By Mawlana Muhammad Rayhan
Sha’ban is the 8th month in the Islamic calendar. The Prophet (May Allah bless him) would make special prayers for blessings in this month and would fast most of the month after Ramadhan.
There are many virtues in this month, most notably our deeds being presented to Allah, fasting and seeking Allah’s forgiveness.
Fasting in Sha’ban
أُسَامَةُ بْنُ زَيْدٍ، قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَمْ أَرَكَ تَصُومُ شَهْرًا مِنَ الشُّهُورِ مَا تَصُومُ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ . قَالَ “ ذَلِكَ شَهْرٌ يَغْفُلُ النَّاسُ عَنْهُ بَيْنَ رَجَبٍ وَرَمَضَانَ وَهُوَ شَهْرٌ تُرْفَعُ فِيهِ الأَعْمَالُ إِلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ ”
Usamah bin Zaid said: “I said:
‘O Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s Peace and blessings be upon him) I do not see you fasting any month as much as Sha’ban.’ He said: ‘That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadhan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting.”‘
(Sunan Nasai 2357–Book of Fasting)
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ لَمْ يَكُنْ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي شَهْرٍ مِنَ السَّنَةِ أَكْثَرَ صِيَامًا مِنْهُ فِي شَعْبَانَ كَانَ يَصُومُ شَعْبَانَ كُلَّهُ
It was narrated that’ Aishah said:
“The Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s Peace and blessings be upon him) did not fast in any month of the year (besides Ramadhan) more than he did in Sha’ban. He used to fast all of Sha’ban.” (Sunan Nasai 2182–Book of Fasting)
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَصُومُ شَعْبَانَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
It was narrated that ‘Aishah said:
“The Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s Peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast (all of) Sha’ban except a little.” (Sunan Nasai 2355–Book of Fasting)
عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، أَنَّهُ سَأَلَ عَائِشَةَ عَنْ صِيَامِ، رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَتْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَصُومُ حَتَّى نَقُولَ لاَ يُفْطِرُ وَيُفْطِرُ حَتَّى نَقُولَ لاَ يَصُومُ وَكَانَ يَصُومُ شَعْبَانَ أَوْ عَامَّةَ شَعْبَانَ
It was narrated from Abu Salamah bin ‘Abdur-Rahman that he asked Aishah about the fasting of the Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s Peace and blessings be upon him). She said:
“The Messenger of Allah used to fast until we said: ‘He will not fast.’ And he used to fast Sha’ban, or most of Sha’ban.”
(Sunan Nasai 2177–Book of Fasting)
- There are various narrations regarding the fasting of the Prophet in Sha’ban. It is understood from the majority of the narrations that his general practice was to fast for most of Sha’ban as preparation for Ramadhan and his deeds to be presented to Allah whilst he was fasting.
- There are some reports which discourage fasting in the second half of Sha’ban. The scholars have explained that the discouragement is for those who will become weak by fasting just before Ramadhan hence jeopardise the fasting of Ramadhan.
Specifying Fasting on the 15th of Sha’ban
There is an extremely weak hadeeth and some hadeeth scholars have labelled it as ‘fabricated’ which suggest a special merit for fasting on the 15th. Hence it is not a sunnah to specify the 15th with the intention of gaining extra reward based on the weak hadeeth.
If someone keeps the fast of 15th Sha’ban because of the general reward of fasting in Sha’ban then it is permissible to fast since there is no evidence to suggest that it is not permissible or Haram.
Status of 15th Night of Sha’ban
عن معاذ ابن جبل عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: يطلع الله الى خلقه فى ليلة النصف من شعبان فيغفر لجميع خلقه الا لمشرك أو مشاحن. رواه امام ابن حبان فى صحيحه و بيهقى فى شعب الايمان
Muadh Ibn Jabal narrated that the Prophet (May Allah’s Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Allah looks at His creation on the 15th night of Sha’ban thereafter forgives everyone except two people: a person who makes a partner with Allah and one who has hatred for others.”
(Imam Ibn Hibban narrated this hadeeth in his Saheeh and Imam Bayhaqi in Shuabul Imaan)
Note: This hadeeth is accepted by many classical scholars such as Ibn Hibban, Bayhaqi, Haithami, Mundhiri and Suyuti.
It is also accepted by many contemporary scholars from different ideological backgrounds like Shaykh Fadhlur Rahman A’dhami, Mufti Taqi Uthmani and the late Shaykh Nasir-Uddin Albani.
The greatness of this night is accepted by various scholars of the past and present:
such as Imam Haskafi and Ibn Taymiyah.
Imam Haskafi said in his Durrul Mukhtar,
“Among the recommended [prayers] are on the nights of the two Eids, the middle of Sha`ban, the last ten of Ramadan, and the first [ten] of Dhul-Hijjah.”
Imam Ibn Taymiyya was asked about the prayer of mid-Sha`ban [15th night]. He answered:
“If a person prays that night alone, or in a select congregation, as many groups (tawa’if) of the early Muslims used to do, it is very good. “As for gathering in the mosque for a particular fixed prayer, such as to gather for 100 rakats in which 1,000 “Qulhuwa Allahu Ahad” are read every time, this is an incorrect innovation, which none of the imams have allowed.”
[Ibn Taymiyya, al-Fatawa al-Kubra, 2; 222-138]
Visiting the graves on the 15th night of Sha’ban
The Prophet did not specify any days for visiting the grave, in fact he would visit it whenever it was his turn to be with Aisha; and most of the narrations about encouragement for visiting the grave are general and not limited to any particular days. There is a report about visiting on Fridays but he did not restrict it to just the Fridays.
Visiting the grave for supplication on any night including the 15th is not forbidden however one must make sure that he doesn’t regard it as sunnah.
Key Points to remember:
1.There is no fixed method of prayer or worship on the 15th night
2. It is not compulsory to engage in any extra worship this night
3. Dua seems to be the main focus as Allah forgives very generously
4. Pray Isha and Fajr in the Masjid and engage in Quranic recitation
5. Forgive people and remove hatred for people
6. DO NOT TROUBLE ANYONE ESPECIALLY THOSE OUTSIDE THE MASJID AND THE NEIGHBOURS
(For more details see; Lataaif Al-Ma’arif – Hafidh Ibn Rajab Hambali, 15th of Shaban –Shaykh Fadhlur Rahman Al-Adhami, Islamic months – Mufti Taqi Uthmani)