The Fifteenth Night of Sha`ban

The Fifteenth Night of Sha`ban, known in Arabic as Laylat al-Nisf min Sha`ban, literally “the eve of the middle day of Sha`ban,” is one of the greatest nights of the year. (In Islam the night precedes the day so really it is the night before the fifteenth day of Sha`ban.) `Ata’ bin Yasar said that after Laylat al-Qadr there is no night better than the Fifteenth Night of Sha`ban. Its greatness is due to the divine gifts that are bestowed during it.

One night Sayyidah `A’ishah noticed that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ had left her house. She went out to see where he was and found him in the Baqi` Graveyard raising his arms to the heavens in supplication. He said to her that on that night, the fifteenth night of Sha`ban, Allah forgives more people than there are hairs on the sheep of the tribe Kalb, an Arab tribe renowned for the great flocks of sheep that its members possessed.1 He also said ﷺ : “Allah gazes at His creation on the fifteenth night of Sha`ban and then forgives all His slaves except for two types of people: those who attribute partners to Allah and those who have rancour for their fellow Muslims.”2 The Prophet ﷺ said that when this night comes we should spend it in prayer and fast the following day, because truly Allah calls out to His slaves from sunset until dawn: “Is there anyone seeking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him? Is there anyone seeking provision from Me so I may provide for him? Is there anyone suffering so I may relieve his suffering?”3

Imam `Ali went out on the fifteenth night of Sha`ban and gazed at the heavens. He said that the Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him) went out at a similar time on this same night and said that if anyone calls upon Allah at this time, Allah answers him and if anyone seeks His forgiveness, He forgives him. For this reason he would spend the night in worship. It has been narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “There are five nights on which du`a’ is not rejected: the first night of Rajab, the fifteenth night of Sha`ban, Thursday night, the night before Eid al-Fitr and the night before Eid al-Nahr (al- Adha).”4

`Ikrimah and other commentators of the Qur’an were of the opinion that the “Blessed Night” referred to in Surah al-Dukhan is the fifteenth night of Sha`ban.5 Allah says of it: In it every decreed affair becomes distinct.6 According to this opinion it is the night in which everything that Allah has decreed for His slaves for the ensuing year becomes manifest. Their provision is allotted and those who are destined to die are named. `Ata’ bin Yasar said that on this night the Angel of Death receives a scroll on which are the names of all those who are destined to die in the coming year. He said: “A man may plant crops, get married and build buildings while his name has already been recorded amongst the dead. The Angel of Death is only waiting for the order to take his soul.” Thus many of the pious would ask Allah on this night to be recorded amongst the felicitous, just as they would ask for plentiful provision.

Sayyiduna `Umar bin `Abd al-`Aziz said: “Do not neglect four nights in the year, because on those nights Allah pours His mercy upon His slaves: the first night of Rajab, the fifteenth night of Sha`ban, the night before Eid al-Fitr and the night before Eid al-Adha.” It was thus the habit of some of the early Muslims to “bring life” to the fifteenth night of Sha`ban. They encouraged people to come together in the mosque on that night to pray, supplicate and seek forgiveness.

A number of the hadith that talk about the immense gifts which Allah bestows on this night mention several categories of people that are excluded from receiving these gifts. Among those mentioned are those who attribute partners to Allah and those who have rancour in their hearts for their fellow Muslims. Some of the scholars mentioned specifically those who insult the Companions or the early generations of the Muslims or declare their fellow Muslims to be disbelievers or innovators. Other categories mentioned are those who fornicate, cut the ties of kinship or disrespect their parents.

These categories of people are also denied forgiveness and acceptance on other great nights such as the first night of Ramadan and Laylat al-Qadr. We should thus do our utmost to avoid these attributes. One of the early scholars said: “The best attributes are to have a sound heart, a generous soul and sincerely want good for the Ummah. Through these qualities the great ones reached the stations that they reached, not through a great amount of prayer and fasting.”

May Allah not deprive us of any of the gifts that are bestowed on this great night. May He give us the ability to seek His pleasure by praying to Him and seeking His forgiveness in this night. We ask that He decrees for us all that is good and deflects from us all that is harmful. May He bestow never-ending peace and blessings upon our guide and master Muhammad, through whom we came to know the superiority of one time over another and in whose guidance is all good in this life and the next.

See also:

  •   Prayer on the Fifteenth night of Sha`ban

1 Narrated by Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.

2 Narrated by Ahmad

3 Narrated by Ibn Majah

4 Narrated by al-Suyuti

5 The majority of commentators, however, say that the night referred to is Laylat al-Qadr

6 Al-Dukhan, 44:4

 

 

 

The Annual visit of the Prophet Hud (peace be upon him)

Nabi Allah Hud

 

Thousands will soon be gathering to attend the annual visit of the Prophet Hud (peace be upon him), probably the most significant event in the calendar of Hadramawt.

Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him) will be leading his students to the visit. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of his forefathers. It is said that the Ba `Alawi scholars went to great lengths to extol the virtues of two things: the books of Imam al-Ghazali, particularly Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, and the visit of the Prophet Hud.

He will be visiting on behalf of every member of the Ummah. He will be remembering all those that are connected to him in that blessed place and asking Allah to remove the sufferings of the Ummah.

Habib Umar said in one of his poems:

 

زَوَّار هُود النَّبِي بُشْرَاكُمْ بِالمِنَح

امداد مَوْلاي في ذا الشِّعْب كَمْ قَدْ مَنَح

O visitors to the Prophet Hud, good tidings of great gifts:

My Lord has bestowed so many blessings in that valley;

و كَمْ لأبْوَاب فَضْله و المَوَاهِب فَتَح

و كَمْ تَكَرَّم و عَافى و عَفَى و سَمَح

So many times He has opened the doors of His bounty;

So many times He has given, healed, forgiven and pardoned

IMG_1027

He said in another poem:

هيا إلى الشعب قد سالت علينا شعوب

و من حمى المصطفى هبت علينا هبوب

Let’s enter the Valley – upon us the floods pour

And upon us breezes from the Chosen One blow

هذه الزيارة بها غفر الزلل و الذنوب

يا ربنا اكشف بها عاجل جميع الكروب

Through this visit sins and wrongdoings are forgiven

O Lord, by it swiftly remove all tribulations!

فيا إلهي علينا رب تب لنتوب

عامل بمحض الكرم ذلل جميع الصعوب

My Lord turn to us that we may repent

Treat us with pure kindness and make easy all difficulties

بجاه أحمد ختام الرسل طب القلوب

و هود لي زورته تجلي جميع الكروب

Through the status of Ahmad, the Seal of the Messengers, Healer of the Hearts

And Hud, through the visit of whom all tribulations are removed

 

You can read more about the visit here.

Hud 5

Merits of Sha`ban

The scholars say that the linguistic root of the word Sha`ban is a branch, because the month of Sha`ban “branches off” and leads on to many good things. It acts as a bridge between the two blessed months of Rajab and Ramadan. In spite of this, it is often neglected. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ alerted us to this fact when he was asked why he was fasting so much in Sha`ban. He replied: “It is a month that people neglect, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which actions are raised to the Lord of the Worlds and I love for my actions to be raised while I am fasting.”1

What is meant by “actions being raised”? The scholars say it is a symbolic displaying of our actions to Allah. Of course Allah is All-Seeing, All-Knowing and does not need for our actions to be displayed to Him as He is constantly aware of them. However if the slave is not aware of Allah’s constant vigilance then he should at least strive to do good actions at times when his actions are displayed to Allah. If he is able to gain Allah’s pleasure at these times then he hopes that Allah will overlook his wrongdoings and shortcomings at other times. There is a daily display after Fajr and `Asr, and a weekly display on Monday and Thursday, and a yearly display, which takes place in the month of Sha`ban. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was keen to do good works at all these times and was keen for his Ummah to do the same.

One of the greatest works we can perform in Sha`ban is fasting, and this is what the Prophet ﷺ loved to be doing when his actions were raised, on Monday and Thursday and also during Sha`ban. Sayyidah `A’ishah said of the Prophet ﷺ: “I did not see him fasting in any month more than Sha`ban.”2 She also said: “The month which he loved to fast the most was Sha`ban.”3 Both hadith of course refer to voluntary fasting outside of Ramadan. Some hadith suggest that he would fast the whole of Sha`ban, although there is perhaps more evidence to suggest that he would fast most of the month and leave a few days. In another hadith he said ﷺ, in response once again to a question about his fasting in Sha`ban: “In this month those who are destined to die are recorded for the Angel of Death. I love for my name to be recorded when I am fasting.”4

One of the wisdoms behind the Messenger of Allah ﷺ fasting abundantly in Sha`ban is mentioned by Sayyidah `A’ishah, who said that in Sha`ban he would make up any voluntary fasts that he had missed during the course of the year.5 At this time she would fast with him to make up any of the fasts that she had missed in Ramadan.6 From this we learn the necessity of making up any days of Ramadan which we have missed before Ramadan comes round again and also the importance of making up supererogatory actions which we are accustomed to performing. The scholars also mention that fasting in Sha`ban before Ramadan resembles praying the supererogatory prayers which come before the obligatory prayer, while fasting in Shawwal after Ramadan resembles praying the supererogatory prayers which come after the obligatory prayer. Performing supererogatory actions makes up for any deficiencies in the obligatory actions that we have performed.

In spite of all this the Prophet ﷺ also said: “When the first half of Sha`ban is finished do not fast.”7 The scholars of the Shafi`i school understood that this hadith prohibits voluntary fasting in the second half of Sha’ban, except in certain circumstances.8 The other schools, however, say that there is no prohibition on fasting in the second half of the month but say that it is disliked to fast a day or two before Ramadan.

We have mentioned much detail on fasting and this is due to the sheer number of narrations on the subject. Even if we can just fast the “White Days”9 or any three days this would have a great effect. In general we should do any action, inward or outward, great or small, that we would love to be raised to Allah.

Other than fasting, it is recommended to bestow abundant prayers and peace upon the Beloved of Allah ﷺ. It was in this month that Allah revealed:

﴿إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ وَمَلاَئِكَـتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى ٱلنَّبِيِّ يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ صَلُّواْ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُواْتَسْلِيماً

Allah and His angels bestow their prayers upon the Prophet. O you who believe bestow prayers and peace upon him in abundance!10

Perhaps this is why the Prophet called Sha`ban “my month,” when he said in the hadith: “Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha`ban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.”11 Bestowing prayers upon him is one of the greatest means of strengthening our connection to him in this life and also the next, as he informed us ﷺ: “The closest people to me on the Day of Rising will be those who bestow the most prayers upon me.”12

It was also the habit of some of the early Muslims to recite the Qur’an in abundance during Sha`ban. This along with fasting gives us the best preparation for Ramadan, as it takes time for the soul (nafs) to become accustomed to doing these things in abundance. If we are already accustomed to doing them before Ramadan it will enable us to do more when the month begins. Perhaps this is why Imam Abu Bakr al-Warraq said: “in Rajab you sow the seeds, in Sha`ban you irrigate them and in Ramadan you reap the harvest.”

Two momentous events occurred in Sha`ban. The scholars of Sirah say that it was the month in which the moon was split in half for the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). It was also the month in which the Qiblah (direction of prayer) was changed from Bayt al-Maqdis in Jerusalem to the Ka`bah in Makkah. While these events have now passed there is one momentous event which comes around every year, and that is the Fifteenth Night of Sha`ban, one of the greatest nights of the year. Read more about that night here.

We end by asking, as the Prophet ﷺ asked:

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا في رَجَبٍ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنا رَمَضَانَ

“O Allah bless us in Rajab and Sha`ban and enable us to reach Ramadan!”1

1 Narrated by Ahmad and al-Nasa’i

2 Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim

3 Narrated by al-Nasa’i

4 Narrated by al-Haythami

5 Such as fasting Monday and Thursday and three days in every month, which he may have been unable to perform due to expeditions and illness

6 Narrated by al-Tabarani

7 Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim and Ibn Hibban

8 Such as if someone begins fasting in the first half of the month and continues his fast into the second half or if someone regularly fasted on a Monday throughout the year. In these situations it is permissible to fast in the second half of the month. A make up fast (qada’) is of course permissible, as this discussion only revolves around voluntary fasting.

9 The “White Days” are the days which follow nights in which the moon is full, namely the 13th, 14th and 15th days of each lunar month. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) encouraged his Companions to fast three days in every month and to fast these days specifically. The 15th day is regarded as being in the first half of the month and thus there is no prohibition in the Shafi`i school on fasting it in Sha`ban.

10 Al-Ahzab, 33:56

11 Narrated by al-Suyuti

12 Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban

13 Narrated by Ahmad

Dhikr for the Month of Sha`ban

 

Sayyidi Habib `Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him) recommends reading the following 40,000 times in the the month of Sha`ban:

 

يَا حَيُّ يَا قَيُّومُ لا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنْ الْظَّالِمِين

 

Ya Hayyu ya Qayyum la ilaha illa anta subhanaka inni kuntu min az-zalimin

‘O Living, O Self-Subsistent! There is no deity other than You. Transcendent are You, truly I am one of the wrongdoers.’

 

 

 

The White Days of Sha`ban

We are now approaching the “White Days” of the month of Sha`ban. The “White Days” are the days which follow nights in which the moon is full, namely the 13th, 14th and 15th days of each lunar month.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) encouraged his Companions to fast three days in every month and to fast these days specifically.
We should attempt to fast all three days if we are able, since Sayyidah `A’ishah said of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): “I did not see him fasting in any month more than Sha`ban.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
If we are unable to do so, we should attempt to fast the fifteenth, since the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said that when this night comes we should spend it in prayer and fast the following day. Please check the moon sighting in your locality.