The Spiritual Season: Part 1: Rajab | Part 2: Sha'ban | Part 3: Ramadan
Commencement of the spiritual season for every believer, starting with Rajab and ending with the month of Ramadan, has begun. The three months of Rajab, Sha'ban and Ramadan are unmatched in their importance. Ibn Rajab used to say: “The year is like a tree. The days of Rajab are its foliation. The days of Sha’ban are its branching and the days of Ramadan are wherein its fruits are reaped.” The Prophet ﷺ said: "Indeed Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha‘ban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah."1
One of the four sacred months mentioned in the Qur’an, Rajab was the month that the Prophet ﷺ was taken on the Isra wal Mi’raj (the Night Journey and Ascension), and scholars throughout our history have affirmed the virtues and benefits of worship in this month.2 Therefore we should harvest and reap the benefits of Rajab and Sha’ban and use them as the foundation upon which we train and prepare, heralding the arrival of Ramadan. Throughout the year we engage in different types of ‘training’—physical, professional, educational, to name a few—and the goals we often have are improving our capabilities, capacity, productivity and performance. So what about the ‘training’ program required to strengthen our souls and the connection to our Creator?
Rajab marks the beginning of this spiritual ‘training’ season. Like any other training program we engage in, it requires preparation, and we can use this month to seek nearness to Allah intensively with the intention of mentally and physically preparing for Ramadan. Keeping in mind all training programs are designed to meet the needs of our bodies, soul and minds, what are ways we can honor the month of Rajab and use it as a preparation for Ramadan?
Feed the need for Taqwa (God Consciousness) through fasting
The Prophet ﷺ recommended fasting at least some days in each of the sacred months. There is no better way to prepare for Ramadan than to fast some extra days during this blessed month and to use these fasts as a means to draw closer to our Creator. Fasting builds the character of taqwa if it is done in the right way - "O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may have taqwa" (2:183). Acquiring taqwa takes time as it grows with the increase of faith in the heart of a believer. So let us utilize these months to work on our taqwa ‘barometers’ to help not only propel us into Ramadan but also maintain and increase in taqwa throughout the year.
Develop a ‘give more’ mindset
Give back from within your means. Simply smiling at someone is a form of giving and reward. The possibilities are endless but remember your best charity is giving from what is most loved by you. "By no means shall you attain righteousness, unless you give of that which you love."(3:92)
Quit the bad habits and seek forgiveness (istighfar)
Identify and assess your spiritual needs and goals. Then construct a plan that will be effective and convenient. It is a period to revive the heart and soul and to purify oneself of all sins and wrongdoing. The best way to do this is to prepare and train the heart through purification and repentance.
It is highly recommended to say the following Prophetic prayer (known as Sayyid Al-Istighfar or the Master of Repentance) three times every morning and every evening:
اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّي لا إِلَهَ إِلا أَنْتَ خَلَقْتَنِي وَأَنَا عَبْدُكَ وَأَنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ وَوَعْدِكَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا صَنَعْتُ أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَيَّ وَأَبُوءُ لَكَ بِذَنْبِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي فَإِنَّهُ لايَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلا أَنْتَ
Allahumma anta rabbi la ilaha illa ant, khalaqtani wa ana ‘abduk, wa ana ‘ala ‘ahdika wa wa’adika ma astata’at, ‘audhu bika min shar ma san’at, abu’u laka bi ni’matika ‘allaya wa abu’u bi dhanbi, faghfir li fa’innahu la yaghfir al-dhunuba illa anta.
"O Allah, you are my Lord, and there is no God but you. You created me and I am your servant, and I am upon the covenant to the best of my ability. I seek refuge in you from the evil I have brought upon myself. I admit all the blessings you have given me and I admit my sins, so forgive me, for no one can forgive sins save you."
Also highly recommended is to say the following 70 times after the Fajr and ‘Isha prayers, every morning and night of Rajab:
ربّ اغفر لي وارحمني وتب عليّ
Rabb ighfir li w’ arhamni wa tub ‘alayya.
"O Allah forgive me, have mercy upon me, and grant me repentance."
We ask Allah to give us a great portion of the gifts bestowed in this month and that He makes us among those who attain acceptance and felicity in this life and the next and remember success is from Allah!
1. Imam Al-Suyuti in Al-Jami
2. For further information on the virtues of Rajab, refer to "Welcoming the Sacred Month of Rajab": http://abdulkarimyahya.com/2010/06/09/welcoming-the-blessed-month-of-rajab/
3. The Rajab Letter - compiled and translated by Sidi Amjad Tarsin (The Secrets of Rajab by Habib Umar and Habib Kadhim – Muwasala)
By Selma Chaudhry , 06 May 2014