شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ
Shahru ramadānal-ladhī unzila fihil-qur’ānu hudan linnāsi wabayyinātin minal-hudā wal-furqān
The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, as guidance to mankind and with clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion
(Sūratul Baqarah, No. 2, Āyat 185)
Muslims around the world are preparing for the month of Ramadan. Different circumstances make the experience of the holy month a unique experience for each community. Many Muslims, especially the followers of the Ahlul Bayt (a), are going through severe hardships and the intense period of worship and supplications by the entire ummah is a great boost in providing comfort, hope and relief.
For all believers, regardless of circumstances, the month is an opportunity to strengthen the connection with the Divine. It is a chance to take time off from the continuous worldly pursuits that so occupy our lives and revive the spiritual self. It is important to take care that the month does not become all about food and drink and the other physical aspects associated with fasting. It is very easy to do that, and the Holy Prophet (s) had warned Muslims about it, saying that many people get nothing out of their fasts except hunger and thirst.
To prepare for the holy month is to prepare for a much anticipated guest. Imam Zaynul ‘Ābidīn (a) says: Peace be upon you, object of seeking before your time (of arrival), and object of sorrow before your passing (away) (Sahīfa Sajjādiyya, Du‘ā 45, passage 38)! Believers look forward to the holy time knowing that these are the nights and days when God looks down on them with great mercy and love.
A beautiful Hadith of Imam Ali al-Ridhā (a) tells us exactly what to do to welcome the holy month:
O Aba Salt, surely most of Sha‘bān has passed, and this is the last Friday of it. So make up for what you have missed from the days that have passed by making the most of the remaining days. Be inclined towards that which concerns you and leave that which does not concern you. Increase your supplication, and seeking forgiveness, and recitation of the Quran. Repent to Allah from your sins so that the month of Ramadan comes to you and you are cleansed for Allah. Let there not be anything entrusted to you except that you have fulfilled it. Remove any dislike of a believer that harbors in your heart. Stop any sin that you may be committing. Be God conscious and rely on Him in all your hidden and open matters. Whoever renders his trust in Allah, He suffices him. Indeed Allah achieves His purpose. Certainly Allah has set a measure for everything (Q 65:2-3). Say often in the remaining of this month: allāhumma in lam takun qad ghafarta lanā fīmā madhā min sha‘bāna, faghfir lanā fīmā baqiya minhu (O Allah, if you have not forgiven us in what has passed from the month of Sha‘bān, then forgive us in what remains of it). For surely Allah – the Blessed and Exalted – frees the neck of the people from the fire in this month due to the sanctity of the month of Ramadan. (Shahrullāh, H. 232)
May we be blessed to pass the remaining days and moments in the month of Sha‘bān in reciting the above supplication, and in preparing for the month of Allah. Let us not forget to pray and assist, where possible, the grief-stricken people of Iraq, for Is He not the One: Who answers the call of the distressed [person] when he invokes Him and removes his distress (Q 27:62)!
Sources: Āytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Muhammadī Rayshahrī, Shahrullāh fil-ktāb wal-sunnah.