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Sha’baan & The 15th Night
- The venerable Companion, Sayyiduna Anas (Allah is Pleased with him) reports that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was asked, “Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?” He replied, “Fasts of Sha’baan in honour of Ramadhan.” [Tirmidhi #663]
- The Mother of the Believers, Sayyidah Aishah, (Allah is Pleased with her) is reported to have said, “The Prophet ﷺ did not observe voluntary fast so frequently during any other month as he did during Sha’baan. He observed fast throughout the month of Sha’baan.” In another narration: “He fasted during the whole month of Sha’baan except for a few days.” [Ibn Majah #1710]
- The esteemed Companion, Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah, (Allah is Pleased with him) reports that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha’baan.” [Tirmidhi #738; Abu Dawud #2337]
The noble Companions would increase their Qur’an recitation during this month in preparation for Ramadhan. Sayyiduna Anas (Allah is Pleased with him) says: “When Sha’baan would commence, the Muslims (Sahaabah and Tabi’un) would dedicate themselves to the recital of the Quran.” Some would even discharge their Zakah this month so the weak and destitute can receive some assistance before Ramadhan. [Laylatul Ma’arif, pg. 258]
- Fasting in the month of Sha’baan, though not compulsory, is so meritorious that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did not omit it.
- Fasting in any day in Sha’baan without stipulating a day is a proven and authentic Sunnah.
- To fast excessively during Sha’baan is also in conformity with the Sunnah.
- A person should not be fasting in the second half of Sha’baan unless they are habitual of fasting on Mondays and Thursdays.
- The fasts of Sha’baan are for those who can keep them without being lethargic for the obligatory fasts of Ramadhan. If there is fear that fasting in Sha’baan one will not be as energetic and healthy to fast in Ramadhan, they should refrain from fasting in Sha’baan. The fasts of Ramadhan are obligatory, therefore more important than the optional fasts of Sha’baan.
- People who could not keep the qadhaa fasts from previous Ramadhan can keep the qadhaa fasts during Sha’baan. Sayyidah Aishah (Allah is Pleased with her) would do the same. [Muslim #1146]
The Night of Bara’ah or 15th Night of Shabaan
Another significant feature of the month of Sha’baan is that it consists of a night which is termed as Laylatul-Bara’ah or The Night of Freedom from Firethe 14th and 15th day of Sha’baan. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
- The venerable Companion, Sayyiduna Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (Allah is Pleased with him) reports that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ has said: “On the 15th night of Sha’baan Allah bestows His special attention on His entire creation. He then pardons His whole creation, except an idolater and one who harbours enmity.” [Ibn Majah #1390]
- The venerable Companion, Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (Allah is Pleased with him) reports that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ th night of Sha’baan and forgives all His servants except two categories of people, the person who harbours enmity and a murderer.” [Musnad Ahmad #6642, with a slightly weak chain]
- The Mother of the Believers, Sayyidah Aishah (Allah is Pleased with her) is reported to have said, “Once Prophet Muhammad ﷺ performed the Salah of the night (Tahajjud) and made a very long Sajdah until I feared that he had passed away. When I saw this, I rose (from my bed) and moved his thumb (to ascertain whether he is alive). The thumb moved, and I returned (to my place). Then I heard him saying in Sajdah: ‘I seek refuge of Your forgiveness from Your punishment, and I seek refuge of Your pleasure from Your annoyance, and I seek Your refuge from Yourself. I cannot praise You as fully as You deserve. You are exactly as You have defined Yourself.’ Thereafter, when he raised his head from Sajdah and finished his salah, he said to me: ‘Aishah, did you think that the Prophet has betrayed you?’ I said, ‘No, O Prophet of Allah, but I was afraid that your soul has been taken away because your Sajdah was very long.’ He asked me, ‘Do you know which night is this?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘This is the night of the half of Sha’baan. Allah Almighty looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but keeps those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they relieve themselves from malice).’” [Targheeb wa Al-Tarheeb]
None of the narrations regarding this night’s excellence are free from criticism from the Imams of hadith, yet the weakness is not severe in some cases. The numerous ahaadith, minimum fifteen, possibly more are narrated by at least ten different Sahaabah. When these narrations are combined, they acquire some strength. Imams of hadith have accepted these narrations’ collective strength; hence, the virtues of this night have been deemed acceptable by many scholars of ahaadith.
Due to the severity of the following sins, anyone indulged in it would be deprived of the blessings of this virtuous night:
- To associate any partners to Allah Ta’ala, regarding His Being and Qualities.
- To harbour enmity for one’s fellow Muslims.
- Not fulfilling the rights of close relatives and treating them unkindly.
- To allow the trousers and pants to hang below the ankles. (for men only)
- A murderer.
- To be disobedient towards the parents.
- A fornicator.
- An alcoholic.
What to do during this night?
A person can spend some time during the night in the following acts of worship:
- Recitation of the Holy Qur’an
- Salat-alan-Nabi (Durood Shareef)
- Istighfar/Tawbah i.e. asking Allah for forgivenes
All forms of the optional worship (Nafl Ibadah), are to be done individually at home and not collectively. Remaining awake throughout the night is not required. A person may spend as much time during the night as they are comfortable with. In Islamic terms, the night commences at sunset and ends at dawn.
This night is meant for worshipping Allah in solitude. It is the time to enjoy communicating with the Lord of the Universe and devote one’s attention to Him and Him alone; hence, cell phones should be turned off while engaged in worship. This is how Prophet Muhammad ﷺ observed the acts of worship on this night, in total seclusion, not accompanied by anyone, not even by his dearest life companion, the Mother of the Believers, Sayyidah Aishah, (Allah is Pleased with her).
Fasting on the 15th of Sha’baan
It is not appropriate to fast only on the 15th day of Sha’baan. There is only one report indicating that fasting on the 15th day is recommended. This report is unreliable and extremely weak; hence it is not virtuous to fast only on the 15th of Sha’baan. Fasting only on the 15th of Sha’baan would be the same as fasting any other day of Sha’baan. If a person desires to fast on the 15th, then the 13th and 14th of Sha’baan should be added due to the following authentic ahaadith:
- The venerable Companion, Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (Allah is Pleased with him) reports: “My friend (Prophet ﷺ) gave me three pieces of advice, which I will not neglect until I die; fast for three days in every month, Salat Al-Dhuhaa (late morning prayer) and to sleep after witr.” [Bukhari #1178]
- The venerable Companion, Sayyiduna Abu Dhar (Allah is Pleased with him) reports that Prophet ﷺ has said: “If you want to observe fast on three days in a month, then fast on the 13th, 14th and 15th. [Tirmidhi #761]
- The venerable Companion, Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (Allah is Pleased with him) reports that it was the practice of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ to never miss a fast of the ‘Bright Days’ (13th, 14th and 15th of the lunar month) whether he was at home or on a journey.” [Nasa’i #2345]
Prepared by Imam Mushtaq Shaikh