An announcement was made by the Emirates Astronomy Society that the new moon conjunction indicating the beginning of the Islamic month is expected to fall on February 20, 2023. To be exact, the conjunction is expected to occur at 11:06 AM UAE time on the 20th of February. New moon conjunction occurs when the sun and the moon have the same celestial longitude.
This means that according to astronomical indications, the month of Shaaban 1444 AH will be observed starting from February 21, 2023. The starting of each month of the Islamic calendar, known as the “Hijri” calendar, is indicated with the first crescent sighting of the new moon.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Astronomical Society, Ibrahim Al-Harwan, said that “The new moon crescent sighting indicating the beginning of the month of Shaaban will exceed the sunset by about 7 hours and will continue its position on top of the western horizon for 14 more minutes.”
Muslims Follow the Month of ShaabanPreparing for the Holy Month of Ramadan
The month of Shaaban is the eighth month in the Hijri calendar and is the month that precedes the holy month of Ramadan. According to the current Hijri calendar of the year 1444 AH, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin on March 23, 2023, after the sighting of the next new moon sighting.
As the Islamic Hijri calendar follows the lunar calendar, one Hijri year is usually about 11 or 12 days shorter than the solar year. For the unaware, a solar year is considered the time that Earth takes to complete one complete orbit around the Sun, which is around 365 days. On the other hand, a lunar year is considered to be the 12 full cycles of the Moon, which is around 354 days.
Even though the month of Shaaban does not make the four sacred months of the Islamic Hijri calendar, which are Dhu Al-Qadah, Dhu’l-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab), the month of Sha’ban has its own significance according to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) with respect to worship.
The month of Shaaban is considered important and revered for several reasons.
It is firstly considered as the Prophet’s (PBUH) month: “Rajab is the month of Allah, Shaaban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.”[Suyuti]. However, it is important to note that there are different views on the authenticity of the narration as mentioned above.
Also, the Prophet (PBUH) used to spend much of the month of Shaaban fasting. Shaaban is also considered the month wherein Allah (SWT) increases the deeds of his servants. Moreover, fasting during the month of Shaaban is also considered a preparation for oneself to observe fasting during the entire month of Ramadan.
The month of Shaaban is also considered one of the best times to continue building upon the acts of worship and charity. The month is also utilized by many to offer daily dua, nafl prayers, tahhajud, istaghfir, and also to dedicate time for the regular recitation of the holy Qur’an.
The 15th day of the month of Shaaban hosts the day known as “Shab-e-Baarat” or “Laylat Al Bara’at” (translated to the Night of Forgiveness), which according to several scholars is considered one of the most sacred nights of the entire Hijri year. On the night of “Shab-e-Baraat”, Muslims all over the world seek forgiveness from the Almighty Allah (SWT) for the sins they knowingly or unknowingly may have committed.
Moreover, the night is also taken as an opportunity to seek mercy for the family members who have either passed on or are ill. It is considered that the Almighty Allah (SWT) decides upon the future and fortune of all the living creatures on Earth during this night.
Depending on locally followed traditions and culture, Muslims all around the world may celebrate “Shab-e-Baraat” differently.
Often considered the “Neglected” month due to its presence between the holy months of Rajab and Ramadan, it is advised that Muslims all around the world do not forget about the importance of the month of Shaaban and spend their time fasting, offering prayers and du’ahs, and preparing for the month of Ramadan that’s to come.
Muslims make up for the fasting days that they missed during the holy month of Ramadan. If any Muslim male or female misses fasting days during the month of Ramadan were missed due to traveling, menstruation, or any other illnesses, then it is their responsibility to make up for the days during the rest of the year.
As the month of Shaaban is the last month before the next month of Ramadan arrives, it is advised that Muslims take extra care on catching up on their lost fasting days within Shaaban itself.