With the sighting of the crescent of Rajab, Messenger of Allah(s.a.w) would anticipate and begin preparations for the month of Ramadhan. This is two months in advance! People “live to see” various accomplishments in their lives, but a Believer “lives for” and yearns to witness sacred days like these.
Sayyiduna Anas Ibn Malik (r.a) reports that Rasulullah (s.a.w) would recite the following supplication when the Month of Rajab would commence:
اَللّٰهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَناَ فِيْ رَجَبٍ وَشَعْبانَ وَبَلّغْنَا رَمَضَانْ
Allahumma baarik lanaa fee Rajaba wa Sha’bana wa balligh-naa Ramadhan
Translation: Oh Allah! Grant us Barakah (Blessing) during (the months of) Rajab and Sha’ban, and allow us to reach Ramadhan.
(Above Dua appears in Shu’abul-Iman #3534, Ibnu Sunni #660, Mukhtasar Zawaid Bazzar #662, also see Al-Azhkar #549)
Rajab is the second of the “four sacred months” in the Islamic Calendar which are referred to as: “Al-Ash-hurul hurum“ (Qur’an Surah Tawbah, verse: 36)
The others are: Zhul-Qa’dah, Zhul-Hijjah and Al-Muharram.
Explaining their significance the ‘Ulama,scholars mention that during these months, good deeds are more virtuous and evil deeds are more detestable to Almighty Allah.
A pious person once fell ill before Rajab. He made du’a to Allah that He allow him to live till Rajab (at least) because he had heard that Allah frees people from punishment in Rajab. Allah had accepted his du’a. (Appears in Latiful Ma’arif, pg.173)
As for Sha’ban, authentic Ahadith describe special significance for the 15th night. (see detailed article here)
Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) is reported to have said: “Certainly Almighty Allah forgives everyone on this night besides those who ascribe partners to Him and those who harbor enmity for others”.
(Above hadith appears in Sahih Ibn Hibban #5665, Al-Targheeb,vol.3 pg.459, Majma’uz-zawaid,vol.8 pg.65 & Lataaiful-Ma’arif, pg.194)
Imam ‘Ataa Ibn Yasar (r.a)- a distinguished Tabi’e- said:
“ After Laylatul Qadr, there is no other night more virtuous than the middle (15th) night of Sha’ban .”
(Appears in Latiful Ma’arif, pg. 197)
Du’as are accepted
Imam Shafi’e (r.a) has stated: “I have heard that du’as are accepted by Allah on five nights:
1) The night of Jumu’ah,
2 & 3) The nights of the two ‘Eids,
4) The first night of Rajab,
5) The middle (15th) night of Sha’ban,
(Appears in Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 196)
Specific forms of worship
There are no specific types of Salah etc. that are prescribed for the Month of Rajab or the 15th night of Sha’ban. One may engage in whatever form of ‘ibadah one is comfortable with. (Appears in Lataiful Ma’arif, pg.168)
The Sahabah (r.a) and the Tab’un (r.a) would increase their Quranic recital during these months (especially in Sha’ban), i.e. in preparation for Ramadhan. (Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 192)
The beginning of a new season
The crescent of Rajab actually signals the start of a “New Season”. One of hope, mercy and forgiveness for a believer. This “season” only finishes three months later; on the day of Eid!
Shaykh Abu Bakr Balkhi (r.a) says:
“Rajab is a month in which we plant the seeds of good. i.e, by increasing our ‘ibadah, worship of God. In Sha’ban we water them, to cultivate (and reap the rewards) in Ramadhan”
(Appears in Lataif, pg. 173)