it has been authentically transmitted that the prophet's companions (may allah be pleased with them all) used to implore allah to bless them with the opportunity to witness ramadan six months ahead of it. this may reflect the intense desire of the companions to gain the multiple rewards in this blessed month. as muslims, we have to enhance our spiritual state to start this month with open hearts ready to receive the light of iman. the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to say these words when the month of sha`ban drew to a close: "o muslims! a noble and generous month has come to you. a month in which a night is better than one thousand months, and this month is the month of charity, patience, and mercy. in this month the gates of paradise become wide open and the gates of hell are shut, and the devils are chained" (an-nasa'i).
in his response , sheikh ahmad kutty, a senior lecturer and islamic scholar at the islamic institute of toronto,ontario, canada, states:
as is reported in the traditions, the salaf as-salih (righteous predecessors) used to pray, "o allah, bless us in rajab and sha`ban and grace us to witness ramadan!" the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also taught us through his own practical example that we must prepare to welcome the great guest of ramadan by performing extra fasts and devotions in sha`ban. it can be compared to warming up before a rigorous exercise regimen.
so the best way to prepare for ramadan is as follows:
1. observe fasts on as many days as you can in sha`ban, but refrain from fasting as you get closer to ramadan; we are not allowed to join sha`ban with ramadan in fasting.
2. perform extra devotions in sha`ban.
3. prepare yourself mentally and spiritually to benefit optimally from the rich spiritual harvest of ramadan.
may allah bless us all to reap the rich harvest of ramadan in the best way. ameen.