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Islamic Calendar: The Month of Sha'baan

With the sacred month of Rajab coming to an end and the blessed month of Ramadan getting so close insha'Allah, the month of Sha'ban is often neglected. By the time Sha'ban starts, we tend to get busy with the practical aspects of preparing for the blessed month, from cleaning and decorating our homes to meal prepping and activities for our little ones, or sometimes getting ready to travel back home or welcome family and relatives into our homes. Let's pause for a moment to reflect on what the month of Sha'ban is: what does it mean in Arabic? What is its significance in Islamic history? And most importantly, how did the Prophet (ﷺ) spend this last lunar month before Ramadan?

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Meaning of Shaʿbān

Islamic months were named according to the seasons, war or both. The word Shaʿbān (or Shaʿbaan; in Arabic شَعْبَان) comes from the root letters ش ع ب which mean to gather/rally, disperse, spread out, or go in different directions. The Arabs used to branch out and disperse during this month to look for water. They would carve out wells for their water supply. In this month, people would pick up their arms again, prepare and join each other (as fighting was prohibited in Rajab.)


Chronological order in the Hijri calendar

Shaʿbān is the eighth month of the Islamic calendar. It separates the two precious months of Rajab (one of the four sacred months) and Ramadan.


When will Shaʿbān take place this year?

This year (2021), Shaʿbān is estimated to begin on March 14th, 2021 insha'Allah.


Significance of Shaʿbān in the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ)

There are numerous ahadith that make mention of the importance that the Prophet (ﷺ) placed on the month of Shaʿbān in terms of worship. We have gathered a few here:

Usamah bin Zaid (رضي الله عنه) said: "I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Shaban.' 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."' (Sunan an-Nasa'i 2357)

It was narrated that Aishah (رضي الله عنها) said: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did not fast in any month of the year more than he did in Shaban. He used to fast all of Shaban." (Sunan an-Nasa'i 2180)

Aishah (رضي الله عنها) said: "The month which the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) most liked to fast was Shaban; indeed he used to join it to Ramadan." (Sunan an-Nasa'i 2350)

It was narrated that 'Aishah (رضي الله عنها) said: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did not fast any month more than Shaban; he used to fast (all of) it, or most of it." (Sunan an-Nasa'i 2354)

It was narrated from Umm Salamah (رضي الله عنها): That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would not fast any two consecutive months except Shaban and Ramadan. (Sunan an-Nasa'i 2352)

It was narrated from Jubair bin Nufair that a man asked Aishah (رضي الله عنها) about fasting and she said: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to fast all of Shaban, and he made sure to fast on Mondays and Thursdays." (Sunan an-Nasa'i 2186)

We can see from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) that the month of Shaʿbān was extensively used to worship Allah SWT through fasting. We should therefore try our best to practice this Sunnah and be careful not to neglect the time we have in this month to engage in acts of worship insha'Allah.


Significance of Shaʿbān in Islamic History

Invasion of Bani Al-Mustaliq

News reached the Prophet (ﷺ) on the 2nd of Sha'ban, 6AH, that the chief of Bani Al-Mustaliq, Al-Harith bin Dirar had mobilized his men, along with some Arabs to attack Madinah. Buraidah bin Al-Haseeb Al-Aslami (رضي الله عنه) was immediately dispatched to verify the reports. He had some words with Abi Dirar, who confirmed his intention of war. Prophet (ﷺ) summoned his men and ordered them to prepare for war. Before leaving, Zaid bin Harithah (رضي الله عنه) was put in charge of the affairs of Madinah. On hearing the advent of the Muslims, the disbelievers became frightened and the Arabs accompanying them ran for their lives.

The two armies were stationed at a well called Muraisi'. The exchange of arrow fire continued for an hour, and then the Muslims rushed and engaged the enemy in a battle that ended in a complete victory for the Muslims.

Among the captives was Juwairiyah (رضي الله عنها) , daughter of Al-Harith. The Prophet (ﷺ) married her, due to which the Muslims freed a hundred of the other enemy prisoners who embraced Islam and were then called the Prophet's in-laws. (Reference: The Sealed Nectar, الرّحيق المختوم)


Change of Qibla

Some Muslim scholars have reported that the change of Qibla (the direction towards which we pray) occurred during the month of Rajab or Shaʿbān in the 2nd year after the Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah). And Allah SWT knows best.

قَدْ نَرَىٰ تَقَلُّبَ وَجْهِكَ فِي السَّمَاءِ ۖ فَلَنُوَلِّيَنَّكَ قِبْلَةً تَرْضَاهَا ۚ فَوَلِّ وَجْهَكَ شَطْرَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَحَيْثُ مَا كُنتُمْ فَوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ شَطْرَهُ ۗ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا يَعْمَلُونَ
"We have certainly seen the turning of your face, [O Muhammad], 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. And wherever you [believers] are, turn your faces toward it [in prayer]. Indeed, those who have been given the Scripture well know that it is the truth from their Lord. And Allah is not unaware of what they do." (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:144)


Did you miss our previous posts on the Hijri Calendar? Catch up here and stay tuned for more insha'Allah!


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