بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

The Month of Sha’ban and Shabe Bra’at

According to the Islamic calendar, Sha’ban Al-Moazzam is the eighth month that comes in between Rajabul Murajjab and Ramadan. In the light of Ahadeeth, this month is undoubtedly of great eminence and therefore, Prophet (PBUH) observed highest number of fasts during this month (after Ramadan).

  • Aisha (RA) says; “I have never seen Holy Prophet (PBUH) fasting for the whole month other than Ramadan, except for Sha’ban, as he fasted almost whole month of it.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Daud). A narration of the similar context is also mentioned by Umme Salma (RA) in Tirmizi.
  • Usama bin Zaid (RA) says; “I asked Holy Prophet (PBUH) that I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha'ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month.” Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied; “Sha'ban is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of deeds is presented before the Almighty Allah, and I wish that my deeds are presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting.” (Nasai, Al-targheeb Wal-tarheeb P 425, Musnad Ahmad, Abu-Daud 2076). A large group of Muhaditheen is of the opinion that this Hadeeth is authentic.
  • Ayesha (RA) says Holy Prophet (PBUH) fasted for the (almost) whole month of Sha’ban. I asked him: “Is fasting in Sha’ban very dear to you?” Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied, “It is the month in which the names of those destined to die are recorded before the year is out, so I wish to be in the state of fasting while my death is being decided.” (Narrated by Abu Ya’li  and it strange Hadeeth with good chain of narrators) Al-targhib Wal-tarheeb, Al-Imam Al-hafiz Al Suyouti mentioned it in “Al-DurrAl-Manthur”.
  • In some other Ahadeeth, it has been forbidden to fast in the last days of Sha’ban so that the person doesn’t face any difficulty in the fasts of Ramadanul Mubarak (Bukhari, Kitabul-Soum, Muslim, Kitabul-Siyam).

The aforementioned and many other similar Ahadeeth clearly show that the month of Sha’ban is packed with many blessings, and that we should fast as much as we can during this month (except for the last two or three days).

The fifteenth night of this month is known as Shabe Bara’at that is the night between the dusk of 14th and the dawn of 15th of Sha’ban. Shabe Bara’at is a Persian term and it means, the night of forgiveness. Since many sinners are forgiven in this night, it is known as of Shabe Bara’at.

There has been difference of opinion about the superiority of this night, amongst the scholars since a long time. But research shows that denying the superiority of this night is not a right thing. Because some interpreters (Mufassireen) have taken the meaning of Sha’ban’s fifteenth night (Shabe Bara’at) from the verse Nos. 3 & 4 of Surah al-Dukhkhan which say, “Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind]. On that night is made distinct every precise matter”. Famous and renowned Mufassireen from every era have discussed this in their interpretations. Most of the scholars consider this Ayah referring to Shabe Qadar and this is accepted by the majority of the scholars, but if there was no reality of Shabe Bara’at at all, why would the famous and renowned Mufassireen have mentioned it in their interpretations in the first place? In fact, they oppose the above interpretations that refer to Shabe Qadar instead of Shabe Bara’at.

There are about 17 Ahadeeth narrated by the companions of Prophet (PBUH) about the merit of Shabe Bara’at, some of them are completely authentic and although some of them might be considered as weak (Dha’eef but they can still add to the reasoning. Moreover, it is not right to reject such a large number of Ahadeeth, and Muslim nation has been witnessing this night since long. So, according to the rules of the Hadeeth studies, “If a Hadeeth comes from a chain of weak narrations, but the Muslim nation is found to be observing it like a regular routine, this also empowers the Hadeeth and it is considered as reliable.” There is no harm in practicing such Ahadeeth. There are many Ahadeeth regarding this chapter, coming from different narrations, and although some of them might be from weaker chains, but according to the rules of Hadeeth studies they become Hassan Lighairihi (acceptable due to other Ahadeeth of similar nature) by taking support from each other, which is accepted by various Muhadditheen.

If you think harder on the subject, how do you find it possible that people living in different countries and cities agreed upon attributing a false claim to Holy Prophet (PBU.H). And also, why did they all select 15th of Sha’ban for this? Why they didn’t choose any other month or date? And this didn’t happen in the recent times, this is being followed since the last 1400 years.

These Ahadeeth are not being used to prove any constant deed/practice related to Shabe Bara’at. They are only advising to conduct the virtuous practices (for example, offering the prayers of Fajar and Isha, offering supererogatory prayers especially Tahajjud prayers, recitation of the Holy Qur’an, supplications and asking for forgiveness from Allah). These deeds should be practiced every night, they are proven by authentic Ahadeeth and the whole Muslim nation agrees upon them. Shabe Bara’at is also a night. The opinions of scholars and researchers combined with Ahadeeth narrated from 17 companions of Prophet (PBUH) should be enough to demand some extra vigilance towards this night and in offering the virtuous deeds in this night.

Explanation: If some people have assigned wrong customs and rituals to this night (some of these DON’Ts are listed below), it doesn’t mean we should stop performing our righteous acts on this night. Instead, measures should be taken to stop these customs and rituals. For example, if people start to celebrate Eidul-Fitr by dancing during its days or nights, it doesn’t mean that, we would stop celebrating Eid. Instead, we would take measures to stop these wrong customs and traditions. Similarly, people have adopted such customs and traditions in the wedding ceremonies that are totally unacceptable, should it let us deny the significance of matrimony? Another example is of innovations in the funeral ceremonies. Should we stop burying our dead bodies because people follow such unacceptable innovations? The answer is obviously NO.

Some Ahadeeth signifying the merit of Shab-e-Bara’at:     

Ma’az (RA) narrates that Holy Prophet (PBUH) said:“Allah looks upon His creatures on the night of mid-Shaban and He forgives all His servants except two: one intent on hatred, and those who associate partners with Allah.” (Ibne Haban, Tabrani, Imam Al-Sayuti has mentioned it in “Aldurr Al manthoor “from Al behaqi, Alhafiz Alhaithami mentioned it in “Majma’ Al-zawaid”).

  • Abd Allah Ibn Amr (RA) also narrates on similar subject, it is mentioned in Musnad Ahmad (176/2) (Allah forgives all His servants except two: one intent on hatred, and those who associate partners with Allah). Al Hafiz Al Haithami has confirmed its authenticity in “Majma Al-zawaid V 8 P 65). Other Muhaditheen, even Sheikh Nasiruddin Albani (RHA) has declared it authentic. (Alsanah 224, Silsila Al-Ahadeeth Al Sahih ……  V 3).
  • Abu MousaAl Ashaari (RA) also narrates in Ibn-e-Maja (Kitab Iqamatis Salah/ 455) on this subject. Other Muhaditheen, even Sheikh Nasiruddin Albani (RHA) has declared it authentic. (Silsila Al-Ahadith Al-Sahih, V 3 P 135)
  • Abu Huraira (RA) also narrates on this subject. (Al-Bazzaar, Al Hafiz Al-Haithami ini “Majma’ Al-zawaid)
  • Abu Sa’lba Al Khashni (RA) also narrates on this subject. (Al Tabrani, Al Baihaqi, Al durr Al Manthoor by Al Suyouti)
  • Abu Bakr Siddique (RA) also narrates on this subject. (Al Bazzar,  Al Baihaqi, Majma’ Al-zawaid by Al Haithami)
  • Auf Bin Malik (RA) also narrates on this subject. (Al Bazzar, Majma’ Al-zawaid by Al Haithami)
  • Kathir Bin Mar’a (RHA) also shares a reference on this. (Al Baihaqi, Husn-Al Bayan Al-Sheikh Abdullah Al Ghimari)
  • Uthman Bin Abi Al’Aaas
  • Ayesha (RA) reports I missed the Prophet (PBUH) one night so I went out to al-Baqi` (and found him there). He said: "Were you afraid that Allah and His Prophet would wrong with you?" I said: "O Messenger of Allah (PBUH), I thought that you might have gone to visit one of your wives." He said: "Allah the Exalted descends to the nearest heaven on the night of mid-Sha’ban and forgives more people than the number of hairs on the hides of the sheep of the tribes of Kalb, but Allah doesn’t look down mercifully upon the polytheist, those intent on hatred, those who cut off ties with their relatives, those who let their clothing hang down below the ankle out of pride, those who disobey their parents and those who consume alcohol”.
  • It is narrated by Ali (RA) that the Holy Prophet of Allah (PBUH) said when the 15th of Sha’ban arrives, you should do qiyam (stay awake) i.e. offer Nafl prayer and observe fast in the day because the Almighty Allah descends to the worldly sky on this night after the setting of the sun, and says: Is there anyone who seeks forgiveness that I may forgive him? Is there anyone who wants provision that I may give him provision? Is there anyone in tribulation that I may free him of his tribulation? And Allah keeps saying like this till the sunrise (Ibne Maja (Kitab Iqamatus Salah), Baihaqi in (Sha’b Al Iman)  and Al Suyouti in Al Durr Al-manthoor by, Al targheeb Wal tarheeb by Al Munziri, Lataif Al Ma’arif  by Hafiz Ibne Rajab).

One must pay special attention to these righteous deeds in this night:

  1. Offer Isha and Fajar prayers on time.
  2. Offer Nafl prayers as much as you can, especially Tahajjud.
  3. If possible, offer Salatut Tasbeeh.
  4. Recite the Holy Qur’an.
  5. Make plenty of Dhikr.
  6. Make lots of Duas, especially ask for the forgiveness of your sins from Allah.
  7. Visit the graveyards on some Shabe Bara’ats and ask forgiveness for yourself and the dead ones from Allah. But, paying visit to graveyard on every Shabe Bara’at is not necessary as Holy Prophet (PBUH) visited the graveyard only once on Shabe Bara’at in his whole lifetime.
    1. Cooking the desserts (There is no relation between making desserts and Shabe Bara’at at all).
    2. Fireworks (This is a prodigality, and it may also cause harm to you and others).
    3. Paying visits to graveyard collectively.
    4. Women paying visits to graveyard.
    5. Lighting in graveyards.
    6. Doing different kinds of decorations.
    7. Intermingling of males and females.
    8. Covering graves with adorned sheets of cloth

Note: It is not necessary to stay awake for the whole night on Shabe Bara’at, pray as much as you can with ease, but remember, no one should be bothered by you being awake at this time.

Fasting On the Fifteenth Sha’ban:

Although there are many Ahadeeth about the merit of Shabe Bara’at, but there is only one weak Hadeeth about fasting on the day after Shabe Bara’at. So being too keen about fasting only on fifteenth or considering anyone inferior for not fasting on this day is not correct. However, one should fast as much as he can during the whole month of Sha’ban.

Following Practices On This Night Are Not Supported By Any Hadith, So One Should Completely Refrain From Them:

Note: One should offer only individual prayers on this night. Refrain from collective prayers as much as possible as there is no evidence of Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) offering collective prayers on this night.

Sinners Who Are Not Even Forgiven Even On This Blessed Night Are:

  • Mushrik (those who associate partners with Allah).
  • The one who is disobedient towards his parents.
  • The one who keeps enmity or nourishes malice in his heart.
  • The one who cuts off ties with relatives.
  • The one who lets his clothing fall down below the ankles out of pride.
  • The one who consumes alcohol.

So we should refrain from all sins, especially the major ones mentioned above.

Explanation:

Due to the length of this topic, only a few Ahadeeth have been mentioned. To read more Ahadeeth and quotes by scholars and Muhaditheen, kindly go through the Arabic book of Sheikh Abdul Hafeez Al-Makki “Fazail Lailatun Nisf Min Sha’ban”. Some Ahadeeth also claim that the decisions for whole year are taken on this night, but all such Ahadeeth are considered to be weak.

Summary: Muslim nation agrees upon the merit of the month of Sha’ban and that one should fast as much as he can during this month. But yes, there has been a difference of opinion between scholars, Muslim jurists and Muhaditheen regarding the special superiority of the fifteenth night. A large group of scholars, Muslim jurists and Muhaditheen are of the opinion that acceptable Ahadeeth (Hassan lighairihi) and the ancient practices of Muslim nation on this chapter prove that there should be some special attention given to the individual supererogatory prayers, recitation of the Holy Quran, Dhikr and supplications. One should also visit graveyard sometimes. So according to all this, praying on this night is not an innovation but it is in exact accordance with the teachings of Islam.

May Almighty Allah accept all our good deeds, Amen!

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)