by Ustaz Muhammad Abdul Mateen Bin Hisham
After the sacred month of Rajab comes the month of Sha’ban. It sits just before the highly anticipated holy month of Ramadan. While many are giving their attention to the latter, this article intends to offer insights into why we shouldn’t neglect Sha’ban, but welcome it as a blessed month by itself.
What are its significances? and how can we best reap its benefits?
Here are 3 virtues of Sha’ban that you may not know
1. Sha’ban is the month when deeds are raised to Allah s.w.t.
Our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w said:
The Prophet s.a.w. increased his acts of worship by fasting more compared to other months (other than Ramadan).
2. Sha’ban is the month when the verse commanding selawat was revealed
As cited by Imam Al-Qastallani and Abu Dzar Al-Harawi, it is in the month of Sha’ban when verse 56 from Surah Al-Ahzab was revealed to the Prophet s.a.w. Scholars, therefore, have constantly reminded us to further increase in sending selawat (prayers) and salutations upon our Prophet s.a.w in light of the verse:
3. The Qiblah was changed on 15th of Sha’ban
In addition, Al-Imam Ibn Kathir in Al-Bidayah Wan-Nihayah, mentioned the majority of scholars are inclined to the view that the 15th of Sha’ban is also the date when the changing of the Qiblah (direction of prayer) took place.
The Qiblah for Muslims in the earlier period of the Prophet’s time was initially facing the Baitul-Maqdis, the holy city where Masjid Al-Aqsa is located until Allah s.w.t. later revealed to His beloved Prophet s.a.w about 2 months after the Hijrah:
All these blessed significance and events that took place in the month of Sha’ban are also considered as forms of encouragement for us to increase performing good deeds, such as waking up for the night vigil prayers (qiyamul lail), fasting, acts of remembrance (zikir) or as simple as reciting our supplications (dua).
Moreover, it also tells us that the highly anticipated holy month of Ramadan is just around the corner!
Here are 3 benefits to look forward to in the month of Sha’ban
1. Being granted forgiveness
Although most of the narrations on the virtues of Nisfu-Sha’ban are considered weak in their ‘chain of narration’ (sanad), there are so many that these narrations strengthen one another. Scholars of hadith such as Imam At-Tirmizi, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Imam Ibn Majah and Imam At-Tabrani have narrated hadiths regarding this blessed night.
The likes of Imam Taqiyuddin As-Subki, the prominent Shafiee scholar, have mentioned various names to signify this blessed night. These names are Laylatul Mubarakah (The Blessed Night) – Laylatu Takfeer Zunub (The Night of Expiating Sins) – Laylatul Bara’ah (The Night of Freedom from Hellfire) – and Laylatul Ghufran (The Night of Forgiveness). Our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said:
Surely this is a glad tiding to those seeking for His forgiveness. Imagine that our shortcomings or acts that we are ashamed of are being forgiven. It is also important to note that forgiveness is only given to those who clear their hearts of attributing partners to Allah (shirk) and to those who do not have rancour or strong hatred for others.
If one finds it hard to clear his or her heart from rancour, then we are advised to try to forgive others, the best we can. Scholars would remind us to forgive others by making prayers for the other person. May Allah grant us a clear and calm heart.
2. Getting our prayers and sincere hopes answered
Some of the names that are also mentioned to describe this blessed night are Laylatul Ijabah (The night of Fulfillment) and Laylatul Rahmah (The night of Mercy). Ibn Umar, the companion and scholar r.a. said:
In another narration, the Prophet s.a.w. has also mentioned how Allah s.w.t. extends His ever limitless and vast mercy on this night to those in dire need:
Our current conditions are such that we are in dire need of relief and glad tidings for this world and the next. Prayers or supplications are essentials that express the language and attitude of a humble servant to his Lord.
3. Striving for closeness to Allah s.w.t. and having faith in His Mercy
In a hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. taught and encouraged us to always strive for Allah’s acceptance and love. In the prophetic tradition, there are best days or times to seek His mercy:
These ‘times’ include the month of Ramadan, the day of Arafah, the last third of every night and the blessed time of fulfilment (Waqt al-Istijabah) on a Friday. In this case, it is the month of Sha’ban, where our deeds are raised to Allah s.w.t. and particularly on the 15th of Sha’ban as mentioned above.
As we look into this Hadith, we will find that there are many blessed days or times and they don’t just come annually; some are even on a daily basis. Bearing in mind our countless shortcomings, indeed, the mercy of Allah is too vast to comprehend.
What is important for us is to never give up on His mercy. Pray to be granted with strength, pay attention to the words of wisdom from the people around us and ask Allah to grant us assistance in observing our obligations.
Our scholars have reminded us to increase our acts of worship such as repentance in this month of Sha’ban, as shown beautifully by our beloved Prophet s.a.w, in hopes that we are able to maximise our acts of worship in the month of Ramadan.
Even if this Ramadan does not allow us the broad opportunities to perform our acts of worship like in previous years, there is still hope and other opportunities for us to focus on. Let us not wait for Ramadan to start striving for His mercy.
This is a reminder for me and others, and Allah knows best.
About the author: Upon graduating from Madrasah Aljunied Al-Islamiah, Ustaz Mateen pursued his studies at Al-Azhar University and graduated with a degree in Islamic Theology, specialising in Creed and Philosophy.
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