The month of Rabi'-Ul-Awwal is considered to be amongst the most special and significant months, because mankind was blessed with the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw). Regarding this special event Allah (swt) has stated in the Holy Quran "We have sent him (Muhammad saw) as a source of mercy for the A'alimeen (humans, jinns and all else that exists)," (Surah 21.Al- Anbiya: Verse 107).
Muhammad (saw), the master of the prophets was born in the holy city of Mecca on Monday morning, the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th or 12th of Rabi'-Ul-Awwal. Ibn Sa'd reports that Muhammad's (saw) mother, Aamina, stated regarding the birth of her son "When He (saw) was born, there was a light that issued out of my pudendum and lit the palaces of Syria." (Mukhtasar Seerat-ul-Rasool)
As is mentioned above Allah (swt) has stated in the Glorious Qur'an: "We have sent him (Muhammad saw) as a source of mercy for the A'alimeen." Not only was Rasulullah (saw) a source of numerous blessings after receiving the task of prophethood, but from his birth up to his death and until the day of judgment billions of people have and will continue to benefit from his blessings. A clear example of this is when Halimah, the daughter of Abu Dhu'ayb who was accompanied by her husband Harith and a new born son of their own, decided to undertake a journey from a small village situated south east of Mecca to the actual city of Meccah Mukarramah. This was in order to acquire a nursling. She narrates: "It was a year of drought, and we had nothing left. I set forth on a gray she camel of mine, and we had an old she camel with us which could not even yield one drop of milk. We were kept awake all night by our son who was crying due to hunger, for I didn't have enough in my breast to feed him; and that she camel of mine was so weak and emaciated I often keep the others (Tribe of Bani Sa'd Ibn Bakr) waiting."
Once everyone began looking for nurslings, Rasulullah's (saw) mother Aamina offered her son first to one and then to another until finally she had tried them all and they had all refused. "That" said Halimah, "was because we hoped for some compensation from the child's father." "An orphan" we said, "what will his mother and grandfather be able to do for us?" Not that they would have wanted direct payment for their service, since it was considered dishonorable for a woman to take a fee for suckling a child. The recompense they hoped for, though less direct was of a far wider scope. For example, creation connections and links with people from the city.
On the other side, though the foster-parents were not expected to be rich, they must not be too poverty-stricken, and it was evident that Halimah and her husband were poorer then any other of their companions. Whenever the choice lay between her and another, the other was preferred and chosen; and it was not long before everyone of the Bani Sa'd women except Halimah had been entrusted with a baby. Only the poorest nurse was without a nursling; and only the poorest nursling was without a nurse.
"When we decided to leave Mecca," said Halimah, "I told my husband: ‘I hate to return in the company of my friends without having taken a baby to suckle. I shall go to that orphan and take him.' ‘As you wish' he said. ‘it may be, that God will bless us through him.' So I went back and took him, for no reason except that I could find no baby but him. I carried him back to where our mounts were stationed, and no sooner did I put him in my bosom, my breasts overflowed with milk. He drank his fill, and with him his foster-brother drank likewise, his fill. Then they both slept; and my husband went to that old she camel of ours, and amazingly her udders were full. He milked her and drank of her milk and I drank with him until we could drink no more and our hunger was satisfied.
We spent the best of nights, and in the morning my husband said to me: ‘by God, Halimah, it is a blessed creature that you have taken.' ‘That is indeed my hope,' I said. Then we set out, and I rode my camel and carried him with me on her back. She outraced the whole troop, nor could any of their camels keep pace with her. ‘Wow!' They said to me, ‘Wait for us! Isn't that the same camel you came on?' ‘Yes by God,' I said, ‘She is the very same.' ‘Some amazing thing has happened to her,' they said.
We reached our tents in the Bani Sa'd, and I know of no place on God's Earth more barren than that. But after we brought him to live with us, my flock would come home to me and would be full of milk. We milked them and drank and when others had no milk; our neighbors would say to their shepherds. ‘Go graze your flocks where he has grazed his', meaning my shepherd. But still their flocks came home hungry, yielding no milk, while mine came well fed, with plenty of milk; and we ceased not to enjoy this increase and this bounty from God until the baby's two years passed."
During the pre-Islamic days of Arabia, everyone including the Romans and Persians were in the midst of ignorance and darkness. They were amongst the most uncivilized people the world had seen. Not only were they indulged in evils and vices such as adultery, fornication, incest, rape, stealing and murder they went to the extent of burying their baby daughters alive! Allah (swt) has stated in the Holy Quran "And when the news of the birth of a female child is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief! He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that whereof he has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonor or bury her in the Earth? Certainly their decisions are evil." (Surah 16. An-Nahl: verse 58-59)
Nevertheless the Holy Prophet (saw) was sent to this world with the light of monotheism, eradicating all ignorant and uncivilized customs, rituals, practices and beliefs. Allah (swt) has stated in the glorious Quran "Indeed Allah conferred a great favor on the believers when he sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad saw) from among themselves, reciting unto them His verses, (The Quran) and purifying them, (from sins by their following him) and instructing them (in) the Book (Quran) and Al-Hikmah, (the wisdom and the Sunnah of the Prophet saw) before that they had been in manifest error," (Surah 3. Al-Imran: Verse 164).
Allah (swt), out of His infinite mercy, has created varying seasons throughout the year for people's benefit. Similarly, Allah (swt) has also assigned different seasons for particular ibadah. These are special times designated by Allah (swt) for increased Ibadah.
Of course, a Mu'min is expected to be performing Ibadah continuously throughout his or her life, but these special opportunities exist so that every believer may get a chance to attain closeness to Allah (swt) and earn manifold rewards.
One of these blessed opportunities is the month of Shabaan. It is reported in authentic hadith that Rasulullah (saw) used to particularly increase his Ibadah in this month. It is recorded in Sahih al Bukhari :
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ - رضى الله عنها - قَالَتْ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - يَصُومُ حَتَّى نَقُولَ لاَ يُفْطِرُ ، وَيُفْطِرُ حَتَّى نَقُولَ لاَ يَصُومُ . فَمَا رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ - صلى الله عليه وسلم - اسْتَكْمَلَ صِيَامَ شَهْرٍ إِلاَّ رَمَضَانَ، وَمَا رَأَيْتُهُ أَكْثَرَ صِيَامًا مِنْهُ فِى شَعْبَانَ . - بخاري ح1833، مسلم ح1956، نسائي ح2311، ابوداؤد ح2079
Aishah radhiallahu anhaa narrates: The Blessed Prophet (saw) fasted for so long [so many days] we thought he would never break his fast. Then he would do iftar (for so many days) we thought he will never fast. I have never seen the Blessed Prophet (saw) fast for a whole month besides the month of Ramadan and keep more fasts [outside of Ramadan] than in the month of Shabaan. (Reported in Bukhari, Muslim, Nisai, Abu Dawood)
عَنْ 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 عَمَلِى وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ. - نسائي ح2317، مسند احمد ح20758
Usamah bin Zaid narrates that I said:
Oh Blessed Prophet (saw)! I do not see you fasting any month more than the month of Shabaan. The Blessed Prophet (saw) replied:
People are ignorant of it, being between the months of Rajab and Ramadan. All deeds are raised towards Rabb ul Alameen in that month. Thus, I wish that my deeds are raised when I am fasting. (Reported in Nisai, Musnad Ahmad)
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ مَا رَأَيْتُ النَّبِىَّ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فِى شَهْرٍ أَكْثَرَ صِيَامًا مِنْهُ فِى شَعْبَانَ كَانَ يَصُومُهُ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً بَلْ كَانَ يَصُومُهُ كُلَّهُ. - ترمذي ح668، نسائي ح2149، ابوداؤد ح2079، مسند احمد ح23402
Aisha radhiallahu anhaa narrates that I never saw the Blessed Prophet (saw) fast in any month more than the month of Shabaan. He used to fast the whole month except for some days; in fact, he used to fast the whole month (of Shabaan). (Reported in Nisai, Abu Dawood, Musnad Ahmad)
عن أبي هريرة أن عائشة حدثتهم أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يصوم شعبان كله قالت قلت يا رسول الله أحب الشهور إليك أن تصومه شعبان؟ قال إن الله يكتب على كل نفس ميتة تلك السنة فأحب أن يأتي أجلي وأنا صائم - مسند ابويعلى ص311 ج8، الترغيب والترهيب ص72 ج2 وقال:وهوغريب واسناده حسن
Abu Huraira (ra) relates that Aisha radhiallahu anhaa narrated to them the hadith that the Blessed Prophet (saw) fasted the whole month of Shabaan. She said: I asked the Blessed Prophet (saw): Oh Blessed Prophet (saw), is Shabaan your most favorite month to fast? He replied: Allah (swt) assigns the year of death for each person (in the month of Shabaan), thus, I wish my death come when I am fasting. (The chain of narration is ranked "Hasan" in al-Targheeb wal Tarheeb and is also related in Musnad Abu Yala)
The following things are very clear from the several ahaadith above:
- The month of Shabaan is a very important month and Shari'ah encourages us to perform optional Ibadah during this month
- Rasulullah (saw) used to fast most of the month of Shabaan
- In this month, all of the people's deeds are presented to Allah (swt)
- Rasulullah (saw) disliked for the people to neglect the importance of the month of Shabaan
- In Shabaan, the list of all the people that are suppose to die in that year are handed over to the angels.
In addition to all of these virtues, there is particular emphasis for the 15th of Shabaan which is called Laylatul Bara'a. Although some people deny the importance of the 15th night of Shabaan; there are authentic ahaadith which clearly indicate its importance.
The following few hadith have been presented with scholarly critique in order to illustrate the special virtues of this night so people are not deprived of a great opportunity of Ibadah through which they can attain more nearness to Allah (swt).
عن معاذ بن جبل عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال يطلع الله الى خلقه في ليلة النصف من شعبان فيغفر لجميع خلقه الا لمشرك أو مشاحن
It is related by Muaz bin Jabbal (ra) that the Blessed Prophet (saw) said: Allah (swt) looks over at his creation on the fifteenth night of Shabaan and forgives everyone but for two people: a polytheist and one who holds a grudge against people.
Imam Ibn Hibban has narrated this hadith in his Sahih, Imam Bayhaqi in his Shua'bal Imaan, Imam Tabarani in Al Mu'jam al Kabeer, & Abu Nu'aym in Al Hulya. Imam Haithami has also narrated this hadith in his Majmu'al Zawaid and after narrating it, he has commented that all of the people in the chain of narrators of the above hadith are trustworthy and this hadith is authentic.
This hadith is also narrated by Imam Mundhari in Al Targheeb wal Tarheeb, Imam Suyuti in Durrul Manthoor, & the late Shaykh Albani has also narrated this hadith in his Silsilah Sahiha (a book in which he has narrated only authentic hadith according to him.)
عن أبي ثعلبة عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال إذا كان ليلة النصف من شعبان يطلع الله عز وجل إلى خلقه فيغفر للمؤمنين ويترك أهل الضغائن وأهل الحقد بحقدهم
It is related by Abu Thalaba (ra) that the Blessed Prophet (saw) said: On the 15th night of Shabaan, Allah (swt) looks over at his creation and forgives all the believers except for the one who begrudges and hates. He leaves them in their enmity.
This hadith is narrated by Bayhaqi (raheemullah) in Shubal Imaan, Hafiz Ibn Abi Asim in Kitabus Sunnah, Imam Suyuti in Durrel Manthoor, and Shaykh Albani confirms its authenticity by narrating it in his Silsilah Sahiha.
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ « يَطَّلِعُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِلَى خَلْقِهِ لَيْلَةَ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَيَغْفِرُ لِعِبَادِهِ إِلاَّ لاِثْنَيْنِ مُشَاحِنٍ وَقَاتِلِ نَفْسٍ.
Sayyidina Abdullah bin Amar (ra) has narrated that Rasulullah (saw) has said, "Allah (swt) on the 15th night of Shabaan looks at the people and He forgives all believers except for two kinds of people: 1) Someone who holds a grudge against others and 2) someone who has taken an innocent life.
This hadith is narrated by Imam Mundhiri in Al-Targheeb wal Tarheeb, Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, and Hafiz Al Haithami in Majmual Zawaid. Shaykh Albani has narrated this hadith in his Silsilah Sahiha and after a lengthy discussion regarding its chain of narrators; he concludes that this hadith is Hassan.
In addition to the above, we find most of the great scholars have confirmed the importance and the virtue of the 15th night of Sha'ban. Following are some quotations.
1) Sheikh Mansoor Bahoti Hanbali says in his well known book of Hanbali fiqh Kash-shaful Qina, Vol1:444
وأما ليلة النصف من شعبان ففيها فضل وكان في السلف من يصلي فيها لكن الاجتماع فيها لإحيائها في المساجد بدعة اه وفي استحباب قيامها أي ليلة النصف من شعبان ما في إحياء ليلة العيد - كشاف القناع ج: 1 ص: 444
As for the 15th night of Shabaan, it is a night of virtue. Some of the salaf prayed the whole night, although establishing congregational prayers (on this night) is bida't (an innovation). And the reward of ibadah on the 15th night of Shabaan is the same as the reward of ibadah on the night of E'id.
2) Imam Shafi rahmatullahi alayh said in Al-Umm, Vol. 1 p. 231:
قال الشافعي وبلغنا أنه كان يقال إن الدعاء يستجاب في خمس ليال في ليلة الجمعة وليلة الأضحى وليلة الفطر وأول ليلة من رجب وليلة النصف من شعبان - الأم ج: 1 ص: 231
Imam Shafi said, "of the narrations that have reached us, verily, dua is accepted on five nights: the night of Juma', the night of E'id Al-Adha, the night of E'id Al-Fitr, the first night of Rajab, and the 15th night of Shabaan".
3) Shaikh Abu-Ishaq Ibrahim Al-Hanbali says in Al-Mubdi':
ويستحب إحياء ما بين العشائين للخبر قال جماعة وليلة عاشوراء وليلة أول رجب وليلة نصف شعبان - المبدع ج: 2 ص: 27
It is desirable to revive the time (with salat and ibadah) between the two E'sha's (Maghrib and E'sha) because of the ahaadith. Many scholars say: Similarly with the night of Ashura, the first night of Rajab, and the 15th night of Shabaan.
4) Imam Shurunbulali Hanafi rahmatullahi alayh says in Noorul Eidhah P.63:
وندب إحياء ليالي العشر الأخير من رمضان وإحياء ليلتي العيدين وليالي عشر ذي الحجة وليلة النصف من شعبان - نور الإيضاح ص: 63
It is desirable to revive the last ten nights of Ramadan, two nights of Eidain (Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha), ten nights of Zil Hijjah, and the 15th night of Shabaan.
5) Imam Ibn-Taimiyyah rahmatullahi alayh was asked about the importance of the 15th night of Sha'ban. He replied:
اماليلة النصف فقد روى فى فضلها أحاديث وآثار ونقل عن طائفة من السلف أنهم كانوا يصلون فيها فصلاة الرجل فيها وحده قد تقدمه فيه سلف وله فيه حجة فلا ينكر مثل هذا - كتب ورسائل وفتاوى ابن تيمية في الفقه ج: 23 ص: 132
As for the 15th night of Shabaan, there are many narrations and Athar (quotes from the Sahabah (ra)) regarding its virtue. It has been reported of the salaf that they prayed in this night. Therefore, praying alone on this night, having precedence in the salaf, is sufficient evidence and something of this kind surely cannot be denied.
6) At another occasion, Imam Ibn-Taimiyyah rahmatullahi alayh was asked the same question and he replied:
وسئل عن صلاة نصف شعبان فأجاب اذا صلى الانسان ليلة النصف وحده أو فى جماعة خاصة كما كان يفعل طوائف من السلف فهو أحسن وأما الاجتماع فى المساجد على صلاة مقدرة كالاجتماع على مائة ركعة بقراءة ألف قل هو الله أحد دائما فهذا بدعة لم يستحبها أحد من الأئمة والله أعلم - كتب ورسائل وفتاوى ابن تيمية في الفقه ج: 23 ص: 131
If one prays on this night alone or in a select company of people as many groups amongst the salaf did, then it is good. As for congregating in the masjid upon a fixed prayer like gathering upon a salat with 100 rakats, and reciting Surah Ikhlas a thousand times, this is bida't. None of the scholars extolled this and Allah (swt) knows best.
7) Shaikh Mubarakpuri writes in Tuhfatul Ahwadhi Vol.3 P.365:
اعلم أنه قد ورد في فضيلة ليلة النصف من شعبان عدة أحاديث مجموعها يدل على أن لها أصلا - تحفة الأحوذي ج: 3 ص: 365
You should know that a sufficient number of hadith has been narrated confirming the virtues of the 15th night of Shabaan. All these ahaadith prove that it has a basis.
After relating many Ahadith about the importance of this night he says:
فهذه الأحاديث بمجموعها حجة على من زعم أنه لم يثبت في فضيلة ليلة النصف من شعبان شيء والله تعالى أعلم - تحفة الأحوذي ج: 3 ص: 367
The sum of all these ahadith is strong evidence against the one who thinks there is no proof of the virtue of the 15th night of Shabaan and Allah (swt) knows best.
May Allah (swt) give all of us tawfeeq to take advantage of this great opportunity and blessing of Allah (swt). Ameen!!!
Living in the 21st century it is not surprising that so many religions and ideologies exist in the world today. Even though there are so many religions, each is distinguished by its own customs, traditions and celebrations. For example, the Christians celebrate Christmas and the Jews celebrate Hanukah. And while the Hindus celebrate Divali, the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year. However, it is very strange that none of these celebrations, traditions, and customs are supported by any authentic source that exists in their ideologies and/or religions.
Crusading through the history of time, we have realized that the advent of Islam has played a magnificent and important role on millions of lives. Even though the history of Islam is enriched with great events and glorious moments, us Muslims only celebrate twice a year. Why?
It has been reported by Hazrat Anas (ra): "When the Prophet of Allah (saw) came to Madinah he noticed that the people used to celebrate two days. He asked them: ‘Why do you celebrate these two days?' They replied: ‘We have been celebrating these two days since the days of ignorance.' Thereafter the Prophet of Allah (saw) responded to them, saying: ‘Allah (swt) has changed these two days with two better days, ‘Eid-ul-Adha and ‘Eid-ul-Fitr,'" (Targheeb wa tarheeb)
THE NIGHT PRECEDING ‘EID-UL-FITR
Even though this night has been named Lailatul Jaiza (the night of reward), it is unfortunate that us Muslims do not take advantage of such an opputunity to gain reward and blessings. Rather, at times we get so engaged in renting cars, shopping for nice clothes, applying henna etc., that we become negligent of the commands of Allah (swt). The scholars have stated that Allah (swt) rewards His fasting slaves on this very night, by accepting one's du‘as. Thus a person's every wish and prayer will be granted. Therefore one should perform nafl, recite Qur'an and perform zikr on this night. The Holy Prophet (saw) is also reported to have said: "Whoever stands up (in worship) in the night preceding the two eids expecting reward form Allah, his heart will not die when other hearts will die," (Ibn Majah). In order to benefit and gain blessings from this night one should strive to perform a great number of good deeds on this sacred occasion.
ON THE DAY OF ‘EID-UL-FITR
To perform the following on the day of ‘Eid are Sunnah:
- To wake up early.
- To use Miswak.
- To take a shower.
- To put on one's best clothes.
- To use ‘Itr (Scent).
- To eat something sweet, preferably dates before the ‘Eid prayer.
- To recite Takbir-ut-Tashriq (Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illallahu, Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahilhamd) in a loud voice while going to the ‘Eid prayer.
- To proceed to the ‘Eid prayer one way and to return home from another way.
THE FASTING OF SIX DAYS IN THE MONTH OF SHAWWAL.
The Prophet (saw) said, "Whoever completes the fast of Ramadan and then fasts an additional six days in the month of Shawwal, he will be entitled to a reward just as if he had fasted throughout the entire year," (Muslim).
The scholars of Islam, commentating on this tradition have stated, that every good deed is multiplied by ten. The Holy Qur`an states: "Whoever performs a good deed, shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit."(Surah An‘am, verse 160). Therefore the reward for fasting during the month of Ramadan (for thirty days) amounts, or is equal to the fasting of 300 days. If the fast of Ramadan is followed by six additional fasts in the month of Shawwal (the month following Ramadan) A person will be entitled to a reward just as if he fasted 360 days - an entire year (300 for Ramadan, 60 for the six fasts of Shawwal). Nevertheless we should try to use this opportunity in acquiring such a magnificent reward.