Sha’ban is the eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The name is derived from the root word ‘sha’ab’ which means to scatter or disperse. During the pre-Islamic period, Arabs used to scatter in this month in search of water. It is also said that they did that to make predatory incursions. Sha’ban is preceded by the month of Rajab, one of the four sacred months of the Islamic lunar year, during which Arabs who lived before Islam did not use to commit such crimes. It appears between the months of Rajab and Ramadan.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيَطَّلِعُ فِي لَيْلَةِ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَيَغْفِرُ لِجَمِيعِ خَلْقِهِ إِلاَّ لِمُشْرِكٍ أَوْ مُشَاحِنٍ
“Verily, Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all of His creation except for the idolaters and those with grudges.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 1390)
Sha’ban is followed by the month of Ramadan in which Muslims perform the fourth pillar of Islam i.e. Siyam (Fast). There are many other acts of worship whose performance is far more recommended in Ramadan such as performing the night prayer in congregation, reciting the Gracious Qur’an, giving to charity, etc.
Thus, Sha’ban, the month that the Prophetic traditions point out that receives less attention by most people, comes between two very important months whose virtues are very well known to many Muslims.
“O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Shaban.’ He said: ‘That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 2357)
“Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all His creation, apart from the idolater and the Mushahin (the person in whose heart there is rancour against his brother).” Another thing is that some people also have a misconception about the following ayah (verse of the Qur’an):
“In that blessed night, every wise affair is determined.” (Surah Ad-Dukhan: 44:4)
Special worshipping during the night of the 15th of Shaban has been recommended. This is based on the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the meaning of which is that during the night of the 15th of Shaban.
This is the night that exists between the 14th and 15th day of Shaban. Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) show that it is a virtuous night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine Mercy. Allah says:
“is there any person repenting so that I forgive him, and any person seeking provision so that I provide for him, and any person with distress so that I relieve him, and so on until dawn.” (Ibn Majah)
During this virtuous night, Muslims make special preparations to pray at night from dusk till dawn. Moreover, besides the general prayers, Muslims also keep fast during the consequent day as well to earn maximum rewards from Allah Almighty. Muslims pray various Nawafil for earning blessings from Allah.
On the Night of 15th Shaban, after Maghrib or Isha prayer it is traditional to practise to read Surah Yasin and make special supplications for good health, protection from calamities and to increase faith (Iman).
The innovations of the fifteenth night of Shaban:
1- All kinds of celebrations at that night whether meeting for religious observances, recitation of poems or feeding people and to consider that these deeds are a stated Sunnah while they aren’t.
2- Praying Alafia or Albarae prayer at that night.
3- Also praying fourteen, twelve or six Rakat that night.
4- To specify Ishah (night) prayer, at that night, with the recitation of Surah Yasin or a certain number of surah Al-Ekhlaas or specifying that night with a certain invocation; called (the fifteenth of Shaban night invocation, they may also stipulate praying two Rakat or reciting Surah Ya-Sin (one chapter of the Holy Quran) before this invocation to be accepted. Among the innovations of this night also, is to specify its day with fasting or charity or to believe that the fifteenth night of Shaban is better than the night of Al-Qadr (Decree).
Therefore, as much as possible, this night should be spent in worship and total submission to Allah Almighty. Also, fasting is recommended on the day immediately following this Night, i.e. the 15th day of Shaban. Hazrat Aisha (RA) reported:
“On this night the Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] went to Jannat-ul-Baqee to make dua, I followed him. The Prophet [May Allah bless Him and grant Him peace] said to me: Allah puts His attention towards the first Heaven, and forgives the sins of the people, even if they were equivalent to the hairs of the goats of Bunn Qalb (A tribe who at the time had a lot of goats).” (Tirmidhi)
There are no special acts of worship that should be performed during that night or the following day the 15th. All the Hadiths that are mentioned in this regard are weak. If there is anything to be observed, it will be to fast most days of Sha’ban, avoid committing any acts of shirk and to purify one’s heart from hatred, grudge, enmity, and so on.
It should be noted that Allah does know everything that happens on the earth and in heaven. Nothing escapes His knowledge as He is all-aware of all that people do.
How to Prepare for Ramadan in Sha`ban
The tips below discuss how to make actual and useful preparation for the precious month:
- Supplicate Allah to prolong your life to attend Ramadan, bless it for you, accept your good deeds in it and forgive your shortcomings.
- Make sincere repentance from all sins and evil deeds, regret them, and ask Allah to help you not to turn again to them.
- Keep away from the misdeeds that displease Allah and incur his wrath upon you.
- Always renew your repentance to Allah and your commitment to Him.
- Strive to observe the obligatory prayers at their due times in the congregation so that it will be easy for you to continue on this in and after Ramadan.
- If you are not in the habit of offering the supererogatory prayers, try to do some of them and move on to do all of them.
- Rectify your intention, make all your actions sincerely to Allah, the Almighty, Alone.
- As the utmost goal of fasting is attaining Taqwa (righteousness and fear of God), facilitate its realization by the different means of Taqwa, such as remembering Allah, reading about the stories of the earlier generations, contemplation on the Qu’ran, thinking about death and the Hereafter, and so on.
- Recitation of the Qur’an in Ramadan is the month’s worship, so make the Qur’an your companion by starting recitation from now and learning the rules of Tajweed.
- If you have a missed fast from the former Ramadan, make up for them in Sha`ban, as Lady `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) used to do.
- Accustom yourself to long du`aa’ (supplication), memorize some of the reported supplications of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and remember that the supplication of the fasting person is accepted.
- Accustom yourself to a long stay in the mosque after each Prayer, in preparation for i`tikaf in the month.
- Find righteous companions who would assist you in getting closer to Allah.
- Follow the Prophet’s example in fasting in Sha`ban, as he used to fast most of the month of Sha`ban. Do not forget that this makes fasting in Ramadan easy for you.
- Save some money to give in Sadaqah (charity) in Ramadan and start from now.
- Start offering 2 rak`ahs (unit of Prayer) daily and increase the number from time to time during the night in preparation for tarawih (supererogatory night prayer).
- Prepare yourself to make `Umrah in Ramadan, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “`Umrah in Ramadan equals Hajj with me (in reward).” (Al-Bukhari)
- Among the best acts in this precious month is feeding the fasting persons, prepare yourself for it.
- Map out your time and put a schedule to commit to it during the month in order to help you achieve the acts of worship you aim at.
- Find righteous companions who would assist you in getting closer to Allah.
- If you are a smoker, you should bear in mind that Ramadan is a good chance for you to quit. Start from now and minimize the number of cigarettes until you rid yourself of this bad habit that devours your money and health and incurs the displeasure of God.
- The month of Ramadan is the month when the Qur’an is revealed. Thus, it is the best time to memorize the Qur’an. Let’s start with Sha`ban.
- We all know that people use Ramadan a lot of the types of food and drinks, we do not mind this on a condition of avoiding wastefulness. I suggest that you buy these things in Sha`ban to be free for worship only in Ramadan.
- Maintain the ties of kinship before the coming of the blessed month and remember that Allah does not accept the deeds of those who disrupt these ties.
- Some people simulate poorness despite that they are not so. Thus, find the actual poor people to be the right place for your Sadaqah.
- Some people pay their Zakat in Ramadan to take the reward multiplied.
- Accustom yourself to good manners, because the fasting person is not expected to react violently or indecently.
- Bring your youngsters and tell them about the merits of Ramadan and the virtues of fasting in it so that they prepare themselves for fasting as much as they can.
- Congratulate each other with the coming of the Holy Month.
There is a great virtue, under normal circumstances in hiding our voluntary acts. One anecdote in this regard mentions a man who fasted voluntarily for forty years without anyone knowing it, even his family. Every morning he would leave home with two loaves of bread in his hand. He would give them away in charity. His family thought that he was eating them, and the people in the marketplace where he worked thought that he was selling them.
There are many prayers a Muslim can offer during the night of the 15th of Shaban. Those who do not believe in the authenticity of the celebration of the Night, should consider it as an ordinary night and perform regular prayers and praise of Allah Almighty without being insulting or patronizing the others who remark this night as special. May Allah accept us and help us to do good deeds constantly. May He also help us to take advantage of time as it pleases Him. Ameen