Khutba : Preparing for Ramadan in these days of Sha’ban

My teacher would ask “If you have seen 20, 30 or 40 Ramadan’s, are you 20, 30 or 40 times better?”

Failure to plan = planning for failure so how do we plan for Ramadan?

We are currently in the month of Sha’ban. The word Sha’ban came from the Arabic Shu’ba which means branch, because goodness branches out from it, hence Ramadan comes from it.

All of us love ripe mangoes so how can we ensure at the end of this branch (Sha’ban) is a ripe mango of Ramadan waiting for us.

Sh Abu Bakr Al Balkhee would say

The month of Rajab is the month of planting

Month of Sha’ban irrigating what you planted

Month of Ramadan is month of harvesting and reaping

What about those who haven’t planned anything for Ramadan? The scholars explain that the first 10 days of Ramadan are your planting, your middle 10 are irrigation and the final 10 are harvesting. Every day and night.

Many of us could benefit from the extended story of the Rabbit and the Hare:

Part 1

Once upon a time a Turtle and a Rabbit had an argument about who was faster.

They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race. The rabbit shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the turtle, he thought he’d sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The turtle plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ. The rabbit woke up and realized that he’d lost the race.

Moral: slow and steady wins the race. Many of us are used to burn-out after the first few nights of Ramadan and then show up again on the 27th.

Part 2

The rabbit was disappointed at losing the race and he did some soul-searching. He realized that he’d lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken things for granted, there’s no way the turtle could have beaten him. So he challenged the turtle to another race. The turtle agreed. This time, the rabbit went all out and ran without stopping from start to finish. He won by several miles.

Moral: Fast and consistent will always beat the slow and steady. It’s good to be slow and steady but it’s better to be fast and reliable.

Time is short so make the most of your every day and make a promise to yourself and others if that helps increase your constancy.

Part 3

The turtle did some thinking this time, and realized that there’s no way he can beat the rabbit in a race the way it was currently formatted. He thought for a while, and then challenged the rabbit to another race, but on a slightly different route. The rabbit agreed.

They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the rabbit took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river. The rabbit sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the turtle trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.

Moral: First identify your core competency and then change the playing field to suit your core competency.

Set a practical target for Ramadan e.g. attending the masjid for at least one salaah daily. If you struggle to overcome your sleep (your weakness) but are motivated by opening iftaar in the masjid (strength), then make this your daily commitment and stick to it.

Part 4

The rabbit and the turtle, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been run much better.

So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time the rabbit carried the turtle till the riverbank. There, the turtle took over and swam across with the rabbit on his back. On the opposite bank, the rabbit again carried the turtle and they reached the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction than they’d felt earlier.

Moral: It’s good to be individually brilliant and to have strong core competencies; but unless you’re able to work in a team and harness each other’s core competencies, you’ll always perform below par because there will always be situations at which you’ll do poorly and someone else does well. Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with the relevant core competency for a situation take leadership.

Good company and ta’aawun (cooperation/collaboration) in good will help you achieve more good inshaAllah.

Know that Ramadan contains the best of the best

The best of books sent down to

The best of men via

The best of angels on

The best of nights to

The best of places to

The best of nations and

The best of generations

Ask yourself what’s distracting you from Allah(SWT)?

Fortnight, FIFA, Netflix? Make a commitment to wean yourself off it now rather than go cold turkey in the first few days of Ramadan but fail because you cant sustain this.

So how do we make the most of our time – the one blessing all of us share equally and ultimately our life is just a unit of time and we will be questioned only about how we spent it.

Our beloved Prophet (SAW) said about time in Hadith: “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good” (Bukhari).

Imam Ash-Shafi’i said: “If the people were to ponder on this Surah, it would be sufficient for them.” [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]

By the Time!
Certainly, Insan (a human being) is in loss,
except those who believed and did good deeds
exhorted one another to Truth, and exhorted one another to patience and constancy.”
– (Surah Al ‘Asr 1-3)

Ask yourself what you are certain about – work, football, studying to get grades? Now ask yourself what certainty you have in Allah(SWT) and how that certainty shapes your behaviour. This is belief.

How has this belief shaped your actions – your good deeds.

Who are your friends? Would you be happy to be raised with them on the Day of Judgement? What are they calling you to? Is it the Truth – if not, change your company.

Remain patient and consistent in good if you want this Ramadan to be a means of your progress, getting you closer to Allah(SWT) and sweeter than the tastiest mango because of your preparation in these coming days.

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