Preparing for Ramadan – Heart & Soul (Part 3)
We praise Allah abundantly for allowing us to reach the month of Sha’ban; a month which most people do not pay attention to.
عن أُسَامَةُ بْنُ زَيْدٍ، قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَمْ أَرَكَ تَصُومُ شَهْرًا مِنَ الشُّهُورِ مَا تَصُومُ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ . قَالَ “ ذَلِكَ شَهْرٌ يَغْفُلُ النَّاسُ عَنْهُ بَيْنَ رَجَبٍ وَرَمَضَانَ وَهُوَ شَهْرٌ تُرْفَعُ فِيهِ الأَعْمَالُ إِلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ ”
Usamah bin Zaid (Radia-Allahu ‘anhu) said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Sha’ban.’ He said: ‘That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting.“‘ [An-Nasaa’i]
Because the month of Sha’ban falls between the month of Rajab (which is a sacred month) and the month of Ramadan (which is a great month of fasting), people are occupied with these two months and neglect Sha’ban.
ذالك شهر يغفل الناس عنه – That is a month that people do not give heed to.
There are times, places and people that are more virtuous and known to the people. There are also times that are virtuous and yet unknown to the people; hence, the reward of the latter becomes even more virtuous. People know about the virtues of Rajab and Ramadan, but do not know about the virtues of Sha’ban, which is why they neglect it. They don’t know that the deeds performed in Sha’ban may be more rewarding than the deeds performed in Rajab and Ramadan, because it is a neglected time, and that acts of worship performed in such times (when people are heedless) are more rewarding to Allah than acts of worship performed when everyone is performing them. E.g. In the marketplace most people are heedless and are busy with buying and selling. You may be the only one who remembers Allah; hence, your remembrance will be more rewarding with Allah, due to the place you are in.
There is more reward for remembering Allah in a time or place where heedlessness prevails, more than if one’s remembrance is at a time or place where everyone is remembering Allah.
Ibn Rajab رحمه الله said:
قوله – صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم – ((شَهْرٌ يَغْفُلُ النَّاسُ عنه)) فيه دليلٌ على استحباب عمارة أوقاتِ غفْلة الناس بالطاعة، وأنَّ ذلك محبوبٌ عندَ الله – عزَّ وجلَّ، وفي إحياء الوقتِ المغفول عنه بالطاعة فوائد:
The Prophet (ﷺ)’s statement “A month which people do not give heed to“ is an evidence for the recommendation to do deeds which are beloved to Allah during the times when people are less aware of it.
The benefits of obedience during the times people are heedless
1) أن يكون أخفى و إخفاء النوافل و إسرارها إفضل
The acts of worship you perform during the times the people are heedless are hidden. It is better to keep your voluntary acts of worship a secret.
It was mentioned that one of the Salaf used to fast for forty years without his own family knowing. He would go out from his house in the morning taking his two pieces of bread, then give it in charity on his way. And in the evening, he would go home and have dinner with his family, breaking his fast. The Salaf also used to advise each other to anoint themselves when fasting – that is to hide the signs of fasting from others. One of the Salaf said that his father and the elders used to wear their best clothes in order to remove the effect of fasting on their faces. That is because the more hidden your deed is, the greater it is with Allah.
2) أنَّه أشقُّ على النفوس، وأفضلُ الأعمال أشقُّها على النفوس؛ وسببُ ذلك أنَّ النفوس تتأسَّى بما تشاهده مِن أحوال أبناء الجِنس، فإذا كثُرتْ يقظةُ الناس وطاعاتهم كثُر أهلُ الطاعة، لكثرةِ المقتدين بهم، فسهلت الطاعَة، وإذا كثُرتِ الغفلات وأهلها تأسَّى بهم عموم الناس، فيشق على نفوس المتيقظين طاعاتهم، لقلَّة مَن يقتدون بهم فيها.
It is more difficult for the souls, and the best deeds are those which are most difficult on the souls. The reason for this is because the souls of mankind are comforted when they witness other souls of mankind in similar conditions. So if there are plenty of heedful people on obedience, there will be plenty of obedient people, thus making the obedience easier. But if heedlessness and its people are more, the general public would find comfort with that, thus making the obedience difficult on the heedful souls (due to the scarcity of those doing the deeds). This is like the woman who has to make up her fast after Ramadan. She finds it very difficult because everyone is eating and drinking. This is the same feeling we have in the month of Sha’ban, and it is more rewarding.
3) أنَّ المنفرد بالطاعة بيْن أهل المعاصي والغفْلة قد يُدْفَعُ به البلاءُ عن الناس كلِّهم، فكأنه يَحميهم ويدافع عنهم
The one who is upon obedience to Allah amongst people of disobedience and heedlessness will avert calamity from all the people, so it is as if he is protecting and defending them.
و هو شهر ترفع فيه الأعمال إلى رب العالمين فأحب أن يرفع عملي و أنا صائم – It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting
One should reflect over the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ). Our deeds are presented to Allah this month, so what state would you like to be in when that happens? Would you like your deeds to be presented to Allah while you are lazy, sinful, doubtful, angry, defaming people,etc; whilst while your heart is full of sicknesses?
The times when our deeds are taken up to Allah
1) Daily; once at Fajr and another at Asr time.
This is based on the Hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ), narrated by Abu Musa رضي الله عنه:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لاَ يَنَامُ وَلاَ يَنْبَغِي لَهُ أَنْ يَنَامَ يَخْفِضُ الْقِسْطَ وَيَرْفَعُهُ يُرْفَعُ إِلَيْهِ عَمَلُ اللَّيْلِ قَبْلَ عَمَلِ النَّهَارِ وَعَمَلُ النَّهَارِ قَبْلَ عَمَلِ اللَّيْلِ حِجَابُهُ النُّورُ – وَفِي رِوَايَةِ أَبِي بَكْرٍ النَّارُ – لَوْ كَشَفَهُ لأَحْرَقَتْ سُبُحَاتُ وَجْهِهِ مَا انْتَهَى إِلَيْهِ بَصَرُهُ مِنْ خَلْقِهِ
Verily the Exalted and Mighty God does not sleep, and it does not befit Him to sleep. He lowers the scale and lifts it. The deeds in the night are taken up to Him before the deeds of the day, and the deeds of the day before the deeds of the night. His veil is the light. In the hadith narrated by Abu Bakr (instead of the word “light”) it is fire. If he withdraws it (the veil), the splendor of His countenance would consume His creation so far as His sight reaches. [Muslim]
An-Nawawi رحمه الله mentioned that the recording angels stay with us the whole night. Then they ascend to Allah at Fajr time and present Allah the deeds we have done during the night; and Allah accepts what He wills. Then the angels of the day come down at Fajr and stay with us until Asr, when they present the deeds to Allah that we performed during the day. If we really believe in this, we will always be heedful of what we do during the day and night.
2) Weekly; on Mondays and Thursdays.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: إِنَّ يَوْمَ الاِثْنَيْنِ وَالْخَمِيسِ يَغْفِرُ اللَّهُ فِيهِمَا لِكُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ إِلاَّ مُهْتَجِرَيْنِ يَقُولُ دَعْهُمَا حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا
On Mondays and Thursdays Allah forgives every Muslim except two who have forsaken one another. He says: “Leave these two until they reconcile.” [Ibn Majah]
In another narration:
تُعْرَضُ الأَعْمَالُ فِي كُلِّ يَوْمِ خَمِيسٍ وَاثْنَيْنِ فَيَغْفِرُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فِي ذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ لاَ يُشْرِكُ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا إِلاَّ امْرَأً كَانَتْ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ أَخِيهِ شَحْنَاءُ فَيُقَالُ ارْكُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا ارْكُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا
The deeds are presented every Thursday and Monday and Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, grants pardon to every person who does not associate anything with Allah, except the person in whose (heart) there is rancor against his brother. It would be said: Put both of them off until they are reconciled. [Muslim]
In another narration by Ahmad and authenticated by Al-Albani: “…and the deeds of the person who cuts the relationship with his kith and kin will not be accepted.”
As-Sindi said that our deeds are either presented to Allah in general twice a day, and in detail twice a week, or the opposite.
We have to be careful with our relationship with Allah and with the people. Are we falling into Ar-Riyaa (showing off) or Sum’ah (seeking reputation)? Do we have malice in our heart towards people? Are there people in our family we have cut our relationships with for a long time?
This is once a year, in the month of Sha’ban, according to the aforementioned Hadith.
We are now in the month in which our deeds are raised to Allah. We should do good deeds as much as we can in order for them to be pleasing to Allah.
The Effect of Knowing that our Deeds are presented to Allah daily, weekly, and annually:
We should be engaged in more acts of obedience during these times, and be keen on avoiding the states of Shirk, and avoiding grudges between us and people, regardless of what they have done. If you have a conflict between you and another person, and you forgave him but he does not want to forgive you, then your deeds are still accepted by Allah. Allah knows best about your state and his state. You do what is required from you and Allah will accept your deeds. Do not worry about other people, focus on yourself, and leave the people to Allah.