By Amreen Pathan
Sha’baan: the eighth month of the Islamic or lunar calendar.
Usamah (RA) asked, “Oh Rasulullah (Messenger of Allah). I do not see you fasting in any month as much as in Sha’baan.” He (pbuh) replied, “It is a month people are negligent of between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which deeds are raised towards the Lord of the worlds. Therefore, I like my deeds to be raised whilst I am fasting.” [An-Nasai]
I have spoken somewhat about the importance of Rajab and Sha’baan as preparatory months prior to Ramadan. We can see the noble Prophet’s fasting in Sha’baan as a practical exemplification of this. By fasting voluntarily before fasting becomes obligatory, not only does this allow the physical self to excel with ease in Ramadan but also encapsulates one’s worth of this month in which lies Laylatul-Bara’ah (which falls on the night of the 15th of Sha’baan).
What is Laylatul-Bara’ah?
“Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind].” [Qur’an – 44:3)
There is some difference of opinion amongst the Mufassireen (commentators of the noble Qur’an) about the “…blessed night” that Allah Almighty refers to in Surah Dukhaan.
Whilst a majority of the commentators argue that this refers to Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Power), according to other scholars like Ikramah, this night is in fact the 15th of Sha’baan.
If we do take this to mean the 15th of Sha’baan then what is meant by ‘We sent it down..’? It cannot mean the noble Qur’an, as there is no doubt about its revelation during the Night of Power in the month of Ramadan. Further, in Verse 4 of Surah Dukhaan, Allah Almighty states:
“On that night is made distinct every precise matter.” [44:4]
This generates more questions as it is the Night of Qadr [power] in which ‘every precise matter’ [fate] is specified. After all, Qadr means destiny. This means that during the Night of Power, the destiny of each person is decreed. This involves things like a person’s birth, sustenance, life longevity and so on.
So we come back to ‘it’ in verse 3 of Surah Dukhaan. What does it mean? It cannot mean the revelation of the Qur’an but from our understanding of the Night of Power, it cannot mean destiny or decree either.
The conflict between the traditions and commentary of the 15th of Sha’baan and the Night of Power is resolved by a tradition narrated by Hadhrat Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) in which it is stated that ‘sustenance, life and death are determined on the mid-Sha’baan night and in the Night of Power, the decrees are handed over to the…angels.’ [Source: Ma’ariful Qur’an]
Some Ahadith on Laylatul Bara’ah
1. ‘Ali (RA) narrates that Rasulullah (PBUH) said, “When it is the fifteenth of Sha’baan, then stand (in worship) at night and fast during the day. Because Allah 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]
2. Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari narrates that the Messenger of Allah [pbuh] said, “In the fifteenth night of Sha’baan, Allah manifests and forgives all His creation except for the Mushrik (idolater) and the spiteful.” [Ibn Majah]
These Ahadith speak of spending the night in worship and supplication. Whilst some of the chains of transmitters of the Ahadith relating to Laylatul Bara’ah are considered weak, our scholars consider this night to be of merit and therefore engage in worship. It would not be considered Bin’ah or innovation to follow in their footsteps.
The Fast of the Fifteenth
While this fast should not be considered Sunnah or Mustahab (optional), there is no harm in fasting on this day especially as the Prophet (PBUH) recommended fasting on Ayyam-al-Bid of each month. This includes the 13th, 14th and 15th.
Similarly, one should generally fast in the month of Sha’baan like the Prophet (PBUH) did as ascertained above.
May Allah guide us to use our time properly and prepare wholesomely for the blessed month of Ramadan in this month of Sha’baan.
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