By Shaykh Abdul Qayum | 09 Feb 2024

With two days until the beginning of Sha‘ban and the impending arrival of Ramadan, I shared some reflections and insights on the significance of the month. The month of Sha‘ban holds a special place in the Islamic calendar, though it is often overshadowed by the prominence of Ramadan.

Yet Sha‘ban deserves its own recognition. It is during this month that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) observed numerous voluntary fasts in preparation for the obligatory month of fasting ahead.

We learn that the practice of the Messenger ﷺ was to

fast all of Sha‘ban, except for a few days

according to one Hadith. One of the most important acts of worship for this month is fasting. The eminent scholar Rajab al-Hanbali, as quoted by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami, stated that all of the additional prayers and acts of worship that are done in Ramadan as obligatory should also be done voluntarily in Sha‘ban.

So, while Ramadan is still over a month away, we should treat the optional fasting of Sha‘ban with importance and enthusiasm. If we wait until the first obligatory fast of Ramadan without any mental, physical and spiritual preparation, we will most likely struggle to adjust to the demands of the blessed month. By fasting voluntarily throughout Sha‘ban, we condition our bodies and strengthen our mind and spirt to make the most of Ramadan.

Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ emphasised that our annual deeds are presented to Allah during Sha‘ban. This serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of striving for righteousness and seeking forgiveness in anticipation of this month.

During my sermon I listed some of ways in which we can prepare for Ramadan:

  • Attend talks and lectures about Ramadan. Many masjids offer lectures in various languages about the virtues of Ramadan and how to prepare spiritually. We will also be holding classes to help you get the best out of Ramadan. Our lessons will help build motivation, develop you spiritually, address questions, and provide beneficial reminders.
  • Make time for more worship in Ramadan. Those who can, should take annual leave to devote more time for Ibada. Make praying tahajjud a goal in this month. Reciting the Qur’an and remember Allah often. Even those unable to take leave, plan how to focus your time better.
  • Make dua to Allah for reaching Ramadan. We must ask Allah to grant us a blessed month of Ramadan and let us reach it in good health and strong faith. As death can take any of us unexpectedly.

As we prayed Janaza over six members of our community this week, I was reminded of the fragility of life and immediacy of death. Just a month ago, none of those beloved brothers and sisters imagined their end was near, nor that they had already experienced their final Ramadan.

How many among us smugly assume we are guaranteed to witness the next blessed month? We know neither the hour nor the manner of our death. Any one of us could meet our Lord before the blessed month arrives.

So, I implore you – do not be like those who meet death suddenly. Value each remaining moment as a gift to turn wholeheartedly to Allah and walk the path of righteousness. Make this your best Ramadan yet – fill it with sincere fasting, nightly worship, generosity, and recitation of the Glorious Qur’an. Repent and reform your ways, before death approaches.

As the wise saying goes: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Let us begin to urgently plan and prepare today for the coming of Ramadan. May Allah grant us success in attaining forgiveness, salvation, and nearness to Him that Ramadan offers. Āmīn.

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