A Moment with Our Prophet, Muhammad (S)
By Imam Zijad Delic
Day 270: Sha’ban: The Blessed Time to prepare for Ramadan!
Narrated by Usamah ibn Zayd (r) that he said to the Prophet (S):
“O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as you fast during Sha’ban.” The Prophet (S) said, “It is a month people neglect between the months of Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are raised to the Lord of the worlds and I like for my deeds to be raised while I am fasting.”
عن أُسَامَة بْن زَيْد قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَمْ أَرَكَ تَصُومُ شَهْرًا مِنْ الشُّهُورِ مَا تَصُومُ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ قَالَ ذَلِكَ شَهْرٌ يَغْفُلُ النَّاسُ عَنْهُ بَيْنَ رَجَبٍ وَرَمَضَانَ وَهُوَ شَهْرٌ تُرْفَعُ فِيهِ الْأَعْمَالُ إِلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ
Source: Nasa’i (Fair Hadith or Hasan, according to Al Albani)
Transliteration: “Wa Huwa Shahrun Turfa’u Fihil A’malu Ila Rabbil ‘Alamin, Fa Uhibbu An Yurfa’a ‘Amali Wa Ana Saimun.”
1st of Sha’ban (the 8th month of Islamic Calendar), 1443H. was on Friday, March 2022.
The beginning of Sha’ban signaled the good news of the swift-approaching arrival of the month of Ramadan – the month of the Qur’an, the month of Rahmah, Magfirah, Tawbah, Behavioral modification, etc.
As we entered Sha’ban, we, believers anticipate the arrival of the month of Ramadan eagerly and count days for the arrival of this great guest!
The month of Sha’ban is the month in which believers are encouraged to do more voluntary actions because our role model, Muhammad (S) encouraged us by his actions, to do so.
When he (S) was asked, for example, about his voluntary fast in Sha’ban by Usamah ibn Zayd (r), the Prophet (S) told him that Sha’ban is a month which is often neglected by people and that this should not the case because, in this month, the good deeds are being raised to the Rabb and he (S) wanted his deeds to be raised while in a state of Siyam.
It was also confirmed by the Prophet’s (S) wife, ‘Aisha (r) who narrated that she never saw the Prophet (S) fasting in any other month as much as he (S) did in Sha’ban.’ (Bukhari, Muslim)
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قَالَتْ فَمَا رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ اسْتَكْمَلَ صِيَامَ شَهْرٍ إِلَّا رَمَضَانَ وَمَا رَأَيْتُهُ أَكْثَرَ صِيَامًا مِنْهُ فِي شَعْبَانَ
There are different opinions about the fast (Siyam) in Sha’ban.
Some recommend fasting in it until the middle of it, while the most scholars hold that we could fast as much as we want (especially if we used to do it in other months such as the fast of Mondays and Thursdays), as long as we do not fast “all” of it.
And the reason for this prohibition (the prohibition here does not mean Haram but a Makruh or disliked) is that continuous fasting of a voluntary Siyam in Sha’ban, especially the last days of it, may make a person too weak to fast a mandatory (Fard) Siyam in the month of Ramadan.
In addition to its being the most virtuous month, outside Ramadan, to fast, another reason among many others, why the Prophet (S) increased his optional fast in Sha’ban was to prepare for the month of Ramadan as well as to respectfully welcome the great guest into our lives and the communities!
This illustrates how the Prophet (S) would spiritually and mentally prepare himself in advance for the most auspicious month of the year — the month of Ramadan.
Similarly, the Sahabah of the Prophet (S) or his companions (r) and Tabi’un (r) would also engage in what we would understand as ‘spiritual or mental preparation’ for the month of Ramadan.
Anas (r) said: “When Sha’ban would commence, the Muslims (Sahabah and Tabi’un) would dedicate themselves to the recital of the Quran (and in some other narrations, it was mentioned that they will become more generous and discharge their Zakat and Sadaqat).’
Hafiz Ibn Rajab Al-Hambaly (r) wrote: “Since Sha’ban is a prelude to the month of Ramadan, Islam encourages certain deeds in this month, that are usually done in Ramadan, like fasting and Quran recital. This prepares the soul to welcome the month of Ramadan, when it arrives, with open arms (ready and prepared).”
So, the month of Sha’ban is indeed the month in which we can rehearse the additional voluntary deeds (example, optional fast, Quran recital, discharging the charity, as well as other ways of spiritual upliftment such as Tawbah, Du’a, Istigfaq, Zikr, etc).
Sha’ban, the neglected month, is packed with these opportunities to maximize our good deeds and draw closer to the Creator, as the Prophet (S) did and guided us to do the same.
The hadith that we started the post with, guides us to understand that the month of Sha’ban is the month in which deeds are raised to Allah, thus the Prophet (S) used to fast more during this month to gain that extra reward of gaining the opportunity for his good deeds to be raised to Allah in it.
It guides us to make some extra efforts in drawing closer to Allah during this month, as the Prophet (S) did as well as emulate our role-model in his actions.
This is a reminder to us to pay extra attention to our deeds in Sha’ban and maximize our worship and good deeds, rather than neglect this opportunity afforded to us in this blessed month.
By simply reading more Qur’an, praying voluntary prayers, bettering our relationship with others, and following the Sunnah of the Prophet (S) by, for example, fasting more, we will be able to strengthen our Taqwa (consciousness of Allah), get closer to Allah and establish good habits that will benefit is in maximizing our good deeds in the month of Ramadan.
Imam as-Suyuti (r) has supported this view of the month of Sha’ban having a special status with the Prophet (S), by mentioning in his Jami` as-Saghir from Hasan al-Basri (ra) that the Prophet (S) held the month of Sha’ban dear to his heart and that he (S) said that “Sha`ban is my month.” (Jami’ as Saghir)
Ya Rabb! Open the opportunities for us to do good deeds in this month of Sha’ban so that we get closer to You and that we prepare ourselves for the great guest that will visit us soon – the month of Ramadan – the month of limitless opportunities and drawing closer to You, our Creator!