In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, peace and blessings be upon His Prophet and Messenger, his family, companions and all those who followed them until the Day of Judgment.
The month of Rajab passed unnoticed, and here we are on the eve of Ramadan. And if we aim to fully benefit from all the graces, it is vital that we take adequate preparations for it. The same way that a man gets his house ready for the important guests, gears up for a long trip or for important events, a Muslim must also get ready for the blessed month, especially because we all notice the transience of time, so that a year seems to pass like a month, month like a week, a week as a day and a day like an hour.
And it requires us to strive for knowledge, set a hand to doing good deeds and take any chance during the blessed times in all that stimulates us to seek the pleasure of Allah until there comes
"the Day of Judgment when neither wealth nor children will be of any benefit except what is done in obedience to God with a submissive heart."
(The Holy Quran, Surah 26. "The Poets", verse 89)
Come Shaaban, the month between Rajab and Ramadan, which many people forget. This month, all the deeds ascend to reach up the Lord of the worlds, and so the Prophet used to fast a lot at that time. Osama Bin Zeid narrated that once he asked the Prophet (pbuh):
"O Messenger of Allah, I have not seen you ever fasted the way you do in Chaabani. "He said: "People forget this month between Rajab and Ramadan. It is the month where the acts ascend to the Lord of the Worlds, and I want that my acts were lifted when I am fasting".
(Narrated by al-Nasaa'i, Sheikh Albani proclaimed it authentic.)
Imagine all your acts for a year this month will be presented to God, who knows the unseen and that which is open!
"To Him do good words go up, and righteous action uplifts them".
(The Holy Quran, Surah 35. "The Angels", verse 10)
How have you accomplished this year? What would you wish, how would you like your deeds to be exalted to Him, and are you at this moment in subjection to your Protector, firmly holding on to His religion, with sincerity and zeal doing good deeds, sacrificing yourself?
Or are you at this moment of carelessness and pleasure, relaxed, not worrying about anything, and making no sacrifice, sitting, doing your daily chores? Think of it, dear brother, and haste to do good deeds that they will reach the eyes of your Protector.
In this hadith, we see a noble nature of the Prophet (pbuh) and His modesty and humility before God. He wished that God saw him fast. And that should be your predominant concern my Muslim brother - that you admit your regret before God. Apologize and submit your acts to God, however defective and casually made they are. As mentioned by righteous predecessors:
"Either you're going to pray, all-merciful Allah's Greatness in an appropriate way, or take yourself a deity suitable for your prayers".
Feel remorse for the time that you have wasted not in the invocation of Allah, the acts that you have failed to perform in the service of His religion and with reference to it. Regret that fervor and zeal, energy and opportunities that you have missed, not acting for the benefit of His religion and for the glorification of His Sharia. Acknowledge your shame for that property and goods that you begrudged to invoke Allah. Express your qualms about all that Angels recorded in your book of deeds with reference to your negligence and omissions. All of this requires that you feel shame and fear of Allah.
Shaaban is called the month of watering. Reported by Abu Bakr al-Balhy:
"Rajab - a month of sowing, Shaaban - a month of watering, Ramadan - a month of harvest".
Who has not sown in Rajab, has not watered in Shaaban, how can he expect to harvest in Ramadan? The righteous predecessors used to say that Shaaban is the month of reading the Holy Quran. When Shaaban came Amr ibn Qays al-Mula closed his shop and dedicated himself to reading the Quran. Hasten, brother, to sow and to water before the onset of the harvest season.
So, dear brother, a Muslim, how can we prepare for Ramadan this month?
First, it is to evoke a sincere repentance (Tauba) for all sins, remorse, remit all disobedience and turn to God.
Second, try to fast more this month, for example, either fully in the first half of Shaaban, or on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as on 13th, 14th and 15th day of the month.
Third, as of tonight start praying a voluntary prayer tahajjud, at least two rak'ats before fajr, gradually increasing the number of rak'ats.
Fourth, strive to live under the shadow of the Holy Quran, zealous to it read every day, at least one part and reflect on the verses. And also repeat the verses that you have learnt to read them during the night prayers.
Fifth, intensify the dua, train yourself to constantly ask God in prayer. Repeat: "Allahumma, balligna Ramadan" (O Allah, allow us to reach and keep us alive until Ramadan). Take an opportunity when the dua is always accepted as between adhan and ikamat in the last third of the night, in the rain, etc.
Sixth, always remember Allah (dhikr), dutifully pray the morning and evening Adhkar (see "Fortress of a Muslim") and do dhikr before bedtime, getting dressed and leaving home, etc. Let your tongue be moist from the remembrance of Allah!
Seventh, try to do all the obligatory prayers in a Jamaat, waking up for fajr. Observe your prayers and perform them with humility, appropriately, because this is the first thing that you will be asked on the Judgment Day.
Eighth, review and study issues relating to fasting, in the books of fiqh and fatwas of scholars, and solve any doubts right now. Also, start reading the Quran tafseer, such as al-Saadi, at least a few pages a day.
Ninth, start to call on your family, relatives and others with Allah, be a reminder and a positive example for them. Prepare gifts for the loved ones to give them during the month of Ramadan to soften and induce their hearts to Islam.
Those are some of the things that Allah helps us to bring to our dear brothers and sisters. And we encourage ourselves first, and then we invite you to compete in good deeds.
"Hasten to obtain forgiveness from your Lord and to qualify yourselves for Paradise. Paradise, vast as the heavens and the earth, is prepared for the pious".
(The Holy Quran, Surah 3. "The Family Of 'Imran", verse 133)
We ask Allah to allow us to reach Ramadan, multiply our good deeds and move us away from the forbidden, that he forgives us our sins and omissions, frees us from the Fire and introduces us to the community of His righteous slaves along with the prophets, martyrs and men of truth. Amen!
Translated by Marcin Czerniewski