by Anum Ali
Usamah bin Zaid said:
"I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Shaban.' He said: 'That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting."' (Sunan an-Nasa'i 2357)
So how would we like our deeds to be taken up as? Think of Sha'baan as a bridge to Ramadan. Right now we are passing over that glorious, hidden bridge that we often tend not to pay too much attention to, as Prophet Muhammad salAllahu aleyhi wa'aleyhi wasallam pointed out. There's a mad pre-Ramadan rush everywhere. Some people are too busy rushing weddings so they may get them done before Ramadan starts. Who would attend a wedding in Ramadan, right? Whereas some are too busy trying to have all their social meetups done before Tarawihs and prayers begin and occupy evenings and nights of their friends and families, and yadi yadi yada you name it.
Ideally, Sha'baan should be spent in an urgency to score good deeds because they are being taken up to Allah swt and our piles of good are increasing. This is like an added bonus that precedes Ramadan and only the early birds can benefit from it.
Another beautiful analogy is that of irrigating the seed to reap its fruits in Ramadan. Sow your seeds (plan well and ahead) in Rajab, irrigate in Sha'baan, and reap the fruit in Ramadan.
I took this to heart and began working up my Ramadan act in Rajab. The biggest hurdle that ruined my Ramadan last year was a stubborn stomach infection that stays active all the time and does not let me fast. I found myself throwing up and writhing in pain from an empty stomach and had to give up fasts. This year I planned ahead,alhamdulllah, and asked my doctor about treating this bug before it ruined another Ramadan. So, throughout Rajab I was on a multi-antibiotics regimen that nuked the daylights out of the infection. I feel so much better, and I am working on keeping my stomach empty for longer periods of time so I can rehearse Ramadan mode. I am taking Sha'baan to work up Qur'an recitation (so I can finish the Qur'an by the time Ramadan ends), and planning on Ramadan resources.
Plan Sha'baan: Let's Walk That Bridge
- Use Sha'ban to set yourself straight: health concerns, address personal concerns, correct habits such as sleep patterns, etc.
- Make a head start on your Qur'an recitation. Aim for at least 1/2 juz per day (divide it into 1/4 juz in one sitting, and arrange for 2 sittings in a day) so you have 15 juz complete by the end of Sha'baan inshaAllah.
- Arrange for 'Ramadan Reads' - good books that you would be reading through Ramadan, make a head start on those.
- Set up a Qur'an schedule for recitation and tafsir (you don't want to be reading without meaning!)
- Plan good deeds: fasting, charity, winning hearts of people, treating parents well, etc.
- Set up your 'Ramadan Hangout' - a peaceful place in your house where you will go for prayers, reading Qur'an and books in peace and quiet, make it comfy and make it cool!
- Cross off distractions: let people know you'll be working it like your last Ramadan, ease up on TV watching, Facebook-ing, and etc.
- Finish up kitchen management: cleaning, bulk cooking, Ramadan menu planning
- Set up your Ramadan Goals: what do you wish to achieve this Ramadan?Basically, make Ramadan an extension of Sha'ban. You would be following a great advice of the Prophet (SAWW) - a wonderful Sunnah - this way.
"The Messenger of Allah used to join Shaban to Ramadan." (Sunan an-Nasa'i 2176)
Happy Sha'ban. Stay tuned for more Ramadan articles. Don't forget to join me for Ramadan Diaries 2015 inshaAllah.