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Middle of Sha’ban  

“When it is the 15th of Sha’ban, spend its night in worship and its day in fasting. Surely Allah descends to the lowest heaven at the time of sunset and says: ‘Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness that I may forgive him? Is there anyone asking Me for sustenance that I may provide him? Is there anyone in difficulty that I may remove his difficulty? Is there anyone? Is there anyone?’ This continues till the break of dawn.” (The Prophet, according to a hadith narrated in Sunan of Ibn Majah, via Sayyidina Ali.)

Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani narrates, by way of Sayyida Aisha, may Allah be well pleased with her:

“When it was the night of mid-Sha’ban, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) had removed a garment of mine.” Then she added, “By Allah! That garment of mine was not of silk, nor of raw silk, nor of linen, nor of silk and wool, nor of wool.” [The reporter said:] “‘Glory be to Allah!’ I said to her, ‘So what was it made of?’” She replied: “Its warp was of hair and its weft was of silk. I reckoned that he (Allah bless him and give him peace) might have gone to one of his [other] wives, so I got up and searched for him in the [darkness of the] apartment. My hand made contact with his feet, as he was prostrate in worship.”

“Of his prayer (Allah bless him and give him peace), I remember these words:

“Prostrate before You are my form and my spirit, and my heart is in Your safekeeping. I acknowledge Your favors, and to You I confess my sin. I have wronged myself, so forgive me; surely none forgives sins but You. I seek refuge with Your pardon from Your punishment, with Your mercy from Your vengeance, with Your approval from Your displeasure. I seek refuge with You from You. I do not tell Your praises, for You are as You have extolled Yourself.”

She continued: “So he did not cease from worship, now standing and now sitting [on his heels], until morning came. Then his feet were put up, and as I massaged them I said:
‘My father be your ransom and my mother too! Surely Allah has forgiven your former and your latter sins? Surely Allah has dealt with you? Is it not so? Is it not so?’”

“He replied (Allah bless him and give him peace): ‘O Aisha, shall I not therefore be a grateful servant? Do you know what happens during this night?’ ‘What happens?’ I asked, and he said: ‘This is when all births are recorded for this year, and every death is registered. This is when provisions are allotted to mankind, and their deeds and actions are gathered up.’ “‘O Messenger of Allah,’ said I, ‘Will no one enter Paradise except by Allah’s mercy?’ ’No one will enter Paradise except by Allah’s mercy,’ he told me (Allah bless him and give him peace). ‘Not even you?’ I asked. ‘Not even I,’ said he (Allah bless him and give him peace), ‘unless Allah envelops me with His mercy.’ Then he rubbed his hand over his head and his face.”

There are many ahadith associated with the merit of the middle night of Sha’ban. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali narrates a lot of them, and considers the differences of the ‘ulama on them; he reckons that the majority of the ‘ulama consider them to be weak, but also notes that Ibn Hibban considered some of them to be authentic, and as such included them in his Sahih. Moreover, there were those from the Tabi’un who honoured the night in particular, striving in worship during that night. There were those that said such an endeavour was fine if done alone, as opposed to collectively in the mosques – this was the opinion of Imam al-Awza’i, as well as Ibn Hajar al-Hanbali. It suffices for us that Imam al-Shafi’i reminded us that supplications are accepted on five nights: the night of Friday, the night of the two Eids, the 1st of Rajab, and the 15th of Sha’ban. Other scholars remind us that there are so many of these ahadith, that even though most of the narrations are weak individually, they collectively strengthen one another; and Allah knows best.

Ibn Taymiyya said, “[Some] said there is no difference between this and other nights of the year. However, the opinion of many of the people of learning and that of the majority of our [Hanbali] colleagues and other than them, is that it is a night of superior merit, and this is what is indicated by the words of Ahmad [ibn Hanbal], in view of the many ahadith transmitted about it and in light of what confirms this in the words and deeds transmitted from the early generations (al-athar al- salafiyya). Some of its merits have been transmitted in the books of hadith, of the types Musnad and Sunan. This holds true even if other things have been forged concerning it.”

Recall, nevertheless, that the night comes with conditions. Ata b. Yasar said: “After the night of Power, there is no night which is superior to the 15th of Sha’ban. Allah descends to the lowest heaven and forgives all His servants except a polytheist, a person who bears malice, or a person who severs ties of kinship.” Our scholars note different definitions of ‘malice’ in this regard; one said this was about malice towards the Sahaba. Another said that a malicious person is every person who is involved in innovation. Ibn Thauban said that a malicious person is the one who abandons the Sunnah of His Messenger, who criticizes his ummah, and sheds their blood. Our teachers said that those who practice shirk (na’audhbillah) is exempted from the forgiveness of this night, as are those who engage in sihr, the ones who promote dislike in the community, the one who causes fitna, or who indulges in extra-marital relations.

So, be of the opposite of the malicious one: have good intentions towards the servants of God, advise them, love for them what you would love for yourself, and follow the sunna of the Beloved.

Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani reminds us some say the night is called ‘Laylat al-Bara’ (the night of absolution), because, according to some, it contains two absolutions: absolutions for wretched sinners from the All-Merciful, and an absolution from disappointment for the Friends of God. He further reminds us that the angels have two nights of festival in heaven, just as we have two days of festival on earth: the night of Power, and the night of the middle of Sha’ban.

Other names for the night include Laylat al-Mubaraka (the blessed night), Takfir al-Dhunub (expiating sins), Ijaba (fulfillment), Rahma (mercy) and Ghufran (forgiveness).

  1. There is a prayer associated with the night of the middle of Sha’ban, which we will go into below. There is, one should note, a difference of opinion about whether this prayer is prescribed (i.e., that there is definitive basis for this prayer specifically at that time from the sunna), or not. Some of our scholars, including Imam al-Ghazali, argued that there was evidence for it as such; others argued there was not. To avoid entering into such a difference of opinion, it would be advisable to do the prayer with the intention of it being nafl mutlaq (a completely optional prayer) (this is a solution many our scholars recommend, based on Imam Ibn Hajar’s ‘solution’ with regards to a similar situation). And thereby, no censure would be warranted, even by those who considered there to be no basis for the prayer; and one would have fulfilled the prayer on the night, as those who recommend it would have us do.
  • The prayer is done as the following, preferably between maghrib and isha’:

    – 2 cycles of prayer (rakatayn), followed by Surat Yasin, and the du’a below, all with the intention of long life and health, inwardly and outwardly, spiritually and physically;
    – 2 cycles of prayer (rakatayn), followed by Surat Yasin, and the du’a below, all with the intention of protection from calamities
    – 2 cycles of prayer (rakatayn), followed by Surat Yasin, and the du’a below, all with the intention of not being needy to anyone except Allah.

  • Shaykh Abdal Qadir al-Jilani used to read the following du’a on this night as well:

If one chooses, they may read more from the book “Madha fi Sha’ban”, by the shaykh of our shaykhs, al-Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki – it is a work resplendent in directing one to imminent blessings. There is a link below.

May Allah bless all of us during these special nights and beyond.

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