Nisfu Syaaban is a clear indicator that the blessed month of Ramadan is around the corner. One can fast as many as days as one likes before Nisfu Syaaban. But after Nisfu Syaaban, the 15th Syaaban, one should not fast, except for those who are used to fast on certain days, every Mondays and Thursdays for example.
But if one is not used to that pattern, and he wants to fast after Nisfu Syaaban, then it is not advisable for him to do so. In hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad, Rasulullah s.a.w said:
Which means: When Nisfu Syaaban comes, stop fasting until Ramadan.
Since Nisfu Syaaban is a sign to us that Ramadan will be coming shortly, it is well advised that we take that seriously. We should begin our preparations for Ramadan. If we can go to such great extent to prepare beautifying our houses and ourselves for Hari Raya, why can’t we do the same for Ramadan? In fact, Ramadan is more important than Hari Raya. Hari Raya will be celebrated in just one day. Ramadan is celebrated for the whole month and to elevate our spiritual self.
So in all sense, Ramadan is much more important than Hari Raya. Thus, it is important that we make a greater preparation for Ramadan.
Maasyiral Muslimin rahimakumullah,
The blessedness of Nisfu Syaaban lies in its night, which according to our calendar, will fall on this Sunday night.
There are many hadith that conveyed the blessedness of Nisfu Syaaban. Even though a great number of those hadith about the blessedness of Nisfu Syaaban are either weak or dubious, there are many scholars, Ulama, who are of the opinion that, taken as a whole, it indicates that there is some truth on the blessedness of Nisfu Syaaban.
Syeikh Mubarakfuri, a famous hadith scholar of high repute from India, wrote in his book Syarah Sunan Tirmizi, that he supports the blessedness of Nisfu Syaaban. He said that the existence of many hadith, even though weak, seems to convey that there is some truth in those hadith, and that Man does not fabricate them.
But in our earnest to pursue the blessings of Nisfu Syaaban, or any other nights or days for that matter, there are two important things we should remember.
First, we must not dedicate specialized acts of worships for a particular time period, except specified by Al-Quran or authentic hadiths.
Thus for the night of Nisfu Syaaban, we should reject all accounts of special prayers or recitations for that night. There is no special solat for Nisfu Syaaban.
Instead, we should increase our general acts of worship, such as performing sunat prayers, tahajud prayers, reciting Al-Quran, remembering Allah through zikir, and to seek his forgiveness.
The second thing that we should remember is that: when we perform any acts or worship, we should not do them purely for the sake of receiving its promised rewards.
For example, it has been promised by our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w that whosoever fast six days after Ramadan, will be rewarded as if he has fasted for the whole year. While this promise can be regarded as an encouragement and motivation for us to perform such act of worship, it should not be the only reason for us to perform that worship.
Instead, we should be sincere when worshiping Allah. Not for this reward or that reward. For sincerity is its best reward.
When someone is sincere in worshiping Allah, he will receive unlimited rewards. Rewards that only Allah knows. Allah says in surah Al-Baiyyinah, verse 5:
Which means: And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practise regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight.
My brothers in Islam,
Let us not just regard Nisfu Syaaban as a sign that Ramadan is near. We should also regard Nisfu Syaaban as a sign that we should look into ourselves, to do some self-accounting on our past deeds. How little our devotions to Allah are and how much our sins are. How unprepared we are for the blessings of Allah in Ramadan.
If that is our condition, we should seriously consider doing some house cleaning. Not for our physical houses, but for our hearts, and our spiritual self. Grab the opportunity presented to us in the night of Nisfu Syaaban to repent on all our mistakes, and to seek forgiveness from Allah. And for two weeks after that, let us watch carefully our character, our manners, so that when Ramadan comes, we will be spiritually ready for it.
Besides doing self-accounting on ourselves, let us also do self-accounting on our community, and the Ummah in general. Ramadan comes. Ramadan goes. Has there been any improvement in our community? Are there members of our community who still disregard, or worse, do not respect Ramadan?If there are, then we should do something. We should use self-accounting as a tool to take stock of our community and ourselves.
Let us be aware of the mistakes and deficiencies, and then take steps to correct and overcome them.
This is a characteristic of an excellent society, to constantly do self-correction and tackle problems head on.
We Muslims are special. If other communities do self-improvement for their life in this world, we should do more. We are commanded to improve both our worldly life and our life in the Hereafter. We should be a model and inspiration to all.
May the coming days witness a positive change in our community, and ourselves amen.