Every year, when the month of Rajab arrives, I recall the supplication: “O Allah, bless us in the months of Rajab and Sha`ban and enable us to witness and observe Ramadan.”
It is high time for everyone to re-think and assess his or her readiness for the blessings of Allah in the upcoming blessed months, Rajab, Sha`ban, and Ramadan.
In his Fayd al-Qadir, the great scholar al-Minawi says,
“Ibn Rajab said that the (above-mentioned) hadith proves the recommendation of du`aa’ for an extended life until one reaches the good blessed times of goodness.”
In Blugh al-Amani, Ahmad al-Banna says,
“The Prophet’s du`aa’ for barakah (Allah’s blessings) in these three months indicates their high position and great merits.”
A Muslim should seize the chance and spare no effort to bring himself or herself closer to Allah in this season of goodness.
Rajab: Gateway to Ramadan
Throughout the year’s months, a Muslim leaves no stone unturned in order to attain Allah’s blessings. With the start of Rajab, we look forward to the ultimate blessings of Ramadan. Rajab, therefore, is an important station and gateway to Ramadan. As one of the sacred months, Rajab enjoys special merits and blessings.
Observing voluntary fasting in the sacred months, including Rajab, is recommended. Abu Dawud reported on the authority of Mujibah al-Bahilyyah that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to her father or uncle,
“Observe fasting for some days in the sacred months and leave fasting for other days.”
He (peace and blessings be upon him) said this three times, folding three fingers of him and then unfolding them each time. The Prophet’s using three fingers here is meant to assert his recommendation of fasting during these months, and not to indicate the number of the days to observe fasting therein.
Hence, observing fasting, as well as other good deeds, in Rajab is generally praiseworthy like doing so in the rest of the sacred months.
Sha`ban: Countdown to Ramadan
Upon the commence of Sha`ban, our hearts yearn for the long-awaited guest, Ramadan. As the great month of Sha`ban falls between Rajab and Ramadan, it is recommended that we should devote ourselves to engage in extra devotions.
An-Nasa’i reported that Usamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “I have never seen you offer fast in a month as much as you do in Sha`ban.” The Prophet said,
“It is a month people disregard that is between Rajab and Ramadan. In that month deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds, so I like my deeds to be presented while I am fasting.”
Sha`ban is the time for the final preparations before Ramadan. Among significant acts that one may do in Sha`ban are fasting, particularly in the first half of Sha`ban, reciting the Qur’an, engaging in dhikr, and preparing for Ramadan.
There are authentic hadiths about the virtue of fasting during Sha`ban, among which the hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim on the authority of `A’ishah (may Allah be blessed with her) who said,
“Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) used to observe fasting (continuously) that we would say he would not break fasting, and he used not to fast (continuously) until we would say he would not fast.
And I did not see Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) completing the fast of a month, except Ramadan, and I did not see him fasting more in any other month than in Sha`ban.”
The hadith indicates that the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast many days in Sha`ban that `A’ishah (may Allah be blessed with her) said in another narration, “He [the Prophet] used to fast (almost) all of Sha`ban; he used to fast Sha`ban except for few (days).”
Ramadan: The Ultimate Goal
Living until the month of Ramadan is a great favor and blessing of Allah. Ramadan is the month of great blessings, forgiveness, and mercy. Its blessings start with the first night and continue throughout the whole month.
The month of Ramadan is the peak of this season of blessings. It is the field of competition for those aspiring to ascend the high ranks of Paradise:
“When Ramadan enters, the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hellfire are closed and the devils are chained.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
To conclude, we are now in the course of good blessed times. We have to seize these days to bring ourselves closer to Almighty Allah by doing as many of good deeds as we can and avoiding all prohibitions. Every good deed counts. In one beautiful hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says:
“Do not belittle any good deed, even if it is just to meet your fellow Muslim with a cheerful face.” (Muslim)
May Allah accept all our good deeds, ameen.