The month of Rajab is the month for planting, the month of Shaâ€™ban is the month of irrigating crops, and the month of Ramadan is the month of harvesting the crops.
Shaâ€™ban is the eighth month of the Islamic calendar and considered one of the special months for which we find particular sunan of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Aâ€™ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that â€œAllah’s Apostle used to fast till one would say that he would never stop fasting, and he would abandon fasting till one would say that he would never fast. I never saw Allah’s Apostle fasting for a whole month except the month of Ramadan, and did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha’ban.â€
Although these fasts are supererogatory we can see how much importance the Prophet attached to them. We know that when he was asked by Usaamah ibn Zayd concerning his observance of the Shaâ€™ban fasts, he answered, â€œIt is a month that people neglect between Rajab and Ramadan; a month in which peopleâ€™s deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds and I would like my deeds to be taken up when I am fasting.â€ This hadith clearly indicates the importance of Islamic months, and living in the west we must maintain a relationship with Islamic religious symbols, the Islamic calendar being an important one. Additionally, the Prophet informed us of matters of the unseen, namely that our actions are taken up in this blessed month, and so, it would be sensible to be in a state of servitude whilst being taken to account.
We also know that the Prophet prayed for Shaâ€™ban to be blessed and connected it to Ramadan thus informing us of an inextricable link between the two. He would supplicate, “O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings).”
Many people find it difficult getting into the spiritual state that Ramadan requires and complain in the last ten days of the great month that their month has gone to waste. A major reason for this it seems is that they assume that Allah would have Muslims worship him one month of the year! Whilst worship is a daily affair, Allah would have us worship more in some months more than others. Furthermore, the righteous, in understanding the importance of Ramadan, would want to be as prepared as possible, and as a result, would begin preparation two months earlier in Rajab!
Abu Bakr al-Balkhi said: The month of Rajab is the month for planting, the month of Shaâ€™ban is the month of irrigating crops, and the month of Ramadan is the month of harvesting the crops. He also said: The likeness of the month of Rajab is that of the wind, the likeness of Shaâ€™ban is that of the clouds and the likeness of Ramadan is that of the rain; whoever does not plant and sow in Rajab, and does not irrigate in Shaâ€™ban, how can he reap in Ramadan? Now Rajab has passed, so what will you do in Shaâ€™ban if you are seeking Ramadan? This is how your Prophet and the early generations of the ummah were in this blessed month, so what will you do?
From amongst the forms of preparation is increasing in reciting the Quran. When Shaâ€™ban would begin, â€˜Amr ibn Qays (of the righteous early Muslims) would close his shop and free his time for reading Qurâ€™an. The notion of excessive fasting, as quoted earlier, is found in the hadith of Aâ€™ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), that she â€œdid not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha’ban.â€
Fasting is a great act of servitude and devotion to Allah, and given that the Arabic word sawm (fasting) means to restrain from something, it implies the repression of oneâ€™s nafs and worldly abstinence out of a firm belief in the afterlife. Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, â€œAllah said: The fast is for Me and I will give the reward for it, as he (the one who observes the fast) leaves his sexual desire, food and drink for My sake. Fasting is a guard (from Hell) and there are two pleasures for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord. And the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk.â€
Let us use Shaâ€™ban to become people of prayer and fasting, that we use the coming month as a time of rectification and spiritual rectitude, and we prepare our souls for the last Ramadan we may ever face. Aâ€™ishah narrates that the Prophet never fasted in any month more than in the month of Sha’ban. He used to say, â€œDo those deeds which you can do easily, as Allah will not get tired (of giving rewards) till you get bored and tired (of performing religious deeds).â€ The most beloved prayer to the Prophet was the one that was done regularly even if it were little, and whenever the Prophet offered a prayer he used to offer it regularly.