Sha'ban And The Arrival Of Ramadan
by Hazrat Maulana Yunus Patel Saheb (rahmatullah ‘alayh)
The phrase, ‘It's in the air,' alludes to the general feeling or expectation of something happening in the near future or something already present or prevailing.
For the Muslim who reaches the months of Rajab and Sha'ban, the presence of Ramadan is keenly sensed and felt. There is anticipation and expectation. It is near, with each day closing the distance between Ramadan and us. Its blessings are ‘in the air' —so to say, just as we have fragrance permeating the atmosphere, infusing the air, whether of flowers, Itr or other perfume.
The stronger the perfume or Itr, the greater the distance its scent travels – so much so that even though we may be far, we, too, get a hint of something special. The same with a braai —we find the aroma carried by the wind at a distance.
What then of the sweet fragrance of Ramadan?
It is in the air. Most definitely.
It is just that our “receivers” are not working well. If there is a transmitter and a transmission, but the receiver is not working, you will not pick up the transmission. Similarly, if our sinuses are clogged, we will not smell the fragrance.
When it comes to the month of Sha'ban – especially from the middle of Sha'ban onwards, the excitement of the Auliya-Allah, the pious and the righteous know no bounds and limits. They have understood the virtue and significance of Sha'ban because it heralds the coming of Ramadan —the guest of distinction and greatness.
They have been waiting for the Mubarak month of Ramadan, and Sha'ban signifies the final countdown to its arrival. They are enthusiastic and eager to see and meet the month of Ramadan, and thus we find the beautiful Masnoon dua:
“O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha'ban and grant us life to see Ramadan.”
Whilst they enjoy and make the most of the blessings of Sha'ban, it is unfortunate that the majority are neglectful, if not ignorant, of its blessings.
Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Sha'ban is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which many people neglect. And it is a month in which an account of deeds is presented before the Lord of the universe, so I wish that my deeds be presented when I am fasting.”
We also find in this blessed month the night of Bara'ah: A favour and bounty of Allah Ta'ala, Who, through this night, makes it easy for us to prepare for Ramadan.
First, Allah Ta'ala gives us the 15th night of Sha'ban – an exclusive opportunity for Taubah, Ruju' Ilallah, Dua and other Ibadah. He gives us an entire month saturated with opportunities to secure His Pleasure. He gives us Ramadan. Alhamdulillah.
The following analogy came to my mind: The Ibadah of the 15th night of Sha'ban is similar to how a person does a re-paint of his house.
When a person wants to paint his house, what does he do if the old paint is flaking, peeling and falling off? Would he just take the new paint and apply a fresh coat on top of all the old, flaking paint? No.
The person first scrapes off all the old paint. After doing this, he applies the new paint.
The night of Bara'ah is akin to scraping off the “old paint”. Allah Ta'ala gives us this blessed and auspicious night so that we scrape off all the old paint and the dirt of malice, greed, pride, anger and other bad and evil traits, which have spoilt the beauty of our hearts, worn out the shine of our hearts, and through which we have lost the colour of Divine Love which coated our hearts.
Thus, if we are not on talking terms with our family members, cut off ties with parents or vice versa, have been disobedient to parents, or if anyone is taking some kind of intoxicant or engaging in some form of shirk, harbouring malice and jealousy, or engaging in any form of immorality and disobedience – then this is the opportunity to rid the heart of its evil. Clean it and purify it, paint it in the dye of Allah Ta'ala's love, and beautify it with the Noor of sincere repentance and the remembrance of Allah Ta'ala, which is presented to us in the form of the 15th night of Sha'ban.
It is very much like the scraping of the old paint and applying a re-coat of fresh ‘paint' before the month of Ramadan. We apply the new coat so that it begins to shine in advance of Ramadan and increases in its shine and beauty with each passing day of Ramadan.
Allah Ta'ala gives us this night in preparation for the coming month of Ramadan. Most of us are acquainted with the merits of this night: It is a night for the forgiveness of sins, a night in which Allah Ta'ala's Mercy descends.
From our side, we should maximise the wonderful bounties found on this night by engaging ourselves in Ibadah, in Dua and in Istighfar.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what to read and how to occupy ourselves on this night. In reality, it is spending time in diverse Ibadah, whatever our hearts incline to – some recitation of Qur'an Sharif and Zikrullah, together with sincere Taubah, abundant Istighfar, and deep-hearted Dua. Sleep for a little while, get up for the Tahajjud Salah and engage in Dua. There is no reason to feel disappointed if the person is working the entire day and cannot remain awake for most of the night; he should try to whatever extent he can make an effort on this night.
My purpose was just to highlight one or two points – the main point being that irrespective of how far we may have distanced ourselves from Allah Ta'ala, we need to turn to Allah Ta'ala and make “I'tiraf-e- Qusur” —acknowledge our weakness and sins.
“O my beloved Allah! Looking at my own weakness and my lack of strength and energy, what else can I take support from except that You are Most Merciful?
My crying and tearing before You and my repentance are what I have to offer. I do not have the strength that the Sahaba (Radhiyallahu ’anhum) had. I do not have the strength that the Tabi'in and the Tab'ut Tabi'in had. I do not have that kind of Ibadah, Zikr and Tilawah which the righteous, pious, and the Salihin had, or they have.
I am of those who are extremely weak. With my “I'tiraf-e-Qusur”, acknowledgement of my sins, and tears of repentance, I seek Your support. Overlook my sins, shortcomings, and my weakness. My life has gone by in so much disobedience to You and your Rasool (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). But this night, I am turning towards You…”
Ask Allah Ta'ala for complete forgiveness from all sins, whether major or minor, wherever they may have been committed, whether deliberate or unintentional. Whatever it may be, ask Allah Ta'ala for forgiveness of all sins, and sincerely promise and pledge not to return to them.
With this kind of Taubah and Istighfar, the light of Iman will shine in our hearts. After that, it is left to us to then preserve that light by staying away from those sins in the future.
On the other hand, if the person is going to merely engage in lip-service Istighfar and Taubah for the night and then continue with the same evils the very next day, how will any Noor remain in the heart?
Then, when Ramadan does arrive, the person will be empty in his heart. If he continues in the same direction of sins, he will not be in the right frame to spiritually and fully benefit and draw from the downpour of Noor, Rahmah and Barakah of Ramadan.
May Allah Ta'ala grant us all the understanding and the ability to practise upon our knowledge with Ikhlas. May Allah Ta'ala grant us the full blessings of Sha'ban and Ramadan.
 Shu’abul Iman