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Sha’bān and Laylat al-Barā`ah


What you need to know.

    
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̓Āisha () reported that the Messenger of Allah () used to


observe fasts (so continuously) that we said that he would not
break his fast, and did not observe (them) till we said that he would
not fast: and I did not see the Messenger of Allah () completing
the fast of a month, but that of Ramaḍān, and I did not see him
fasting more in any other month than that of Sha’bān. [Bukhārī and
Muslim]

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Abū Salamah () from Umm Salamah () narrates, “I have not
seen the Prophet  fasting for two consecutive months, except
Sha’bān and Ramaḍān.”
Imām Tirmidhī says that the ḥadīth of Umm Salamah () is good
and has also been narrated by Umm Salamah from Āisha () who
said, “I have not seen the Prophet  fast as much in any other
month than he  did in Sha’bān. He  used to fast most of it, no he
fasted the entire month.” [Sunan at-Tirmidhī]
Sheikh al-Albānī classified it as authentic.

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Usāmah ibn Zayd said, “The Prophet  fasted continuously for
many days, until it was said that he would not stop and he  would
not fast continuously for many days, except for two days of the
week (which he  usually fasted). He  fasted in no other month,
the way he did in Sha’bān, so I asked, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah you
fast till it is said that you do not break and you break your fast till it
is said that you do not fast, except for two days (which you usually
fast).’ He asked ‘which two days?’ Monday and Thursday, ‘I said’.
He  said, ‘On those days, deeds are presented before Allah  and
I would love to have my deeds presented whilst I am fasting.’ Then
I asked, ‘I do not see you fasting during any other month, as much
as you do in Sha’bān?’ He  replied, ‘people are very unmindful
about that month which falls between Rajab and Ramaḍān, it is the
month in which deeds are presented to the Creator/Sustainer/Lord
of the Universe and I would like my deeds to be presented whilst I
am fasting’.” [Musnad Ahmad and Nasāi amongst others]
Shu’aib al-‘Arna’ūṭ, in his notes on the Musnad Ahmad, says that
its chain is good.

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Usāmah bin Zayd  says, “I said ‘Oh Messenger of Allah I do not


see you fasting during any of the other months as much as you do
in Sha’bān?’ He  said, ‘people are very unmindful about that
month which falls between Rajab and Ramaḍān, it is the month in
which deeds are presented to the Creator/Sustainer/Lord of the
Universe and I would like my deeds to be presented whilst I am
fasting’.” [An-Nasāi]

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From Āishah , “The Prophet  used to fast the entire Sha’bān.” I
asked Oh Messenger of Allah is Sha’bān the most beloved month
for you to fast? He  said, ‘Allah  writes down (gives
instruction) every soul that would die during that year, so I would
like for my appointment to be written whilst I am fasting.” [Itḥāf
al-Ghayrah al-Mahrah – Abu Ya’lā narrates it with a good chain]

Based on the aforementioned Aḥādīth as well as the general


Aḥādīth encouraging fasts on Mondays, Thursdays and the three
days in the middle of a lunar month, we establish that fasting
during any of the days of Sha’bān, especially Mondays and
Thursdays as well as the ‘white days’ (three days in the middle of
the lunar month) is Sunnah.

Imām al-Nawawī has the following chapter in his book, Riyāḍ as-
Ṣāliḥīn, which should be noted as an addition to the above
mentioned ruling:

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219. Chapter: On the prohibition against fasting before


Ramadan after the middle of Sha'ban unless that fasting is
connected to what is before it and coincides with his habit, like
fasting Monday and Thursday
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Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and
grant him peace, said, "None of you should fast a day or two
before Ramadan except for a man who customarily fasts. He
should fast that day." [Bukhārī and Muslim]

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Ibn 'Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace, said, "Do not fast immediately before
Ramadan. Fast when you see the new moon and break it when you
see it. If cloud obscures it, then complete the thirty days." [At-
Tirmidhī]

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Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah


bless him and grant him peace, said, "When half of Sha'ban
remains, then do not fast." [At-Tirmidhī]

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Abu'l-Yaqathan 'Ammar ibn Yasir said, "Anyone who fasts the day
which is doubtful has rebelled against Abu'l-Qasim." [Abū Dāwūd
and at-Tirmidhī]
Therefore the following rulings stand:
1. If one has outstanding fasts to make up, then it is compulsory
to make it up before the next Ramaḍān, otherwise the day
must be paid in and a fidyah must be given for each day,
unless the person could not fast.
2. Any habitual fast e.g. Mondays and Thursdays, the three days
in the middle of a lunar month, every second day or every
day, that has already been part of a person’s custom, may be
continued after the fifteenth of Sha’bān.
3. Any voluntary fasting that starts after the fifteenth of Sha’bān
and is not part of a person’s custom, is prohibited.

Laylat al-Barā`ah (The night of the middle of Sha’bān)

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From Abdullah bin Amr, “ The Prophet  said, ‘Allah  inspects


His creation on the night of the half of Sha’bān and forgives all of
His slaves except for two, those who harbour ill feelings and the
murderer”[Ahmad and others]
Shu’aib al-‘Arna’ūṭ, in his notes on the Musnad Ahmad, says that
it is authentic due to supportive evidence; this particular chain is
weak due to ‘Abdullah bin Lahī’ah
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“Allah  inspects His creation on the night of the half of Sha’bān


and forgives all of His slaves except for two, the polytheist and
those who harbour ill feelings” [Silsilah as-Saḥīḥah of al-Albāni,
who says that it is authentic]
[al-Ṭabrānī; Ibn Ḥibbān; al-Bayhaqī; Majma’ al-Zawāhid of al-
Haythamī ]

He then goes on to list the references for the various chains and
narrations of this ḥadīth.

Similar narrations are mentioned in other books as well, such as


the Sunan of Ibn Mājah, the Sunan of Tirmidhī, the Muṣannaf of
Ibn Abī Shaybah, the books of al-Bayhaqī, the Musnad of al-
Bazzār and others.

Among those who will also not be forgiven as mentioned in the


various narrations (some of which are weak) are: Those who cut
family ties, those males who drag their clothing (out of pride)
beneath their ankles, those who habitually drink wine (addict) and
the fornicator/adulterator (all these people will only be excluded
from the general forgiveness of the night, if they have not
repented).

Mubarakpuri (Commentator of the Sunan of Imām at-Tirmidhī)


writes:

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Translation: You should know that a sufficient number of ḥadīth


has been narrated confirming “the virtues of the 15th night of
Sha`ban“. All these Aḥādīth prove that it has a basis.

After relating many Aḥādīth about the importance of this night he


says:

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Translation: The sum of all these aḥādīth is strong evidence against


the one “who thinks there is no proof” of the virtue of the 15th
night of Sha`ban” and Allah knows best. [Tuḥfatul Aḥwadhī
Volume 003: Page. 365-367]

What may be drawn from the ḥadīth regarding Laylat al-Barā`ah,


besides the tremendous virtue of Allah’s  forgiveness on the
night, are the lessons about who will not be forgiven and the
warning to not be from amongst them.

The two types of people mentioned the most are the mushrik
(polytheist) and the mushāḥin (the one who harbours ill feelings).

Shirk (polytheism) is of two kinds, the major and the minor. The
major form of shirk is the notorious crime of actually associating
partners with Allah’s  divinity. The minor form is less
conspicuous and more difficult to detect, as it is a hidden quality
within the spiritual heart. It is called riyā (doing some act of
worship for the sake of being noticed by others or for some other
achievement, besides earning Allah’s  pleasure) and is a quality
that may emanate at the time of performing any kind of ‘Ibādah
(act of worship). The Prophet Muḥammad  warned us to beware
of the shirk al-aṣghar (the minor form of shirk) and when he 
was asked to elaborate he  responded that it is riyā.

By Allah  depriving the mushrik of His  forgiveness, both the


major and minor forms of shirk are included and the manner in
which to ensure one’s safety from such deprivation is the
rectification and reformation of the heart which is the factory of
our intentions. When the machines of the factory (the heart) are
working properly, then the products (the intentions) would have no
flaws.

The Prophet Muḥammad  said:

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Behold! Within the body there exists an organ, when it is sound,


the rest of the body will be sound and when it is blemished, the
whole body will be blemished. Behold! It is the heart...

The mushāḥin (the one who harbours ill feelings such as enmity or
grudges) is also deprived. It is therefore necessary to rid oneself of
all such ‘destroyers of the soul’ before Laylat al-Barā`ah, least we
be deprived of Allah’s forgiveness.

What is required in order to free oneself from shaḥnah (ill


feelings), is to inspect your heart and to be very honest with
oneself. ‘Do I have any such feeling against anyone, whether they
wronged me or not? Is this worth missing out on Allah’s 
forgiveness?’

One should also make sure that ill feelings are not held against you
by anyone, thereby saving them from being deprived if you did
nothing to be the victim of such grudges and to save yourself from
the punishment of harming others if you have done something that
caused those feelings. One should not seek the forgiveness and
good relations of those with whom terms are already of a good
nature, but rather with those who, between you two there is no
peace, friendship or Islamic love.

Remember also that among those who will also not be forgiven as
mentioned in the various narrations (some of which are weak) are:
Those who cut family ties, those males who drag their clothing
(out of pride) beneath their ankles, those who habitually drink wine
(addict) and the fornicator/adulterator.

One cannot help, but to notice that Allah  has made the condition
of His  forgiveness on this great night, that one should not be
from the aforementioned categories of people. It appears to me as
though Allah  is preparing His slaves for the holy month of
Ramaḍān in two ways. Firstly, by ridding them of evils (such as
corrupted intentions, ill feelings, bad habits like drinking alcohol
or taking drugs and fornication to mention a few) that would
deprive them of Ramaḍān’s blessings in any case and secondly by
then forgiving His slaves, so that they may enter the holy month of
Ramaḍān with a clean slate, ready to derive maximum benefits
from the glorious month.

Alḥamdulillāhi Rabbil ‘Ālamīn! Allah is indeed merciful! May He


shower us all with His mercy and forgiveness Āmīn.
Be amongst those who are forgiven by Allah  during Laylat al-
Barā`ah, by performing much good deeds during Sha’bān,
especially on this great night.

There are no SPECIFIC OR PRESCRIBED acts of ‘Ibādah from


the Qurān or authentic Sunnah that I am aware of, but any good
deeds performed with the right intention on this night such as
Ṣalāh, recitation of Qurān, Dhikr or ‘Itikāf may be performed, as
long as it is known that it is voluntary and any person who does not
wish to take part is not blameworthy of anything.

Please forgive me as well as my family for any shortcomings on


our part and remember us in your du’ās!

Wa Ṣallallāhu ‘alā Muḥammadin Wa ‘alā Ālihī Wa Aṣḥābihī Wa


Bārik Wa Sallim. Wa al-Ḥamdu Lillāhi Rabbil ‘Ālamīn.

Irshaad Sedick
Dār al-Maḥāmid