By Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam
23 May 2015
Sha’ban is considered one of the most sacred Islamic months. The virtues of this month, especially the night of mid-Sha’ban known as Laylatul Baraa’ah or Shabe Baraa’ah, are mentioned in Hadith and Sunnah. It is reported that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Sha'ban is my month, Rajab is the month of Allah Almighty and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah [Community]. Sha'ban is the expiator, while Ramadan is the purifier.” (Ghuniyatut Talibin and Ma Thubita Minas Sunnah by Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlvi)
Sha’ban comes as a prelude to Ramadan, providing us with an opportunity enough to spiritually get ready and purify our mind, soul and heart for benefitting from the special bounties and blessings of Ramadan. It is reported that upon the arrival of Rajab [the 7th Islamic month] the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray, "O' Allah! Bless us abundantly in Rajab and Sha'ban and deliver us safely unto Ramadan." This was the reason that our holy prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast more in Sha’ban than in any other month except for Ramadan.
Hadrat 'A'isha, the Mother of the Believers (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: “I did not see the Messenger of Allah [peace be upon him] completing the fast of a month, but that of Ramadan, and I did not see him fasting more in any other month than that of Sha'ban” [Sahih al Bukhari: The book of Fasting, Sahih Muslim: Kitabus Siyam, Mishkat vol 1, p. 441].
It is reported from Abu Salamah that he asked Hadrat 'A'isha (May Allah be pleased with her) about the fasting of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). She said: He used to observe fast (at times so continuously) that we said: He has fasted (never to break), and he did not observe fast till we said: He has given up perhaps never to fast, and I never saw him observing (voluntary fasts) more in any other month than that of Sha'ban. (It appeared as if) he observed fast throughout the whole of Sha'ban except a few (days). [Sahih Muslim, The book of Fasting, Hadith 228]
Hadrat Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadan? He said: "Sha'ban in honour of Ramadan" Hadrat Anas asked: "Which charity is best?" The prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Charity in Ramadan." (Jami` at-Tirmidhi: The Book on Zakat, Hadith: 47)
Usamah bin Zaid (May Allah be Pleased with them) said: "I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Sha’ban.' He said: 'That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting." (Sunan an-Nasa'i » The Book of Fasting » Hadith 268)
Various Names and Significance of Shabe Baraa’t
Sha’ban is popularly known for its having one night of high excellence called Shab-e-Baraa’t that literally means the night of salvation or the night of freedom from the Fire of Hell. It is the night of Mid-Sha’ban i.e. between the 14th and 15th day of Sha’ban. This blessed night in Arabic is known as Laylatun Nisf min Sha’ban. In the Hadith, the same Arabic word has been used to describe the virtues of Shabe Baraa’t. (Al-Fadhail Wal Ahkam Lish Shuhur wal Ayyam, page 33)
Shabe Baraa’t has four names: 1) Shab-e-Mubarak (Lailatul Mubarak), 2) Shab-e-Rahmat (Lailat-ur-Rahmat), 3) Shab-e-Baraa’t (Lailatul Baraa’t) and 4) Shab-e-Parwana-e-Najaat (Lailat-us-Sak) (See Alfutuhaat ilaahiya maroof bihi jamal, pg 100, Vol 4). Since this night is filled with numerous bounties and blessings, it is called Shab-e-Mubarak and Shab-e-Rahmat. The Arabic word ‘Bara’at’ means to be acquitted, to be forgiven and to get freedom. This night is known as Lailatus Sak, because on this night Allah Almighty frees his believers from the Hell and grants them entry into the Heaven.
Allah Almighty has endowed this night with many special features. Five important of them are: 1) Taqseem-e-Umur (Passing of Orders), 2) Nuzul-e-Rahmat (Revelation of Blessings), 3) Faizaan-e-Bakhshish (Granting of Forgiveness), 4) Qabool-e-Shifaat (Acceptance of Intercession) and 5) Fazeelet-e-Ibaadat (Greatness of Worship).
Shabe Baraa’t: The Nigh of Taqseem-e-Umoor [passing of orders]
Allah says in the Quran: "By the manifest book that makes things clear. We sent it (Quran) down on a blessed night. Verily! We are ever warning of our fear. During this night, all decreed matters are shared out by us." (Surah Duhaan, Ayat 5)
Hadhrat Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated, “The meaning of 'the sharing of matters' is that whatever happens throughout the year is written (wealth, death, life, rain, even who is going to Hajj in that year). (Addur ul Manthur Fi Tafseeri Bilmaathuri, P. 25, volume 6, Beirut)
Hadhrat Ikrama (May Allah be pleased with him) and a group of commentators of the Quran said, “In this verse, “Laila Mubaraka' or 'blessed night' is indicating that the 15th of Sha'ban is Shab-e-Baraa’t”. (Alfutoohaat Ilaahiya, P. 99)
It is reported from Hadrat ‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) that the prophet (peace be upon him) asked her: “Do you know what happens on the 15th of Sha’ban?” (Meaning the importance, blessings?). She replied: 'Oh Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), Tell me.' The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) replied: “On that night every man whose child is to be born that year is written down. Every person who is going to die that year is written down. All the deeds of every person (good and bad) are presented. The wealth of every person is written down. (Mishkaat-ul-Masabih, pg115, Gunya al-talibin by Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani radi Allahu anhu, Page No. 447]
It is narrated by Hadrat Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “From one Sha'ban to the next, a person who is alive and is going to die in that time is written down. To the point that, a man marries and has children, but his name is written on the list of the people who will die that year” (Addurrul Manthur, P. 26, volume 6)
It is reported by Hadrat ‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to fast throughout the month of Sha'ban and join these Fasts with the month of Ramadan. She asked: 'Oh Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)! “Do you like fasting in the month of Sha'ban and with it the following month?” He (peace be upon him) replied: “Yes, O Aishah! Whoever is going to die throughout the year is written down in the month of Sha'ban. So I would like the time of my death to be decreed when I am worshipping Allah”. In another narration it is said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) replied: 'O Aishah! In this month the Angel of Death writes down who is going to die and I would like that my name is written down whilst I am fasting” (Addurrul Manthur, P. 26)
Hadrat Atta bin Yassar (May Allah be pleased with him) reported, “When the 15th night of Sha’ban arrives, the Angel of Death is given a list of names of those people who will die in the following year. People make their beds, build homes and they marry yet their name is amongst those who are to die. (Addurrul Manthur, P. 26, volume 6)
Shabe Baraa’t: The night of Forgiveness and Mercy
It was narrated that ‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: “I missed the Prophet (peace be upon him) one night, so I went out looking for him. I found him at Al-Baqi’ raising his head towards the sky. He said: ‘O ‘Aishah, were you afraid that Allah and His Messenger would wrong you?’” She said: “I said: ‘No, it is not that, but I thought that you had gone to one of your other wives.’ He said: ‘Allah descends on the night of the middle of Sha’ban to the lowest heaven, and He forgives more than the numbers of hairs on the sheep of Banu Kalb.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah: Book 5, Hadith 1452, Jami’ Tirmidhi: the book of Fasting, Musnad Ahmad: vol 6, p. 238, Mishkat: vol 1, p. 277, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah: Vol-1 page 237, Shu’bul Imaan: Vol-3, page 379)
According to the scholars of Hadith, this hadith has been narrated with so many Isnad [chains of authorities] that it has attained the rank of authenticity [Sehat].
It was narrated from Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all His creation, apart from the idolater and the Mushahin.” [Sunan Ibn Majah: Book 5, Hadith 1390, Shu’bul Imaan: Vol-3, page 382, Mishkat: Vol-1 page 277]. There is another chain from Abu Musa, from the Prophet (peace be upon him) with similar wording.
Hadrat Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reports that the Most Beloved (peace be upon him) of Allah Almighty often used to say in his sermon: “O people! Lighten and cleanse your bodies by way of fasting during Shabaan, so that it shall be easy and helpful to you for the fast during Ramadan. Whosoever fasts for three days during Sha’ban, all his past sins are wiped off” (Baihaqi). Fasting is recommended on the 13th, 14th and 15th of Shabaan.
Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddiq –May Allah be pleased with him- narrated that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah looks at His creation during the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives His servants except two – Mushahin (i.e. the person who has hatred) and a Qatil [i.e. murderer) [Al-Amaal al- Mutlaqah by Ibn Hajar: Page 119-120, Al-Targheeb by Haafiz al-Munzhiri: Vol. 3, Page 459, Kitab At-Tawheed wa Ithbat Sifat ar-Rabb by Imam Ibn Khuzaymah: Section : Nuzool]
It is reported that Hadrat Jibrael (Angel Gabriel) came to the prophet (peace be upon him) on the 15th night of Sha’ban and said: ‘Raise your head towards the sky.’ The prophet (peace be upon him) asked, ‘which night is this?’ Jibrael replied: ‘it is that night in which Allah opens thirty doors of forgiveness to his creation and he forgives all His creation except for the non-believers and the polytheist. He does not forgive magicians, fortune-tellers, alcoholics, gamblers, and adulterers because they cannot be forgiven until they repent to Allah. When one-quarter of the night had passed, Jibrael came down again and said ‘Lift your head up.’ The messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) raised his blessed head and saw that all the doors of Paradise were open.
1. At the first door an Angel was saying ‘glad tidings to those who bow in ruku on this night.’
2. At the second door another Angel was saying ‘glad tidings to those who do sajdah (prostration) on this night.’
3. At the third door an angel was saying ‘whoever makes prayer on this night may they receive goodness from it’.
4. At the fourth door an angel was saying ‘whoever does dhikr (remembrance of Allah) may they receive blessings.’
5. At the fifth door an angel was saying ‘whoever cries due to fearing Allah may he be blessed’.
6. At the sixth door an angel was saying ‘is there anybody who wants to ask for something? He will receive what he asks for.’
7. At the seventh door an angel was saying ‘is there anybody who wants to be forgiven, for he will be forgiven.’
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked, ‘O Jibrael! How long do these doors remain open? Hadrat Jibrael (peace be upon him) answered: ‘from the beginning of the night until the morning, twilight is visible.’ He then said: ‘O praised one! On this night, Allah frees the people equal to the number of hairs on the goats from the tribe of Kalb from the Hell.’ (Ghaniyatut Talibeen: Vol. 1, page 169)
It is narrated by Muadh bin Jabal – May Allah be pleased with him- that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah turns towards his creation during the night of Middle of Sha’ban and forgives all of them except for a Mushrik and one who hates other people.” [Majma Az Zawaid by Imam Ibn Hajr Haythmi: Hadith No. 12860, Sahih Ibn Hibban: Vol. 12, Page 481, Hadith No. 5665, Al-Tarikh by Ibn Asakir: Vol. 15, Page 302, Al-Sunnah by Ibn Abi ‘Asim: Vol. 1, Page 224], Al Muajamul Kabir, Vol. 20, Page 108-109, Shu’bul Iman by Al Bayhaqi: Vol. 2, Page 288, Al-Amali by Abulhasan Al-Qazwini: Vol. 4, Page 2,)
Abu Tha’laba – May Allah be pleased with him- narrated that the Blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “On the 15th night of Sha’ban, Allah looks over at his creation and forgives all the believers except for the one who begrudges and hates. He leaves them in their enmity.” (Weak) [Bayhaqi, Tafsir ad-Dar al-Manthur, Under the Verse 44: 3]
Hadrat Ali bin Abu Talib- May Allah be pleased with him- said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ‘When it is the night of the middle of Sha’ban, spend its night in prayer and observe a fast on that day. For Allah descends at sunset on that night to the lowest heaven and says: ‘Is there no one who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is there no one who will ask Me for provision, that I may provide for him? Is there no one who is afflicted by trouble, that I may relieve him?’ and so on, until dawn comes.” [Ibn Majah, Chapter 191. What Was Narrated Concerning The Night Of The Middle Of Sha’ban, Hadith No. 1388] [Imam Jalalluddin Suyuti, Durre Manthur, Page 26]
It is related from Ibn ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed the supplication is not returned from five nights : the night of Jum’ah, the night of the ‘Id al-Adha’, the night of ‘Idul Fitr’, the first night of Rajab and the night of mid-Sha’ban.” [‘Abd al-Razzaq, Musannaf, Vol. 4, PageNo. 317, Hadith No. 7927-7928] [al-Bayhaqi, Sunan al-Kubra, Vol. 3, Page 319, Hadith No. 6087]
The prophet – peace be upon him- said to Aishah –May Allah be pleased with her- on the night of mid-Sha’ban: “This is the night of mid-Sha`ban! Verily Allah the Glorious and Majestic look at His servants on the night of mid-Sha`ban, and He forgives those who ask forgiveness, and He bestows mercy on those who ask mercy, and He gives a delay to the people of envy and spite in their state.” (Good Hadith) [Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-iman, Vol. 3, Page 382, Hadith No. 3835]
Hadrat Uthmaan bin Abil Aas (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the prophet (peace be upon him) said: “On the 15th night of Sha’baan Allah descends to the nearest Heaven. Thereafter a proclaimer proclaims: Is there anyone who seeks forgiveness so that I may forgive him? Is there anyone who desires anything so that I may grant his wishes? Allah thus fulfils the requests of all except the adulteress and idolater”. [Al-Baihaqi, Durre Manthur, Vol. 6, Page 27]
Narrated by Abdullah bin ‘Amr (May Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah looks at His creation during the night of the 15th of Sha’ban and forgives His servants except two- one intent on hatred (mushanin) and a murderer (qatilu nafs).” (Sahih) [Musnad Ahmed bin Hambal, Vol. 2, Page 176, Hadith No. 6642, Al-Albani, Silsilah Al-Ahadith Al-Sahihah, Vol. 3, Page 13 (Hasan)]
The revered taabi’ Ata’ bin Yasar (May Allah be pleased with him) said, “There is no night after Laylatul Qadr as better as the 15th night of Sha’ban” (Lataaiful Maa’rif, page 145)
Shabe Baraa’t: The Eid of Angels
As Muslims in the world celebrate two Eids—Eidul Fitr and Eid al-Adha, the Angels too have two Eids on the Heaven; one is Shabe Barat and the other is Shabe Qadr. The angels celebrate their Eid at night because they do not sleep at night, whereas the human beings sleep at night, therefore their Eid is celebrated in the day. (Guniyatut Talibin: Page 449)
Virtues of Worshipping during Shabe Baraa’t
The reward of worshipping during Shabe Baraa’t is far greater. According to various Hadiths, it is sunnah [recommended] to worship on Shabe Baraa’t and we can attain vast amount of good deeds by worshipping on this blessed night.
Hadrat Aishah Siddiqa (May Allah be pleased with her) narrates that one night the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) started praying nafil prayer. He lengthened his prostration so much that I started to worry that his blessed soul had left his body. When I saw this state I went towards him and moved his big toe and it started to move, so I went back. When he (peace be upon him) came out of prostration and had completed his prayer, he said: 'Oh Aishah! Did you think that the beloved Messenger of Allah would carry out injustice with you?' She replied: 'Oh Messenger of Allah! By Allah! I didn't think so. However, you staying in prostration for so long made me think that you had left this world.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Do you know what night this is?' She replied: 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' He (peace be upon him) replied, 'this night is the 15th of Sha'ban, indeed on this night Allah is attentive with his grace and blessings, so He forgives the ones who ask for forgiveness. Those who request for mercy, Allah grants them with mercy and kindness and the ones who hold grudges and have enmity Allah does not shower his blessings upon them.' (Addurr ul Manthur, P. 27, volume 6)
Hadrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) has narrated that the Messenger of Allah said when the 15th night of Sha'ban arrives, then do worship and fast during the day, indeed Allah on this night, from when the day has gone down, showers the world with His blessings:
“Is there anyone in search of forgiveness that I should forgive them? Is there anyone in search of Rizq that I provide them with this? Is there anyone captured in misfortune that I guide him to safety? Is there anyone as such? (Meaning, today blessings are open to everyone. Is there anyone in search of my blessings? That I bless him with the best and most virtuous)”. (Ibn Majah: page 100, Shu’bul Iman by al-Bayhaqi, Vol.3, P. 378, Mishkatul Masabih Vol 1, Page 278)
The opinions of great Jurists and Scholars about Shabe Baraa’t
Many great scholars and jurists of the past have accepted and spoken of the virtues of Shabe Baraa’t. Some of them are: Umar bin Abdul Aziz, Imaam Shaafi’i, Imaam al-Awzaa’i, Attaa bin Yassaar, Ibn Rajab al-Hambali and Hafiz ZaynuddIn al-Iraaqi (May Allah be pleased with them) [see Lataiful Ma’aarif by Hafiz Ibn Rajab, Page 263-264 and Faydhul Qadeer by Hafiz Zayuddin Iraqi Vol. 2 Page 317]
Imam Shafi'i says : “according to various narrations that have reached us, Dua [prayer] is accepted on five nights: the night of Juma’, the night of Eid Al-Adha, the night of Eid Al-Fitr, the first night of Rajab, and the 15th night of Sha’ban”. [Al-Umm by Imam Shafii, Vol. 1, Page 231]
Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti: “As for the night of mid-Sha`ban, it has great merit and is desirable (mustahab) to spend part of it in supererogatory worship.” [Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti, Haqiqat al-sunna wa al-bid`a aw al-amr bi al-ittiba` wa al-nahi `an al-ibtida` Page. 58]
Imam Shurunbulali Hanafi says: “It is desirable to revive the last ten nights of Ramadan, two nights of Eids (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha), ten nights of Zil Hijjah, and the 15th night of Sha`ban”. [Imam Shurunbulali Hanafi, Noorul Eidhah, Page No. 63]
Al-Mubarakpuri says: You should know that a sufficient number of hadith has been narrated confirming "the virtues of the 15th night of Sha`ban". All these hadiths prove that it has a basis. [Al-Mubarakpuri, Tuhfa tl Ahwadhi (Sharah Tirmidhi), Vol. 3, Page No. 380]. After relating many Ahadith about the importance of this night of 15th Sha'ban he says: “The sum of all these Hadtihs is strong evidence against the one "who thinks there is no proof" of the virtue of the 15th night of Sha`ban" and Allah knows best. [Al-Mubarakpuri, Tuhfa tl Ahwadhi (Sharah Tirmidhi), Vol. 3, Page No. 365-367]
Some Hadiths related to Shabe Baraa’t are undoubtedly weak in their chain of narration. On this basis, some people say ‘Shabe Baraa’t has no virtue’. However, the great scholars of Hadith and Jurists agree that if a Hadith is Daif [weak in narration] and if there are some more weak Hadiths with different chains of narrations of the same context then these weak Hadiths will be upgraded to the rank of ‘Hasan Li Ghairihi’ supporting each others. As discussed above, the virtue of Shabe Baraa’t has been narrated by more than ten companions of the holy prophet (peace be upon him). Therefore, those who say ‘Shabe Baraa’t has no virtue’ are at wrong.
There is a law in Science of Hadith for Daif Hadith that if the Hadith is Daif [weak], it will be accepted in Fadail [merits] but not in Ahkam [rulings].
A scholar greatly revered among the Salafi groups, Muhammad Nasiruddin Albani too has described some Hadith related to Shabe Baraa’t as authentic [Sahih]. (See Zilalul Jannah Fi Takhrijis Sunnah by Ibn Abi Asim, 1:223, Silsilatul Ahadees As Sahihah: Vol. 3, Page 135). He writes: “Allah turns towards his creation in the Night of "Mid-Sha'ban" and forgives all of them except for a Mushrik and one who hates other people”. He says : (This is a) “Sahih Hadith” narrated by group of companions [Sahaba] with different routes (Isnaad) such as from Muadh bin Jabal , Abu Thalbah, Abdullah bin Amr, Abu Musa al Ashari, Abu Hurraira, Abu Bakr as Saddiq, Awf bin Malik and Aishah (May Allah be pleased with all of them). The Hadith of Muadh bin Jabal comes through Makhul from Malik bin Yakhamir and It is “Marfu” narrated by Ibn Abi Asim in his As-Sunnah, Hadith No. 512.” [Nasiruddin Albani, Silsilat as-Sahiha, Vol. 3, Page No. 135, Hadith No. 1144]
From the study of the above quoted Hadiths and opinions of the jurists and scholars of Islam, the significance and virtues of Sha’ban and the night of salvation (Shabe Baraa’t) are approved to the point that a man even with a slight intelligence can’t deny it. Knowing that, we should now spend this night in worshipping Allah from the depth of heart. The whole night we should focus on the remembrance of Allah, seeking forgiveness, mercy for us and the entire ummah and purifying our mind, heart and soul from all the sins of the past. The biggest progress of a Muslim in the court of Allah is that his repentance [tauba] is accepted and he is forgiven by Allah Almighty. Since on this night, Dua [prayer] is accepted and the sins are wiped off, we should, therefore, repent on this night and make dua for our betterment in the world and Hereafter. Allah Almighty says, “And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed”.
Some recommended acts for Shab-e-Baraa’t
Seeking forgiveness, reciting the holy Quran, performing nafil prayers, sending rewards to the deceased [Isale Thawab], spending money and wealth in charity for the needy people, doing remembrance of Allah Almighty, reciting tasbih [a form of dhikr that involves the repetitive utterances of short sentences in the praise and glorification of Allah] and sending greetings and salutations [durud-o-salaam] on the prophet (peace be upon him) are some of the recommended acts of Shabe Baraa’t. The prophet peace be upon him used to perform nafil prayers more particularly on this night and go to the graveyard of Jannatul Baqi’ and fast in the day.
(May Allah forgive all of us and keep us on the right path [sirat-e-mustaqim], endow us with His love and mercy and love to the beloved prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and establish peace in the entire world).
A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He did his graduation in Arabic (Hons) and post-graduation (Arabic) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.