By Abu Abdullah
MY beloved brothers and sisters, you may ask, and rightly so: what does Sha`ban have to do with preparing for Ramadan?
Before showing the importance of Sha`baan and the connection between it and Ramadan, I want to ask a few questions.
a) Is Sha`ban important to you and why?
b) What preparations have you made for it and how do you plan to benefit from it?
c) Do you really think that Sha`ban is an important month?
If Sha`ban catches you off guard and you do not even realize that it is here and so did not prepare for it, or even worse, you do not even know that you have to prepare, do you think that when Ramadan comes along it would not take you by surprise, just like the beginning of Sha`ban? This is because many people do not think that they have to prepare for Ramadan much less Sh`aban!
Reflect on the years that have gone by: how did Ramadan reach you – were you prepared or unprepared? Procrastinating or well set? Full of regrets or happy that it has arrived?
Let us be honest with ourselves and assess the seriousness of not preparing for Ramadan, and may Allah the Almighty guide us and help us to prepare properly for this glorious month, Aameen!
Were you ever alone and someone who is very special and loved by you (like your mother, father, wife, or even a person of high standing), tells you that they want to visit you? Would you prepare for them or not and how would your preparations be?
Actually, even if you are not alone and the person is not even special but just an ordinary individual who wants to visit you, what would you do? Would you not prepare?
Can you remember the time before you got married and that special guest who was now going to come into your life to live with you? What preparations did you make?
Can you remember when you were expecting your first child? Did you prepare for its arrival or not?
In all of the above situations and many others, did you find yourself preparing for your guest?
Even though the guest might stay for just a day or two, we prepare for them, and the longer they stay, the more preparations we would make for them.
Would you expect any payments from your guests for all the efforts you make to welcome them? Let us suppose your guest rewarded you, how would you feel?
The most honorable guest you could ever host is going to be sent to you very, very soon by your Lord, and whether you prepare or not, it is still going to stop by your humble dwellings and stay with you for a full month.
Ramadan is not just a special guest; it is the most important event of your life – yes, your life – and what is amazing about our Lord Allah, is that in His Generosity He gives it to us once every year.
Ramadan as a special event – the most special event of life, is different from all other special events, since our Lord is sending it to us for our benefit. This amazing guest and all that is associated with it is so special that even if we do not prepare for it and welcome it, its Lord Who sent it, will have it stop by every single person and still bring with it that benefits and blessings that assist them with their lives.
Its Lord has commissioned it to travel with each one of us and accompany us in all our activities for an entire month to train us in a way that makes our lives more meaningful and beneficial; if we are only willing to accept it from Him.
On the other hand, if someone is heedless or rejects it, then it leaves him/her without complain or insult; however, its Lord, Allah the Almighty, gives each one of them just retribution for their ungratefulness unless they repent to Him. May Allah protect us from this serious dilemma! Aameen!
This guest is like no other guest; if we prepare for it, it has so many wonderful gifts in store for us . In fact, even if we were heedless and did not prepare, but are willing to work with him we are still going to find him very kind and generous.
Additionally, although the guest is coming to every one of us, each one of us will be privileged to individual attention from it and actually, it will treat us as if it is our host.
Thus, anyone who tastes its sweetness would find that there is nothing more delightful. This is why when it leaves, there is a great feeling of loss in the hearts of all those who really prepared well for it and honored it.
Do you now realize the importance of hosting Ramadan, this special guest, honorably?
Are you willing to understand what you have to do to prepare for it, since many are willing but they just do not know what they have to do?
If you are willing, then let us make an effort to travel together on the road of the Sunnah of the Prophet sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, so that we can prepare for this magnificent guest as he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and those who followed him did.
Preparing for and honoring our guests is not something strange to us.
Muslims are generally very kind to their guests and they try to honor them because our Messenger sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day let him be generous to his guest.”
When we prepare for our guests, we normally try to find out what they like and what they would want from us so that we can organize it for them.
Similarly, in order for us to benefit from Ramadan we must know that what it wants from us, which sets it apart from other ordinary guests.
Ramadan brings certain special situations and events that it wants us to make proper use of – and if we do, then we would have truly honored it.
Ordinary guests would want delicious food – Ramadan is bringing fasting that wants that you do withhold from eating and drinking.
Other guests want us to take them on visits – Ramadan wants us (men) to visit the masjids five times daily for the obligatory prayer.
Ordinary guests would want us to sit for long hours and reminisce with them – Ramadan wants us to spend our time with it by spending time with what was revealed in it, (the Glorious Qur’an)!
Other guests would not mind if we sit with them talking late into the night – Ramadan has Qiyaam al- Lail (night prayer), so it wants you to spend your nights with it.
An ordinary guest would not mind if you spend all your time with them – Ramadan is bringing `Itikaaf (seclusion) in its last ten nights so that you could search for Lailatul Qadr which has the blessings of a thousand months of worship.
Ordinary guests would not mind if we spend on them – Ramadan wants us to spend too, but on the poor.
And the list goes on…
Other guests have certain wants just like Ramadan and we have to fulfill their wants if we are to treat them with honor, tell me, should we not do the same for Ramadan? So reflect!
Sha`ban is one of the months in which it is stressed that we increase acts of worship and get closer to Allah through voluntary acts of worship.