Sha’baan: time to prepare for Ramadan
April 02 2020 10:24 PM
Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab
Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab Mosque in Doha. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil

The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said about the month of Sha’baan: “That is a month concerning which the people are heedless, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which good deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I would like my deeds to be taken up when I am fasting.” [An-Nasaa’i; Al-Albaani; Hasan]
If you observe the habits of the successful people in different walks of life, you would notice that they strive hard to prepare and get ready for their tasks. A student who excels prepares for his studies before the year begins; a good runner prepares for the race long before it starts and there other numerous examples in our daily life.
Not everyone who prepares gains the fruit of his endeavours or reaches the peak of success. People vary even in the success of their preparation and each one attains success according to the effort they exert. Keeping this in mind, we must ask ourselves: how can one attain any fruits without preparation, or rather without any concerns whatsoever to prepare for it?
As we have entered the month of Sha‘baan, we must have a specific stance of determination. It is the last stage in the preparation of entering the month in which one can be saved from Hellfire, i.e. the month of Ramadan, the month of the Qur’an and the month of mercy. So, contemplate the conditions of those who seek to win worldly competitions and the effort they exert to achieve that. What then should be the case with those who seek the reward of the Hereafter? Indeed, there is no point of comparison between them. Is not the reward of the Hereafter more deserving of our effort?
Immediately after Ramadan, our Salaf (righteous predecessors), may Allah have mercy upon them, used to ask Allah The Almighty for six months to accept Ramadan from them and then for the next six months, they would ask Him to enable them to live until the next Ramadan. This is the degree of importance they accorded Ramadan and its precious days.
Allah willing, what we aim for and prepare for are acts of worship from the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition), not innovated acts, but our objective is to increase the frequency of performing these acts.
Allah The Almighty Says (what means):
{And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous.} [Qur’an 3: 133]
{So for this let the competitors compete. }[Qur’an 83: 26]
We must be determined to make the best use of Ramadan by the will of The Most Gracious. Do not let its days slip by like any other days; the days of Ramadan are precious, if they lapse they may never come back again. How many people do not reach or witness Ramadan? How many people were not destined to reach the upcoming Ramadan? From now on, put down a plan with an objective and a sincere intention to prepare for Ramadan. Hence, if death overcomes you before reaching Ramadan, then you will die with a sincere intention and a righteous deed, Allah willing.
Let us take a look at some of the plans of preparation for Ramadan during the days of Sha‘baan. However, before that, keep in mind the importance of time, do not let even a minute in Sha‘baan pass without benefiting from the preparation for Ramadan.
1- What would you do if you were to expect an important guest, while your home is in a mess and needs to be cleaned? Would you start decorating it in its unclean state or start cleaning before anything else?
Begin by setting right your obligations, adhere to the limits of Allah The Almighty, and hold yourself accountable for the sins you committed throughout the last 11 months since the past Ramadan. Repent from the past sins of the year before receiving the new month of Ramadan. Purify your heart of any doubts or desires, repent from every forbidden glance, or sins involving hearing, or any misdeed your hand committed and your feet walked towards. Remember that Allah The Almighty feels Jealous (which implies His wrath) when the matters He The Exalted has forbidden are violated. Beware of putting off repentance or procrastinating in this matter. Do not be deceived by the patience of Allah The Almighty and His concealment of your sins. Indeed, Allah The Almighty gives respite to the oppressor, but when He finally seizes him, He does not let him escape.
2- Do not start a deed unless you have a sincere intention. Your deed will not be accepted unless it is done with a sincere intention in accordance with the rulings of the religion (Islam). Therefore, you should learn the rulings of fasting and teach them to your family and acquaintances starting now.
3- Discipline yourself and be committed to righteous deeds as of now, for Ramadan is the school of the righteous. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.}[Qur’an 2: 183] And the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Whoever does not give up false speech and ignorance and acting accordingly, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” [Al-Bukhari]
4- Make haste to maintain the ties of kinship and beware of severing them. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Allah created His creation, and when He had finished, Ar-Rahim (the womb) got up. He said, ‘What is it?’ Ar-Rahim said: ‘This is the position of one who is seeking refuge with You from being cut off.’ He said, ‘Will you not be pleased if I should maintain ties with the one maintain ties with you, and cut off the one who cuts you off?’ Ar-Rahim said, ‘Of course, O Lord.’ He said, ‘Then it will be so.’” Then, Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, recited the verse in which Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {So would you perhaps, if you turned away, cause corruption on earth and sever your [ties of] kinship?} [Qur’an 47: 22] [Al-Bukhari]
If we know this, let us ask, who is the person that upholds the ties of kinship? This is what the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, has explained saying: “The one who upholds the ties of kinship is not the one who reciprocates, rather the one who upholds the ties of kinship is the one who upholds those ties even if his relatives cut him off.” [Al-Bukhari]
5- Is there better bliss than a clean heart? You spend your day and night in peace of mind while others burn with jealousy and hatred towards others. Be keen on having a clean heart from now on, clearing it to be occupied by Ramadan and nothing else. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was asked who is the best of people. He answered: “The one with a pure heart and a truthful tongue”. They said: “The one with a truthful tongue we know, but who is the one with a pure heart?” He, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, replied: “He is pious and pure with no sin nor injustice nor grudge nor envy (against anyone).” [Ibn Maajah]
6- Unfortunately, many people spend long hours on the Internet, wasting many bounties and golden opportunities in Ramadan. How far removed are they from Imaam Maalik ibn Anas, may Allah have mercy upon him, who, when Ramadan arrived, used to withdraw from reviewing Hadith and sitting with the people of knowledge to dedicate himself to reciting the Noble Qur’an from the Mus-haf. Start now: if you are an Internet addict, lessen the hours you spend surfing the Internet and know that Ramadan will not wait for you.
7- Hasten to make up for the days of fasting you missed in the past Ramadan for a legitimate excuse.
8- In Ramadan, most people are keen to make a complete recitation of the Noble Qur’an. In order to make the recitation and completion become easy and swift for you, begin reciting in the month of Sha‘baan, increasing the time of recitation gradually, so if you are accustomed to recite one part daily let it be two or even three – in fact, why not complete a full recitation every 10 days?
9- In Ramadan, different voluntary prayers are performed such as Taraaweeh (night prayer that takes place after the prayer of ‘Ishaa’), Qiyaam (standing in supererogatory prayer at night), and other supererogatory prayers. In order to get used to long periods of standing without any fatigue or exhaustion, dedicate a longer time for night prayer starting in Sha‘baan. Begin by dedicating an hour, increase it gradually, and start getting used to long bowing and prostrating.
10- Accustom yourself to dedicating a longer period of time for supplicating Allah The Almighty, and memorise some of the authentic supplications of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, for they include precise words with comprehensive meanings, and they are better, more blessed, and more likely to be answered, Allah willing.
11- Prepare for I‘tikaaf in the last 10 days of Ramadan, Allah willing. (We are now passing through a difficult time due to the outbreak of coronavirus across the world. Mosques are closed for congregational prayers until further notice. I‘tikaaf is performed in the masjid. Allah willing, by the last 10 days of Ramadan the situation will ease. We supplicate to Allah for His Mercy.)
12- Get used to fasting so that you do not feel worn out while fasting the first couple of days in Ramadan. Fast on alternate days or in the most of the days of Sha‘baan, Imaam al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy upon him, reported that ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, did not fast in any month more than he did in Sha‘baan, and he used to fast all of Sha‘baan.”
13- Be prepared to feed the poor and needy, and provide meals for the fasting people to break their fast. Increase the quantity of food you prepare for lunch, for instance, and give out the extra food to the poor in your neighbourhood or to your building’s janitor. ‘Ataa’, may Allah have mercy upon him, narrated on the authority of Zayd ibn Khaalid al-Juhani, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Whoever gives Iftar (the meal to break the fast) to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the reward of the fasting person in the slightest.” [At-Tirmithi and An-Nasaa’i, Al-Albaani: Saheeh]
14- Give alms on a daily basis in the month of Sha‘baan, so that you may get used to daily charity in Ramadan and to be among those mentioned in the Hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “There is no day on which the people get up but two angels come down and one of them says, ‘O Allah, give in compensation to the one who spends (in charity),’ and the other says, ‘O Allah, destroy the wealth of the one who withholds.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
If it was your habit to give charity in other than Ramadan, then increase the quantity you give out in Sha‘baan whenever you can. Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was the most generous of people, and he was at his most generous during Ramadan, when Jibreel (angel Gabriel) met him. Jibreel used to meet with him every night and teach him the Qur’an. The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was the most generous person, even more generous and faster in spending than a strong blowing wind.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
15- Depending on the situation due to coronavirus crisis, if you intend to perform ‘Umrah during Ramadan, walk daily for half an hour in the last 10 days of Sha’baan in order to prepare yourself, as ‘Umrah involves physical effort.
16- Lessen your intake of food during Sha’baan; the more food you eat the more difficult it is to perform acts of worship in Ramadan. Accustom yourself to smaller portions of food from now or eat several small meals throughout the day. Include plenty of vegetables, fruits and dates in your diet to maintain the level of hydration in the body and to provide energy.
17- Avoid staying up late, try to sleep earlier, and wake up one hour prior to Fajr prayer or earlier to practise Qiyaam (voluntary night prayers) and supplicate to Allah The Almighty before dawn.
18- Train yourself to sleep less. If your habit is to sleep eight hours, make it six or less without exhausting your body, compensating for it with a mid-day (short) nap.
19- If you are unable to perform ‘Umrah in Ramadan for some reason, know that if you remain seated after Fajr prayer until sunrise and perform two Rak‘ahs (units of prayer) you would receive the reward of a complete Haj and ‘Umrah. Anas ibn Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “Whoever prays Fajr in congregation then remains sitting (in the masjid) remembering and mentioning Allah until the sun rises, then prays two Rak‘ahs (15 minutes after the sun rises), will have a reward like that of performing Haj and ‘Umrah, complete, complete, complete.” [At-Tirmithi, Al-Albaani: Hasan li-ghayrih]
20- Perform new acts of worship that you have never done before. For example, recite 1,000 verses (that is equal to Part 29 and Part 30 in the Qur’an) or give a large sum of money as charity, to prepare yourself and be inclined to perform greater acts of worship in Ramadan.
21- Try to perform virtuous deeds recommended in the Sunnah.
22- Organise your time and make a timetable to evaluate your performance and the acts of worship you schedule for yourself. This is not an innovation in the religion, but is only a practical measure to monitor your acts of worship and to attain Paradise, Allah willing, which is your chief aim.
23- Withdraw from meaningless gatherings that waste your time. Boycott TV and all other distraction – even if they are permissible. Naturally, if they are forbidden then it is compulsory to abandon them completely and repent with the intention of never returning to them again.
24- Ramadan is a great chance for smokers to quit this harmful and evil habit. Accustom yourself from now on to leave it and make an intention to quit it completely for the sake of Allah The Almighty and then for the sake of your health. Ask Allah The Almighty to help you with this and rest assured that if you ask Him with sincerity He will help you.
25- From this moment on, engage your tongue to be moist with the remembrance and mention of Allah The Almighty; do not slacken in the remembrance and mention of Allah The Almighty, seeking forgiveness, glorifying Allah The Almighty and reciting Takbeer (i.e. Allahu Akbar). It is an easy form of worship with a heavy and great reward from Allaah The Almighty.
26- Organise your daily work schedule beginning from Sha‘baan so that your distraction from worship may decrease in Ramadan. Prioritise your tasks and needs so that you cover most of it before Ramadan starts.
27- Revise what you have memorised of the Noble Qur’an or memorise some new Surahs (chapters) in Sha‘baan so that you could recite it in your supererogatory prayers in Ramadan. How happy is the one who prays and supplicates with verses he knows by heart!
28- Approach children over seven years of age in your family, and motivate them to get used to fasting. Let them begin with a quarter of a day then increase to half a day and more and reward them for their efforts. Thus when Ramadan begins, fasting becomes easy for them.
This was an attempt to provide some guidelines to follow during the month of Sha’baan in preparation for the blessed month of Ramadan. However, one can custom make his own list and add to this whatever he/she sees more suitable for his/her own situation.

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