The month of Sha'baan enjoys a very special place in the Islamic Calendar because in this month lies a very auspicious night known as LAYLATUL- BARAA'AH (The Night of Emancipation; The night of Freedom from fire). The word Sha'baan means branches of good a'maal (deeds).
FASTING IN SHA'BAAN:
In this month Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) used to fast more than in the preceding months. Hadhrat Ayesha(radhiyallahu anha) reports that: " I never saw the Messenger of Allah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha'baan. He used to fast in that month leaving only a few days, rather, he used to fast almost the whole of the month." (Tirmizi)
However, Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) advised in several other Ahaadeeth that when the (first) half of Sha'baan has passed, one should not fast (i.e. during the second half of the month). Ulama explain that one should not unduly exert and strain one's self by fasting much (in the second half), for fear of one's health deteriorating before Ramadhaan begins; instead one should rather build strength and prepare one's self for the fasts of Ramadhaan. However, should one have the strength and health, then it would be meritorious and virtous to keep fasts according to one's ability.
SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NIGHT OF BARAA'AH
On this night Allah's Special Mercy and Forgiveness descends upon His fortunate servants. Furthermore, the announcements seeking out those who want forgiveness well exceed those, which occur every other night of the year.
It is narrated from Hadhrat Abdullah bin Amr(radhiyallahu anhu) that Rasullullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said: "Allah looks with special attention towards His creation on the fifteenth night of Sha'baan and forgives all His servants except two categories of people, the person who harbors enmity(hatred) and a murderer." ( Imam Ahmad reports this Hadith with a slightly weak chain of narrators- Targhib-wat-Tarhib)
Hadhrat Uthmaan bin Abil 'Aas(radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasullullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said: : "On the fifteenth night qf Sha'baan Allah's (special mercy) descends to the nearest heavens. Thereafter, a proclaimer announces:" Is there anyone who seeks forgiveness so that I may forgive him? Is there anyone who desires anything so that I may grant his wishes? Allah thus fulfills the requests of all accept the adulteress and idolator." ( Baihaqi has reported this Hadith -Durre Manthur Page 27 Vol.6)
According to the Ahaadeeth, certain people are deprived of Allah's mercy even on this auspicious night. These unfortunate souls are:
1) Those who ascribe partners unto Allah.
2) Those who harbour enmity against others.
3) Those who habitually consume alcohol.
4) Those who disobey their parents.
5) Those men who wear their clothing etc.below their ankles.(out of pride)
6) Those who commit adultery and murder.
7) Those who sever family ties.
Every Muslim should take stock of oneself and if one is involved in any of the above vices, one should turn to Allah and sincerely implore for forgiveness, lest one be deprived on this night.
Allah Ta'aala says in the Noble Qur'aan: " O you who believe, turn to Allah with sincrere repentance, in the hope that your Lord will remove from you your evil deeds." (Quran: Surah Tahreem - Para 28).
One should turn towards Allah with sincere regret and shame for the sins that one has committed. One should seek Allah's forgiveness for one's sins and make a firm resolution and promise not to commit sin again. However, sins relating to the rights of fellow beings will not be forgiven by mere taubah alone. Allah will only forgive such sins if forgiveness is first sought from the person who had been harmed and a sincere effort to redress the wrong committed against him/her is made.
What should one do on this night?
During this night one should engage oneself in Salaah, Qur'aan Tilaawat, Du'aa, Istighfaar and Zikr, according to one's ability and strength.
Dua on the 15 th of Sha'ban
O Allah! I seek protection through Your forgiveness from Your punishment. I seek protection from Your anger by means of Your pleasure. I seek protection in You from You, I cannot truly praise You, as You ought to be praised, You are as You have praised Yourself.
PREPARATIONS FOR RAMADHAAN
Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) frequently recited the following du'aa: " 0 Allah bless us in Rajab and Sha'baan and make us reach Ramadhaan."
We should earnestly begin preparing for Ramadhaan during this month of Sha'baan by making Istighfaar and cleansing ourselves of sins. We must endeavour to curtail our desires of committing sins, especially with the eyes, ears, tongue, mind and heart. Then we should begin inculcating good practices and bring about a spiritual and moral transformation in our lives in anticipation and eagerness for Ramadhaan.
The virtue of this night as established from Ahaadeeth, is that from the very beginning of the night, Allah Ta'ala turns with special mercy and attention towards the creation and forgives those who repent and seeks forgiveness. Every Muslim should therefore value this night. Turn towards Allah Ta'ala with sincere regret and shame over sins committed and make a firm promise not to return to sin and seek forgiveness from Allah Ta'ala. Have firm hope and resolution in the heart that Allah Ta'ala will surely show mercy and forgiveness. We should value and treasure this night and derive maximum benefit therefrom; remembering to make duaa for the entire Ummah, the living and the deceased. Let us not be deprived of its tremendous blessings due to sheer negligence and indifference.