Sha`ban is one of the meritorious months for which we find particular instructions in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad . It is reported in authentic ahadith that Prophet Muhammad , used to fast most of the month in Sha`ban. These fasts are supererogatory (nafl) and well deserving of reward, for Sha`ban is the month immediately preceding the month of Ramadan. The Prophet mentioned in a hadith, “Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha`ban is my month and Ramadan is the month of the Nation”.
1. The blessed companion Anas , reports that Prophet Muhammad , was asked, “Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?” He replied, “Fasts of Sha`ban in honor of Ramadan.”
2. The blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid , reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad : “Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha`ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month.” Prophet Muhammad , replied: “That (Sha`ban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting.”
3. Ummul Mu’mineen `Aishah (r), says, “Prophet Muhammad , used to fast the whole of Sha`ban. I said to him, ‘Messenger of Allah, is Sha`ban your favorite month for fasting?’ He said, ‘In this month Allah prescribes the list of the persons dying this year. Therefore, I like that my death comes when I am in a state of fasting.’”
4. In another Tradition she says, “Prophet Muhammad , would sometimes begin to fast continuously until we thought he would not stop fasting, and sometimes he used to stop fasting until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah fasting a complete month, except the month of Ramadan, and I have never seen him fasting in a month more frequently than he did in Sha`ban.”
5. In another report she says, “I never saw the Messenger of Allah, , fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha`ban. He used to fast in that month leaving only a few days, rather, he used to fast almost the whole of the month.”
6. Ummul-Mu’mineen Umm Salamah (r), says: “I have never seen the Messenger of Allah fasting for two months continuously except in the months of Sha`ban and Ramadan.”
These reports indicate that fasting in the month of Sha`ban, though not obligatory, is so meritorious that Prophet Muhammad did not like to miss it.
The Night of Bara`ah (nisf Sha`ban)
Another significant feature of the month of Sha`ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shari`ah as “Laylatul-bara`ah” (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha`ban. Traditions of Prophet Muhammad , prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine Mercy. We will be posting much more about this blessed night shortly.
What should be done in this night?
On the Holy Night of 15th Shaban, after Maghrib or Isha prayer it is traditional practice to read Surah Yasin three times, and after each time, read a special du`a with the following intentions:
1st reading the niyyat (intention) for should be for Long Life.
2nd reading the niyyat (intention) should be for Protection from Calamities.
3rd Reading the niyyat (intention) should be for not being needy to anyone except Allah.
It is very necessary that just as others observe this night, you observe it. To make an invitation to feed people on that night, to remember Allah (swt) and to remember His Prophet , and to fast its day and pray its night, will be rewarded for that night and for whoever observes it.
In order to observe the Night of Bara`ah, one should remain awake on this night as much as possible. If someone has the opportunity, he or she 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:
praying Salat ul-Khair, which consists of 100 raka`ts, in each raka`t reciting Sura al-Fatiha and 10 Surat al-Ikhlas. To complete the prayer one recites 1000 Sura al-Ikhlas.
The Night of Bara`ah is a night in which special blessings are directed towards the Muslims. Therefore, this night should be spent in total submission to Allah Almighty, and one should refrain from all those activities which may displease Allah.
Fast of the 15th Sha`ban
On the day immediately following the Night of Bara`ah, i.e. the 15th of Sha`ban, it is mustahabb (advisable) to keep fast. Prophet Muhammad is reported to have recommended this fast emphatically. A large number of the predecessors (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha`ban.
Therefore, it is advisable to fast the 15th of Sha`ban as an optional (nafl) fast. One can also keep a fast of qada (make-up) on this day and it is hoped that he can also benefit from the merits of this fast.