Sha’ban is a special month. It is the curtain raiser to the month of Ramadan and brings with it the 15th night of Sha’ban – an auspicious night when Allah Ta'ala's mercy and forgiveness is unlimited. Every opportunity in this month should be used to prepare spiritually for Ramadan.
THE FAST OF SHA’BAN
Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to fast for the better part of the month of Sha’ban in preparation for the blessed month of Ramadan.
Hazrat Anas (R) reports that Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked, “Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?’ He replied, ‘Fasts of Sha’ban in honour of Ramadan.’” (Ibn Abi Shaybah)
Hazrat Aisha (R) says, "I never saw the Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha'ban…” (Ibn Abi Shaybah)
Certain scholars regard the fast of the 15th of Sha’ban as meritorious. When fasting in Sha’ban, consideration must be given to one’s health. Fasting should not be so excessive that it makes one incapable of fasting the obligatory fasts of Ramadan.
THE NIGHT OF BARA’AH – 15TH NIGHT OF SHA’BAN
Countless souls are forgiven by Allah Ta’ala on this blessed night – thus known as ‘Laylatul Bara'ah’ (Night of freedom from the fire).
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “This is the night of the half of Sha’ban. Allah Ta’ala looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy …” (Bayhaqi)
Hazrat Aisha (R) has reported Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “This is the middle Night of Sha'ban. Allah emancipates a large number of the people from the Fire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of Bani Kalb. But He does not cast a glance at a person who associates partners with Him, or at a person who harbours malice in his heart (against someone), or at a person who severs family ties, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending below his ankles, or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine.” (Bayhaqi)
Bani Kalb was a large tribe who owned many flocks of sheep. The comparison in the hadith indicates to the great number of people forgiven on this.
A SIMPLE FORMAT FOR THIS NIGHT
1. Perform Esha & Fajr Salah in congregation
Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “One who performs Esha Salah in congregation gets the reward of spending half the night in worship. And he who follows that up with the Fajr Salah in congregation, will be regarded as if he has stayed up all night in worship.” (Abu Dawood)
2. Sincere Taubah
Engage in sincere Taubah for the past. With Allah Ta’ala’s special mercy descending, a lifetime of sin and wrong can be washed away with genuine Taubah. Briefly Taubah entails:
Confession of sins and vices committed
To feel regretful and ashamed of one’s bad deeds
To leave the sin and stay away from people associated with it
Refer to article titled ‘Taubah’ on www.darulihsan.com for more on this subject.
3. Sleep in the state of purity (perform Wudhu)
It is reported that the soul of one who sleeps with wudhu makes sajdah (prostrates) at the ‘Arsh of Allah’. (Fathul Baari)
This is a simple and excellent way of gaining reward whilst one is sleeping.
4. Cast away ill-feelings and hatred
To harbour ill-feelings for others is a sin and a cause of deprivation. One who harbours malice for fellow Muslims is deprived of guidance and forgiveness. Four categories of people that will be deprived on this night:
a. An Alcoholic
b. One who disobeys his parents
c. One who severe family ties
d. One who harbours ill-feelings in his heart for others. (Ibn Hibban)
5. Qur’an, Zikr & Dua
Recite the recommended Surahs of the night, Surah Mulk, Surah Waqiah, Surah Yaseen, Surah Sajdah and the last 2 verses of Surah Baqarah.
Recite the following 100 times or more: Kalimah Tayyibah, Istighfar, and the Tasbeeh, Subhanallah wa bihamdihi Subhanallahil Azeem.
Recite Durood and Salaam upon our beloved Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)
Engage in dua at regular intervals and make dua beginning with oneself, the family, friends and relatives and the Ummah.
The virtues and blessings of this night begin from sunset and continue till dawn.
This a recommended format to adopt for the purposes of ease. There is no compulsion in optional worship. A person may do more or less, according to one’s ability.