Allah Ta’ ala has, afforded His bondsmen certain selected opportunities whereby they may reap his infinite mercy and forgiveness. Some explicit examples of these occasions are the month of Ramadan and Laylatul Qadr.The night of the fifteenth of Shábaan is one such opportunity. Several Ahadith expound the tremendous merit of this occasion. Amongst them is the fact that countless people are forgiven by Allah Ta’ ala during this blessed night. It is due to this reason that it is called “The Night of Bara’at” (i.e. the night wherein judgment of salvation from Jahannam (hell) is passed).
It is understood from Ahadith that even on this great night, some unfortunate individuals are deprived of Allah’s forgiveness. They are:
2. Those who harbour enmity against others
3. Those who consume alcohol
4. Those who disobey their parents
5. Those who wear their trousers, kurtas, lungis, etc. below their ankles
6. Those who commit murder
7. Those who sever family ties.
We can thus gauge the severity of these sins and need to abstain from them at all times.
Special virtues of t his night
The special virtues of the night of Bara’at are:
1. Contrary to other nights where the last third of the night has special blessings and Allah descends to the lowest Heaven during this section of the night, on the night of Bara’at the special rain of mercy and forgiveness of Allah Ta’ ala begins to shower down right from the beginning of the night and continues until dawn.
2. The sins of countless people are pardoned. As already mentioned, Allah Ta’ala’s descension during this night to the lowest Heaven occurs from the very beginning, unlike other nights. Furthermore, the number of pronouncements seeking forgiveness far supercede those, which occur on other nights.
Hafiz Zaynud-deen Iraqi, Faydhul Qadeer, vol. 2, pg. 317
It should be remembered that while the narrations regarding the night of Bara’at maybe weak, the narrations regarding Allah Ta’ ala ‘ s descending to the nearest Heaven during the last third of every night are sound and without defect.
Fasting during the month of Sha’baan is Sunnah and clearly established practice of the Shariah
Fasting in the month of Shábaan, without the stipulation of any day, is proven from Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. In fact, he used to fast excessively during this month. A Hadith of Hazrat Aisha (radiyallahu anha) wherein she describes the fast of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) substantiates this. She says that aside from the month of Ramadaan, he never used to fast for an entire month. However, of the remaining months, he would fast in Shábaan the most. Bukhari, vol. 1, pg. 264
Fast of the 15th Shábaan
On the day immediately following the Night of Bara’at, i.e. the 15th of Shábaan, it is advisable to fast.
Though majority of the scholars of Hadith have certain doubts regarding the authenticity of a narration in Ibn Majah, advising one to fast on this day, stating it is extremely weak, it has been mentioned earlier that the fasts of the first half of Shábaan have special merits and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to fast most of the days in Shábaan. Moreover, a large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th Shábaan. This constant practice of our learned and pious predecessors establishes its Istihbaab (preference).
Therefore, it is advisable to fast the 15th of Shábaan as an optional (Nafl) fast. One can also keep a fast of Qada’ on this day and it is hoped that he can also benefit himself from the merits of this fast.
What should be done on this night?
In order to obtain maximum benefit from this auspicious night, one should allocate a specific portion of the night for solitude and close communion with Allah Ta’ala. Fervent dua and repentance should be priority and make the sole intention for Allah Ta’ala’s pleasure and reformation of the inner self. Other observances that may be practiced are:
(a) Salaah – Salaah is one the most preferable acts to be performed during this night. There is no particular number of Rak’ats but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the Salaah like qiyam, rukoo’ and sajdah should be longer than normal. Also try and recite as much qiraat in salaah as possible.
(b) Tilawah – The recitation of the Holy Quran is another form of worship that is very beneficial on this night. After performing Salaah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Holy Quran as possible.
(c) Zikr – Engage ones heart in Zikr (remembrance of Allah Ta’ala).
One should also recite abundant durood on Rasulullah, (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Zikr can also be recited while walking, lying on bed and during other hours of work or leisure.
(d) Dua – The best benefit one can draw from the blessings of this night is prayers and supplications. Dua (supplication) itself is an ‘Ibadah, and Allah Ta’ala gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator’s need. Even if the purpose prayed for is not achieved, one cannot be deprived of the reward of the prayer, which is, sometimes more precious than the mundane benefits one strives for. The prayers and supplications also strengthen one’s relation with Allah Ta’ala, which is the main purpose of all kinds and forms of worship.
(e) There are some people due to circumstances will not be able to carry out any vigorous or lengthy Ibadah. Such people should not deprive themselves completely of the blessings of this night. They should attempt to fulfill the following:
(i) Perform Maghrib, Esha and Fajr with congregation in the Masjid, or at home in case of illness.
(ii) Keep ones tongue wet with Zikr, in whatever condition they are until they sleep.
iii) Plead to Allah Ta’ala for forgiveness and for their other objectives. One can do so even whilst one is lying in bed.
(f) Women during menstruation cannot perform salaah, nor can they recite the Quran, but they can recite any Zikr, tasbeeh, durood sharif and can pray to Allah for whatever purpose they like in whatever language they wish. They can also recite the Arabic prayers mentioned in the Quran or in the Hadith with the intention of supplication (and not with the intention of recitation).
(g) According to a Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) visited the graveyard of Baqi’ during this night where he prayed for the Muslims buried there. Hence, some of the fuqaha (jurists) are of the view that it is mustahab (advisable) to visit the graveyard during this night and pray for the dead. However, this act is neither obligatory nor should it be observed regularly as an obligatory act.
What should not be done on this night
1. As mentioned earlier, the Night of Bara’at is a night in which special blessings are directed towards the Muslims. Therefore, this night should be spent in total submission to Allah Ta’ala, and one should refrain from all those activities, which may displease Allah Ta’ala. Although it is always incumbent upon every Muslim to abstain from sins, yet this abstinence becomes all the more necessary in such nights, because committing sins on such an occasion is tantamount to responding to divine blessings with disobedience and felony. Such an arrogant attitude only invites the wrath of Allah Ta’ala. Therefore, one should strictly abstain from these sins, particularly those mentioned earlier in the article, as these deprive one of the blessings of this night.
2. On this night some people indulge in some activities, which they regard as necessary for the celebration of the Night of Bara’at, like cooking some special type of meal, or illuminating houses or mosques, or improvised structures. All such activities are not only baseless and innovated in the later days by ignorant people, but in some cases they are pure imitation of some rituals performed by non-Muslim communities. Such imitation in itself is a sin; performing it in a blessed night like the Night of Bara’at makes it worse. Muslims should strictly abstain from all such innovations.
3. Some people spend this night holding religious meetings and delivering long sermons. Such activities are also not advisable, because these acts can easily be performed on other nights. This night requires devotion for the pure acts of worship only.
4. The acts of worship like Salaah; recitation of the Quran and Zikr should preferably be performed on this night individually, not collectively. The Nafl Salaah should not be performed in congregation, nor should Muslims arrange gatherings in the mosques in order to celebrate the night in a collective manner.
On the contrary, this night is meant for worshipping Allah in solitude. It is the time to enjoy the direct contact with the Lord of the Universe, and to devote one’s attention to Him and Him alone. These are the precious hours of the night in which nobody should intervene between one and his Creator, and one should turn to Allah with total concentration, not disturbed or intermitted any one else.
That is why Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) observed the acts of worship on this night in total seclusion, not accompanied by anyone, not even by Sayyidah Aishah, (radiyallahu anha), and that is why all forms of optional worship (Nafl Ibadah), should be observed individually.