Sha'ban is the eight month in the Islamic calendar and the month that precedes Ramadan.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs announced on Saturday that the first day of Sha’ban, the eight month in the Islamic or Hijri calendar will be on Monday, March 15.
In a statement, the ministry said that it observed the lunar crescent of the eight month of the Islamic calendar after the sunset.
Saudi Arabia has also announced that Monday will be the first day of Sha’ban.
The eight month of the Islamic calendar is the month that precedes the holy month of Ramadan.
Morocco is expected to start the holy month of Ramadan on April 12.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset.
Morocco’s department of Islamic Affairs has yet to confirm the exact date of Ramadan for this year.
Like Ramadan, the month of Sha’ban is also one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar.
The month is significant for Muslims, who mentally and physically start getting ready for Ramadan.
The month is important also because it is believed in Islam that is when God ordered prophet Muhammad to change the direction of prayer or qiblah from Al Aqsa mosque to the Kabbah in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem served as the direction for more than 13 years after the prophet migrated to Madinah in Saudi Arabia.
Muslims also fast some days during Sha’ban as recommended by the prophet.
Some of the prophet’s companions stated that Muhammed recommended fasting in Sha’ban in “honor of Ramadan.”
Ramadan is a special month for Muslims.
It is when families gather around iftar (breakfast) table and when a different atmosphere surrounds every Muslim house.
Moroccans, especially women, have several rituals for Ramadan, including shopping.
In Sha’ban and even earlier, Moroccan women buy sesame seeds, honey, almonds, and a lot of special seasonings to prepare sweets and other famous dishes presented during the month, including Chebakia, Selou or Sfouf, and others.
Last year, Ramadan took place in special circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
People were not able to perform any of the five daily prayers in addition to Taraweeh (evening extra prayers) at mosques after Morocco closed all public spaces and imposed a lockdown and a state of emergency.
Morocco is still under a state of emergency for a year now, but it remains to be seen whether the government will allow Taraweeh prayers at mosques this Ramadan.
The country allowed hundreds of mosques to operate across the country as part of lockdown easing measures adopted in the last few months.