Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
Due to an irregular menstrual cycle i missed 15 fasts last ramadhan.I have tried to complete these fastings before the coming ramadhan and have managed to keep only 12. I was told that a person must not fast in the last days of shabaan but must prepare for the month of ramadhan.
I do not know if i should complete the obligatory fasts or prepare for the coming month of ramadhan.Enlighten me on this.
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In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad(saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said: "Do not precede Ramadan by fasting the day or two before it, unless it is a day on which the person usually fasts."
Related by Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi.
It is indeed true, that under normal circumstances, one should not keep the voluntary fasts on the day of doubt which is a day or two preceding Ramadan.
It todays day and age, the advent of Ramadan is sufficiently clear and declared appropriately in the media and mosques; thus there is no harm if one who has missed his/her fasts in the prior Ramadan keeps his/her fasts until the last days of the month of Shabaan because there is absolutely no chance or doubt of mixing the fasts of Shabaan with the fasts of Ramadan. But if one lives in a nation where Ramadan is not appropriately announced, and one has a doubt whether Ramadan has started or not; it would be better to abstain from voluntary or atonement fasting on the last days of Shaaban so as to not mix it with the fasts of Ramadan.
If, in spite of your best efforts, you have been able to complete only twelve of the fifteen missed fasts of the prior Ramadan, there is no harm if you do the balance three fasts after the obligatory fasting of the present Ramadan.
Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 3.142 (part)
Making Up Missed Days of Ramadan
If one delays performing the missed days of fasting until the next Ramadan comes, he is to fast the present Ramadan and then make up the days from the previous Ramadan. There is no ransom payment to be made, regardless of whether the person delayed the fasting due to some acceptable excuse or not. This is the opinion of Imam Abu Haneefah and Imam Al-Hassan Al-Basri.
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your Brother in Islam,