By Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullah
The Significance of Sha‘bãn
Sha‘bãn, the eighth Islamic month is second only to Ramadhãn in virtue, blessings and greatness. It is due to this virtue and greatness that the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam used to emphasise its importance not only verbally but practically too.
‘Ã’ishah radiyallahu anha narrates, “Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam used to fast till we would say that he would never stop fasting and he would abandon fasting till we would say that he would never fast. I never saw Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam fasting for a whole month except the month of Ramadhãn and did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha‘bãn.” (Bukhãri, Muslim, Aboo Dãwood, Nasa’i)
‘Ã’ishah radiyallahu anha narrates, “Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam used to fast the (whole) month of Sha‘bãn except for a few days.” (Nasã’i)
Usãmah radiyallahu anhu asked, “O Rasoolullah! I do not see you fasting in any month as much as in Sha‘bãn.” He replied, “It is a month people are negligent of between Rajab and Ramadhãn. It is a month in which deeds are raised towards the Lord of the worlds. Therefore, I like my deeds to be raised whilst I am fasting.” (Nasa’i)
Fifteenth of Sha‘bãn
Amongst the days and nights of Sha‘bãn, there is one night called Laylatul Barã’at or Shabe Barã’at, a night noted for its great blessings and virtues. The Glorious Qur’ãn describes it as the blessed night.
Lo! We revealed it on a blessed night. (44:3)
According to ‘Ikrimah radiyallahu anhu and a group of muffassireen, the ‘blessed night’ referred to in this verse is the fifteenth night of Sha‘bãn.
Fortunate indeed are those who attain the full blessings and benefits of this night by spending it in performing good and refraining from evil. One must strive his utmost to attend to ‘ibãdah (worship) in this auspicious night as this night indeed is a great favour of Allah subhanahu wata'aala for the believers. There are a number of ahãdeeth in regard to this night.
(1) ‘Ali radiyallahu anhu narrates that Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, “When it is the fifteenth of Sha‘bãn, then stand (in worship) at night and fast during the day. Because Allah subhanahu wata'aala descends in this night at sunset to the first heaven and says: ‘Is there any seeker of forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is there any seeker of sustenance, that I may sustain him? Is there anyone in affliction, that I may remove his affliction? Is there anyone like this, like that (and so on)’. This continues until Fajr.” (Ibn Mãjah)
(2) Aboo Moosã Al-Ash‘ari radiyallahu anhu narrates that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said, “In the fifteenth night of Sha‘bãn, Allah subhanahu wata'aala manifests and forgives all His creation except for the Mushrik (idolater) and the spiteful.” (Ibn Mãjah)
(3) ‘Ã’ishah radiyallahu anha narrates: “The Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wasallam came to me (one night) and took off his clothes, but he had hardly sat down when he got up again, put on his clothes and left. A strong ghayrat (sense of honour and self-respect) overtook me as I thought he was going to one of his other wives. I followed him and found him in the graveyard of Baqee‘ seeking forgiveness for believing men and women and the martyrs. I said (to myself), ‘May my parents be sacrificed for you. You, (the Prophet) are in want of your Lord and I am in want of the world.’
I returned to my room (quickly) and I was breathless. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam arrived shortly and said, ‘Why are you breathless, O ‘Ã’ishah?’ I said, ‘May my parents be sacrificed for you. You came to me and took off your clothes, but you had hardly sat down when you got up and put on your clothes (and left). A strong ghayrat overtook me and I thought you were going to one of your (other) wives until I saw you in (the graveyard of) Baqee‘ doing whatever you were doing.’
He said, ‘O ‘Ã’ishah! Did you fear that Allah and his Messenger will treat you with injustice? Jibra’eel came to me and said, ‘This night is the fifteenth night of Sha‘bãn. Allah sets free from Hell during this night, souls equivalent to the hair (and wool) of the goats of Bani Kalb’ (Bani Kalb possessed the largest number of goats in the Arabian peninsula).
‘However, Allah will not look (with mercy) even on this (auspicious) night towards idolaters, one who harbours ill‑will against his fellow beings, one who cuts himself off from his near relatives, one who dangles his clothes over his ankles, one disobedient to parents and a habitual drunkard.’”
‘Ã’ishah radiyallahu anha says, “He took off his clothes, then said, ‘O ‘Ã’ishah! Will you permit me to spend this night in worship.’ I replied, ‘Certainly. May my parents be sacrificed for you.’ The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam got up and remained in sajdah (prostration) for a very long time until I thought he had passed away. I got up to inquire and placed my hand on his feet to feel that he was alive, thus I became happy. I heard him say in his prostration:
‘I take refuge of Your forgiveness from Your punishment. I take refuge of Your pleasure from Your anger. I take refuge from You. Great is Your eminence. I cannot praise You (as You are worthy of praise). Your eminence is exactly as You have praised yourself.’
In the morning I mentioned these words to him. He said, ‘O ‘Ã’ishah! Learn them and teach them (to others) because Jibra’eel taught me and ordered me to repeat them over and over again in sajdah.’” (Bayhaqi)
Note: Mufti Taqi ‘Uthmãni hãfizahullah states: “Although the chain of narrators of some of these traditions suffers with some minor technical defects, yet when all these traditions are combined together, it becomes clear that this night has some well founded merits, and observing this night as a sacred night is not a baseless concoction as envisaged by some modern scholars who, on the basis of these minor defects, have totally rejected to give any special importance to this night. In fact, some of these traditions have been held by some scholars of hadeeth as authentic and the defects in the chain of some others have been treated by them as minor technical defects which, according to the science of hadeeth, are curable by the variety of their ways of narration. That is why the elders of the Ummah have constantly been observing this night as a night of special merits and have been spending it in worship and prayers.”
The following practices are derived from the traditions of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam which have been mentioned above for Sha‘bãn and its virtuous 15th night.
(1) It is desirable that one fasts in the month of Sha‘bãn as much as one can. However, if fasting in Sha‘bãn is going to affect the fasting of Ramadhãn then one should refrain from it.
(2) Although the fast of 15th of Sha‘bãn can only be derived from the ahãdeeth which have a weak chain of narration, nevertheless the fast would be desirable considering other factors such as:
a) The fasts of the first half of Sha‘bãn have special merits as can be seen from the practice of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam;
b) The virtues of the fasts of Ayyãmul Beedh (i.e. 13th, 14th and 15th of the Islamic month) have been mentioned in the ahãdeeth;
c) A large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha‘bãn.
(3) Although everyday salãh should be performed in Jamã‘ah (congregation), on this auspicious night, one must participate with deep and solemn care in the Maghrib, ‘Ishã and Fajr Salãh.
(4) Spend as much time of the night as possible in worship individually. No specific du‘ã or method of worship has been prescribed. One may engage in dhikr, recitation of the Qur’ãn, salãh, learning and teaching or any other form of ‘ibãdah. However, one must refrain from worldly talk and wasting of time. If ‘ibãdah is not possible then at least avoid all sinful and useless acts and go to bed as soon as possible.
(5) In one hadeeth it has been mentioned that Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam visited the graveyard of Baqee‘. However, one may not establish the practice to be Sunnah as there is no mention of Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam making it a general practice of this night. Hence, if one visits the graveyard once in a while it will be permissible.
One must refrain in particular from all those practices which are contrary to the Sunnah. Many of us deprive ourselves of the blessings of such auspicious moments and the Favours of Allah subhanahu wata'aala by following those customary acts which have no basis in the Qur’ãn and Sunnah.
May Allah subhanahu wata'aala guide us all on the straight path and enlighten us with the blessings of this sacred month and its blessed night. Ãmeen.