As we enter the Islamic month of Sha’ban, Muslims from around the world prepare for the arrival of the most blessed and significant month in the Islamic calendar. Yes, that’s right! Ramadhan is now less than thirty days away which is why now is the time to start preparing for its arrival.
Sha’ban is the eighth month of the Islamic calendar and was considered one of the most important months by the Prophet ﷺ.
Whilst Sha’ban precedes Ramadhan and possesses its very own speciality, more often than usual it is neglected and forgotten about. There are several hadith which discuss the significance of Sha’ban, yet the one below tells us explicitly that the month is neglected:
Usamah bin Zaid narrated that: I said, “O Messenger of God, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Sha’aban.” He ﷺ responded, “This is a month that people neglect between Rajab and Ramadan, although it is a month in which the actions are presented to the Lord of the Worlds, and I love that my deeds be presented to the Lord of the Worlds while I am in a state of fasting.“
Significance and Virtues of Sha’ban
Regarded as one of the most meritorious months in Islam, prophetic traditions tell us what the Prophet ﷺ did throughout the month of Sha’ban and what he recommended others to do.
According to one hadith, Aisha RA narrates, “I never saw Allah’s Messenger ﷺ fasting for a whole month except the month of Ramadan, and did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha’ban.” [Sahih Bukhari]
In another hadith, Anas narrated that the Prophet ﷺ was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadhan. He said: “Sha’ban in honour of Ramadan.” He said: “Which charity is best?” He ﷺ said: “Charity in Ramadhan.” [Jami Tirmidhi]
These prophetic traditions and others indicate that fasting is praiseworthy in Sha’ban, although not compulsory. Whether that is for one day, two days or for a week, fasting is highly commendable in Sha’ban. However, it is not recommended to fast in the latter half of Sha’ban, especially one or two days before Ramadhan. This is because the Prophet ﷺ feared that this would cause one to lose their strength and would reduce the enthusiasm Muslims normally have when embracing Ramadhan.
Regarding this, the Prophet ﷺsaid, “Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha’ban has gone.” [Sunan Abu Dawud] He also said, “Do not precede the month of Ramadhan with one or two fasts.” [Sahih Bukhari]
What To Do in Sha’ban
Due to the month being in between the mighty months of Rajab and Ramadhan, it can be easy to forget about the blessing of Sha’ban. Here are three things we can do right now to revive our love for this neglected month:
Prepare For Ramadhan by Fasting
This one is a no-brainer. As Ramadhan is less than a month away, take the opportunity to prepare for its arrival by fasting. Fast on special days such as Mondays and Thursdays or the 13th, 14th and 15th which are known as the white days. Avoid fasting in the latter half of the month, but take full advantage of keeping as many as you can throughout the first fifteen days of Sha’ban. After all, this was one of the greatest acts of worship the Prophet ﷺ observed throughout this blessed month.
Strive To Worship on the 15th of Sha’ban
The 15th night of Sha’ban is undoubtedly special, with many hadith and reports existing to prove that. Also referred to as Laylatul Bara’at and Shab-e-Barat, this night is meritorious for many reasons. Firstly, this is the night in which Allah forgives many of His servants in one go and Allah’s divine mercy meets the people of the earth. In one narration, the Prophet ﷺ said, “This is the night of the half of Sha’ban. Allah Almighty looks upon His slaves on this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but keeps those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they relieve themselves from malice).” [Bayhaqi]
Attempt to stay awake for as long as you can engaging in nafl Salah, Qur’an recitation, dhikr and tasbeeh. If one is unable to stay awake for a lengthy period, select a portion of the night in which to do your worship. Whatever the case, it is highly advisable to spend some moments performing extra worship during this night. Use this night to ask Allah to fulfil your needs in both worlds and to ease the suffering of the masses throughout the world. Use this moment of Du’a to ask Allah anything you’d like.
It is mustahab (advisable) to fast the following day on the 15th of Sha’ban. [Targheeb wa Tarheeb]
Be Conscious Of Deeds Being Presented
In the hadith above, we learnt that our deeds are presented to Allah in the month of Sha’ban. This normally happens in three periods; daily at Fajr and Asr, weekly on Mondays and Thursdays and annually during the month of Sha’ban. All these three periods have significance attached to them which have been outlined in several prophetic traditions. Fajr and Asr are times about which the Prophet ﷺ recommended one should strive to remember Allah often during these times. [Sahih Bukhari]
Similarly, it is recommended to fast on Mondays and Thursdays and therefore it is advisable to be aware that your deeds are being presented to Allah in these periods. But this also happens throughout the month of Sha’ban which is why the Prophet ﷺ mentioned, “ I love that my deeds be presented to the Lord of the Worlds while I am in a state of fasting.” [Sunan al-Nasai]
When is Sha’ban 2023
This year, Sha’ban begins on the 21st of February. Depending on the sighting of the moon, the month will either consist of 29 or 30 days.
Arabic Text Main Image Credit: khtooty.com
Juber Ahmed is our Digital Editor and travel enthusiast with a keen interest in Islamic history and heritage. He travels with his wife to various places around the world and writes about his experiences.
Juber's favourite Quote...
"The World Is a Book and Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only One Page" [Saint Augustine]