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Sha’ban: The Night of Bara’ah

THE significant feature of the month of Sha’ban is that it consists of a night which is termed as “Laylatul-Bara’ah” (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha’ban. There are certain traditions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy. Some of these traditions are quoted as follows: (i). Ummul-Mu’mineen ‘Aishah, (RA), is reported to have said, “Once the Holy Prophet (PBUH), performed the Salah of the night (Tahajjud) and made a very long Sajdah until I feared that he had passed away. When I saw this, I rose (from my bed) and moved his thumb (to ascertain whether he is alive). (ii). In another Tradition Sayyidah’ Aishah, (RA), has reported that the Holy Prophet (PBUH), has said, “Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha’ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibres on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb.” Kalb was a big tribe the members of which had a very large number of sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the big number of the people who are forgiven in this night by Allah Almighty. (iii). Sayyidna Mu’adh ibn Jabal, (RA), reports that the Holy Prophet (PBUH), has said: “Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle Night of Sha’ban and forgives all those created by Him, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has malice in his heart (against a Muslim)”.
In order to observe the Night of Bara’ah, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he should spend the whole night in worship and prayer. However, if one cannot do so for one reason or another, he can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably of the second half of it for this purpose, and should perform the following acts of worship: (a) Salah. Salah is the most preferable act to be performed in this night. There is no particular number of Rak’at but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the Salah like qiyam, rukoo’ and sajdah should be longer than normal. The longest surahs of the Holy Qur’an one remembers by heart should be recited in the Salah of this night. If someone does not remember the long surahs, he can also recite several short surahs in one rak’ah. (b) Tilawa. The recitation of the Holy Qur’an is another form of worship, very beneficent in this night. After performing Salah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Holy Qur’an as he can. (c) Dhikr. One should also perform dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah) in this night. Particularly the following dhikr is very useful: One should recite durood the Holy Prophet (PBUH), as many times as he can. The dhikr can also be recited while walking, lying on bed and during other hours of work or leisure. (d) Dua. The best benefit one can draw from blessings of this night is prayers and supplications.
It is hoped that all the prayers in this night will be accepted by our Lord, Insha Allah. Prayer itself is an ‘Ibadah, and Allah Almighty gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator’s need. The prayers and supplications also strengthen one’s relation with Allah Almighty, which is the main purpose of all kinds and forms of worship. (e) There are some people who cannot perform any additional Salah or recitations for any reason, like illness or weakness or being engaged in some other necessary activities. Such people also should not deprive themselves completely of the blessings of this night. They should observe the following acts: (i) To perform the Salah of Maghrib, ‘Isha’ and Fajr with Jama’ah in the mosque, or in their homes in case of their being sick. (ii) They should keep reciting the dhikr, particularly the one mentioned in para (c) above, in whatever condition they are until they sleep. (iii) They should pray to Allah for their forgiveness and for their other objectives. One can do so even when he is in his bed.
Fast of the 15th Sha’ban: On the day immediately following the Night of Bara’ah, ie the 15th of Sha’ban, it is mustahabb (advisable) to keep fast. The Holy Prophet (PBUH), is reported to have recommended this fast emphatically. Although the scholars of hadith have some doubts in the authenticity of this report, yet it is mentioned earlier that the fasts of the first half of Sha’ban have special merits and the Holy Prophet (PBUH), used to fast most of the days in Sha’ban. Moreover, a large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha’ban. This constant practice indicates that they have accepted the relevant hadith as authentic. Therefore, it is advisable to fast the 15th of Sha’ban as an optional (nafl) fast. One can also keep a fast of qada on this day and it is hoped that he can also benefit from the merits of this fast.