The Islamic lunar calendar comprises of twelve months. Each month of the Islamic calendar has its religious as well as historical significance, however, there are a few months that hold a superior stature compared to other months and because of this they are given more value and respect by the Muslims. One of such months is the month of Shaban.
In Islamic calendar, Shaban is the eighth month which precedes the Holy month of Ramadan. It is one of the most revered months for Muslims and Muslims all over the world give value to this month and have special affiliation with it. Literally, the word Shaban means branch. It can be said that Shaban branches off and leads to other good things. Shaban acts as a connection between the two blessed and sacred months of Rajab and Ramadan. Despite this, the importance of Shaban is often neglected and ignored. The lines below discuss the element of fasting in the month of Shaban under the light of different hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Fasting in Shaban
One of the major acts that Muslims across the world do in the month of Shaban is fasting. Although Ramadan is the Holy month in which fasting is mandatory upon every Muslim, however, Muslims also fast in different days of Shaban to fulfill the Sunnah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
It is narrated from Hazrat Usama ibn Zayd (RA) that he asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
“I have never seen you offer fast in a month as you do in Shaban.”
To which, Prophet (PBUH) replied:
“It is a month people disregard that is between Rajab and Ramadan. In that month deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds, so I like my deeds to be presented while I am fasting.” (Nasai)
This hadith of Prophet (PBUH) gives the importance of fasting in the month of Shaban. Although Ramadan is the month of fasting and it is compulsory for people to fast, however, Shaban is another month, which people must also consider for fasting. It is in this month that the deeds of a person are presented in front of Allah Almighty, therefore, it becomes more than helpful if the deeds are presented at such a time when a person is in the condition of fast.
At another place Allah Almighty says:
“When the Middle Night of Shaban arrives, you should stand (Praying) in the night and should fast in the day following it.” (Ibn Majah)
There are Muslims who only go for staying up at night and praying in front of Allah Almighty on the fifteenth of Shaban, however, they hesitate to fast and some of them do not fast. Although it is totally fine if they do not fast on the day that follows, however, if this hadith be analyzed properly, then one can observe that in this hadith both fasting and praying at night get equal mention and equal emphasis. Therefore, if one is to pray at night, then he or she must also try keeping a fast during the day to fulfill the whole hadith and gain countless blessings from Allah Almighty.
Getting Ready for Ramadan in Shaban
Though fasting is made obligatory in the month of Ramadan, but fasting in the month of Shaban is beneficial in numbers of other ways. Here is how fasting in the month of Shaban is considered an important:
1. Fasting in Shaban gives you a chance to start preparing for the month of Ramadan. For fasting, you will have to wake up early on Fajr time, and spending day without eating and drinking, will give you a clear idea of what it would take in order to successfully spend the blessed month of Ramadan.
2. In the month of Shaban, many Muslim scholars and others used to consistently recite and Read the Holy Quran along with fasting, which also helps in getting ready for fasting in the coming month of Ramadan. The famous religious scholar Imam Abu Bakr al-Warraq said: “In Rajab you sow the seeds, in Sha`ban you irrigate them and in Ramadan you reap the harvest.”
Thus, a practicing Muslim must value the month of Shaban as it is proven from the hadiths of Prophet (PBUH) that this month is a special month and committing good deeds in this month carry special value and can help a Muslim gain countless blessings from Allah Almighty in addition to receiving pardon and forgiveness.