Shab-e-Barat (شب برات)
The night of freedom from Fire
Hazrat Abu Huraira has reported Prophet (Sallalaho Alaihi Wasallam) saying,
“Rajab is the month of Allah Ta’ala, Shaban is my month and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah. In Shaban sins are forgiven by Allah Ta’ala and in Ramadan my people are completely purified from sins.”
Sha'ban (شعبان) is one of the meritorious months for which we find some particular instructions in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is reported in the authentic ahadith that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the month in Sha'ban.
Ibn Rajab used to say:
“The year is like a tree. The days of Rajab are its foliation. The days of Sha’ban are its branching and the days of Ramadan are wherein its fruits are reaped. The reapers are the believers. It is befitting for the one who has blackened his pages with sins to whiten them with repentance in this month, and for the one who has squandered his life in idleness to profit in it from what remains of his life.”
The blessed companion Anas, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was asked, "Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?" He replied, "Fasts of Shaban in honor of Ramadan."
The blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: "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, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, 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."
Ummul Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast the whole of Sha'ban. I said to him, 'Messenger of Allah, is Sha'ban your most 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."
In another Tradition she says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, 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, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, 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."
The essence of the above-quoted ahadith is that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself used to fast most of the month of Sha'ban, because he had no fear of developing weakness or weariness before the commencement of Ramadan. As for others, he ordered them not to fast after the 15th of Sha'ban for the fear that they would lose their strength and freshness before Ramadan starts, and would not be able to welcome the month of Ramadan with enthusiasm.
Sha'ban consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as "Laylatul-bara'ah" (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha'ban.
Ummul-Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, is reported to have said, "Once Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, performed the Salah of the night (Tahajjud) and made a very long Sajdah until I feared that he had passed away. When I saw this, I rose (from my bed) and moved his thumb (to ascertain whether he is alive). The thumb moved, and I returned (to my place). Then I heard him saying in Sajdah: 'I seek refuge of Your forgiveness from Your punishment, and I seek refuge of Your pleasure from Your annoyance, and I seek Your refuge from Yourself. I cannot praise You as fully as You deserve. You are exactly as You have defined Yourself.' Thereafter, when he raised his head from Sajdah and finished hissalah, he said to me: 'Aishah, did you think that the Prophet has betrayed you?' I said, 'No, O Prophet of Allah, but I was afraid that your soul has been taken away because your Sajdah was very long.' He asked me, 'Do you know which night is this?' I said, 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' He said, 'This is the night of the half of Sha'ban. Allah Almighty looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but keeps those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they relieve themselves from malice).'"
In another Tradition Sayyidah' Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has reported that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, "Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha'ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibers on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb. Kalb was a big tribe the members of which had a very large number of sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the big number of the people who are forgiven in this night by Allah Almighty.
In yet another Tradition, she has reported Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, "This is the middle Night of Sha'ban. Allah frees in it a large number of the people from Fire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb. But He does not even look at a person who associates partners with Allah, or at a person who nourishes malice in his heart (against someone), or at a person who cuts off the ties of kinship, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending beyond his ankles (as a sign of pride), or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine.
Sayyidna Mu'adh ibn Jabal, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: "Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle Night of Sha'ban and forgives all those created by Him, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has malice in his heart (against a Muslim)".
It becomes clear that this night has some well founded merits, and observing this night as a sacred night is not a baseless concoction as envisaged by some modern scholars who have totally rejected to give any special importance to this night. In fact, some of these traditions have been held by some scholars of hadith as authentic.
In order to observe the Night of Bara'ah, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he 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:
(a) Salah. Salah is the most preferable act to be performed in this night. There is no particular numberof Rak'at but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the Salah like qiyam, rukoo' and sajdah should be longer than normal. The longest surahs of the Holy Qur'an one remembers by heart should be recited in the Salah of this night. If someone does not remember the long surahs, he can also recite several short surahs in one rak'ah.
Salaatul Tasbeeh is perhaps the most famous Salaat performed on auspicious nights. The Tasbih to be read in Salaat-Ul-Tasbeeh:
سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ وَلا إلهَ إلاَّ اللّهُ وَاللّهُ أَكْبَرُ
" Subhaan Allahi Wal Hamdulillahi Wa Laa ilaha illal Laahu Wallahu Akbar "
(b) Tilawa. The recitation of the Holy Qur'an is another form of worship, very beneficent in this night. After performing Salah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Holy Qur'an as he can.
(c) Dhikr. One should also perform dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah) in this night. One should recite Salah (durood) on Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as many times as one can. The dhikr 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. It is hoped that all the prayers in this night will be accepted by our Lord, insha-Allah. Prayer itself is an 'Ibadah, and Allah Almighty gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator's need.
(e) To keep fast. According to the Hadith Shareef which is narrated by Ibne Habaan (radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) that Rasoolullah (Salla Allahu ta'ala alayhi wa Sallam) said: "When the night of 15th Shabaan arrives spend the night awake and keep fast the next day".
Hadrat Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu ta'ala anhu) reports that the Most Beloved (salla Allahu alayhi wa Sallam) of Allah ta'ala said often in his Khutba (sermon): "O people! Lighten and cleanse your bodies by way of fasting during Shabaan, so that it shall be easy and helpful to you for the fast during Ramadan. Whoso fasts for three days during Shabaan, all his past sins are wiped off". (Baihaqi) Fasting is also recommended on the 13th, 14th and 15th of Shabaan.
Since the book of deeds is changed on the 15 night, if it is possible, also fast on the 14th so that the last day of the yearly deed book is spent fasting and the first day is spent fasting.To make an invitation to feed people on that night, to remember Allah (swt) and to remember His Prophet (SAW), and to fast its day and pray its night, will be rewarded for that night and for whoever observes it.
يا قاضى الحاجات
يا مجيب الدعوات
يا غافر السيئات
يا ولى الحسنات
يا كاشف الكُرُبات
يا دافع البليات
اللهم لا تدع لنا ذنبًا إلا غفرته
ولا عيبا إلا سترته
ولا مريضا إلا شفيته
ولا ميتا إلا رحمته
ولا دعاءً إلا استجبته
ولا تائبا إلا قبلته
ولا كربا إلا نفسته
ولا هما إلا فرجته
ولا أسيرا إلا فككت أسره
ولا يتيما إلا كفلته
ولا ولدًا فاسدًا إلا أصلحته
ولا حاجة من حوائج الدنيا
والآخرة لك فيها رضًا
ولنا فيها صلاحُ إلا قضيتها
ويسرتها يا أرحم الراحمين