In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds; Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. Thee alone do we worship, and Thine aid we seek. Guide us in the right path. The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace,
Not the path of those who have gone astray (Qur’an 1: 1 – 7). Allah! There is no god but He, -the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory) (Q. 2: 255).
One of the unique benefits of spirituality in Islam is the inherent virtues of God’s Favours on the believers in His unity and indivisibility. Almighty Allah enthrones days, weeks, months, and years over each other according to His Will. Since the creation of the world some 4.54 billion years ago, dates are being counted by the lunar calendar, i.e., the movement of the earth round the moon (Q.7: 54; 57:4; 40:57; 79:27).
Just as God’s Truth is constant in all ages, the number of months in Islam remains twelve since the creation of the world. According to the Qur’an 9: 35 – 37:
“On the Day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, their flanks, and their backs. - "This is the (treasure) which ye buried for yourselves: taste ye, then, the (treasures) ye buried! The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year)- so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein, and fight the Pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves. Verily the transposing (of a prohibited month) is an addition to Unbelief: The Unbelievers are led to wrong thereby: for they make it lawful one year, and forbidden another year, in order to adjust the number of months forbidden by Allah and make such forbidden ones lawful. The evil of their course seems pleasing to them. But Allah guideth not those who reject Faith.”
However, God’s calendar contrasts with the Gregorian calendar of January to December, and Julian calendar among others which are solar calendar with 365 or 366 days in a year, and 28-31 days in a month. The calendar in England and other protestants used to operate 10 months in a year starting with March 25, until 1752, when it was changed by Act of Parliament to add January and February.
Meanwhile, the twelve months in Islam are: Muharram; Safar; Rabiul Awwal; Rabilul Thanni; Jumadal Ula; and Jumadal Thanni. Others are Rajab; Sha’ban; Ramadan; Shawwal; Dhul Qa’da, and Dhul-Hijja. And out of the dozen months, four are sacred, which are inviolable and holy; when fighting is forbidden, except in response to aggression. These months are: Dhul-Qa’dah; Dhul-Hijjah; Muharram; and Rajab. The ninth lunar month of Ramadan is the most venerated, when Muslims must fast the full month, from dawn to dusk, and should give charity to the poor and the needy (Q. 2: 183 – 189).
Indeed, the eighth lunar month of Sha’ban is unique, when we have the sacred Night of Destiny, when Almighty Allah reviews the fate of individuals for the next year. It is called Nisfu Sha’ban or Barat Night, when we are expected to observe fast and pray fervently to savour the Blessings of Almighty Allah. In an authentic hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) described the significance of worship during midnight and fasting in the day in these words: “When the Middle Night of Shaban arrives, you should stand (Praying) in the night and should fast in the day following it” (Ibn Majah). From this hadith, we came to know the importance of fasting on the 15th of Shaban and worship during the night when Allah Almighty forgives whoever seeks forgiveness from Him.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) mentioned in one of His Hadith about the blessings of 15th Shaban night, during the night of 15th of Shaban, Allah will say “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). This night should be spent in worship and total submission to Allah Almighty as much as possible. The recitation of the Noble Quran is another form of beneficial worship in this night.
More so, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) declares in a Hadith as contained in Al-Bukhari, “Rajab is the month of Allah, Shaban is my month and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah (Community). Sha’ban is expiator, while Ramadan is the purifier”.
The seal of all the 124,000 Prophets sent at different times in world history is Prophet Muhammad (SAW), sent to the entire world (Q. 21:107; 33:40; 34: 28). He observed more fasts in the month of Sha’ban, besides Ramadan, because our deeds ascend to heaven. According to a Hadith, “Sha’ban is a month between Rajab and Ramadan. People tend to neglect it. But that is when the deeds of His servants ascend to the Lord of all the worlds, so I like my deeds to be presented, while I am fasting”.
The youngest wife of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Aisha attests to the prolonged fasting of the Prophet in the month of Sha’ban thus: "I never saw the Messenger of Allah fast for a complete month except for Ramadan, and I never saw him do more fasting in any month than he did in Sha’ban" [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
May Almighty Allah continue to Guide us aright to fast pray, and give alms in the month of Sha’ban to savour the Blessings of the Merciful Lord. Ameen.
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