Shaban, the gateway to Ramadan

May 04, 2018

Amal Al-Sibai

Saudi Gazette

Before we know it, the month of Shaban will pass, and many of us may have failed to reflect on how important this month is or how we could spiritually lift ourselves during this month. Contrary to popular belief, spirituality is in the air, not only during Ramadan and Haj, but even now in Shaban.

Are we fully aware of the lunar months that are most significant in Islam and of the golden opportunities for gaining rewards?

Time will not wait for anyone; the intelligent ones seize every opportunity to do a good deed; to kneel down in prayer at night, to buy a gift for their mothers to show love and appreciation.

A great opportunity for gaining rewards, clarifying the mind, and cleansing the body is fasting.

Fasting trains and strengthens the believer, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and it is not meant only for the month of Ramadan. It is a form of worship highly regarded by our Lord.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “By Him in Whose hands is the life of Muhammad, the breath of one who is fasting is purer in the sight of Allah than the fragrance of musk. One who fasts experiences two joys: he is joyful when he breaks his fast, and he is joyful by virtue of his fast when he meets his Lord” (Bukhari and Muslim).

No month should be fasted in its entirety except the month of Ramadan, but frequently fasting in the month of Shaban is highly recommended.

The Prophet’s companions noticed that he (peace be upon him) fasted most days during the month of Shaban, but he forbade fasting the day right before Ramadan.

Usamah ibn Zayd (the son of the Prophet’s servant) said, “O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Shaban.”

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.” (Al-Nasa’i).

Ibn Rajab, a scholar known for his extensive knowledge, said, “Fasting in Shaban is better than fasting in the Sacred Months, and the best of voluntary fasts are those that are (observed in the months) closest to Ramadan; before or after.”

The Prophet’s emphasis on fasting during this month is in itself an indicator of the significance of this special lunar month.

One practical benefit of fasting this month is that it prepares our bodies physically for the fast, so that we do not find it difficult to abstain from food and drink once Ramadan starts. Many people have found that fasting for several days in Shaban helps them feel strong and energetic once Ramadan is here as their bodies have gradually and comfortably adjusted to fasting.

Refraining from food and drink is pointless if one has bad conduct, hurts others, backbites about friends, and constantly quarrels with co-workers. True fasting is about discipline, humanitarian acts, and it’s about a peaceful decorum. To reach this level, it is best to start training ourselves from now. If our only care this month is to enjoy ourselves, dine out, and shop, chances are we may miss out on some of the blessings when Ramadan arrives. How will we tirelessly stand in voluntary prayer until midnight during Ramadan if we are not performing any voluntary prayers in Shaban?

Giving in charity, feeding the poor, and being generous is required of Muslims all year round, and especially now and next month.

Since Shaban is an introduction to Ramadan we can increase our acts of worship from now: fasting, giving in charity, supplicating, seeking forgiveness, and reciting the Holy Quran.

A Muslim scholar, Habeeb bin Abi Thabit, who transmitted many sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say during the month of Shaban, “This is the month of reciters (of the Quran)”.

Imam Al-Jawzi was once asked, “Is it better for me to say ‘Glory be to Allah’ or to ask Him for forgiveness?”

The imam replied, “The dirty robe is more in need of soap than perfume.”

We want both soap and perfume. Asking for forgiveness from Allah and from those whom we may have wronged is imperative for us to proceed through Shaban and Ramadan with purer, cleaner hearts.

We will not be from those who neglect the month of Shaban. We will be in a state of heightened awareness, generosity towards others, remembrance of our Lord, and sincere worship. We will seize the opportunities of gaining rewards in Shaban, Ramadan, and many months to come.

May 04, 2018
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