We have come to the end of the sacred month of Rajab, according to the Umm al Qura calendar, with today or tomorrow being the last day depending on the birth of the new moon . The first of Sha’bān 1436 will thus correspond with the 19th or 20th May 2015 depending on the decision made within each country. Sha’bān is the eighth month of the Islamic calendar and considered one of the special months for which we find particular sunan of the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). It is reported that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) would fast most of the month of Sha’bān except for the last few days.
A’ishah (may Allāh be pleased with her) narrates that “Allāh’s Apostle used to fast till one would say that he would never stop fasting, and he would abandon fasting till one would say that he would never fast. I never saw Allāh’s Apostle fasting for a whole month except the month of Ramadān, and did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha’bān.”
Although these fasts are supererogatory we can see how much importance the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) attached to them. We know that when he was asked by Usāmah b. Zayd concerning his observance of the Sha’bān fasts, he answered, “It is a month that people neglect between Rajab and Ramadān; a month in which people’s deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds and I would like my deeds to be taken up when I am fasting.” This hadith clearly indicates the importance of Islamic months, and living in the west we must maintain a relationship with Islamic religious symbols, the Islamic calendar being an important one. Additionally, the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) informed us of matters of the unseen, namely that our actions are taken up in this blessed month, and so, it would be sensible to be in a state of servitude whilst being taken to account.
We also know that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) prayed for Sha’bān to be blessed and connected it to Ramadān thus informing us of an inextricable link between the two. He would supplicate, “O Allāh, make the months of Rajab and Sha’bān blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadān (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadān, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings).”
Many people find it difficult getting into the spiritual state that Ramadān requires and complain in the last ten days of the great month that their month has gone to waste. A major reason for this it seems is that they assume that Allāh would have Muslims worship him one month of the year! Whilst worship is a daily affair, Allāh would have us worship more in some months more than others. Furthermore, the righteous, in understanding the importance of Ramadān, would want to be as prepared as possible, and as a result, would begin preparation two months earlier in Rajab!
Abu Bakr al-Balkhi said: The month of Rajab is the month for planting, the month of Sha’bān is the month of irrigating crops, and the month of Ramadān is the month of harvesting the crops. He also said: The likeness of the month of Rajab is that of the wind, the likeness of Sha’bān is that of the clouds and the likeness of Ramadān is that of the rain; whoever does not plant and sow in Rajab, and does not irrigate in Sha’bān, how can he reap in Ramadān? Now Rajab has passed, so what will you do in Sha’bān if you are seeking Ramadān? This is how your Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and the early generations of the ummah were in this blessed month, so what will you do?
From amongst the forms of preparation is increasing in reciting the Qur’ān. When Sha’bān would begin, ‘Amr b. Qays (of the righteous early Muslims) would close his shop and free his time for reading Qur’ān. The notion of excessive fasting, as quoted earlier, is found in the hadith of A’ishah (may Allāh be pleased with her), that she “did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha’bān.”
Fasting is a great act of servitude and devotion to Allāh, and given that the Arabic word sawm (fasting) means to restrain from something, it implies the repression of one’s nafs and worldly abstinence out of a firm belief in the afterlife. Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Allāh said: The fast is for Me and I will give the reward for it, as he (the one who observes the fast) leaves his sexual desire, food and drink for My sake. Fasting is a guard (from Hell) and there are two pleasures for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord. And the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allāh than the smell of musk.”
Let us use Sha’bān to become people of prayer and fasting, that we use the coming month as a time of rectification and spiritual rectitude, and we prepare our souls for the last Ramadān we may ever face. ‘A’ishah narrates that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) never fasted in any month more than in the month of Sha’bān. He used to say, “Do those deeds which you can do easily, as Allāh will not get tired (of giving rewards) till you get bored and tired (of performing religious deeds).” The most beloved prayer to the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was the one that was done regularly even if it were little, and whenever the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) offered a prayer he used to offer it regularly.
spread our efforts.
 Al-Tabarāni and Ahmad
Ismail Patel (born 1963) is a British optician, and founder of Friends of Al-Aqsa, in Leicester, about 1995.
He is an advisory board member of the Conflicts Forum, director of IslamExpo, and a member of the Special Advisory Board of Clear Conscience. He writes commentary for The Guardian, and The Independent, Aljazeera English, and Arabian Business.