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:

  1. The month of Shabaan is a very important month and Shari'ah encourages us to perform optional Ibadah during this month
  2. Rasulullah (saw) used to fast most of the month of Shabaan
  3. In this month, all of the people's deeds are presented to Allah (swt)
  4. Rasulullah (saw) disliked for the people to neglect the importance of the month of Shabaan
  5. 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).

Hadith 1

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.)

Hadith 2

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.

Hadith 3

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!!!