In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the most Merciful.
Sha’ban is the 8th month of the Islamic calendar, the one following Rajab and preceding Ramadan. It is also one of the most virtuous months of the year as has been indicated by numerous ahadith of the Prophet (pbuh). Since Sha’ban is just around the corner (13th of July according to the Umm al-Qura calendar), now is an appropriate time to learn about some of the virtues of this month so that we may strive to act upon them.
Sha’ban is a great month for fasting. The blessed companion Anas (ra) reports that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was asked, “Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?” He replied, “Fasts of Shaban in honor of Ramadan.” [Tirmidhi]
The Prophet (pbuh) used to fast frequently during this month. The number of fasts he used to observe in this month was more than any other month except for Ramadan. In a narration by the mother of the believers ‘Aishah (ra) “I never saw the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha’ban. He used to fast in that month leaving only a few days, rather, he used to fast almost the whole of the month.” [Tirmidhi & Nisa’i]
In another narration, the blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid (ra) reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) “O Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha’ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month.” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) replied: “That (Sha’ban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting.” [Nisa’i]
So it is clear from the above narrations that this is indeed a very special month and it is highly recommended to fast as much as possible. However, it should be noted that it is not obligatory to fast during this month. One should only fast during this month if he/she is able to do so without bringing any harm to oneself. If one fears that fasting during this month will cause him/her to lose their strength or freshness of mind for the month of Ramadan then one should refrain from doing so since the obligatory fasts of Ramadan are more important. But still we should strive to fulfill this Prophetic Sunnah to be best of our abilities which will inshallah bring us closer to Allah (SWT) and prepare us both physically and mentally for the blessed month of Ramadan.
The month of Sha’ban is also considered special by some people for another reason – the 15th of Sha’ban, which is more commonly known as Lailatul Baraat or Shab-e Baraat (the Night of Emancipation). There are some narrations that this is a virtuous night, and while these narrations are weak, some scholars consider it permissible to be acted upon in hope of Allah’s mercy. InshAllah this will be covered in more detail in a subsequent Tarbiya, or you can read more about it on islamonline.net and sunnipath.com.