بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Yes, we’re almost in Shaban.
SHABAN THEN (i.e. in the good old days)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) fasted most of Shabaan, as is well-known.
Well, one of the wisdoms behind this is that the body gets prepared for fasting.
If we were to start fasting on the first day of Ramadan, we would waste quite a few days whilst our bodies adjusted to the situation.
One of the other reasons for fasting is to increase in ibaadah (worship) before Ramadan.
You know, it’s strange. When many of us think of ways to increase our iman (faith), we generally think of praying, reciting the Quran, seeking knowledge, etc but I’ve rarely heard many people mention fasting.
Why not? Isn’t it one of the greatest acts of worship?
You know, we wonder why Ramadan is… Ramadan. One of the reasons is the fasting.
[Haven’t you ever felt that Ramadan feeling whilst fasting outside of Ramadan?]
It’s strange. We’re always talking about those who just pray during Ramadan and not outside of it.
Perhaps someone should dedicate an article to those who just fast in Ramadan and not outside of it……?
Now someone might say, “Hey, prayer is an obligation the whole year round but fasting isn’t!”
No, it isn’t but it is still great act of worship. It doesn’t matter if it is not an obligation.
Besides, paying the zakaah is obligatory only once a year but many people still give charity at the other times.
Also, Hajj can only be done once a year but many people still do Umrah at the other times of year.
So, why don’t many of us fast outside Ramadan?
Now, someone might say: “Well, we fast on Arafah and Ashoorah!”
Well, yes we do, but what about Mondays and Thursdays? What about 3 days every month?
What abut the best of all fasts: fasting every other day?
So, why don’t we all start fasting (if we haven’t started already)?
– The heat, you say? Well, it’s going to be hot in Ramadan as well, isn’t it?
An important point: If you have fasts to make up, then do those first. Don’t do any voluntary fasts if you have obligatory ones to make up.
We have less than three weeks to go before Ramadan. Let’s try to fast as much as possible, insha-Allah.
[If you’re wondering why I never talk much about fasting on this blog, it’s because I have difficulty fasting due to a variety of ailments so I don’t advertise what I don’t practice.
However, I think I should take a fresh approach to fasting and just try as much as I can outside Ramadan, insha-Allah.]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Just one month left before the main event…
We should all ask ourselves:
1) Have we finished our pending fasts from last year?
2) Do we do dua to Allah to enable us to reach Ramadan and benefit from it?
3) Have we started to increase in our ibaadah (worship)?
4) Are we just daydreaming or do we really have goals which we are striving to attain this Ramadan?
5) Do we have a plan for pre-Ramadan (Shabaan), Ramadan and post-Ramadan (Shawwal) so that we can maintain out high levels of iman?
If we haven’t gotten started, we need to do so now.
It doesn’t matter if we have work, we still have to make time for this.
And for those who haven’t prepared much for Ramadan, I’d ask you to work backwards:
1) Write the 5-7 major goals that you want to achieve in Ramadan. [It helps to try to remember the things which messed up past Ramadans and then write the exact opposite thing.]
2) Write what you need to do in Shabaan to achieve them.
3) Start working!
For example, if one of your major goals is to understand the taraweeh prayers, then you need to be able to understand Quranic Arabic.
Impossible in a month? Well, no.
What about if your goal is to get healthy by Ramadan?
Too late? Of course not.
Just change your diet (starting from right now!) and start walking. You should see a big improvement in your health in a month’s time, insha-Allah.
So, it’s not that difficult.
Remember: Just write everything down and start working.
Also, remember one more thing: If you get into action now, it will benefit you whether you reach Ramadan or not.
If you reach Ramadan, you will be prepared for it, insha-Allah. And if you die before Ramadan, you’ll die in a higher state of iman, insha-Allah. So, it will be a win-win situation.
What do I mean by that?
Well, let me explain. We have 11 more days to go before Shaban. Rather than dreaming about how you’re going to be worshipping Allah in Ramadan, start worshipping Allah in the remaining days of Shaban. You don’t know if you’ll reach Ramadan.
Also, instead of dreaming about the last 10 days of Ramadan, first focus on the first 20 days.
Also, instead of dreaming about how you will make a change in your life one day, start making a change today even if it’s a small step.
All I’m saying is this: Do things steps by step and don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.
I think the following animation summarises things perfectly:
[Click on the animation to view it.]
Yup. You think you’ve made it and then…
Why can’t we fast after the middle of Shaban, you ask? Because there exists a hadeeth that seems to prohibit it.
We should do two things when we find any hadeeth:
1) Find out its authenticity.
2) Find its explanation.
So, what is the status and explanation of this hadeeth?
Here are three fatwas that explain this issue:
Short Answer: No.
I first heard of this day about 7 years ago when a sister asked about “Shabbey Baaraat” during a lecture. My Urdu being what it is (i.e. not good at all), I couldn’t figure out why she was asking about bridal processions in the middle of a lecture.
[Full Disclosure: I learnt my Urdu vocabulary the same place the entire Arabia, Malaysia, Africa, North America, etc learnt their Urdu vocabulary: Hindi movies. Alhamdulillah, I gave up that garbage years ago.]
[By the way, it’s apparently Shab-e-Baraat. Shab=Night. The little “e” thingy is the Urdu way of Mudhaaf/Mudhaaf Ilaihi (that alone took me years to figure out) and Baraat means something else (I still have no idea).]
This night is the 15th of Shaban. Apparently, many people “celebrate” this night due to its virtues.
Before we start, let’s all agree on something: if any day has “virtues”, it’s only because Allah has given it those virtues, so we need to refer back to the Quran and the authentic Sunnah of the Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) to see whether this night really does have virtues.
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” [Surah An-Nisaa (4) :59]
So, if one truly believes in Allah and the Last Day, one will let the Quran and the authentic hadeeth dictate what is right and what is wrong.
What about a person who does not believe in Allah and the Last Day? Well, we only need to read the Quran to find out how the disbelievers of the previous nations would reply to their Prophets (alaihimissalaam) when they were advised with the truth:
“When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has sent down.” They say: “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.” (Would they do that!) Even though their fathers did not understand anything nor were they guided?” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) :170]
And no, I’m not accusing any of your family members of being misguided. All I’m trying to say is that we should follow the evidence, even if it means contradicting what our parents, spouses, children, teachers, etc did.
So, let me be clear here: I do not believe that the 15th night is a special day because I have found no authentic evidence to convince me that it is. There are some ahadeeth about the virtues of this night but 1) all the chains of narrations have some weakness in them and 2) none of them state that one needs to do more ibaadah (worship) on this night.
So, here’s some of the stuff that I could find about this issue. If you disagree with them, that’s fine (because it’s your choice and I’ve done my duty) but 1) I would appreciate it if you could provide me with some solid evidence and 2) I hope that you disagree because of the evidence and not because of cultural reasons.