By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and Messenger.
Dear brothers and sisters, Sha’aban, the eighth month of Islam’s Hijrah or lunar calendar, and the month that precedes the noble month of Ramadan was the most beloved month to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Respected brothers and sisters, the month of Sha’aban is significant for many reasons. First, it is the time that Muslims Ummah start getting ready for the blessed month of Ramadan. It was in the middle of the month of Sha’aban when Muslims Ummah believe that Allah Almighty ordered Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to change the Qiblah, the direction towards which Muslims face when they pray, from Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to the noble Ka’abah in Makkah. Al-Aqsa Mosque had been the Qiblah for thirteen years in Makkah, and for nearly eighteen months after Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) migrated to Madinah. Verses from the Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), instructing him and all Muslims to turn towards the Ka’abah in Makkah when they pray. Most interpretations date this incident to be the middle of the month of Sha’aban.
The Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) show that it is recommended to fast during the month of Sha’aban. A well-known companion of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), Anas Bin Malik reported that Prophet Muhammad was asked:
“Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasting of Ramadan?”
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) replied:
“Fasting of Sha’aban in honour of Ramadan.”
Dear servants of Allah, fasting in the month of Sha’aban is like mental and physical training for fasting in Ramadan. Many Muslims may experience difficulty when they start the fast in Ramadan, but if they started fasting a few days in Sha’aban, their bodies may get used to fasting and not feel so lethargic and weak when Ramadan comes.
And the month of Sha’aban is like an introduction to Ramadan and it has some things in common with Ramadan, such as fasting, reciting Qur’an and giving to charity. Aisha, the wife of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is narrated to have said:
“The Messenger of Allah used to fast until we thought he would never break his fast, and not fast until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah fasting for an entire month except in Ramadan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’aban.”
And Usamah Ibn Zaid narrated that:
“I said to the Prophet,’ O Messenger of Allah! I did not see you fasting in any month as you do in the month of Sha’aban.’ The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘People neglect this month which is between Rajab and Ramadan; in this month the actions of the people are presented to Allah, so I like my deeds to be presented while I am fasting.’”
Though fasting is made obligatory in Ramadan, Muslims believe fasting in Sha’aban is beneficial in a number of ways as it offers a chance to start preparing for Ramadan. In Sha’aban, many Muslim scholars and others used to consistently recite and read the noble Qur’an along with fasting, which also helps in getting our routines of worship in place for the coming month of Ramadan. Muslims believe that if they begin increasing acts of worship in Sha’aban, they will enjoy the fruits of their efforts in the noble month of Ramadan.
The actions of people are presented to Allah in the month of Sha’aban, so the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) used to fast repeatedly in this month. Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said:
“I never saw the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) fast for a complete month except for Ramadan, and I never saw him do more fasting in any month than he did in Sha’aban.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Usamah Ibn Zaid, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that:
“I said to the Prophet, O Messenger of Allah! I did not see you fasting in any month as you do in the month of Sha’aban.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “People neglect this month which is between Rajab and Ramadan, in this month the actions of the people are presented to Allah; so I like my deeds to be presented while I am fasting.” [Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i]
Dear brothers and sisters, as for fasting particularly the fifteenth of Sha’aban this is not proved through any sound evidence. There are some sayings of the companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and their successors, may Allah be pleased with them, which indicate the virtue of this night. But this does not mean that there is any special significance to this particular day or this specific night.
So, there is no evidence proving that fasting such a day is a Sunnah nor is there any evidence proving that there are some specific prayers to be performed in the fifteenth night of the month of Sha’aban.
Respected servants of Allah, tomorrow Saturday is Rajab 29, 1442 AH (March 13, 2021), 31 days countdown to the month of Ramadan In Shaa Allah, and hence the first day to look for the month of Sha’aban 1442 AH crescent.
My beloved people, please kindly endeavour to look for the crescent on that Saturday or ask someone to do so on your behalf and then share the results especially to the reliable authorities. It is suggested, if possible, to look for the crescent in a group with others, for our peace, unity and progress.
Dear brothers and sisters, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), used to fast a lot during the blessed month of Sha’aban. He encouraged Muslims around him to increase in worship during Ramadan before it actually arrived, by mentioning the extra rewards for doing good deeds during it. He tried to motivate them in advance.
Also the beloved Companions of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) used to prepare for Ramadan six months in advance. So, if we really want to make the best of this 1442/2021 Ramadan, then we need to prepare for it now! As we know, fasting is more than just abstaining from food but from indecent speech and lustful desires as well. Fasting pushes us to be cognisant of our actions, to be patient and to be moral individuals, thereby increasing our Taqwa (Allah-consciousness). Here are some ways we can improve on different aspects of our life so we can fully benefit from Ramadan, a time when deeds are multiplied:
1. Fast Voluntarily especially in the month of Sha’aban
2. Recite and Reflect Upon the Qur’an
3. Follow the Sunnah and Pray Extra Prayers
4. Repent and Make Du’a (Supplication)
5. Give Charity and help the needy
6. Improve Your Character
7. Eat Healthy and Moderately
Respected brothers and sisters, in order to take full advantage of this noble month, we need to prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. In Shaa Allah if we constantly try to improve ourselves, then when we reach Ramadan, we will be able to easily move to the next level spiritually.
I pray, may Allah gives us the ability to observe all our daily worships, may He Almighty accept them and reward us with Jannatul Firdaus, ameen.
May Allah send His Salah and Salam upon our noble Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
And all praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Rajab 28, 1442 AH (March 12, 2021).