Reflect for a moment and imagine you are preparing for a big match. In order to succeed, you need to train, to build your endurance, and improve your stamina. We must use this month of Sha’ban to train for the big match of Ramadan.
Sha’ban is the reliable friend who is with you through the trials of preparation, cheering from the side-lines, rooting for you to succeed in Ramadan. And why would we neglect or ignore the friend who wants us to reach our full potential?
All the practice matches before Ramadan will help you succeed when you need to. In Ramadan, not only are the stakes higher, but so, too, are the rewards. If you fail to prepare, than prepare to fail, as they say.
If you have any missed fast to make up, complete them in Sha’ban. Being at home in lockdown is the perfect opportunity to get used to Ramadan. Start by fasting once or twice a week, and increase that as Ramadan draws nearer, so that you can enter the holy month focused and ready to receive Allah’s mercy.
Sha’ban is the eight month on the Islamic calendar, and the last month before Ramadan, giving it special status. Literally, Sha’ban means ‘branch,’ and some believe that this is because Sha’ban branches off and leads to other good things. It is narrated from Usama ibn Zayd (RA) that he asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
Ibn Rajab (RA) said: “Fasting in Sha’ban is better than fasting in the Sacred Months, and the best of voluntary fasts are those that are (observed in the months) closest to Ramadan, before or after.”
That means that the most rewarding time to perform a non-obligatory fast is in Sha’ban and Shawwal.
Ibn Rajab adds: “The status of these fasts is like that of al-Sunan al-Rawatib (sunnah prayers) which are done before and after fard (prayers) and which make up for any shortfall in the number of obligatory prayers. The same applies to fasts observed before and after Ramadan. Just as al-Sunan al-Rawatib are better than other kinds of voluntary prayers, so fasts observed (in the months) before and after Ramadan are better than fasts at other times.”
Sha’ban is also the month in which amazing miracles took place. It is during Sha’ban, all those years ago, that Muslims switched from praying towards Jerusalem, to praying towards Mecca. It is also the month in which the moon was split for the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two]. (Quran, 54:1)
Allahumma ballighna Ramadan
“Oh Allah, Let us reach the month of Ramadan”
Aisha (RA) said: “I used to have fasts that I still owed from Ramadan, and I could not make them up until Sha’ban, and that was because of the position of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) [as a husband].” (Bukhari).
We all know of someone who returned to Allah in the past year. None of us knows when our time is up, and during this time of upheaval it is more important than ever that we rectify our affairs before Allah. Know that no matter how far we may have strayed, Allah will always welcome us back, inshaAllah, as stronger believers and in a state of humility.
May Allah protect us all from the virus, heal humanity, and allow us to seek benefit from Sha’ban and witness the blessed month of Ramadan, ameen.