The Month of Sha'ban-A Spring of Goodness
The month of Sha'ban is here and everyone is excited that the countdown to the blessed month of Ramadan has started. This clearly explains the words of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when he was asked about the virtue of the month of Sha'ban; he said, "That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan…"
The Prophet's words inform us that Muslims occupy themselves with receiving the month of Ramadan to the extent that they neglect the virtues of Sha'ban which is a "spring of God's gifts" and an opportunity to prepare for the month of Ramadan. The word "spring" has two lexical meanings in English that relate to the lofty status of Sha'ban.
First, spring is the season of the year between winter and summer and it is a time of renewal. This has to be our aim throughout the month of Sha'ban, i.e. a good believer should seize the opportunity and renew their intention for every good deed they do. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Actions are judged by their intentions." In such a high season of goodness, the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, so it is more appropriate to make it a real and sincere effort for Ramadan which is only a few weeks away. The other meaning of the word "spring" is a small stream of water flowing naturally from the earth.
During the month of Sha'ban the believers are exposed to the showers of God's mercy and everyone receives their share of it according to their determination. The door is widely open for all forms of good deeds be it fasting, paying charity, reciting the Quran, making remembrance of God (dhikr), kindness to parents, helping those in need etc. Abu Dhar (may God be pleased with him) reported: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face.’” However, fasting was the best of the deeds that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) observed during this month of Sha'ban. Usamah ibn Zaid narrated, "I said: 'O Messenger of God! I do not see you fasting any month as much as Sha’ban.' 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."' This Prophetic tradition teaches us the art of presentation.
The Prophet was keen to have his deeds presented before God the Almighty in the best possible form, and fasting is a time of high spirituality and purification. This is similar to the beauty and vividness the spring season brings to everything on the face of earth to receive summer. Spring, in both of its meanings, brings infinite goodness to everything and everyone.
God Almighty says, "And [recall] when Moses prayed for water for his people, so We said, "Strike with your staff the stone." And there gushed forth from it twelve springs, and every people knew its watering place" (Quran 2: 60). In the above noble verse, God the Almighty informs us that a water spring came out from the solid rocks. In a similar manner, the month of Sha'ban is the gift that God Almighty grants to His believing servants to bring out the best of them and to wash away their sins before the blessed month of Ramadan.
The eve of mid-Sha'ban During this month of Sha'ban, God opens the door of repentance to His believing servants, responds to their prayers, and fulfills their needs on the blessed eve of mid-Sha'ban. There are numerous hadiths which strengthen one another and which establish the merit of this night.
Therefore, commemorating the day is undoubtedly lawful. It is a time that attests to God's love for His believing servants. Mu'adh ibn Jabal (may God be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "On the eve of mid-Sha'ban, God looks at His creation and forgives all of them except for the polytheist and the quarrelsome" (recorded by al-Tabarani and ibn Hibban declared it authentic). 'Ali ibn Abu Talib (may God honor his countenance) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Perform the night vigil prayers on the eve of mid-Sha'ban and fast its day for God descends to the lowest heaven at sunset of that night and says, 'Is there no one asking for forgiveness that I may forgive him? Is there no one asking for sustenance that I may grant him sustenance? Is there no one under trial that I may relieve his distress? Is there not such and such…, is there not such-and-such?' And so forth until the beak of dawn" (Ibn Majah).
So when the majority of our friends, family, and community are not paying attention to what could be gained during this season of goodness, let us take the initiative and focus on that which is good and strive to rectify ourselves while we prepare to receive our dearest guest.