Respected Rajab, Separated Sha’aban, and Really Hot Ramadan

As we exit the holy month of Rajab reflecting on the blessed anniversary of the Isra and Miraj on Tuesday night, we realize that Ramadan is only a month away. And this is going to be my first Ramadan experience in the summer…DC’s long summer days. But its okay, I’m actually looking forward to the challenge…and experiencing the reality of Ramadan’s namesake.

You see, the word “Ramadan” actually means “the hot month” or “to be burned or scorched”. I guess when the calendar’s months were being named, Ramadan came in the summer time…just like we will experience it this year inshAllah. And isn’t especially beautiful that during a month named for the heat, Muslims around the world will be unified for a time in avoiding the heat of the Fire?

But let’s backtrack to the month we are currently in. The word “Rajab” means “respect.” It shares its name with a river in Paradise, and those who fast in Rajab will be able to drink from this river of the same name.

And Sha’aban, the month that will be upon us on Saturday, July 2nd, means “separation” because it is the month in which the Arabs used to disperse in search of water to prepare for the heat of Ramadan.

So doesn’t it also make sense that we also prepare for the increased access to Warmth and Light that we could and should experience in Ramadan if we only planned ahead for it?

It’s as simple as the meanings behind the months’ names.

  • Rajab should be respected, as it is a sacred month, where those who do supererogatory sacred acts no longer thirst for anything else.
  • In Sha’aban we should separate ourselves, drawing even more closer to the sunnah in preparation for the magnitude of Ramadan.
  • And in Ramadan, we should do all that we can humanly do to avoid the scorching heat of Our Creator’s Wrath and enjoy the coolness of His Pleasure.

But don’t take my word for it–evidence of the blessed succession of these three months comes in the form of metaphors from well-known scholars. Fellow blogger Khuram Zaman of Allahcentric writes, “Rajab is the key to the months of goodness which follow it. For that reason Imam Abu Bakr al-Warraq said: ‘in the month of Rajab you sow the seeds, in Sha`ban you irrigate them and in Ramadan you reap the harvest.’ He also said: ‘Rajab is like a wind, Sha`ban is like a cloud and Ramadan is like rain.’ […] For this reason the scholars say that Rajab is the month of seeking forgiveness, whereas Sha`ban is the month of sending peace and blessings upon the Prophet, and Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an.”

So you see, in these three consecutive months of Rajab, Sha’aban, and Ramadan we have been given a rope to follow–a successive plan of action to maximize our time and benefit in drawing close to our Lord.

The Prophet (saws) himself said: “Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha`bān is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.” (Al-Suyuti)

If we respect these months, withdrawing from the worldly life and increasing our good deeds now, Ramadan will be easier for us inshAllah when it comes. Making extra rakats and eating less won’t seem so difficult because we will already be in the practice of doing these things. Islam, as it should be practiced, is not an annual event, but a daily one.  And again borrowing brother Khuram’s words, “Likewise with a sacred month – we try to enter it in a state of purity and we try to maintain that purity throughout through doing good and avoiding evil.”

I only wished I deeply pondered all of this before the 26th day of Rajab. But at least it’s not over–we can still benefit from fasting and seeking forgiveness for the remaining days of Rajab and seamlessly move into Sha’aban with further fasting and salawat.

Usamah ibn Zayd (ra) said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any month more than in Sha’aban.’ He said, ‘That is a month concerning which many people are heedless, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is the month in which people’s deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds, and I would like my deeds to be taken up whilst I am fasting.’” (al-Nasaa’i, Abu Dawud)

May we respect the remainder of this month and our time on earth, preparing for the separation that seeking Allah entails and be saved from the penalty of the Fire and rewarded instead with the Light and Warmth of Allah’s Countenance. Amin.

O Allah bring us the new moon with security and faith, with peace and in Islam, and in harmony with what our Lord loves and what pleases Him. Make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadan! Amin! [Du’a narrated by Tabarani and Ahmad]

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