Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions in Lata’if al-Ma’arif:
The month of Rajab is the key to the months of goodness and blessings that follow it. Abu Bakr b. al-Warraq al-Balkhi said: “Rajab is the month to sow the seeds; Sha’ban is the month to irrigate the crop; and Ramadan is the month to reap the harvest.” It has similarly been related from him: “Rajab is like the wind; Sha’ban is like the water-laden clouds; and Ramadan is like the rain.” Someone else mentioned: “The year in its entirety is like a tree: during Rajab its buds sprout; during Sha’ban it sends forth its branches; during Ramadan its fruit ripens; and the believers are the farmhands who harvest that fruit.”
It is opportune for anyone who has darkened the scroll of their deeds with sins to cleanse it with repentance during this month. Likewise, anyone who has squandered his lifetime without taking advantage of the opportunities to benefit his soul should take advantage of what remains of his life—starting with this month.
A poet said:
So cleanse your darkened hearts within Rajab;
with deeds that spare the soul Hellfire’s wrath.
One of the sacred months has come along;
no one who calls on God will be forlorn.
Heaven is for the one’s who cleanse their hearts
with lewd indecent deeds they’ll have no part.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to do righteous deeds during this month is a source of great gain. While filling each moment of the month worshiping God is a bounteous virtue. End quote from Ibn Rajab.
Let us all take advantage of the weeks that come before the blessed month of Ramadan. If we begin to fast voluntarily now, the fatigue and discomfort that sometimes accompanies the beginning of our obligatory fast will be behind us and we will enter the month with great spiritual momentum. Similarly, if we begin increasing our reading of the Qur’an now we will find it easy to read an even greater amount during the month of Ramadan, a month when we celebrate the revelation of our blessed scripture. An athlete who enters a race with a running start achieves a far faster time than one who starts the race from a stationary position. Let us take advantage of these days to get a running start into Ramadan.