As salaam alaykum! Today we enter the sacred month of Rajab. This begins the time of the heart which flows through Rajab and Sha’ban and ends with the festival at the end of the month of Ramadhan – Eid ul Fitr.
A du’a that one can say at the beginning of the month comes from Rasul Allah (swt) who would say “Oh Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha’ban that we may see Ramadhan.”
There are many benefits of Rajab and du’a and prayers for those who wish to take advantage of them.
How can we honor the month of Rajab and use it as a preparation for Ramadan?
Reflect on your Life and Deeds. Muhasaba is a wonderful practice at any time of the year but it brings with it the special care one takes during this sacred month. In this practice you ask yourself the hard questions we normally don’t like to think about: If I died today, where would I stand with Allah? Have I prepared for Ramadan? Have I been conscious of what I am saying and doing to those around me? Am I stagnant in my worship?
Be conscious of your nafs. We should not always give the nafs what it wants. This can be something materialistic, for pleasure or for our getting “over” someone else. One of the goals is to increase in our awareness of Allah (swt) in our hearts by not indulging. Eat a simple meals, wake up early and go for a walk, pray extra prayers, pray deeply, remembering that Allah (swt) is guiding you in your heart, go to the mosque for fajr, exert yourself in the cause of Allah and do something to teach your nafs to be patient.
Fasting. There is no better way to prepare for Ramadan than to fast some extra days. A’isha (ra) was known to fast during the summer, and the explanation was that she would do that because it was a difficult thing to do yet showed her strong devotion. Ramadhan, in its course through the seasons year by year will come in the summer as it will this year (in the northern hemisphere) and we cannot change that. But we can follow our mother A’isha (ra) and be of those few that do something valuable before we are all obligated to fast. Now is the time to not only prepare for fasting but to gain some reward as the temperature rises.
Remember the Hereafter. Because of its complaint to Allah (swt) Hell is allowed to take two breaths each year – in the summer its breath is when the severest heat is felt and in the winter it is when the severest cold is felt. Therfore as the heat is felt in your heart and your body this summer remember the hereafter and how we want to avoid the hellfire.
Charity. In this sacred month, be charitable in the cause of Allah (swt). Remembering our Prophet’s (saw) behavior and character, be courteous, help someone, feed another, saying a kind word, sharing a reminder of the deen and even abstaining from doing a bad deed are all non-monetary forms of charity taught to us by the Messenger (swt)
Supplicate (make du`a’) to Allah. Remember the du’a above, Ask Allah (swt) for His forgiveness and guidance.
Take Care of Your Tree. Ibn Rajab used to say: “The year is like a tree. The days of Rajab are its leaves, the days of Sha’ban are its branching and the days of Ramadan are when its fruits are reaped. The reapers are the believers. It is befitting for the one who has blackened his pages with sins to whiten them with repentance in this month, and for the one who has squandered his life in idleness to profit in it from what remains of his life.”