The Sunnah of Allah's Messenger (s.a.s.) in the Month of Shabaan
Compiled by Shawana Abdul Aziz
As-Sunnah Islamic Newsletter

Shabaan is the eight month of the Islamic calendar. It falls between two
sacred months, Rajab and Ramadaan. Allah's Messenger (s.a.s. ) used to spend
most part of Shabaan by fasting, Imaam Bukharee (rahimahullah) reports in
his Saheeh that Aa'ishah (radhi allahu anha) said: "The Messenger (s.a.s.)
used to fast until we thought he would never break his fast, and he would
fast until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of
Allah (s.a.s.) fasting for an entire month except in Ramadaan, and I never
saw him
fast more than he did in Shabaan."

Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah) said: "Fasting in Shabaan is better than fasting in
the sacred months (i.e. Dhul-Qadah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab - Soorah
Tawbah (9): 36), and the best of voluntary fasts are those that are
(observed in the months) closest to Ramadaan, before or after. The status of
these fasts is like that of al-Sunan al-Rawaatib, which are done before and
after fard (prayers) and which make up for any shortfall in the number of
obligatory prayers. The same applies to fasts observed before and after
Ramadaan. Just as al-Sunan al-Rawaatib are better than other kinds of
voluntary prayers, so fasts observed (in the months) before and after
Ramadaan are better than fasts at other times." [Lataa'if al-Ma'aarif fimaa
li Mawaasim al-'Aam min al-Wazaa'if, by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali]

When Allah's Messenger (s.a.s) was asked, why he fasted so abundantly in the
month of Shabaan, he (s.a.s.) said: "(Shabaan) is a month to which people do
not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadaan, and it is a month in which
deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the worlds. I like for my deeds to be
lifted up
when I am fasting." [an-Nisa'ee, see Saheeh al-Targheeb wa'l-Tarheeb, p.
425] This and other Ahaadeeth of Allah's Messenger (s.a.s.) encourage
performing good deeds when people are likely to become negligent of Allah's
and worship, like remembering Allah in the market place, where people get
busy in their dealings and in times of difficulty - Allah's Messenger
(sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: "Worship at times of tribulation
(fitnah) is like Hijrah (migration)
to me." [Saheeh Muslim (2984)] The virtue and superiority of worshiping
Allah when people tend to become negligent of Allah's remembrance is because
worship at such times is more difficult than worshiping Allah when everybody
is engaged in the worship.

Fasting in Shabaan serves as training before Ramadaan. However, fasting the
whole month of Shabaan is Makrooh (dislike) and against the Sunnah of
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu
anhu) said: "The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) did not
fast any entire month apart
from Ramadaan." [Saheeh al-Bukharee] It is also prohibited to fast at the
end of Shabaan with the
intention of not missing the first days of Ramadaan, except for those who
have the habit of fasting regularly and the last day of Shabaan coincides
with a day when the person habitually fasts, those who are bound by vows or
have to make up some obligatory fasts. It is reported in Saheeh al-Bukharee
from Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi
wa sallam) said: "Do not pre-empt Ramadaan by one or two days, except for
those who have the habit of fasting regularly, in which case they may fast."
[Saheeh al-Bukharee (1983)]
Fasting at the end of Shabaan is prohibited to maintain distinction between
the obligatory and voluntary fasts - it is also a precaution to prevent the
people from falling into the trap of Shaytaan, who persuaded the People of
the Book to add more fasts to that which Allah had made obligatory for them.
For this same reason, it is also prohibited to fast on the 'day of doubt.' A
day of doubt is when people are not sure about the start of Ramadaan,
because of cloudy weather, or some other reason.

15th Shabaan: Is there any reality?

Some ignorant people have themselves specified particular nights of the
year, when they stay awake all night and worship Allah. It is believed that
anyone who worships Allah in these specific nights, it will recompense for
his yearly deeds and will be enough for his salvation and entering Jannah.
One among these nights is the night of mid Shabaan (15th Shabaan), which is
popularly known as 'Shabb-e-Baraa't' in the Indian sub-continent.

Specifying particular nights for worshiping Allah is against the Sunnah of
the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). In fact, he (sallallahu `alayhi
wa sallam) has strictly forbade specifying particular nights for worship, he
(sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said concerning
Friday: "Do not single out the night (preceding) Friday among the nights for
prayer and do not single out Friday among days for fasting but only when
anyone among you is accustomed
to fast (on dates) which coincide with this day (Friday)." [Saheeh Muslim
(no. 2546)]

Friday is the best day of the week and it is also greatly encouraged to
perform good deeds on Friday. If it had been enough to worship Allah during
some specific nights, and then become negligent of Him throughout the year,
then Allah's Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) would have specified
the night of Friday for worshiping Allah, but he (sallallahu `alayhi wa
sallam) forbade it. This clearly proves that worshiping Allah only during
some particular nights in
the whole year does not fulfill the slave's obligation of worshiping his
Lord. The slave is required to
worship Allah at all times until his death, because worship is the sole
purpose of man's creation. Allah says, "Glorify, the praises of your Lord
and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord (O
Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) until there comes to you death."
[Soorah al-Hijr (15): 99] It was the practice of Allah's Messenger
(sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) to worship Allah all throughout the year, all
his nights and days were spent in
the worship of Allah.

The Sunnah of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) during the
month of Shabaan was to fast and he (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said
concerning the virtue of Shabaan,".it (Shabaan) is a month in which deeds
are lifted up to the Lord of the
Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.'"
[an-Nisa'ee, see Saheeh al-Targheeb
wa'l-Tarheeb, p. 425] Also, it is reported in Bayhaqee, Ibn Hibban and
Tabaranee with authentic (Saheeh) chain of narrators that Allah's Messenger
sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: "On the 15th night of Shabaan, Allah, the
Exalted, looks upon His slaves (with Mercy) and forgives everybody except
the disbeliever and he,who holds malice for anybody."

Apart from this, most narrations that are commonly spread among the people
concerning the virtues of the month of Shabaan or specifically the night of
15th Shabaan are weak and fabricated. Scholars like ash-Shawkani, Ibn Jawzi,
Ibn Hibban, al-Qurtubee (rahimahumullah) have greatly condemned these
narrations. (For details refer to 'al-Fawaaid al-Majmoo'ah', 'Moudhoo'aat
al-Kubra' and Tafseer Qurtubee'). From among the fabricated Ahaadeeth are
those which mention, on this day (15th Shabaan) Allah frees people from the
Hell Fire in accordance with the number of hair found on the skin of the
goats of the tribe of Banu Kalb, anyone who prays fourteen Rakahs of Salaah
on the night of 15th Shabaan will get the reward of accepted fasts and Hajj
of twenty years, etc. Anybody who relates such fabricated Ahaadeeth should
be reminded of the authentic Hadeeth of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu
`alayhi wa sallam), which says,"Whosoever narrated a lie on my behalf, let
him make his place in
Hell-Fire." [Saheeh al-Bukharee]

The night of 15th Shabaan has also been given the status and virtues of
Laylatul-Qadr by misinterpreting Qur'aanic verses. It is claimed that the
laylatim-mubarakah (blessed night) mentioned in Soorah ad-Dukhan (44): 3,
refers to the night of 15th Shabaan, when Allah forgives the sins of His
slaves, increases their ages and provisions. Therefore, people stay awake
all night and say innovated supplications in loud voices.

Allah says in Soorah ad-Dukhan: "By the manifest Book (this Qur'aan) that
makes things clear, We sent it (this Qur'aan) down on a blessed night
(laylatim-mubarakah). Verily, we are ever warning." [Soorah ad-Dukhan (44):
2] Allah informs us in this verse that He sent down the Qur'aan in
laylatim-mubarakah (the blessed night). The Qur'aan itself identifies
laylatim-mubarakah in other verses, it is mentioned in Soorah al-Qadr (97):
1, "Verily, We have revealed it (the Qur'aan) down in the Night of al-Qadr."
So, according to this verse, laylatim-mubarakah is not the night of 15th
Shabaan but it is the Night of al-Qadr, which comes in Ramadaan. Allah says
in Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 185, "The month of Ramadaan in which was revealed
the Qur'aan."

Another deviant belief related to the night 15th of Shabaan is that the
mention of the descent of Ruh in Soorah al-Qadr (97): 4, means that the
souls of the dead people return back to the world and meet their wives and
relatives. For this reason, widows prepare food liked by their husbands and
wait for their arrival. People also visit graves and seek forgiveness for
all those people who have died between the last Shabaan and the present one.

Allah says in Soorah al-Qadr, "Therein (in the Night of Qadr) descend the
Angels and the Ruh by Allah's Permission with all Decrees." [Soorah al-Qadr
(97): 4] Firstly, this verse refers to the Night of al-Qadr and not 15th
Shabaan as explained earlier. Secondly, descending of the Ruh in this verse
means the descending of Angel Jibreel with other Angels and not souls of
the dead people (see Tafseer Ibn Katheer). Besides, believing that souls of
the dead can return back to the world and meet with their relatives is
itself an incorrect belief. The teachings of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah
clearly state that the souls of the dead do not return back to the world. We
had explained this subject in details in the last issue of As-Sunnah (no.
13) under the title. 'Do Souls of the Dead Return Back to the World?' Anyone
who wishes to learn more about this subject may refer to this article.

As far as visiting the graves is concerned, a weak narration (of Aaishah
(radhi allahu anha) reported in Sunan at-Tirmidhee (in the book of fasting)
is often brought forth to support the visiting of graves on the night of
15th Shabaan. The Hadeeth reads as follows, One night (i.e. night of mid
Sh'abaan) I found the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam)
absent from my apartment. I therefore, went out to search him out and he was
in Baqi raising his head
towards the heaven.' He said, "O Aa'ishah were you afraid that Allah and His
Messenger will wrong with you?" She said, 'I replied: I had not such a low
opinion about Allah and His Messenger, but I presumed that you had gone to
some of your wives for some need." He said, "Verily, Allah descends in the
night of mid-Shabaan to the heaven of the world and then forgives people
more than the number of the hair of the sheep of Banu Kalb." A similar
Hadeeth is also found in Saheeh Muslim, but it does not mention the night of
15th Shabaan. However, the Hadeeth of Sunan at-Tirmidhee is not authentic
and thus does not have any proof for visiting graves specifically on the
night of Shabaan.

Allah's Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has permitted the men to
visit the graves at any time and make Du'aa for the engraved. He (sallallahu
`alayhi wa sallam) said, "I
used to forbid you from visiting graves, but now you should visit them, for
surely they are
reminders of the next life." [Saheeh Muslim (2131)] And he (sallallahu
`alayhi wa sallam) also taught us
the Du'aa of visiting graves, "Peace be upon the Believers and Muslims among
the inhabitants of these dwellings. May Allah have mercy on those who have
gone ahead of us, and those following us. And we shall, Allah-willing, be
joining you." [Saheeh Muslim (2127)] But to specify certain days for
visiting graves was neither the practice of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu
`alayhi wa sallam), nor the Sahabah (radhi allahu anhu) therefore, visiting
graves specifically on 15th
Shabaan should be avoided, as it falls under the category of innovations and
Allah's Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said about innovations,
".the worst of affairs are the newly invented matters, every newly invented
matter is an innovation and
every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Hell-Fire."

Many people also light candles on graves, which has no basis from the
Qur'aan and the Sunnah. In fact, lighting candles is an imitation of the
fire-worshipers and Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) narrated that Allah's
Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) cursed the women who visit the
graves. He also cursed those who set up mosques and lights over graves.
[(Hasan) Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah,
at-Tirmidhee and an-Nas'aee]

A Reminder in Shabaan

If you still have to make up any missed obligatory fasts of last Ramadaan,
then hasten to make up them before the next Ramadaan arrives. It is not
permissible to delay missed fasts until after the following Ramadaan, except
in cases of necessity (such as a valid excuse that continues between the two
Ramadaan). Aa'ishah (radhi allahu anha) says,"'It used to be that I had days
to make up for Ramadaan and I would not be able to do so except in Shabaan."
[Saheeh al-Bukharee]

Anybody who is able to make up the missed fasts before the (second) Ramadaan
and does not do so has to make them up after the (second) Ramadaan and in
addition, he should repent and feed one poor person for each day that was
missed. [This is the view of Malik, al-Shafi'ee and Ahmad]

According to a report narrated by Abu Dawood (no. 2076) she said: "The most
beloved of months for the Messenger of Allaah  (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) to fast in was Sha'baan, and his fasting in Sha'baan was
continuous with his fasting in Ramadaan." (Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani,
see Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 2/461).

References: (1) Urdu article published by Lajna Taw'eyyatul Jaliyat, Kuwait
(Urdu text available online in the Urdu Section) (2) Tahzeer al-Muslimeen
anil-ibtidaa wal-Bidaa fid-Deen by Shaikh Ahmed bin Hajar (3) Tafseer Ibn
Katheer (4) Lectures of Shaikh Abdullah Nasir Rahmani - hafizahullah (5)
Answers by Shaikh Saaleh al-Munajjad and others.

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