It is reported in authentic Ahadith that The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) used to fast in most of the days of the month of Sha’ban. These fasts were not obligatory, but Sha’ban is the month which precedes the month of Ramadan, and it was done in preparation for this auspicious month. A few Ahadith are cited here regarding fasting in the month of Sha’ban:
Sayiduna Anas (Allah be pleased with him) reports that The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) was asked, ‘Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?’ He replied, ‘Fasts of Sha’ban in honour of Ramadan.’ (Ibnu Abi Shaybah #9856)
Sayiduna Usamah ibnu Zayd (Allah be pleased with him) reports that he asked The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him): ‘O Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha’ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month.’ The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) replied: ‘That (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 the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting.’ (Ibnu Abi Shaybah #9858)
Sayida Aaisha (Allah be pleased with her) says, “I never saw the Messenger of Allah, (Allah’s peace be upon him), fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha’ban. He used to fast in that month leaving only a few days, rather, he used to fast almost the whole of the month.” (Ibnu Abi Shaybah #9855, #9859)
These reports indicate that fasting in the month of Sha’ban, though not obligatory, is so meritorious that The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) did not like to miss them.
In Ramadan, everyone finds observing the first few fasts difficult, but if we are accustomed to it already, we will be able to embrace Ramadan better. However, it should be kept in mind that the fasts of Sha’ban are for those persons only who are capable of keeping them without causing deficiency in the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. Therefore, if one fears that after fasting in Sha’ban, one will lose strength for the fasts of Ramadan, he/she should not fast in Sha’ban, as the fasts of Ramadan, being obligatory, are more important than the optional fasts of Sha’ban.
THE NIGHT OF BARA’AH
• Allah Most High has afforded His bondsmen certain selected opportunities whereby they may reap His infinite mercy and forgiveness. Some examples of these occasions are the month of Ramadan and Laylatul Qadr. The night of the fifteenth of Sha’ban is one such opportunity.
• Several ahadith expound the tremendous merit of this occasion. Amongst them is the fact that countless people are forgiven by Allah Most High during this blessed night. It is due to this reason that it is called ‘The Night of Bara’ah’ (i.e. the night wherein judgment of salvation from Jahannam (Hell) is passed).
• Certain ahadith prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special divine mercy.
• The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) said, ‘This is the night of the half of Sha’ban. Allah Most High looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but leaves those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they free themselves from malice).’ (Bayhaqi #3835)
• Sayida Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) has reported The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) to have said, ‘This is the middle Night of Sha’ban. Allah emancipates in it a large number of the people from the Fire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of the tribe of Kalb. But He does not cast a glance at a person who associates partners with Him, or at a person who harbours malice in his heart (against someone), or at a person who severs family ties, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending below his ankles, or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine.’ (Bayhaqi) The tribe of Kalb were a large tribe, the members of which owned many sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the large number of people forgiven on this night by Allah Most High.
It is understood from Ahadith that even on this great night, some unfortunate individuals are deprived of Allah’s forgiveness. They are:
2. Those who harbour enmity against others
3. Those who consume alcohol
4. Those who disobey their parents
5. Those men who wear their clothes below their ankles
6. Those who commit murder
7. Those who sever family ties.
We can thus gauge the severity of these sins and need to abstain from them at all times.
• The virtue of this night established from these ahadith is that from the very beginning of the night Allah Most High turns with special mercy and attention towards the creation and forgives those who repent and seeks forgiveness. Every Muslim should therefore value this night. Turn towards Allah Most High with sincere regret and shame over sins committed and make a promise never to return to sin again and seek forgiveness from Allah Most High. Seek forgiveness for oneself and all Muslims, living and deceased. Have firm hope and resolution in the heart that Allah Most High will surely show mercy and forgiveness.
In order to achieve the blessings of the Night of Bara’ah, one should remain awake as much as one can. If it is possible, one should spend the whole night in worship. However, if one cannot do so, one can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably the second half of it, and perform the following acts of worship:
• SALAAH: It is the most preferable act to be performed in this night, particularly after midnight in solitude. There is no particular number of raka’aat, but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the salaah like qiyaam, ruku and sajdah should be longer than normal. The longest surahs of the Noble Qur’an one remembers by heart should also be recited.
• TILAAWAH: The recitation of the Noble Qur’an is another form of beneficial worship in this night. After performing Salah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Noble Qur’an as one can.
• ZIKR & SALAWAAT(DUROOD): One should also recite as much dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah) as possible in this night, as well Salawaat/durood on our noble master The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him). These can be recited while walking, lying on bed and during other hours of work or leisure.
• DU‘A: The best benefit one can draw from the blessings of this night is by asking Allah in earnest. It is hoped that all our prayers in this night will be accepted by Allah. Du’a itself is an ‘ibadah, and Allah Almighty rewards the reciter for asking, in addition to fulfilling hisher needs. The following Duaa has been reported from Nabi (Allah’s peace be upon him) on this night:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِعَفْوِكَ مِنْ عِقَابِكَ , وَأَعُوذُ بِرِضَاكَ مِنْ سَخَطِكَ , وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْكَ , لا أُحْصِي ثَنَاءً عَلَيْكَ أَنْتَ كَمَا أَثْنَيْتَ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ
Allahuma inni a’uzu bi afwika min iqabik wa auzu bi ridaka min sakhatik wa auzu bika minka la uhsi thanaa an ‘alayka anta kama athnayta ‘ala nafsik.
Translation: “O Allah! Indeed I seek protection in your pardon from your punishment. I seek protection in your pleasure from your anger. I seek protection in You from You, I cannot truly praise You, as You ought to be praised, You are as You have praised Yourself.”
• Fast of the 15th of Sha’ban: On the day immediately following the Night of Bara’ah, i.e. the 15th of Sha’ban, it is mustahabb (advisable) to fast. The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) is reported to have recommended this fast, as well as keeping any fast in the first half of this month in particular. A large number of our pious predecessors of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15 of Sha’ban. (Sunan ibnu Majah #1388)
May ALLAH MOST HIGH grants us forgiveness and accept all our beneficial duas. Ameen.
And Allah Most High knows best.