أَخْبَرَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، قَالَ أَنْبَأَنَا مُعَاذُ بْنُ هِشَامٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ أَبِي كَثِيرٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو سَلَمَةَ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ،
قَالَتْ لَمْ يَكُنْ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي شَهْرٍ مِنَ السَّنَةِ أَكْثَرَ صِيَامًا مِنْهُ فِي شَعْبَانَ كَانَ يَصُومُ شَعْبَانَ كُلَّهُ.
It was narrated that Aishah said:
“The Messenger of Allah did not fast in any month of the year more than he did in Shaban. He used to fast all of Shaban.”
(Sunan An-Nasa’i, Sahih)
Whenever something of importance is coming up, we must prepare for it. If we are having an Azuma or a gathering, we always prepare for it ahead of time. Who is cooking what food, how to arrange the tables, what desserts we will have, who we are inviting, how we will keep the kids from making a mess, and much more. We would never have an Azuma and not prepare for it in advance. It would be chaotic and completely disorganized. Imagine if the guests arrived and nothing was prepared for them. This correlates exactly to the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is just a guest knocking at our doors and is visiting only for a short amount of time. We need to prepare ourselves for this Holy month otherwise it will end up being wasted and its full benefits will be lost. We shall not allow a visitor of such importance to leave without having benefited from it.
However, we do not wait for Ramadan to arrive to begin preparations. By then it is too late. To prepare means to take measures in advance prior to its arrival. There is one month which holds several benefits and values in Islam. This is a month that is often forgotten. It is a month that is often neglected. It is the month that is shadowed by the month of Rajab and overlooked by the coming of Ramadan. Indeed, it is none other than the valuable month of Sha’ban.
In order to prepare for Ramadan, there are several things to try and improve about ourselves and our acts of worship. Certainly, the first and most important worship to improve is our salah (prayer). Our salah is like a key. Each key is designed to open certain doors through the amount and shape of the teeth on it. If one of those teeth is missing, the door will never open. This same exact concept applies to our salah. If just one of the prayers is missing or completed improperly, then the door to heaven may not open. Our salah is the first thing that Allahﷻ will look at on the Day of Judgement when He examines our book of deeds. It is narrated that if our salah is good, then the rest of the judgment will be good and if our salah is bad, then the rest of the judgment will also be bad. With that in mind, we know that salah is the very first thing that we need to improve before and during Ramadan. If your salah is the only thing that benefitted from Ramadan, then your Ramadan was indeed successful.
In the month of Sha’ban, we should also begin to accustom ourselves with fasting in preparation for the month of fasting. Furthermore, we should accustom ourselves to maintaining this habit of fasting particular days every month even after the parting of Ramadan. This is learned from the Sunnah of our beloved Messenger ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ is reported to have fasted in the month of Sha’ban more than any other month, besides Ramadan. The Prophet ﷺ would also fast every Monday and Thursday. He would do this to get closer to Allahﷻ. It is narrated in a Hadith Qudsi, which is the strongest and highest form of hadith in Islam. Qudsi means that the Prophet ﷺ is telling us what Allahﷻ directly told him. It was narrated by Abu Huraira: “All of the actions of the son of Adam go back to him, except for one. That one action is fasting. For the fasting is mine and only I shall reward it.” This means that fasting is one of the most valuable acts of worship that a Muslim can do, and we should make an effort to implement it in our lives even outside of the month of Ramadan.
Finally, in preparation for the month of Ramadan, we should build our connection with the Quran during Sha’ban. The Quran should, without a doubt, be a pillar in our daily lives. The Quran is not just a book. Rather, it is our way of life. It is our roadmap and guide through our existence as temporary beings just visiting this dunya. We should be opening the Quran and reciting its verses every day. Even if it is just a few verses! You do not have to read several pages or ajza’ every single day. Just a few verses would suffice, especially if you learned from those verses. The Quran will provide you with what you are seeking to attain from it. If you are seeking hope in a time of sadness and disparity, then it will give you that. If you are seeking peace to your heart, then it will give you that. If you are seeking to calm your anger, it will give you that.
There are truly many more actions that we can and should improve on during the special month of Sha’ban in preparation for the Holy month of Ramadan. However, these are just a few of the most important acts to get us started. I ask Allahﷻ to grant us the blessing of witnessing Ramadan. I ask Allahﷻ to allow us to benefit from this blessed month. I ask Allahﷻ to forgive us for our sins and bestow his mercy upon us. Allahumma Ameen.
By Ahmad Salah