Why the Month of Sha’ban?

[blockquote]”Sha’ban is a month between Rajab and Ramadan, much neglected by people. In it, the actions of all servants are raised to the Lord of the Worlds; I love that my actions are not presented except that I am fasting.”[/blockquote]

One would agree that from the most unfortunate things possible is to be the rightful recipient of some good news – a present maybe, a gift of money, a bequest etc – but then one remains unaware of this fact, or doesn’t pay attention to all the phone calls informing him of such glad tidings.

So there’s your present waiting for you, and you’re not really aware to its full worth or value — no-one else is going to claim it on your behalf and if you knew its real significance, you’d never leave it to waste!

Yet the Prophet, peace be upon him, told us, as narrated by al-Imam al-Bayhaqi, that:

“Sha’ban is a month between Rajab and Ramadan, much neglected by people. In it, the actions of all servants are raised to the Lord of the Worlds; I love that my actions are not presented except that I am fasting.”

The prophet, peace be upon him, was most eager to obtain all possible good, he saw this blessed month of Sha’ban very differently to many of us. He, peace be upon him, would never leave it to waste, rather he would be seen fasting almost the entire month of Sha’ban, only ever surpassed by the fasting of the whole of Ramadan.

There are numerous authentic reports that detail how the majority of Sha’ban was spent by our beloved Prophet in a state of fasting; a state which heightens our God-consciousness, makes us aware of our desires and the need for their control, makes us aware of the problems and difficulties of so many poor people around the world when we feel those pangs of hunger.

But doesn’t that occur whenever someone is fasting? Why then the month of Sha’ban?

With Ramadan just around the corner, it becomes paramount to prepare properly for this once in a lifetime opportunity. After all, do you know whether you’ll ever be lucky enough to greet another one?

Rather as the Prophet, peace be upon him, advised us, we need to avoid all the well-known slips of the tongue, eyes, heart and really just our desires in general in order to be one who fulfils the conditions of Ramadan. We need to make sure that we adorn our fasting with all other possible extra good actions such as praying extra nawafil (voluntary prayers), giving charity, re-establishing family ties, increasing our social and da’wah (presenting Islam to non-Muslims) work, displaying generosity to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, extra dhikr (remembrance), memorization of the Qur’an etc. Surely that is the whole point here – that we fast so as to be more aware of our actions and that they are presented to Allah, the Most High, in their best possible light.

This has to be our aim in the remaining days of Sha’ban. Try and make it a real and sincere practice effort for Ramadan which is only a few weeks away – be aware of all your external and internal actions during the day while you refrain from food and drink.

So at this ‘neglected time’, when the majority of our friends, family and community are not paying attention to what could be gained, the environment is not conducive to steeling one’s resolve and focus on that which is good, where people are concentrating on ‘enjoying’ themselves as much as possible before the ‘hardships’ of Ramadan – during this time, let us strive to perfect ourselves now and learn from our mistakes, so as to really achieve the objective behind fasting and indeed life itself – to become those who are constantly aware of Allah (al-Muttaqun). How on Earth can we possibly achieve this if we just dive into Ramadan without a care in the world, not having conditioned our bodies, physically and spiritually in Sha’ban? How can we work on preserving our energy during Ramadan, not simply to last till Sunset, but to pray all the extra sunnah available if we don’t try and test ourselves now? How will we know the looseness of our eyes if we don’t catch the eyes out now? How will we ever realize how much we gossip and backbite during Ramadan when we don’t try refraining ourselves from the rafath and fisq during our fasts today?

Indeed. So let us be aware of these blessed times in our times of need – let us pay attention to that which is neglected and make our Sha’ban and Ramadan our sources of salvation.

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