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SHA’BAN, THE “ABLUTION” FOR RAMADAN

March 11, 2022

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد:



سُئل رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وصحبه وسلم عن كثرة صيامه في شهر شعبان فقال : ذَلِكَ شَهْرٌ يَغْفُلُ النَّاسُ عَنْهُ بَيْنَ رَجَبٍ وَرَمَضَانَ ، وَهُوَ شَهْر تُرْفَعُ فِيهِ الأعْمَالُ إِلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ، فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صائم
حَدِيثٌ حَسنٌ رواه أَحْمَدُ وَالنَّسَائِيُ

The Prophet (PBUH) was asked about his frequent fasting in Sha'ban, and he said:

"That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like my deeds to be taken up while I am fasting."

(Narrated by Ahmad and Al-Nasaa’ee)



The month of Sha’ban is a very significant and precious time of the year for the believers. The Prophet (SAW) in the Hadith above states that most people are heedless of its value and importance. He encouraged us to increase our good deeds in general and fasting in particular for two main reasons: one is explicit in the Hadith and the one implicit. The former is that our deeds for the last year are raised to Allah in this month that precedes Ramadan; everything that we did since last Ramadan, which for most of us was a good start to this “fiscal” year of accountability - but it is how we end the year in this month that is critical, according to the Prophet (SAW).



The latter reason for stepping it up that is implied in the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) with regard to his increased righteous (voluntary) actions is that he used this month as a preparation for the sacred month of Ramadan with a variety of good deeds, foremost amongst which was fasting as many days of this month as possible, if not all of it.



سُئِلت أمُ المؤمنين عائشةَ رضي اللهُ عنها عن صيامِ رسولِ اللهِ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّمَ فقالت : كان يصومُ حتى نقول : قد صام ، ويفطر حتى نقول : قد أفطر ، ولم أرَه صائمًا من شهرٍ قطُّ أكثرَ من صيامِه من شعبانَ ، كان يصومُ شعبانَ كلَّه ، كان يصومُ شعبانَ إلا قليلًا
رواه مسلم

'Aisha, the mother of the believers, (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked about the (optional) fasting of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) (during the year) and she said:

"He used to fast consecutively that we said, 'He will fast (continuously)’, and he did not fast till we said, 'He will not (do any) fast', and I never saw him fasting in any other month more than he did in Sha'ban. He used to fast (some years) the whole of Sha'ban, (or) he used to fast (some years) the whole of Sha'ban except for a few days."

(Narrated by Muslim)




So this blessed month of Sha’ban is like a boot camp, or a preparation and training for Ramadan, so that when the holy month arrives we can hit the ground running. In this way we do not lose out on its full virtue and blessings, especially at the beginning - not even for a single day (when many will still be making adjustments and trying to get into their stride). We start in this current month to build up momentum and give ourselves about six weeks of gradual and consistent build up that will reach a crescendo in the last 10 nights of Ramadan, when we seek out the Night of Power and Destiny (Laylat al-Qadr), the climax of our spiritual journey for the year.



This is the month for preparing our bodies and our souls for the most honored guest of the year - Ramadan. Sha’ban, in the view of many of our teachers, is therefore like the ablution (ghusl/wudhu) or physical and spiritual cleansing or detoxing before fulfilling one of the great pillars of Islam - the obligatory fasting. And we all know that there is no salah without wudhu!



We must start now for that highlight of the year by fasting as many days as we can, being consistent and punctual with all our ritual five daily prayers (salah) and adding the voluntary (sunnah and nafl) prayers before and/or after the obligatory (fard) ones as well as some nightly vigil (qiyam/tahajjud) prayer. We should also start to increase our presence at the masjid as individuals and families for prayers and lessons.



Sha’ban is also when we should add significantly to our recitation and study of the book of Allah; it is known as the month of the Huffaaz (those who memorize the Quran) for their review and preparation for TaraweeH (nightly prayers) and duroos (lessons). Likewise, we can prepare now for Ramadan by drawing closer to Allah (SWT) with more dhikr (remembrance of Allah), istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) and duaa (supplications). If we are not able to accomplish a lot of these praiseworthy acts, then at least do some of it. And then we should plan to do a whole lot more in Ramadan and Allah will help us execute that noble intention. In the same way we should include in our plan of action how we can assist those in need and volunteer our help to others: financially, physically, socially, emotionally, professionally, etc. in keeping with the spirit of Ramadan.



We may moreover need to refresh our memories and remind our children and families about the rules and recommendations for a wholesome Ramadan. This is in addition a good time too to cease and desist (hopefully permanently) from sinful and bad actions and habits, and perhaps even some vain and mundane (allowed) activities, so that we gain the maximum benefit during Ramadan and devote our full attention to it, Allah willing.



These are the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who encouraged his followers to do as much good as possible, to live righteously and abandon evil and harmful actions and habits. He did this out of his love for the Muslims, and his ardent desire for their salvation and attaining Allah’s acceptance and pleasure. He was after all “a mercy unto the creation” { رحمة للعالمين } and “concerned by your suffering, anxious for your wellbeing, and gracious and merciful to the believers” { عزيز عليه ما عنتم حريص عليكم بالمؤمنين رؤوف رحيم } .



Ibn Rajab al-Hambali said: “Since Sha’ban is a prelude to Ramadan, we are encouraged to do certain deeds in this month that are usually done (emphatically) in Ramadan, like fasting and Quran reading and reflection. This prepares the soul to welcome Ramadan when it arrives with open arms.”

That time, my brothers and sisters, is now! Allah. Exalted and Majestic is He, in various parts of the Quran invites us to: “hasten towards forgiveness from your Lord and Paradise …” (3:133) { … وسارعوا إلى مغفرة من ربكم وجنة } . And to: “compete with (oneself and) one another in doing good” (2:148) { فاستبقوا الخيرات } . And He (SWT) says (57:21):


سَابِقُوٓاْ إِلَىٰ مَغۡفِرَةٍ۬ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرۡضُہَا كَعَرۡضِ ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ أُعِدَّتۡ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ‌ ذَٲلِكَ فَضۡلُ ٱللَّهِ يُؤۡتِيهِ مَن يَشَآءُ‌ وَٱللَّهُ ذُو ٱلۡفَضۡلِ ٱلۡعَظِيمِ

Race towards forgiveness from your Lord; and a Garden as vast as the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His messengers. That is the Grace of Allah; He bestows it on whomever He wills. Allah is the Possessor of Immense Grace.



May Allah the Most Compassionate and Merciful bless us in Sha’ban and give us life and wellbeing in Ramadan (to earn His pleasure and rewards), as is the duaa of the Messenger of Allah (SAW):

اللهم بارك لنا في شعبان وبلغنا رمضان


Al-Imam al-Tabarani reported also that some of our predecessors used to supplicate in the month of Sha’ban with the following duaa:

اللهم سلمني لرمضان ، وسلم رمضان لي ، وسلمه لي متقيلاً


O Allah, safeguard me for Ramadan (by granting me life and health), safeguard the month of Ramadan for me (to derive maximum benefit from it) and accept it from me completely.



All praises are always due to Allah Almighty. Peace and blessing consistently be upon His beloved Prophet (SAW) and his family. And Peace be with you wherever you may be.