Hadiths on Rajab
I heard Ibn `Abbas saying: "The Messenger of Allah used to observe fast so continuously that we thought he would never break it, and at other times he remained without fasting so continuously that we thought he would never fast."2
Imam Nawawi commented on this:
It appears that the meaning inferred by Sa`id ibn Jubayr from Ibn `Abbas's report is that fasting in Rajab is neither forbidden nor considered praiseworthy in itself, rather, the ruling concerning it is the same as the rest of the months.
This is also the commentary of Qastallani in al-Mawahib al-laduniyya.3 Nawawi continues:
Neither prohibition nor praiseworthiness has been established for the month of Rajab in itself, however, the principle concerning fasting is that it is praiseworthy in itself, and in the Sunan of Abu Dawud4 the Prophet has made the fasting of the sacred months praiseworthy, and Rajab is one of them. And Allah knows best.5
It is established, on the one hand, that Ibn `Umar fasted during the sacred months,6 and on the other, that he fasted all year as shown by the following hadith.
Asma' sent me to Abdullah ibn `Umar saying: "The news has reached me that you prohibit the use of three things: the striped robe, saddle cloth made of red silk, and fasting the whole month of Rajab." Abdullah said to me: "So far as what you say about fasting in the month of Rajab, how about one who observes continuous fasting? And so far as what you say about the striped garment, I heard `Umar ibn al-Khattab say that he had heard from Allah's Messenger: "He who wears a silk garment, has no share for him (in the Hereafter)." And I am afraid that stripes were part of it. And so far as the red saddle cloth is concerned, here is Abdullah's saddle cloth [=his] and it is red. I went back to Asma' and informed her, so she said: "Here is the cloak (jubba) of Allah's Messenger," and she brought out to me that cloak made of Persian cloth with a hem of (silk) brocade, and its sleeves bordered with (silk) brocade, and said: "This was Allah's Messenger's cloak with `A'isha until she died, then I took possession of it. The Apostle of Allah used to wear that, and we washed it for the sick so that they could seek cure with it."7
Ibn Qudama states something similar in al-Mughni concerning perpetual fasting and adds that the same view is related from Ahmad and Malik, and that after the Prophet's death Abu Talha fasted permanently for forty years, among other Companions.9 Ibn Hajar al-Haytami in al-Khayrat al-hisan similarly relates that Abu Hanifa was never seen eating except at night.10