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Significance of Sha’ban

The Month of Sha’ban is another great month in the life of a believer, closest to Ramadan in the virtues and benefits it offers. Upon its arrival we must make thanks and shukr to Allah for accepting part of our Dua, “Allahuma barik Lana fee Rajab wa Sha’ban wa ballighna Ramadan… (O Allah grant us barakah in Rajab and Sha’ban and allow us to reach (the blessings of) Ramadan).” Then all we can do is wait for the second half of our Dua to be accepted as we wait for the arrival of Ramadan. May we all live to taste the fruits of such a beautiful and sacred month. AmeenWith regards to fasting during the month of Shabaan, Sayyadatina Aisha (radhiallahu anha) narrates, “Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) used to fast till we would say that he will never stop fasting and he would abandon fasting till we would say that he will never fast. I never saw Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) fasting for a whole month except the month of Ramadan and did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha’ban.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Aboo Dawood & Nasai)

In another Hadith of Nasai it is mentioned that… “Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) used to fast the whole month of Sha’ban except for a few days.” When he was asked the reason for this, Nabi (salallahu alaihi wasalam) said, “It is a month which people (generally) neglect between Rajab and Ramadan. It’s a month in which deeds are brought before the Lord of the worlds. Therefore I like my deeds to be raised whilst I am fasting.” (Nasai)

Whilst in one narration it says “Allah (Aza wajal) draws up a list of the persons who will die in the forthcoming year. Therefore I like that my death comes when I am in a state of fasting.” (Nasai) Allah (Subhanahu watala) alone knows if our name is written amongst those destined to leave the world this year and embark on the everlasting life of the hereafter. May we live until it is best for us, and die when death is best for us. May our lives be long so that our deeds are great and our scales are filled with a’maal-e-saalihah. Ameen.

Remember, the blessed month regarding which Nabi (salallahu alaihi wasalam) is talking about should be valued in its entirety as we don’t know how many more times we will have the opportunity to gain such virtues. This might be a perfect time for readers who still have qadha salaahs or fasts to perform them before the arrival of Ramadan. Not only will one be relieving themselves of this great burden but, at the same time, will also receive the reward of fasting in such a blessed month Insha Allah. Of course the main intention should be for qadha, whilst also hoping for the specific rewards of fasting during the month of Sha’ban.

From amongst the nights of this month is a very special night, the blessed night of Shabe bara’at- the 15th night of Sha’ban. It has been said that Allah (Subhanahu watala) sets free from Hell during this night souls equivalent to the hair and wool of the goats of Banu Kalb (a tribe who possessed the largest number of goats in the whole of Arabia)- Subhanallah! Look at the extensive forgiveness of Allah. Where else would we find a compassionate Master likes ours? May all our brothers and sisters be freed from the terrible Hell fire during this night. Ameen

In one Hadith, Nabi (salallahu alaihi wasalam) said, “On the 15th night of Sha’ban, Allah (Subhanahu watala) manifests and forgives all his creation except for two…” (Taken from Ibn Majah)- before we continue ponder for a moment dear servants of Allah… ponder over your lives, your ways and your actions… we sin day and night, we have become neglectful of Allah in our day to day lives and put him second in so many of our choices. Allah is All Aware of our evil and sinful ways…yet look at His grace, His magnificence and His mercy that He says on this night I will forgive all my creation despite their extensive ignorance. How unlucky and UNFORTUNATE we would be if we didn’t grab such a blessed opportunity.

Now the two persons regarding whom Nabi (salallahu alaihi wasalam) said will not be forgiven are the Mushriks (the idolaters) and the spiteful (all those who keep malice in their hearts for each other).  It is hoped that none of us are mushriks. However there will definitely be many who keep hatred in their heart for others; and it is this feeling of the heart that can stop us from being forgiven. It is this feeling that can exempt us from the rest of the creation – therefore we need to sit and ponder over this. Can we afford such a deprivation? Isn’t it best that we simply remove this feeling and encourage all those around us including family members to do the same. Forgive those who have wronged you, keep a clear heart and simply ask Allah to give them the ability to realise their wrongdoings.

The Lord of the heavens waits all night for anyone who wishes a helping hand, a lending ear or simply some love and mercy from their Creator. As ‘Ali (radhiallahu anhu) narrates that Rasullullah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) said, “When it is the fifteenth of Sha’ban, then stand (in worship) at night and fast during the day. Because Allah (Subhanahu watala) 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 Majah)

Spend as much time of the night alone whether it be in zikr or in Salaah, in Tasbih and Tahmeed or any other form of Ibaadah (worship). Whether it is in learning and teaching or in the recitation of the Qur’an. You can even try praying Salat-ul-Tasbih. This would be highly beneficial as it is one salaah that promises forgiveness for major and minor sins, past and present, big and small, hidden and apparent- something we all need for a new and clean start before the arrival of Ramadhan.

Take the opportunity dear readers, reap all the fruits of this night, make sincere Taubah (repentance) and beg Allah (Subhanahu watala) for His mercy and forgiveness. Plead, beg, cry and Allah will definitely answer your prayers. For surely if Allah does not forgive us then who else can we turn to?

Finally, make sure you refrain from wasting away this night in futile activities or worldly talk. Pray as much as you can. However if you become tired and cannot continue it is better to retire to bed than to indulge in evil deeds and waste time. Many youths spend three quarters of the night in the mosque then return home and hit the pillow missing their Fajr salaah. We must be wise in our actions and not allow shaytaan to get the better of us! In fact for men folk by attending Esha and Fajr salaah with jamaat one will reap the reward of a whole night worth of ibaadah Insha Allah, so this in itself would be a great start to the night!Remember, according to a minority of Ulema / scholars it is on this day that our taqdeer (destiny) is determined; our sustenance, our life span and everything else about us is decided on this day, as mentioned in a Hadith of Mishkaat reported from Imam Bayhaqi (rahmatullah alaihi). They are of the opinion that the angels are then delegated their duties one month later on the night of Laylatul Qadr. These are all things we need to pray for – these things determine our life; looking nice and preparing dishes for hours on end should be the last thing on our minds!

In fact our elders have even classed such acts as bidat, saying that it is an open innovation to make any extra ordinary efforts specifically for the 15th of Shabaan in terms of dressing up and preparing certain special dishes only for this day. Therefore we must refrain from such new practices and instead strive for the goodness of the night and to become better, purer people. (Obviously if the household is fasting, preparing for Iftari is necessary and would not be classed as making extra ordinary efforts!)

It is also very important to clarify that some modern day scholars are of the opinion that spending this night of worship is an innovation and so too is the fast of the following day. While refuting their claim, Mufti Taqi Usmani (hafizahullah) clearly 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 Hadith 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 Hadith, 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.”

As for the fast of the 15th of Sha’ban it is a most desirable act especially considering it falls on the days of ayaame beedh (13th, 14th, 15th of every month), and in the first half of the blessed month of Sha’ban.

We end with a beautiful Hadith from Bayhaqi with regards to this blessed month: Aisha (radhiallahu anha) narrates: “The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasalam) 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 sense of honour 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 the believing men and women and the martyrs. I said (to myself), ‘May my parents be sacrificed for you. You are in want of your Lord and I am in want of the world.’

I returned to my room and I was breathless. The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasalam) arrived shortly thereafter and said, ‘Why are you breathless, O ‘Aisha?’ 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. A strong sense of honour overtook me and I thought you were going to one of your (other) wives until I saw you in Baqee ‘doing whatever you were doing.’ He said, ‘O ‘Aisha! Did you fear that Allah and his Messenger will treat you with injustice? Jibraeel came to me and said, ‘This night is the fifteenth night of Sha’ban. Allah sets free from Hell during this night, souls equivalent to the hair (and wool) of the goats of Bani Kalb.’

‘However, Allah will not look (with mercy) even on this night towards idolaters, one who harbours ill will against his fellow beings, one who cuts himself off from his near relatives, one who lowers his clothes over his ankles, one who is disobedient to his parents and a habitual drunkard.’

‘Aisha (radhiallahu anha) says, “He took off his clothes, then said, ‘O ‘Aisha! Will you permit me to spend this night in worship?’ I replied, ‘Certainly, may my parents be sacrificed for you.’ The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasalam) got up and remained in sajdah 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:

“Aauzu bi afwika min iqaabik, wa aauzu bi ridhaka min saqatika wa aauzu bika minka jalla wajhuka laa uhhsee thana-an alaik anta kama athnaita ala nafsik”

‘I take refuge in your forgiveness from your punishment. I take refuge in your pleasure from your anger. I take refuge in you 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 ‘Aisha! Learn them and teach them (to others) because Jibraeel taught me and ordered me to repeat them over and over again in sajdah.’ “ (Bayhaqi)

May Allah give us the utmost love for such a month that meant so much to our beloved Nabi (salallahu alaihi wasalam). May He give us the ability to fast abundantly in this month, especially on the 15th and spend its night in sincere worship. Ameen

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