With Ramadan less than a month away, the excitement has started alhamdulilah. As Muslims prepare for one of the most important occasions in the Islamic calendar, when they will be fasting from dawn until dusk, preparations need to be made; from advanced food prep to Eid gift ideas and of course planning how we will spend the month ahead.
But in this preparation, we can often overlook the fact that we are in another blessed month: Shabaan. The eighth month in the Islamic calendar, it is recorded that this month that holds much mercy, compassion and kindness from Allah (swt).
Muhammad (saws) was reported to have said: “That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds”
The status of Shabaan is also shown in the actions of Muhammad (saws) during this time, where he was infamous for his near continual fasting. Aisha (ra) narrated:
“The Messenger (saws) used to fast until we thought he would never break his fast, and not fast until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah fasting for an entire month except in Ramadan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’ban.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
So how can we make the most of this blessed month and use it to improve ourselves before Ramadan?
- Fast! – If you have any fasts to make up or want to introduce some nafil fasts before the start of Ramadan, Shabaan is one of the best times. With the long summer fasts that much of the world will be experiencing, it is also good to become used to this before Ramadan, so we can be more productive in Ramadan and not exhausted from fasting after so long.
- Increase in dhikr – Adhkaar is one of the easiest ways to remember Allah (swt) and something we become more conscious of in Ramadan. Get in there early and make it a habit now, so come Ramadan, you can engage in it even more. Whether it is a name of Allah, or simply “Alhamdulilah”, make use of your tasbeehs and start reciting.
- Read Quran – There is a huge emphasis on completing one, or multiple recitations of the Quran in Ramadan. But how often do we turn to it throughout the rest of the year? Shabaan is the ideal time to make our reading of the Quran a habit we don’t just employ in Ramadan, but a fixed habit in our lives. Even if its just a page a day, taking time to reflect on the speech of Allah (swt) will bring an invaluable effect into your life.
- Pray Tahajjud – Taraweeh and qiyam ul lail (night prayers) are an intrinsic part of Ramadan. But it can be difficult if we are not used to being awake in the night. Practice now, even if its just two rakaa’ before fajr time, and reap the benefits of being in a state of prayer when Allah (swt) descends to the lowest heaven to hear His servants’ duas.
Every year Ramadan shows us what level of worship we are capable of. But we are human beings, and after the month is over, instead of making every day like Ramadan, we descend back into our old habits and abandon our extra acts of ibadah. Shabaan is a chance to change that and truly achieve consistency out of these blessed months, so we feel the contentment of Ramadan, every day.