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Preparing for Ramadan - A Month of Great Blessing

As Ramadan approaches, all Muslims should prepare for Ramadan with the fasting of Sha'ban. It is a time to thank Allah for his mercy and blessings.

The month of Sha'ban is a month of fasting and great rewards from Islam's Creator, Allah. Sha'ban is a voluntary or suggested fast. The only required fasting days are in Ramadan; the other voluntary fasts are suggested and many participate, as Muslims believe they must follow the life and traditions of Prophet Mohammad.

According to Al-Islam.com, Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him*) would to fast the following days:

 smoke, eat or ingest any food whatsoever. It's said that a Muslim with a bad tongue is a Muslim whom Allah needs nothing from. Muslims must avoid major sins while fasting.
Six days of Shawwal (the month after Ramadan).
  • The first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which would include the day of Arafat. Fast this month of Hajj if not participating in the pilgrimage.
  • The day of ‘Ashura. Ashura is 10th day of Muharram (1st month of the Islamic calendar).
  • Fasting during most of the month of Sha'ban (month before Ramadan).
  • Fasting Mondays and Thursdays.
  • Fasting on the 13th, 14th and 15th of each month.
Fasting in the Holy Month of Sha'ban

Muslims believe that fasting during the month of Sha'ban should always follow the standard fasting rules in Islam. For instance, Muslims should fast as much as possible, but fasting should not occur beyond the 15th of Sha'ban. It's believed that the last two weeks should be spent in worship, but also resting in preparation for Ramadan. When fasting during the first two weeks of Sha'ban, Muslims fast every other day. This follows the model set forth by David, who fasted every other day and never ran from the enemy.

Things that should be done during and after fasting are: zikr (praising Allah), nafl (voluntary) prayers, reading of the Quran, giving charity, doing more good deeds and remembering the obligatory actions during fasting.

 During fasting, a Muslim must not backbite, engage in intercourse,
'A'ishah said, "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'ban." (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Sha'ban - The Most Neglected MonthThe Prophet Mohammad would fast throughout most of the month prior to Ramadan, according to some scholars. Others believe that fasting during this time was performed by women, who made up any missed fasting days from the prior Ramadan; since the wives were fasting, Prophet Mohammad fasted as well.

Fasting is a time when the Muslim forms a connection with Allah; it's a very personal experiences that's not discussed with others. Many scholars have fasted for years without ever telling of this task, seeking only the reward from Allah. By preparing the fast on this month, the Muslim is able to fast during Ramadan with relative ease.

Usamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased*) said, "I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Sha'ban.' He said, 'That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.'" (Narrated by al-Nasa'i).

According to Abu Dawood, "The most beloved of months for the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him*) to fast in was Sha'ban, and his fasting in Sha'ban was continuous with his fasting in Ramadan."

15 Sha'ban - A Day When Deeds Presented to Allah

The 15th of Sha'ban is also referred to as "Laylatul-bara'ah" (the night of freedom from fire). This pertains to the night of the 14th (beginning at sunset) through until sunrise on the 15th day of Shaban. It is a day of fasting and a night of continual prayers. During the day of fasting, the Muslim must perform good deeds as it's believed that on this day, Allah will decide what lies ahead for the following year. It's believed that Allah determines the Muslims' fate, deciding who will die, who will find wealth and prosperity.

According to hadith by Tirmidhi, "Allah forgives more people than the number of hair on the hides of the flocks and herds of sheep of the tribe of Kalb." Who are the people Allah will not forgive on this evening? According to Islamic tradition, the following individuals will not receive forgiveness:
  • Habitual drinkers.
  • Those who are habitual adulterous.
  • Those disobedient to parents.
  • Backbiters.
  • Scandal mongerers.
  • Makers of pictures.
  • Those who lower their pants below the ankles in pride.
  • Those who bear malice against another Muslim.
In Islam, it's believed that Allah will forgive the Muslim who sincerely repents of these sins and seeks mercy. On this night, all devout Muslims hope for the blessings of Allah. It should be noted that there is no hadith hasan (strong saying from Allah) on the practice of fasting on the 15th. The general consensus among scholars is that fasting is acceptable and not an innovation (bid'ah).

For Muslims, the month of Sha'ban is a glorious and very significant month, filled with worship, piety and fasting, which is performed by all who are not ill or traveling. In Islam, it's said that the month of Sha'ban is a time when many angels gather to return the deeds performed and spoken by all pious Muslims.

*Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.

Resources:
  • "The Virtues of the Month of Sha'ban," Mission Islam. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
  • "Shaban: Merits, Do's, and Don'ts," Albalagh. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
Charity and Sadakah brings blessings to Muslims who follow the Sunnah of our Prophet


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