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Virtues of this sacred month

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seekshidayath View Drop Down
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    Posted: 24 July 2009 at 7:31pm
As Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

Alhamdullilah, we are into the month of Shaban, which is amongst the sacred months of our Islamic calender. Moreover, its the month, we are to prepare to welcome Ramadan.

Sha’ban is the name of the eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is named so because in this month the Arabs used to disperse (tasha’’aba) in search of water, or it was said that they dispersed to carry out raids and forays. Others maintain that it is so called because it sha’aba (branches out or emerges) i.e. it appears between the months of Rajab and Ramadan.

Sha’ban is between Rajab and Ramadan, two very important months. Fasting in Sha’ban is a preparatory fast for Ramadan. If an individual begins fasting in Sha’ban he or she will have become used to fasting and will feel strong and energetic when Ramadan comes.

The phrase "Sha'ban is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan" indicates that because it comes between two important months, the Sacred Month of Rajab and the month of fasting, people are preoccupied with those two months and they do not pay attention to Sha'ban. Many people think that fasting in Rajab is better than fasting in Sha'ban, because Rajab is one of the Sacred Months, but this is not the case.

In the hadeeth quoted above there is an indication that even though certain times, places and people may be commonly thought to posses a particular virtue, there may be others that are better than them. It also indicates that it is mustahabb (recommended) to make good use of the times when people tend to be negligent, by doing acts of worship. A group of the Salaf used to fill the time between Maghrib and 'Isha' with prayer, saying that it was a time when many people were negligent. Another example is the remembrance of Allah (dhikr) in the marketplace, because this means one is remembering Him in a place where people tend to be negligent and among people who are negligent. There are a number of benefits that come from making good use of times when people are often negligent, and using these times for worship, including the following:

It is more concealing of one's good works, and hiding and concealing nawafil (supererogatory) actions is better, especially fasting, because it is a secret between a slave and his Lord. Hence it was said that there is no element of showing off in fasting. One of the Salaf used to fast for years without anybody knowing about it; he would go from his home to the marketplace carrying two loaves of bread, which he would give away in charity, and he would fast. His family thought that he ate the bread, whilst the people in the marketplace thought that he had eaten at home. The Salaf thought it was mustahabb for a person who was fasting to do things that would conceal the fact that he was fasting. It was reported that Ibn Mas'ood said: "When you get up in the morning and you are fasting, then apply perfume." Qutadah said: "It is mustahabb for the [man] who is fasting to apply perfume so that there will be no sign that he is fasting."

Sha’ban paves the way for Ramadan and deeds performed during this month, such as fasting, reciting from the Holy Qur’an, and giving charity, are lifted to up the Most Exalted, Allah. Habeeb ibn Abi Thaabit used to say, when Sha’baan came, “This is the month of reciters (of the Qur’aan).” When Sha’baan came, ‘Amr ibn Qays al-Malaa’i used to close his store and devote his time to reading the Qur’aan.

It is also important to fast in Sha’ban because many people do not pay attention to it, as it is between two important months. People become so preoccupied with those two that they neglect fasting in Sha’ban and according to a hadeeth, it is preferred (mustahab) to do acts of worship during a time where people are negligent.

However, to avoid adding extra days to the fast of Ramadan, fasting on the ‘day of doubt’ is prohibited. The ‘day of doubt’ is the day when people are uncertain whether Ramadan, sighting of crescent moon, has commenced or not.” Ammaar said: whoever fasts on this day has disobeyed Abu’l-Qaasim (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam). 

Hadith 1:

Abu Hurairah (radiullaho anho) reported the Messenger of Allah,(sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam), as saying:''Rajab is the month of Allah. Shabaan is my month and Ramadan is that of my Ummah. Shabaan removes the sins of man and Ramadan  purifies him completely.' 

Hadith 2

The messenger of Allah (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said:''Between Rajab and Ramadan is the sacred month of Shabaan. People are unmindful about it,yet the deeds of man are to be presented to Almighty Allah in it. It is for this reason that l desire my deeds to be presented when I am in a state of fasting.

 Hadith 3

 The Holy Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) also said: ''Shabaan enjoy superiority over the months as l have superiority over all the Prophets {peace be upon him}. 

Hadith 4

 The Holy Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa salla) also said:''when the month of Shabaan  approaches you, cleanse your souls to receive the blessed month of  Ramadan. Rectify your intentions, for verily the greatness of Shabaan is like my greatness is over all the Prophets. Take heed Shabaan is my month and anyone who observes one fast in it, my intercession will become lawful for him.''

Fasting at the end of Sha'ban

It was reported in Bukhari and Muslim from 'Imran Ibn Husayn (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said to a man, "Have you fasted anything of the Sirar of this month?" He said, "No." He said: "If you have not fasted, then fast two days." According to a report narrated by Bukhari: I think he meant Ramadan. According to a report narrated by Muslim, (the Prophet - p.b.u.h.) said: "Have you fasted anything of the Sirar of Sha'ban?"

There was some dispute as to the meaning of the word Sirar. The most well-known view is that it refers to the end of the month. The end of the month is called Sirar because the moon is hidden at that time. Someone may raise the point that it was reported in Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "Do not pre-empt Ramadan by one or two days, except for those who have the habit of fasting regularly, in which case they may fast." (Bukhari and Muslim).

How can we reconcile the Hadeeth which encourages fasting at this time with the Hadeeth which says not to fast at this time? The answer is: many of the scholars and most of those who commented on this Hadeeth said: this man to whom the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) addressed this question was known to have the habit of fasting regularly, or else he had made a vow, so the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) commanded him to make up his fast. There are also other points of view on this issue.

In brief we may say that there are three scenarios for fasting at the end of Sha'ban:

The first scenario is when a person fasts at the end of Sha'ban with the intention of being on the safe side and not missing the first day of Ramadan. This is forbidden.

The second scenario is when a person fasts with the intention of fulfilling a vow or of making up a day of Ramadan that he missed or as an act of expiation (kaffarah), etc. This is permissible according to the majority.

The third scenario is when this is purely a voluntary fast. This is regarded as makrooh (disliked) by those who said that we should differentiate between Sha'ban and Ramadan by not fasting for a while. Among those who said this was al-Hasan. If it happens to coincide with a day when a person habitually fasts, Malik and those who agreed with him permitted this, but al-Shafa'i, al-'Awza'i, Ahmad and others made a distinction between cases where it is a fast which a person habitually observes or otherwise.

In conclusion, the Hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah quoted above is what we should follow according to the majority of scholars. It is makrooh to observe a voluntary fast one or two days before Ramadan for those who do not habitually fast on those days and who have not previously fasted until the end of Sha'ban.

Edited by seekshidayath - 24 July 2009 at 7:34pm
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “All the descendants of Adam are sinners, and the best of sinners are those who repent."
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