensils, etc. Zakah is compulsory on these items whether these are in use  or not.

2. Cash: Petty cash, float, cash on hand, cash at the bank, foreign currency, saved income from rental/property investments, dividends from investments, lump sum payouts, etc.    

3. Stock in Trade: Stock, raw materials, redundant stock, assets purchased with the intention of resale. (The market-rated value of the stock will be considered.)

4. Receivables: Debtors, loans, deposits (municipal, rental), insurance, voluntary pension/provident funds, retirement annuities, etc.                       

5. Shares/Unit Trusts/Partnership: The net Zakatable assets of the company/fund/ partnership will be considered and Zakah is payable pro rata of one’s investment/ shareholding. However, calculating one’s Zakah of the listed company share or unit trust maybe cumbersome. Therefore, one may pay Zakah on the full market value of the investment.         

The Zakatable rate for all the above-mentioned assets is 2.5%

6. Livestock: Livestock such as: goats, sheep, cows, bulls and camels for breeding purposes. The local Ulama should be consulted with regard to what amount of Zakah is due on them. Livestock for trade purposes is treated as stock in trade.                                                                

Non-Zakatable Assets:

1. Metals other than gold and silver such as platinum, titanium, etc.

2. Property, Land and Building

3. Household effects, fixtures and fittings

4. Motor vehicles

5. Personal effects (that are not gold/silver)

6. Diamonds, pearls and other precious or semi

precious stones

N.B. If any of the above assets are purchased for resale then these shall be regarded as stock in trade and calculated as Zakatable assets.

Nisab and Rate of Zakah

The minimum amount of Zakatable wealth (threshold) which makes one liable for Zakah is called Nisab.

The Nisab of gold is 87.48 grams and silver is 612.36 grams. Hence, if a person only owns gold which is less than 87.48 grams then Zakah is not compulsory since he is below the threshold of Zakah. Similarly, if a person only owns silver which is less than 612.36 grams then Zakah is not compulsory.

However, if a person owns any Zakatable asset together with gold or silver then the applicable Nisab would be the value of 612.36 grams of  silver.

The equivalent Rand value of this fluctuates daily. This may be obtained from your local Ulama body.

Debts and Liabilities

The classical juristic texts state that all debts are regarded as deductible liabilities of Zakah. However, some contemporary jurists differentiate between the types of debts, e.g. debts which are for commercial expansion or investment purposes and personal debts that are basic, whilst others do so based on the term of repayments of short term and long term debts.

Darul Ihsan is of the view that in long term loans, only the next twelve months instalments due will be considered a liability and deductible.

The Zakatable Year:

1. The Zakah year is based on the Hijri (lunar) calendar and not on the Gregorian (solar) calendar.

2. The very first day a person possesses wealth equivalent to the value of Nisab heralds the beginning of his/her Zakatable year.

3. Should Nisab enter one’s  possession and remain with oneself for the entire lunar year, then one will be liable to pay Zakah, irrespective of the fluctuations during the year provided the net-value had not reached zero.

Hence, at the year-end Zakah is paid on the entire value of the net Zakatable assets in one’s possession – though some assets may not be literally in one’s possession for the entire year including all assets and amounts acquired during the year.

If at any point during the year, the net-value of Zakatable assets reached zero or a person had more debts than Zakatable assets, the Zakatable year will change. The new Zakah year commences upon regaining the equivalent of Nisab.

Decrease in Wealth

If Zakatable assets are destroyed (without one’s own doing), Zakah will only be paid on the remainder if a person’s wealth gets destroyed after the year-end. However, if one destroyed the wealth deliberately or used up the wealth, Zakah will be payable in full.

Discharging of Zakah:

1. It is necessary for the validity of discharging Zakah to have the intention of discharging Zakah.

2. This can be done in several ways: – intention is made when handing over Zakah to the recipient – or intention is made at the time of separating and setting aside money for discharging Zakat, – or the intention can be made after giving the wealth away, whilst the Zakat is still in the possession of the recipient, not after that.

3. The condition for the validity of the discharge of Zakah is “Tamleek” – where ownership and possession of the wealth is transferred to the deserving recipient. Hence, Zakah cannot be given or used for the construction of a Masjid, Islamic institute, etc. nor can Zakah funds be used to prepare meals for the poor without giving them unconditional possession over the food.                                                                    

4. Zakah can be paid in cash or kind. Hence, one can discharge goods and consumable items as Zakah.                                                                       

5. Authority can be delegated to another person or an organisation to distribute Zakah on one’s behalf. However, if this representative does not distribute the Zakah, or distributes it incorrectly then one’s Zakah will not be discharged, and will still remain an obligation until it is fulfilled.

6. Zakah may be discharged gratuitously by another person provided this is done with the consent of the one who is obligated to do so. Hence, if the husband wants to discharge the Zakah of the wife gratuitously then he may do so with her consent.

Similarly another person may be requested to pay certain amount as Zakah on one’s behalf. If this is undertaken then the amount given will then be a debt upon one and will have to be repaid.  

7. Zakah can be paid in advance. One must, however, calculate Zakah at the end of the Zakah year to determine whether there was any shortfall or not, and if so make good the outstanding amount.

The rules and laws of Zakah are detailed. This brochure merely serves as a brief overview of the basic laws. Please refer to your local Alim/Mufti for further guidance.

10 tips to see the best of Ramadan

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Ramadan is awaited with much anticipation – a special guest that visits us annually. To ensure that we are prepared for our visitor the following is a ten-point check list that we should try to uphold to see the best of Ramadan.

 

  1. Do with the heart – There should be no ulterior motive in welcoming our guest. Become cognisant of the actions of the heart. Do everything with a clear intention and purpose. Trying to earn recognition from people and is not what good acts are for. Do for Allah Ta’ala alone.

 

  1. Month to incinerate sins – To sin in Ramadan is like discarding the guest. Ramadan is here to scorch and burn away our evil and wrongs. Don’t add anymore to the pile. Be determined and steadfast in the face of temptation and abstain from all forms of sin and vice. Avoid frequenting places where sin is committed. Special care should be taken to abstain from the vices of the eyes, ears and tongue as these are the tributaries to the heart and mind.

 

  1. Repent sincerely – Our guest has brought many precious gifts – among them is 10 days of forgiveness and a night better than 1000 months. Repent daily in Ramadan and remain steadfast on the pledges made. We have oppressed our souls greatly through sin. Learn from the Ulama the proper method of Taubah. Also engage in a lot of Istighfar.

 

  1. Free up your time – Our special guest wants our full attention. Try to lessen one’s mundane engagements and free one’s time for solitude, prayers and company of the pious Ulama. Let us begin to value the capital of time especially in Ramadan.

 

  1. Pious company – You would not want your guest to know the bad company you keep. Make a point of dedicating some time of the day or night to sit in good company. Company of the pious is highly beneficial and can take a person forward very quickly.

 

  1. Read for motivation – Our guest will indeed enjoy the melodious recitation of Quran and recalling the stories of the pious. Together with the abundant recitation of Quran, one should endeavour to read some literature on the lives of the pious and how they spent their Ramadan. This could be easily achieved by reading a few pages after the recitation of the Noble Quran.

 

  1. Live the Sunnah – Show quality conduct to our guest. Utilise the auspicious month of Ramadan to build a Sunnah lifestyle. All progress depends on following the beautiful way and life of our beloved Master Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Memorize and recite the masnoon duas for occasions with regularity and make a covenant to continue with this for life.

 

  1. Intensify Dua –  Include among the gifts and favours of our guest is the acceptance of Duas. Something we can never do without – make Dua whenever possible for every form of good. Pray for oneself, family, fellow ones and humanity at large. The Ummah is in great distress and collective Duas are imperative for our fellow Ummatis.

 

  1. Focus on purifying the inner –  With the presence of such an esteemed visitor we will be surprised how quickly and easily we could identify our weaknesses and faults. Be watchful of the dangerous traits of anger, arrogance, vulgar speech, hatred and ill feelings for others. Develop patience, humility, gratitude and sincerity.

 

  1. Think of others – Our guest has brought with the rich lessons of charity, kindness and concern for humanity, being kind and affectionate to others, not causing inconvenience to anyone and thinking of the plight of those who have less than us. These are qualities we must adopt in Ramadan.

 

Honouring the guest is a great Sunnah. What better way to show honour to the esteemed guest of Ramadan than to value and appreciate it fully. If these brief guidelines are adopted with zeal and sincerity, there is great hope that Allah Ta’ala will bestow one with the true rewards of Ramadan.

Source: Darul Ihsan Centre

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The Night of Bara’ah

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Sha’ban: Merits, Do’s, and Dont’s Part 2 of 4 

By Mufti Taqi Usmani 

The Night of Bara’ah 

Another significant feature of the month of Sha’ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as “Laylatul-bara’ah” (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14thand 15th day of Sha’ban. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy. Some of these traditions are quoted as follows: 

Sayyidah’ Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has reported that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, “Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha’ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibers on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb.” 

Kalb was a big tribe the members of which had a very large number of sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the big number of the people who are forgiven in this night by Allah Almighty. 

In another Tradition Sayyidna Mu’adh ibn Jabal, Radi-Allahu anhu,reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: “Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle Night of Sha’ban and forgives all those created by Him, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has malice in his heart (against a Muslim)”. 

Although the chain of narrators of some of these traditions suffers with some minor technical defects, yet when all these traditions are combined together, it becomes clear that this night has some well founded merits, and observing this night as a sacred night is not a baseless concoction as envisaged by some modern scholars who, on the basis of these minor defects, have totally rejected to give any special importance to this night. In fact, some of these traditions have been held by some scholars of hadith as authentic and the defects in the chain of some others have been treated by them as minor technical defects which, according to the science of hadith, are curable by the variety of their ways of narration. That is why the elders of the ummah have constantly been observing this night as a night of special merits and have been spending it in worship and prayers. 

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Sha’baan Merits, Do’s & Dont’s Part 2 of 4

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Sha’ban: Merits, Do’s, and Dont’s Part 2 of 4

By Mufti Taqi Usmani

The Night of Bara’ah

Another significant feature of the month of Sha’ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as “Laylatul-bara’ah” (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14thand 15th day of Sha’ban. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy. Some of these traditions are quoted as follows:

Sayyidah’ Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has reported that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, “Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha’ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibers on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb.”

Kalb was a big tribe the members of which had a very large number of sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the big number of the people who are forgiven in this night by Allah Almighty.

In another Tradition Sayyidna Mu’adh ibn Jabal, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: “Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle Night of Sha’ban and forgives all those created by Him, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has malice in his heart (against a Muslim)”.

Although the chain of narrators of some of these traditions suffers with some minor technical defects, yet when all these traditions are combined together, it becomes clear that this night has some well founded merits, and observing this night as a sacred night is not a baseless concoction as envisaged by some modern scholars who, on the basis of these minor defects, have totally rejected to give any special importance to this night. In fact, some of these traditions have been held by some scholars of hadith as authentic and the defects in the chain of some others have been treated by them as minor technical defects which, according to the science of hadith, are curable by the variety of their ways of narration. That is why the elders of the ummah have constantly been observing this night as a night of special merits and have been spending it in worship and prayers.

 

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Sha’baan Merits, Do’s & Dont’s Part 1 of 4

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Sha’ban: Merits, Do’s, and Dont’s Part 1 of 4

By Mufti Taqi Usmani

Sha’ban is one of the meritorious months for which we find some particular instructions in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam. It is reported in the authentic ahadith that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, used to fast most of the month in Sha’ban. These fasts were not obligatory on him but Sha’ban is the month immediately preceding the month of Ramadan. Therefore, some preparatory measures are suggested by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

Though it should be kept in mind that the fasts of Sha’ban are for those persons only who are capable of keeping them without causing deficiency in the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. Therefore, if one fears that after fasting in Sha’ban, he will lose strength or freshness for the fasts of Ramadan and will not be able to fast in it with freshness, he should not fast in Sha’ban, because the fasts of Ramadan, being obligatory, are more important than the optional fasts of Sha’ban. That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself has forbidden the Muslims from fasting one or two days immediately before the commencement of Ramadan. The blessed Companion Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, “Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha’ban is gone.”

According to another report Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has said: “Do not precede the month of Ramadan with one or two fasts.”

The essence of the above-quoted ahadith is that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself used to fast most of the month of Sha’ban, because he had no fear of developing weakness or weariness before the commencement of Ramadan. As for others, he ordered them not to fast after the 15th of Sha’ban for the fear that they would lose their strength and freshness before Ramadan starts, and would not be able to welcome the month of Ramadan with enthusiasm.

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At the Approach of Rajab

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 At The Approach of Rajab & Sha’ban

With the sighting of the crescent of Rajab, Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wa Salam) would anticipate and begin preparations for the month of Ramadaan. This is two months in advance! People “live to see” various accomplishments in their lives, but a Believer “lives for” and yearns to witness sacred days like these.

The crescent of Rajab signals the start of a “New Season”. One of hope, mercy and forgiveness for a believer. This “season” only finishes three months later; on the day of Eid!

Rajab is the second of the “four sacred months” in the Islamic Calendar which are referred to as: Al-Ash-hurul hurum (Surah Tawbah, verse: 36)

The others are: Zhul-Qa’dah, Zhul-Hijjah and Al-Muharram.

Shaykh Abu Bakr Balkhy (Rahimahullah) says:

“Rajab is a month in which we plant the seeds of good. i.e, by increasing our ‘ibadah. In Sha’ban we water them, to cultivate (and reap the rewards) in Ramadhan”

(Lataif, pg. 173)

Imam Shafi’e (Rahimahullah) has stated: “I have heard that Dua’s are accepted by Almighty Allah on five nights:

1) The night of Jumu’ah,

2 & 3) The nights of the two ‘Eids,

4) The first night of Rajab,

5) The middle (15th) night of Sha’ban,

(Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 196)

 The Sahabah (Radiyallahu ‘anum) and the Tab’un (Rahimahumullah) would increase their Quranic recital during these months (especially in Sha’ban), i.e. in preparation for Ramadhan. (Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 192)

Opportunities like these only come once a year. Fortunate are those who maximize their benefit there from.

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