Islam follows the Lunar calendar and Shaban is the name of the eighth month which is the month of ‘separation’. This is because Arab tribes used to go looking for water during Shaban. It is also often called Laylatal-Bara’ah, Laaylat an-Nisf min Shaban and Shab-e-Barat.
It is also the last lunar month before Ramadan wherein Muslims establish the day to begin fasting. Although Shaban is a very important time in the Muslim calendar, it is not given the same importance as the fasting month.
This is because Shaban is mainly a time to prepare for Ramadan. Muslims set their targets, and schedules and decide what they want to attain out of their worship during Ramadan. Taking Shaban seriously is rewardable too as even the intention to do good is considered commendable.
The practices of Shaban are not very different from that of Ramadan in which a believer’s time is focused on fasting and praying. Hence, it is very beneficial to help prepare physically and mentally for Ramadan. The Prophet too encouraged this as a way to honor Ramadan.
Many people consider the month important due to the many historic events that took place on this day. Others believe that fasting and special prayer are not necessary as that is not from the Sunnah. However, Shaban is a month to ask for forgiveness, begin a practice, and to do good deeds - which automatically makes it a good time for the body and mind.
The Islamic calendar begins on the night when you can see the first crescent of a new moon. Hence, the dates can fall back by around a day or two when compared with the normal, solar calendar. Shaban too can get shifted by months. According to the Ummul al-Qura calendar (Saudi Arabia), Shaban will next take place on February 21st, 2023.
Shaban has many virtues as fasting during this month brings the believer closer to God. Their Shaban ki dua (prayer for Shaban) is also more likely to come true due to how connected you can be spiritually in Shaban.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself fasted the most during this month and he encouraged people to give it the same treatment as the months of Rajab and Ramadan.
Our Prayers to Allah are raised during Shaban and any good deed done when others are not likely to do it gains a special reward from Allah. Hence, during Shaban, when people have already finished with Rajab, and are moving towards the more arduous month of Ramadan, those who still devote their time to praying and fasting are rewarded.
The Prophet also spoke of this time as a month that most people overlook, but he fasted the most for Shaban as he liked his deeds to go up while he fasted.
The Prophet loved fasting in the month of Shaban as it was a month that served as the training for Ramadan. He wanted Muslims to fast with as much devotion and importance as they do for Rajab and Ramadan. It is believed that Allah answers prayers during this month and angels keep records of the good deeds and thoughts.
Since it is a month where we show gratitude, repentance, and our dua to Allah, the Prophet believed the following Surah-
“When it is the night of the middle of Sha`ban, Allah looks down on His creation and forgives the believers, prolongs hope for the disbelievers, and leaves the spiteful to their rancor until they desert it.” (At-Tabarani)
Shaban is also an important time as it was the month when the commanding verse for selawat (prayer offering) was revealed. Hence, teachers of Islam encourage increasing salutations and sending selawat to the Prophet during this time.
Another significant thing that happened during Shaban is that on the 15th of the month, a change of Qibla (the direction of prayer) took place. Before, the Qibla during the Prophet’s time faced Baitul-Maqdis, but after his death, it changed to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The following Surah is what best describes the motive of the change -
“We have certainly seen the turning of your face, (O Muhammad), toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a qibla with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram. And wherever you (believers) are, turn your faces toward it (in prayer).”
Shaban’s many virtues also include the recital of dua, or the Dua-e-Nisf Shaban (Prayer for Shaban). Muslims must recite this dua at least 1000 times in the month of Shaban. Although the original scripture is in Urdu, the translation of Dua-e-Nisf Shaban reads as such:
“There is no god save Allah. We do not worship save ‘He’ alone, making religion pure for Him (only) However, the disbelievers are averse.”
This is done with Allah as the sole focus of concentration and counts as a good deed and a virtue during Shaban.
These auspicious events that took place this month are what motivate believers to fast and meditate through prayer during Shaban. They also help us move towards good deeds like night prayers, remembering god, reciting dua, and fasting.
Since Ramadan is an auspicious time, it is important that we be diligent in our efforts to prepare for it. Following the principles of Shaban shows a person’s real diligence in devotion.
Just like what the Sunan ibn Maajah states, “Whoever revives an aspect of my Sunnah that is forgotten after my death, he will have a reward equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward”. True faithfulness will always be rewarded.