Dear brothers and sisters,

Today is the 7th of Shaban and we’re not even a month away from Ramadan. For the past few khutbah’s we have been educating ourselves about Emaan, its five pillars and times when prayers are or are not to be established. Today’s khutbah is going to be direct as we are going to talk about goals and objectives that we should be aiming before the holy month of Ramadan starts. To begin the conversation, remember one thing, in order to maximize the rewards from Allah SWT, we must first be in the habit of doing what is already considered compulsory (Farz) as part of our
Emaan. I am talking about aiming to establish prayers five times a day, keeping faith and belief in Allah SWT & on those who it applies on, being proactive in paying off Zakat and saving for Hajj.

Remember, it has been proven in several hadith that during Ramadan, several devils are chained, and gates of hell are closed. One such hadith is narrated in At-Tirmidhi (682) and Ibn Maajah (1642) classified as Hasan in Sahih Al-Jami, where Abu Hurairah RA reported: The Prophet Muhammad SAW said: “When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils and mischievous jinn are chained up, and the gates of Hell are closed, and none of its gates are opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed” If the devils and mischievous Jinns are going to be locked up, then of course they are going to try hard in this month to make us slip out of our habits to establish prayers, of course they are going to make to spend more so you have less to spend in the way of Allah SWT and of course they are going to try to convince us to make habits of spending time in things either trivial or outright against the teachings of Allah SWT. They know they won’t get the next month to so for them, this is the time to try their hardest to derail us from preparing for Ramadan. Hence, our trial in this month (for all of us) is to resist the Devil and stay on path with our preparations for Ramadan, and to seek for forgiveness from Allah SWT if in case we commit a sin by mending our ways and giving Ramadan the importance that it deserves. (May Allah SWT help us in that pursuit...Ameen!)

According to the Sunnah of Prophet SAW, there are few fasts that are voluntary but prescribed in general throughout the year, this month included. One such sunnah is to try to aim to fast on Mondays and Thursdays in a week. This is evident from two hadiths, the first one is present in
al Tirmidhi, 745, classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Sahih al-Targheeb, where it’s narrated from Aisha RA who said: The Prophet SAW was keen to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. The second hadith is narrated in al-Tirmidhi, 747; classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Sahih al-Targheeb, where Abu Hurairah RA narrated that the Messenger of Allah SAW said: “Deeds are shown (to Allah) on Mondays and Thursdays, and I like my deeds to be shown when I am fasting.” Another Sunnah of prophet SAW with respect to fasting was that he used to fast on the 13th, the 14th
and 15th of the lunar month. This is supported by several different hadiths, one of which is in al- Tirmidhi, 761; al-Nasai, 2424; classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Sahih al-Targheeb, where Abu Dhar RA said: The Messenger of Allah SAW said to me: “If you fast any part of the month, then fast the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth.” However, I must give a word of caution. With regards to fasting specifically in the month of Shabaan.
there are hadiths narrated from the Prophet SAW which forbid fasting in the second half of Shabaan, except in two cases:

1 – Those who have a habitual pattern of fasting, such as a man who usually fasts on Mondays and Thursdays – he may continue to do so even in the second half of Shabaan.
2 – If he joins fasts in the second half of Shabaan to the first half, i.e., if he started to fast in the first half and continues to fast until Ramadan begins, this is permissible

These hadith include the following:
1. Al-Bukhari (1914) and Muslim (1082) narrated that Abu Hurairah RA said: Messenger of Allah SAW said: “Do not anticipate Ramadan by fasting one or two days before it begins, but if a man habitually fasts, then let him fast.”

2. Sahih al-Tirmidhi, 590, Classified as Sahih by Albani, also narrated in al-Tirmidhi (738) and Ibn Maajah (1651), it is narrated from Abu Hurairah RA: “The Messenger of Allah SAW said: “When Shabaan is half over, do not fast.” So, in summary, as long as we’re in the habit of fasting in the first half of this month, it's okay to fast in the second half. Otherwise, it's not recommended. Another Sunnah of prophet SAW that less people are familiar with, is that prophet SAW would make dua whenever he sighted the crescent moon signaling the start of any new lunar month, including
Ramadan. It is narrated by At-Tirmidhi, Riyad as-Salihin 1228, that Talha bin Ubaidullah RA reported: At the sight of the new moon (of the lunar month), the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه وسلم (used to supplicate: "Allahumma ahillahu 'alaina bil-amni wal-iman, was-salamati wal-Islam, Rabbi wa Rabbuk-Allah, Hilalu rushdin wa khairin (O Allah, let this moon appear on us with security and Iman; with safety and Islam. (O moon!) Your Rabb and mine is Allah. May this moon be bringing guidance and good)."

Dear Brothers and sisters,
To recap, we are already in the month of Shabaan and hence, we should be spending more time in zikr of Allah SWT and in his remembrance. And to pay respect to him as well to his prophet SAW, we should be aiming towards mimicking what prophet SAW did to prepare for Ramadan himself. He use to keep fasts prior to Ramadan so we should do so too just the way he did. Aim for Mondays and Thursdays and for the 13th, 14th and 15th of each lunar calendar, but to be careful not to single out the second half of Shabaan For the purpose of fasting. Similarly, the dua I mentioned, of course I don’t expect you to memorize it right away, even I don’t have it memorized, but now that we know, we can always pull out our phones and check for that dua online when we sight the moon marking the beginning of Ramadan inshallah. And of course, as a general suggestion, start small by keeping up with our obligatory prayers and making sure we are more reserved in how we spend in this month. This is to allow spending wisely the next month and also, so it’s not a burden when you spend more in the way of Allah SWT in the next month. The same applies with starting Quran and going through it verse by verse, whatever small number of verses you can do in a day, even if it's just one. According to Sahih Al-Bukhari hadith 6464, it is narrated by Aisha RA: Allah's Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم (said, "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little." I encourage all of us, me and all of you, to please pick up the Quran wherever we left it off last and try our best to read it and understand it. Of course, Allah SWT is the creator and is all-knowing, if He wills, we will receive guidance and understanding of Islam and will received the reward of spreading His word to those who may not know or may need motivation.