Rediscovering The Forgotten Month of Syaaban in the Islamic Calendar

zulhijjah Month

Prophet.  emphasised the blessings and virtues of the month of Syaaban

In the Islamic calendar, the month of Syaaban is the most beloved of the Prophet ﷺ. It comes between Rajab and Ramadan, which holds significant importance for believers. However, the month of Syaaban often receives little attention or is neglected. While Ramadan is the most important time of the entire year, both in terms of the test of endurance and mercy from Allah, The Messenger ﷺ stressed giving credit and importance to the Syaaban as well.

 

Meaning of Syaaban

masjid habib nor

Syaaban offers hope and optimism in preparing for Ramadan

“Syaaban” originates from the Arabic word ‘dispersion’ or ‘separation.’ Historically, during this month, Arab tribes would disperse in search of water and oases to prepare themselves for the upcoming heat of Ramadan. This dispersal symbolized a practical approach to surviving the harsh conditions that would follow in Ramadan, offering hope and optimism.

 

The Prophet’s Emphasis on Syaaban

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Syaaban is known to the ‘month of the people’

Numerous hadiths have emphasised the significance of Syaaban, with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ referring to it as “the month of the people.” This highlights its crucial role as a time when our deeds are presented to Allah SWT, urging believers not to neglect its virtues. Syaaban thus serves as a crucial period for spiritual preparation before the arrival of Ramadan. During this month, the Prophet ﷺ increased his acts of worship by fasting more compared to other months (other than Ramadan).

Significant Events That Took Place in Syaaban

In the early years of Islam, several momentous events took place in this month of Syaaban and they include:

  • Splitting of the Moon – Anas bin Malik (RA) narrated, “The people of Makkah asked Allah’s Messenger ﷺ to show them a miracle. So he showed them the moon split in two halves between which they saw the Hira’ mountain [the Mountain of Light]”. (Bukhari). This incredible miracle took place in Syaaban, referred to in the Qur’an: “The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two]”. (Qur’an, 54:1)
  • Changing of the Qiblah from Al Aqsa to Masjidil Haram – The first Qiblah of the Muslims was Masjid Al-Aqsa Al-Mubarak. However, while the Prophet ﷺ was living in Madinah, the following ayah was revealed. “We have certainly seen the turning of your face, (Oh Prophet ﷺ), toward the heaven, and We will surely turn you to a Qiblah with which you will be pleased. So turn your face toward al-Masjid al-Haram…” (Qur’an, 2:144). Subhanallah, the Prophet ﷺ kept wishing he could face the first House of Allah S.W.T while he was praying, but it was impossible to face both the Ka’bah and Masjid Al-Aqsa while he was living in Madinah. So Allah changed the Qiblah for him and his ummah.
  • The Selawat Was Revealed– Syaaban is the month when the verse commanding selawat was revealed. As cited by Imam Al-Qastallani and Abu Dzar Al-Harawi, it is in the month of Syaaban when verse 56 from Surah Al-Ahzab was revealed to the Prophet ﷺ . Scholars, therefore, have constantly reminded us to further increase in sending selawat (prayers) and salutations upon our Prophet ﷺ in light of the verse: “Indeed Allah and His angels bestow their prayers upon the Prophet ﷺ. O you who believe, bestow prayers and peace upon him in abundance.” (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:56)*
  • Night of Forgiveness – In an authentic narration, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ emphasized the significance of the 15th night of Syaaban as a night of forgiveness. Known as the Night of Exemption, it allows believers to seek forgiveness and enter Ramadan free from the burden of sins. Ibn Umar, the companion and scholar R.A. said: “Five nights where prayers are not rejected therein: The Night of Friday (Thursday night), The First Night of Rejab, The Night of Nisfu Sha’ban, The two Nights of Eid – The First Nights of Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Aidiladha.” (Narrated by Imam Al-Bayhaqi)

 

The Month of Sunnah Fasting

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Cultivating discipline and increasing devotion in Sunnah fasting in Syaaban

Following the example of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who observed numerous fasts during Syaaban, Muslims are encouraged to engage in voluntary fasting to purify their souls, increase their devotion, and cultivate self-discipline. By dedicating themselves to fasting during Syaaban, believers not only emulate the Sunnah but also lay the groundwork for the rigorous fasting of Ramadan, ensuring that they enter the blessed month with heightened spirituality and a strengthened connection to their faith.

 

Reflecting on Quranic Wisdom

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Syaaban is the month of reciters, offering oneself to immerse in the valuable lessons the Quran

While Syaaban may be overshadowed, it is a preparatory period for Ramadan, particularly in Quranic recitation. Known as the month of reciters, Syaaban offers an ideal opportunity to immerse oneself in the Quran before the arrival of Ramadan. Surah Al-Imran (3:133-134) offers profound guidance, encouraging believers to hasten towards forgiveness and righteousness. This verse serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of engaging in acts of charity, emotional restraint, and forgiveness, setting the stage for a spiritually enriching Ramadan experience.

Embracing Syaaban’s Virtues

Syaaban offers a unique opportunity to deepen one’s connection with Allah and strive for personal betterment through these 6 acts.

  1. Increasing Acts of Worship: Seize the blessed days and nights of Syaaban to intensify acts of worship, including prayer, Quranic recitation, and remembrance of Allah.
  2. Seeking Forgiveness: Utilize this opportune time to seek forgiveness for past sins and shortcomings. Repentance serves as a good tool for spiritual purification and renewal.
  3. Engaging in Charity: Follow the noble example of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ by practicing generosity and charity during Syaaban. Such acts purify the soul and earn the pleasure of Allah.
  4. Reflecting on Spiritual Goals: Take a moment to reflect on your spiritual journey and set meaningful goals for self-improvement. Syaaban provides a valuable opportunity to align intentions and actions with the teachings of Islam.
  5. Strengthening Family Bonds: Use this auspicious month to strengthen familial ties and mend relationships, as fostering strong family bonds is integral to Islamic teachings and societal harmony.

As we go through the month of Syaaban, let us not underestimate its significance in the Islamic calendar. Instead, let us heed the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and embrace Syaaban as a time of spiritual preparation and reflection. May Allah bless us all with guidance and strength during this sacred month and beyond.