The 1st Sha’bān 1441 commenced yesterday. Now that we have reached another Sha’bān we must ask:
What will be the difference between Sha’bān 1440 and Sha’bān 1441?
Many people find it difficult getting into the spiritual state that Ramaḍān 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 Allāh would have Muslims worship him one month of the year! Whilst worship is a daily affair, Allāh would have us worship more in some months over others. Furthermore, the righteous, in understanding the importance of Ramaḍān, 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 Sha’bān is the month of irrigating crops, and the month of Ramaḍān 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 Sha’bān is that of the clouds and the likeness of Ramaḍān is that of the rain; whoever does not plant and sow in Rajab, and does not irrigate in Sha’bān, how can he reap in Ramaḍān? Now that Rajab has passed, so what will you do in Sha’bān if you are seeking Ramaḍān? This is how your Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the early generations of the ummah were in this blessed month. So what will you do?
Sha’bān is the month where last year’s account of good and bad actions for every individual ascends to Allāh. As we know, there are four instances when our actions ascend to Allāh: the daily record, weekly record, yearly record, and the whole life record.
It is reported that Usāmah b. Zayd (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:
“I said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Sha’bān.’ He (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramaḍān, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.’”
The difference between Sha’bān 1440 and Sha’bān 1441 is that a whole year of your life has passed. A whole year of more than 350 days of actions recorded. The actions of the days are recorded, not neglecting any hour, nor second of each day. Ibrāhīm al-Nakh’ī used to cry to his wife every Thursday, and she used to cry too and he used to say, “Today our actions will be put forth in front of Allāh”. So how about the actions of the whole year?
Sit down and try to reflect on what you did in the past year and try to remember the actions that will be put forth in front of Allāh.
How great is your heedless state of this great month and of your actions that will be put forth in front of Allāh?
How many sins have you committed this year?
How many harām gazes have you not restrained our eyes from this year?
How much of your brothers’ and sisters’ flesh have you eaten this year due to backbiting?
If you were present when someone was backbiting another, did you stop them? Or at least leave that congregation?
How many times did you listen to harām?
Did you protect your hands from falling into harām?
Did you stop your feet from taking you to harām?
How much good did you enjoin?
How much evil did you forbid?
How many hours did you waste?
How neglectful have you been of your brothers and sister around the world?
Was there a time when you ate something which caused Allāh to be angry with you?
Was there a word that you said which caused your place in Jahannam to dwell deeper than the distance between the East and the West?
Was there a time when you were alone, you were heedless of Allāh watching over you, and you committed sins which distanced you from Jannah and from your Lord?
How I wonder, what is our position in the eyes of Allāh at the end of this year?
Which of us will be brought closer, and which of us will be distanced further?
In this year, many people have made Jannah obligatory upon them due to the good they did, while others have made Jahannam obligatory upon them due to the evil they committed. Have you wondered which of these two types of people you are?
High levels in Jannah have been achieved by people who have used their time wisely, yet we remain where we are, still unable to fulfil the obligations as commanded by Allāh, still unable to pray on time, still unable to pray in the Masjid. When is the time for us to wake up from this heedless state and realise what we have done and repent and ask Allāh for forgiveness?
You may be asking, “What do you want me to do now?” Brothers and sisters, every day that has passed in this previous year has been an extra chance for you to do good, and now that you have looked back at what you have done and what will be put forth in front of Allāh, it is time to realise that Allāh has blessed you by letting you live until this day. So many people have died during the past year, yet Allāh has let you live, and even let you read this reminder to encourage you to turn back to Him, so now is the time to do so.
We are now in Sha’bān, so make sure you make full use of it, and repent and seek forgiveness from Allāh for all your sins and shortcomings, so that they are forgiven before they ascend to your Lord. Sha’bān is a month which many people neglect. Imagine you are worshipping Allāh at a time which many people neglect, and when Allāh looks at His creation during that time, only a few humans are engaging in worship, and you are one of them. Sha’bān is a time of fasting, as the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to fast the majority of this month, so ensure you follow his Sunnah and increase in fasting. Also, make sure you prepare yourself for Ramaḍān by increasing in qiyām al-layl, reading the Qur’ān, offering voluntary prayers and making constant dhikr, so that when Ramaḍān comes, you are fully prepared for it and are already used to doing righteous actions.
Let us use Sha’bān 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 Ramaḍān we may ever face. ʿĀ’ishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha) narrates that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) never fasted in any month more than in the month of Sha’bān. He used to say, “Do those deeds which you can do easily, as Allāh will not get tired (of giving rewards) till you get bored and tired (of performing religious deeds).”
Notes: A discussion of the ascension of these different records and their respective proofs can be found in Tarīq al-Hijratayn wa Bāb al-Sa‘ādatayn by Ibn al-Qayyim  Recorded in Nasā’i