By Shaykh Maulana Yunus Patel (RA)
The phrase, ‘It’s in the air’ alludes to the general feeling or expectation of something to happen in the near future or something which is already present or prevailing.
For the Muslim who reaches the months of Rajab and Sha`baan, the presence of Ramadaan is keenly sensed and felt. There is anticipation and expectation. It is near, with each day closing the distance between us and Ramadaan. Its blessings are ‘in the air’ – so to say …just as we have fragrance permeating the atmosphere, infusing the air, whether of flowers or of Itr or other perfume.
…The stronger the perfume, the stronger the Itr, the greater the distance its scent travels – so much so, that even though we may be far, we too get a hint of something special. The same with a braai – we find the aroma being carried by the wind, over a distance.
…Then what of the sweet fragrance of Ramadaan?
It is in the air. Most definitely.
It is just that our “receivers” are not working well. …If there is a transmitter and there is transmission, but our receiver is not working, we will not pick up transmission. Similarly, if our sinuses are clogged, we will not smell the fragrance.
When it comes to the month of Sha`baan – especially from the middle ofSha`baan onwards, the excitement of the Auliya-Allah, the pious and the righteous knows no bounds and limits. They have understood the virtue and significance ofSha`baan because it heralds the coming of Ramadaan, the guest of distinction and greatness. …They have been waiting for the Mubarak month of Ramadaan, and Sha`baan signifies the final countdown to its arrival. They are enthusiastic and eager just to see and meet the month of Ramadaan, and thus we find the beautiful Masnoon dua : ‘O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha’baan and grant us life to see Ramadaan.’
Whilst they enjoy and make the most of the blessings of Sha`baan, it is unfortunate that the majority are neglectful, if not ignorant of its blessings.
Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam) said, “Sha`baan is a month between Rajab and Ramadaan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of deeds is presented before the Lord of the Universe, so I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting.” 
We also find in this blessed month, the night of Bara`ah : A Favour and Bounty of Allah Ta’ala Who, through this night, makes it easy for us to prepare for Ramadaan.
First, Allah Ta’ala gives us the 15th night of Sha`baan – an exclusive opportunity for Taubah, Rujoo Ilallah, Dua and other Ibaadah… and then He gives us an entire month saturated with opportunities to secure His Pleasure. He gives us Ramadaan. Alhamdulillah.
The following analogy came to my mind : That the Ibaadah of the 15th night ofSha`baan is similar to how a person does a re-paint of his house.
When a person wants to paint his house, what does he do if the old paint is flaking, if the old paint is peeling and falling off? Would he just take the new paint and apply a fresh coat on top of all the old, flaking paint? …No.
The person firsts scrapes off all the old paint. After doing this, he applies the new paint.
The night of Bara`ah is akin to scraping off the “old paint”. Allah Ta’ala gives us this blessed and auspicious night so that we scrape off all the old paint and all the dirt of malice, of greed, of pride, of anger and of other bad and evil traits, which have spoilt the beauty of our hearts and which have worn out the shine of our hearts, and through which we have lost the colour of Divine Love which coated our hearts.
…Thus, if we are not on talking terms with our family members, or have cut off ties with parents or vice versa, or have been disobedient to parents, or if there is anyone taking some kind of intoxicant, or engaging in some form of shirk, or is harbouring malice and jealousy, or engaging in any form of immorality and disobedience – then the opportunity to rid the heart of its evil, to clean it and purify it, to paint it in the dye of Allah Ta’ala’s Love, to beautify it with the Noor of sincere repentance and the Remembrance of Allah Ta’ala is presented to us in the form of the 15th night of Sha`baan.
…Very much like the scraping of the old paint … with a re-coat of fresh ‘paint’ before the month of Ramadaan. We apply the new coat so that it begins to shine in advance of Ramadaan and increases in its shine and beauty with each passing day of Ramadaan.
So Allah Ta’ala gives us this night, in preparation for the coming month of Ramadaan. And most of us are acquainted with the merits of this night : That it is a night for forgiveness of sins, a night in which Allah Ta’ala’s Mercy descends.
From our side, we should maximise on the wonderful bounties found in this night, by engaging ourselves in Ibaadah, in Dua and in Istighfaar.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what to read and how to occupy ourselves in this night. In reality, it is spending the time in diverse Ibaadah; whatever our hearts incline to – some recitation of Qur`aan Shareef and Zikrullah, together with sincere Taubah, abundant Istighfaar, and deep-hearted Dua. Sleep for a little while and try and get up for the Tahajjud Salaah and engage in Dua. …There is no reason to feel disappointed if the person is working the entire day and does not then have the capacity to remain awake for most of the night… to whatever extent, the person makes an effort in this night.
My purpose was just to highlight one or two points – the main point being that irrespective of how far we may have distanced ourselves from Allah Ta’ala, if we turn to Allah Ta’ala, we make “I’tiraaf- e- qusoor” – acknowledge our weakness, our sins…
“O my beloved Allah! Looking at my own weakness, looking at my lack of strength and energy, what else can I take support from except that You are Most Merciful?
My crying before You, my tearing before You, my repentance are what I have to offer. I do not have the kind of strength that the Sahaaba-e-Kiraam (RA) had. I do not have that kind of strength that the Taabi’een and the Tabe Taabi’een had. I do not have that kind of Ibaadah, Zikr and Tilaawah which the righteous and the pious and the Sawliheen had, or they have.
I am of those who are extremely weak. With my “I’tiraaf- e- qusoor”, with my acknowledgement of my sins, and with my tears of repentance, I seek Your Support. Overlook my sins, overlook my shortcomings, overlook my weakness. My life has gone by in so much of disobedience to You and your Rasool (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wassallam). But this night, I am turning towards You…”
Ask Allah Ta’ala for complete forgiveness from all sins, whether major or minor sins, wherever they may have been committed, whether deliberate or unintentional. Whatever it may be, ask Allah Ta’ala for forgiveness of all sins, and sincerely promise and pledge not to return to them.
With this kind of Taubah and Istighfaar, the Light of Imaan will shine in our hearts. Thereafter, it is left to us to then preserve that Light by staying away from those sins in the future.
On the other hand, if the person is going to merely engage in lip-service Istighfaar and Taubah for the night, and continue with the same evils the very next day, how will any Noor remain in the heart? …Then, when Ramadaan does arrive, the person will be empty in his heart, and if he continues in the same direction of sins, he will not be in the right frame of spirituality to fully benefit and draw from the downpour of Noor, Rahmah and Barakah of Ramadaan.
May Allah Ta’ala grant us all the understanding and the ability to practise on our knowledge with Ikhlaas. May Allah Ta’ala grant us the full blessings of Sha`baan and Ramadaan.