Religious Discourse

Significance of Sha’baan and Welcoming of Ramadaan

By: Shahid Moyeen Qasmi.

It is among the great signs of Allah almighty that he made some people superior to the others, some days superior to the others, some months superior to the others and some books superior to the others. It is a manifestation of his will and overwhelming power. So declaring the superiority of mankind to other creations of His, Allah almighty says:
وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَىٰ كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلًا
And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.
{Surah al-Isra,17: 70}
He also says:
تِلْكَ الرُّسُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ مِنْهُمْ مَنْ كَلَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَجَاتٍ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ

Those messengers – some of them We caused to exceed others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree. And We gave Jesus, the Son of Mary, clear proofs, and We supported him with the Pure Spirit.
{ Surah al- Baqarah,3: 253}
In a similar manner, Allah (swt)has raised some months above others in virtue and significance. Among these months is the month of Shabaan. The summary of the excellence and virtues of Shaban is that it is the month of focus on worship (ibadah). To worship Allah (swt) in abundance especially by keeping fast is a distinctive feature of this month. Look at these ahaadeeth:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ قَالَتْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَصُومُ حَتَّى نَقُولَ لاَ يُفْطِرُ، وَيُفْطِرُ حَتَّى نَقُولَ لاَ يَصُومُ‏.‏ فَمَا رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم اسْتَكْمَلَ صِيَامَ شَهْرٍ إِلاَّ رَمَضَانَ، وَمَا رَأَيْتُهُ أَكْثَرَ صِيَامًا مِنْهُ فِي شَعْبَانَ‏.
Narrated Hazrat `Aisha (r.z.):
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to fast till we would say that he would never stop fasting, and he would abandon fasting till we would say that he would never fast. I never saw Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) 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
{ Saheeh al- bukhari}

عن أُسَامَةُ بْنِ زَيْدٍ، قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَمْ أَرَكَ تَصُومُ شَهْرًا مِنَ الشُّهُورِ مَا تَصُومُ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏ “‏ ذَلِكَ شَهْرٌ يَغْفُلُ النَّاسُ عَنْهُ بَيْنَ رَجَبٍ وَرَمَضَانَ وَهُوَ شَهْرٌ تُرْفَعُ فِيهِ الأَعْمَالُ إِلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ ‏”‏
Usamah bin Zaid said(r.z):
“I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Shaban.’ 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 }

The wisdom behind fasting in Sha’baan relates to the fact that Allah (swt) is very Merciful and Kind and He always loves to ease the task of His slaves. Instead of having them obey his commands with no training and backup, He provides a supporting environment and favorable circumstances to inspire and energize them to follow the obligatory commands which include the fasts of Ramdaan.
Fasts of Ramadan are the most magnificent and virtuous and obligatory upon every adult and sane (baligh, aaqil) Muslim. To train and energize them to fulfill this obligatory command and gain its fullest reward with no lapse, Allah (swt) has provided for the fasts, recitation of glorious Qur’an and other ibadaat with special rewards in the month of Shaban.
The great Islamic scholars including Hakeemulummat Ashraf Ali Thanwi and Hazrat Maulana Manzoor Nomani (d.b) have expressed the opinion stated above. They said, that by virtue of fasts in Shaban we get both resemblance with the blessings of Ramadan as well as physical fitness and mental readiness and desire for fast.
The initial stages of the great blessings and mercies of Allah which a man will gain in Ramadan, are tasted in advance which are likely to motivate him to strive for the main portion in Ramadaan. These are just like the sunnah and nawafil namaz, prescribed pre and post fard namaz.
One more point is that though the fasts of Ramadaan are obligatory and main, but people are likely to make mistakes which may mar their perfection. The additional fasts pre and post Ramadaan can compensate for the lapses in the fast and the other ibadaat of Ramdan.
Physical advantage
However, the beloved Prophet (ﷺ) has asked the believers not to fast after the mid Shaban. This instruction is supported by the observation that while fasting, the nutrients stored in the body are consumed which causes headache, weakness, anger, and, therefore, an interval of normal eating is required for rebuilding the adequate stock of energy and nutrients in the body which will be useful during the fasts of Ramadaan. So the fasts of Shaban, following the advice of the Prophet (ﷺ), are excellent advance training so that the Muslims may not encounter any sudden exertion and fatigue during Ramadaan.
Shab-e- Bara’at
As the whole month of Sha’ban is the month of ibadah, there is also a special night in this month which is called Shab e Bara’at, which falls between the 14th and 15th of Shaban. This night and the next day are very auspicious and sacred as per the moderate and diligently understood and delicately adopted view of scholars. At least ten ahadeeth are reported in this regard which, even if they have some weakness in their chain of reporting, are not fabricated (madoou). I’m feeling fortunate to quote one of these ahadeeth here:
Prophet (ﷺ)is reported to have said:
“‏ إِذَا كَانَتْ لَيْلَةُ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَقُومُوا لَيْلَهَا وَصُومُوا يَوْمَهَا ‏.‏ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَنْزِلُ فِيهَا لِغُرُوبِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَى سَمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا فَيَقُولُ أَلاَ مِنْ مُسْتَغْفِرٍ فَأَغْفِرَ لَهُ أَلاَ مُسْتَرْزِقٌ فَأَرْزُقَهُ أَلاَ مُبْتَلًى فَأُعَافِيَهُ أَلاَ كَذَا أَلاَ كَذَا حَتَّى يَطْلُعَ الْفَجْرُ ‏”.

‘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.’
{Sunan Ibn Majah, Establishing the Prayer and the Sunnah Regarding Them}
The author of a famous commentary on Tirmizi Sharif in India namely Tohfatul ahwazi, Allama Abdurrahman Mobarakpuri said after narrating all the ahaadeeth related to this issue: “So all these ahaadeeth as a whole are evidence against those who think that nothing is proved in the virtue of 15th night of Shaban.
{Tohfatul Al-Ahwazi ,Vo2,page 53}
Allama Ibnulhajar Malki said, “This night has sizable amount of magnificence and our forefathers used to put it in high regard and prepared for it before its advent”.
{Lataiful Ma’arif page 144}
Allama ibne Nujaim (r) in Al- Bhrurraiq Vo:2,page 52,Allama Hskafi (r) in Al-Ddurr Mukhtar,Vo:2,page 24, 25, Allama Anwar Shah Alkashmiri(r) in Al-Arfushazi, page 156, Shaikh Abdulhaque Muhaddis Dehlawi(r) in Ma Sabata Bisunnah page 360,Hakeemu Al-Ummat Hazrat Thanwi(r)in Beheshti Zewar, part:6,page 60, Mufti kifayatullah(r) in Kifatul MuftiVo:1 page 225, 226, Mufti Mhamoodulhasan(r) in Fatawa Mahmoodia Vo:3,page 263 have all supported the same conclusion.
Mufti Taqi Usmani(d.b) wrote in Islahi Khtubat ,V:4, page 263 : “It is totally wrong to say about Shab-e- Bara’at that it has no significance. It is proved by Ahaadeeth on the contrary. Ahadeeth are narrated by 10 companions of the beloved Prophet (ﷺ) in which the beloved Prophet (ﷺ) stated its virtue though some of them are a bit weak in terms of their narrators
Now let’s have a glance at the virtuous actions in this night. As per my knowledge no specific ibadah is mentioned in the Qur’an or Sunnah in this night. Similarly, group ibadah is narrated. We should specially pay attention to perform Isha and fajr with congregation (in the current days of restriction we should do so inside the house itself). We have to take special care to avoid committing sins as this may deprive a man of the rewards of this night.
We have to ardently seek forgiveness and favours from Allah, pray for betterment of ourselves and the entire ummah, be busy in zikr, nawafil and the recitation of the glorious Qura’n to the extent it is convenient and to fast on the 15th day of Shaban, if it is easy. All this should be done individually.
To me, it is important to enlighten that special days, nights or months are not bestowed by Allah so that we should forget Him in other than them. Therefore, it will be great to pledge Allah (swt) in this night not to disobey Him in other days too.
Racing in Shab-e- Bara’at
As I mentioned earlier, in Islam, the more auspicious a moment is, the more is the gravity of a sin in that. Therefore, outing in this auspicious night for fun, any sort of racing, collecting as a mob in any public place or road which violets the rights of other human beings, will be a graver sin than at other times.
When there is lockdown in the country to keep human beings safe from the mortal disease Corona, we should skip paying a visit to the graveyard, because it is not an obligatory act. The beloved Prophet (ﷺ) is reported have visited the graveyard only once in his whole life and is not reported to have recommended anyone to do so.

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