Sha’baan, the month of thought and action
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
Mishkawt-ul-Masabih records that at the dawn of the month of Sha’baan, our beloved Prophet (SAW) used to supplicate: “Allahumma Baarik Lana Fi Rajaba wa Sha’baana wa Bal’lighna Ramazan”, which means: “Yaa Allah bless us with the Barakah in the months of Rajab and Sha’baan and bestow upon us the month of Ramazan.” This supplication tells us that Prophet (SAW) used to wait fondly for this month. The word “wait” implies a passionate preparation to welcome someone or something which is very dear. Hence the month of Sha’baan is a time for a preparation to welcome Ramazan with thought and action. This is a month to pray supererogatory nawaafil, (prayers), fasts, recite the Holy Qur’an, give charity and do other virtuous deeds by following in the foot steps of our beloved Prophet (SAW). Ummul Momineen Aa’isha (RAnha) relates that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) did not observe voluntary fasting so frequently during any other month as he did during Sha’baan.
Let it be known that our faith unlike other faiths lays great emphasis on actions, on deeds and not on mere talks and expression through material means. State in the Aakhira (life of the Hereafter) directly depends on actions in this world. The value of actions is derived not through contemplation, intellectual reasoning or guess work, but only and only through the revelations from Allah (SWT), Who is the ultimate source of wisdom. The total sum of human knowledge is but a droplet from the fathomless shore-less ocean of Allah (SWT)’s wisdom. Divine knowledge starts from the point where human imagination ends. One can get little of its idea from the story of Musa (AS) and Khizr (AS) mentioned in Surah Al-Kahf. Allah’s revelations have explained not only the value but also the reality behind actions. Ramzan starts from actions and also concludes with action in expressing thanks through a two unit prayers of Eid-ul-Fitr. In the preparatory month of Sha’baan, there falls a special blessed night of “Shab-e-ber’at”, or Lailatul Ber’at and the excellence of this auspicious night has been mentioned in many of the traditions of Prophet (SAW). Let me share some of them with you:
Ali (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger said: “When it is the fifteenth night of Sha’baan, observe prayers during the night and observe fast during the day; for Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, descends to the heaven of the world as the sun sets and says: Is there anyone to seek forgiveness so that I should forgive him? Is there anyone to seek sustenance so that I should provide him? Is there anyone in trouble so that I may relieve him? [Ibn Majah].
A’ishah (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: “Verily Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, comes down to the heaven of the world in the middle of the night of Sha’baan and forgives sins even more abundant than the hair of the goats of Kalb’s tribe) .” [Tirmidhi, who said that Bukhari considered it weak]. Prophet (SAW) also added: “It is in this very night that the record is prepared for every human being who has to be born during the year and the record is prepared of every human being who has to die during the current year, and (it is during this night) that deeds (of the people) are lifted (to the heaven) and their provisions descend.”
Abu Musa Ash’ari (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: “Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, looks down on the middle night of Sha’baan and forgives all His creation except a polytheist, or the one, who is hostile.” [Ibn Majah]
Research scholars consider the traditions with regards to ‘Lailatul Bar’at’ as weak, but seeing many traditions in this context lends credibility to the night’s excellence. Even the scholar Hafiz Ibn Taimiyah (RehmA) has acknowledged the traditions related to this night. According to Fatawah ibn Taimiyah volume 23 page 134, he (RehmA) comments: “If one prays during this night, it is better for him to pray alone.”
Imam Nawawi (1233-1278) said that traditions with regards to the excellence of this night are weak, but practicing them is desirable and preferable.”
There is a secret, which lies hidden in the preoccupation with prayers and Allah’s promise of forgiveness. To understand it, we should know that Allah (SWT) has a system of angels and they are given assignments and we believe in angels and the system they are governed by. According to traditions, the angels change guard twice during 24 hours. Those who assume duty at Fajrleave at Asr, and those who take charge at Asr are relieved at the next Fajr. Though Allah (SWT) is all aware and knowing, yet He asks the angels: “In what state did you leave my slaves?” The angels reply: “Our Lord, they were busy in prayers when we arrived and they were still busy when we left.” Allah (SWT) expresses His love for His slaves and His pride in them.
As told in the tradition about Allah (SWT)’s offer to give sustenance, relief, and salvation to the seekers during this night indicate that it is time when angels are given assignment for the coming year. It is also said that the calendar year for angels start from this night. It is the very reason that Prophet (SAW) used to engage in prayers in this month more than in other months and has advised us to do accordingly.
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that Allah’s Messenger said: “Deeds of people are presented (to Allah (SWT) on Mondays and Thursdays. So I like that my actions be presented while I am fasting.”[At-Tirmidhi]
Allah (SWT) in His infinite mercy forgives an immense number of His slaves during this night, except those who attribute partners with Him, keep grudge, rancor, break relations, keep their trouser or loincloth below the knees, are disobedient to parents, the drunkards/alcoholics, and those who commit murders. Major sins (kabeerah) are not forgiven unless an earnest repentance is made. Be mindful of both, i.e. the rights of Allah (SWT), and the rights of fellow human beings – that is Huqooq-al-Allah, and Huqooq-al-Ibaad.
Please make the most of this month, the special Lailatul Bar’at, which falls this week between Saturday and Sunday and make spiritual preparations to welcome the glorious month of Ramazan. May Allah give health to the sick, alleviate sufferings, give means of sustenance to the needy, fulfill the needs of all, and enable us to do Hasanaat, virtuous deeds and bestow us with peace within and without. Aameen!
May Allah enable us to realize the importance of the gift of life and the countless blessings we have been bestowed with and utilize our time prudently and wisely and the way it pleases Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW). Aameen!
SWT = Subhanahu Wa Ta'Ala
SAW = Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam
AS = AlehisSalam
RA = Radhiyallaho anhu
RAnha= Radhiyallaho anha
The Friday Khutbahs are published to enhance your knowledge of Islam. The references of Quran and Hadith are the approximate translation of the Arabic text. The editors have not verified the accuracy of the the English translation. The scholarly reader is encouraged to refer to the original Arabic script if there is any doubt. Kindly notify us if the translation can be enhanced.