Shaban is the eighth month on the Hijri calendar. The three months of Rajab, Sha’ban, and Ramadan are considered among the most important months in the Islamic view. The month of Sha’ban is considered to be the month of the Prophet (PBUH & HP).
In this regard, Imam Ali (AS) says,
Ramadan is the month of Allah and Sha’ban is the month of the Prophet (PBUH & HP) and Rajab is my month (1)
Various important religious events take place in Sha’ban, including,
The most important event of this month is Imam Mahdi’s birthday. Shiite Muslims celebrate this day and congratulate each other. Some also stay up on the eve of Sha’ban 15th and pray for the arrival of Imam Mahdi (AS).
In every month of the year, various prayers and practices have been recommended by the Prophet (PBUH & HP) or the Shiite Imams (AS). Among all, these three months, Rajab, Sha’ban, and Ramadan, are full of prayers and practices that you can say or do and we mention some of them for Sha’ban month below.
Fasting is one of the most important practices you can do in Sha’ban.
In this regard Imam Sadiq (AS) said,
When Sha’ban arrives, Imam Sajjad (AS) had gathered his followers and he told them: “My companions! Do you know which month is this? the Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) said, ‘Sha’ban is my month so fast in it for my love so that you can get closer to Allah.’” (2)
Also, the Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) said,
The heavens are decorated every Thursday in Sha’ban and the angels tell Allah, ‘O our God! Forgive the ones who fast during this month and answer their call. (3)
He also said,
Anyone who fasts on Mondays and Thursdays of Sha’ban Allah will satisfy twenty needs of them in this world and twenty needs of them in the hereafter. (4)
As you may know, fasting in Ramadan is obligatory, but in Sha’ban it’s not mandatory and yet so recommended. It has also been recommended to fast in the last days of Sha’ban so that the fasting of Sha’ban and Ramadan combine.
Imam Sajjad (AS) said,
The fasting of Sha’ban and Ramadan can meet and if you fast these two months in a row your sins will be forgiven. (5)
Also, Imam Sadiq (AS) said,
Anyone who fasts during the last three days of Sha’ban, Allah will reward them as if they fasted two months in a row (6)
You can say 70 times every day,
اَسْتَغْفِرُاللهَ وَ اَسْئَلُهُ التَّوْبَةَ: I Ask Allah for forgiveness and want him to turn back to me
اللهُمَّ إِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ غَفَرْتَ لَنَا فِيمَا مَضَى مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا فِيمَا بَقِيَ مِنْهُ: O Allah! If you haven’t forgiven us in the past days of Sha’ban, then forgive us in the remaining days of it.
The al-Sha’baniah prayer
The al-Sha’baniah prayer is one of the most popular Shiite prayers. This prayer includes various spiritual subjects and so many points about the attributes of Allah and His love. This prayer is narrated by Imam Ali (AS) and it is said that all the other Imams had always read this prayer during Sha’ban.
You can hear this prayer through this link
There are some practices that are recommended to do before, during, and after our prayers, including;
Salwat is a prayer that you say to remember Prophet Muhammad (PBUH & HP) and his progeny. This is Salawat:
اللهُمّ صَلِّ عَلی مُحَمَّد وَ آلِ مُحَمَّد و عَجِّل فَرَجَهُم
O, Allah! Bless Muhammad and the progeny of Muhammad and send their savor sooner
It is recommended to say this prayer before and after every other prayer you say. Imam Sadiq (AS) said,
Anyone who has a wish should start with Salwat, then ask Allah their wish, and after that say Salawat again because Allah is so great that he wouldn’t ignore a praying that is between two accepted prayers because Salawat is always answered by Allah and there is no obstacle for it. (7)
Imam Hussain (AS) said,
The Prophet (PBUH & HP) would always raise his hands for praying like a beggar who wants food. (8)
Imam Sadiq (AS) said,
When my father was sad, he would gather all the women and the children and pray and others would say ‘Amen.’ (9)
The Sha’ban month is a great opportunity for every servant of Allah to get closer to him by praying and doing the aforementioned practices. Actually, this month makes you ready for Ramadan because you can ask Allah for forgiveness in this month and if it is accepted, which is so likely, you will enter the Ramadan month while you are pure of any sin. So, do not lose this chance.
- Vasa’il ash-Shia, Sheikh Hurr al-Ameli, vol.10, pg.493
- Bihar al-Anvar, Allamah al-Majlesi, vol.94, pg.82
- Vasa’il ash-Shia, Sheikh Hurr al-Ameli, vol.10, pg.493
- Vasa’il ash-Shia, Sheikh Hurr al-Ameli, vol.10, pg.493
- Vasa’il ash-Shia, Sheikh Hurr al-Ameli, vol.10, pg.496
- Vasa’il ash-Shia, Sheikh Hurr al-Ameli, vol.10, pg.498
- Al-Kafi, Sheikh Koleini, vol.2, pg.494
- Bihar al-Anvar, Allamah al-Majlesi, vol.90, pg.294
- Al-Kafi, Sheikh Koleini, vol.2, pg.487
Having the major themes that were mentioned in the previous article in mind, while going out for fun in Islam, we can realize if the sort of entertainment that we are up to, is lawful or not. Now, let’s have a look at a few lawful (Halal) fun activities:
In Islam having a good relationship with relatives is an obligation even if that relative is not Muslim . Therefore having gatherings with friends, family and relatives is not even lawful (Halal) but also recommended, keeping in mind that in all sorts of gatherings we must avoid gossiping, backbiting, humiliating others, and using bad words, as they have prohibited in Islam [i].
In chapter (Surah) Mu’minoun when Allah is describing the features of a real believer, he says: “And those who avoid vain talk” (23: 3)
Although we have many verses with the content mentioned above, it does not mean that Muslims should be charmless and moody. Therefore we have to find out what vain talk really means. The vain talk could be a sort of talk that can annoy other people [ii]. However, telling jokes that have no bad content or have a sort of humorous attitude that can make the listener laugh and make him/her happy and energetic, is recommended in Islam. It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (AS) that “among the most precious actions in the eyes of God is to bring joy and happiness to the heart of a believer.” 
Having fun in Islam with the non-Mahram opposite sex is forbidden. Instead, getting married and enjoying a relationship with the spouse is highly recommended. It is narrated from Imam Baqir (AS) that, “the fun of a believer is in three things: enjoying his/her spouse, joking with friends, and the night prayer.” 
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Travel so that you stay fine and healthy.” 
Going out to nature, being only a few hours in a park or camping in the woods overnight, or traveling to other cities or countries is not only a change of mood, but there are also lessons and edification in it for a believer [iii].
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) used to encourage people to necessarily learn sports such as horse riding, swimming, and archery. There are many narrations concerning these three specific sports as well as other sorts of fun in Islam that our prophet (PBUH&HP) used to get involved in at his time. For example, it is narrated that he used to take part in camel riding races and he was really good at it.
However it does not mean that in our time we should stick to archery, horse riding, or camel riding, rather we should find the types of sports that suit our time and are also required in life. We can say that these days driving replaces horse riding. Or even cycling, karate and running or walking are easy and useful sports.
World championship sports these days mostly serve international political reasons rather than health and joy.
These kinds of activities are fun and exciting. Some people enjoy these activities alongside activities such as bungee jumping. Some people have adventurous personalities and need a kind of entertainment like this, so they can gain energy and stability to go back to work on a Monday morning. Therefore there is no problem to enjoy them.
Reading is a calming and relaxing activity. Sitting by the fire on a winter’s day and drinking a cup of tea while reading, or on a summer’s day doing the same thing on the balcony would be so joyful. Most of our jurists recommend inserting reading into our daily lives. But we have to be careful about what we read. Reading all types of books is, not lawful (Halal) for a Muslim. A Muslim should be cautious about the contents of the books she/ he chooses to read. The book should help elevate the life and soul of the reader and not engage his/ her mind with useless information.
Playing computer games as long as there is no unethical content in the game is not forbidden. If people play computer games to rest, or change their moods, it would be fine. But we have all seen how some people are addicted to digital games that have no use for them and only waste their energy as well as physically hurting them. However, spending too much time on a computer game that may have no use for the growth of one’s soul is detestable (Makruh). The same rule applies to movies. When choosing a movie to watch, it is important to make sure that the content of that movie does not harm our souls.
Playing cards, especially when a group of friends comes together can be fun. However, any sort of card games that are known to be used for gambling, even if we do not bet on them, is forbidden. Imam Reza (AS) said: “God has prohibited His servants from all sorts of gambling (games with winners and losers), and commands them to avoid these games…” , as they are “abominations of Satan’s doing” [iv].
In conclusion, by keeping in mind that the entertainment of a believer should do no harm to him/her or others, but should also have some benefits for him/her, we can understand why Imam Ali (AS) says: “working is the greatest fun of a believer”. 
[i] “O you who have faith! Let not any people ridicule other people: it may be that they are better than they are, nor let women [ridicule] women: it may be that they are better than they are. And do not defame one another, nor insult one another by [calling] nicknames. How evil are profane names subsequent to faith! As for those who are not penitent [of their past conduct]—such are the wrongdoers. O you who have faith! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And do not spy on one another or backbite. Will any of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it. Be wary of Allah; indeed Allah is All-clement, all-merciful.” (49:11- 12)
[ii]“Woe to every scandal-monger and slanderer” (104:1)
[iii]“Have they not traveled in the land and seen how was the fate of those who were before them? They were more powerful than them, and they plowed the earth and developed it more than they have developed it. Their apostles brought them manifest proofs. So it was not Allah who wronged them, but it was they who used to wrong themselves.” (30: 9)
[iv]“O you who have faith! Indeed wine, gambling, idols, and the divining arrows are abominations of Satan’s doing, so avoid them, so that you may be felicitous.” (5: 90)
- Mafatih al-hayat, p. 211
- Al-kafi, vol. 2. P. 188
- Mafatih al-hayat, p. 205
- Al-hadith, vol. 2, p. 145
- Mafatih al-hayat, p. 205
- Nahjulbalaghah, Hekmah no. 39
Making pilgrimage to Karbala, where Imam Hussain (AS) and his loyal companions were bravely martyred, takes one of the highest places in a Shia’s wish list. All around the year, Karbala hosts the pilgrims who want to visit the holy shrine of Imam Hussain (AS). But the pilgrimage in Arbaeen is different.
“Arbaeen” takes place forty days later than “Ashura”. “Arbaeen pilgrimage” is actually one of the largest annual public gathering in the whole world. Millions of Shias and Sunnis or even many Christians, Yazidis and other faiths with various nationalities participate in this grand religious ceremony and gather from all around the world in the city of Karbala. A remarkable number of them takes this trip on foot and walks from Najaf to Karbala (approximately 80 kilometers).
Many Muslims try so hard to make it to Karbala on Arbaeen and many Iraqis do their best to serve the pilgrims. During these days, copious amount of food, water, as well as small medical facilities which is run by GPs and specialists, and tents for resting are available along the route and in the cities where the pilgrims stay and visit. These services are all provided free by the native people.
Considering this large number of pilgrims and the great amount of money and time that is spent for this pilgrimage, this question may pop into many minds: What is it for?
Many goals and reasons can be mentioned for why we _Shias_ take this trip and go to the Karbala. In this text, we mention one of these reasons which is of great importance.
Among the many goals of the “Arbaeen walk” ceremony, introducing Imam Hussain (AS) to the whole world seems to be the most significant one. The public gathering of Arbaeen gives us a precious opportunity to make people get to know Imam Hussain’s personality (AS) and understand his message. This unprecedented and unique event that happens only once a year can be so attractive for people around the world who yearn for finding the truth.
Arbaeen ceremony is a unique event in which people and society go through a huge change, which isn’t seen in any other part of the world. Millions of people gathering in three or four Iraqi cities in about twelve days just for visiting the holy shrines can be a disaster to any other similar countries, but Iraqi people host this ceremony without any difficulties. In these days unlike other times, money loses its meaning. For maintaining peace and discipline, people themselves are enough and there’s not much need for police forces. People won’t be hungry, homeless or harmed by any person. In these days, people are even braver compared to other days, because they dare to face many problems and dangers that are otherwise intolerable. Even when the ISIS was in Iraq threatening the pilgrims, millions of people participated in this ceremony (1).
In this regard Imam Sadiq (AS) says:
O God! Our enemies frowned on their journey and threatened them, but it didn’t stop our followers from getting up and departing towards us in spite of the enemy’s opinion (2).
When people around the world observe this great exhibition, they understand the truth about Islam and Shi’ism which the terrorists like ISIS tried to taint.
Furthermore, Arbaeen walk offers the whole humanity a glimpse at Islam’s suggested life style and civilized society: A society with no war, no poverty, hunger, and no discrimination.
As said before, introducing Imam Hussain (AS) is the most significant objective of this grand ceremony. The importance of this purpose lies in the fact that introducing Imam Hussain (AS) and his message is actually introducing our only awaited Imam, Imam Mahdi (As) to the whole humanity. By telling people who is Imam Hussain (AS), we are actually making people familiar with the Shia Imams and the massage of this faith. Shias believe their Imams are all like each other and they seek one goal, which is spreading the peaceful message of Islam to the whole world. This is actually the essential message of Islam, too. The Holy Quran says:
It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the true religion, that He may make it prevail over all religions, and Allah suffices as witness (48:28)
Certainly We sent Our messengers with manifest proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, so that mankind may maintain justice (57:25)
Imam Mahdi (AS) is the last Imam who is destined to carry out this mission and we, as his followers, are obliged to raise awareness about His mission and himself. When people understand the message of Imam Hussain (AS) they actually understand Imam Mahdi’s message (AS) since there is no difference between them. The Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) says:
Allah almighty created me and my Household [the twelve Imams] from one same light (3)Imam Sadiq (AS) also says:
There is always a justful successor among us who defend the religion against the falsification of the extremists, plagiarism of the disbelievers and the wrong understanding of the fools. (4)
According to the prophecies about the last Imam (AS) when he arrives and introduces himself to the people, all the world hears his voice in their language at the same time. Then, Imam Mahdi (AS) introduces himself as the descendant of Imam Hussain (AS):
O people of the world! Indeed my grand ancestor Hussain (AS) was killed while he was thirsty, O people of the world! Indeed he was left on the earth with no cloth, O people of the world! Indeed he was beaten so hard out of animosity (5)
Clearly, when people hear this voice, must know who is Hussain (AS); so, it’s our duty to make them familiar with him.
- this ceremony
- Thavab al-A’mal, Sheikh Saduq, Pg.94
- Avalim al-Olum, al-Bahrani, Vol.15, Pg.155
- Kafi, Koleini, Vol.1, Pg.32
- Ilzam an-Nasib, Al-Yazdi al-Haeri, Vol.2, Pg.233