Muslims celebrate a night during the month of Sha’ban and refer to it as “shab-barat” or “layla-tul-bara” in various parts of the world. It is a significant night. However, there are some popular beliefs and practices amongst the Muslims relating to this night which have no place in Islam. Examples of these are as follows:
1. Some Muslims believe that the spirit of the dead comes back to them during this night. They cook sweets and distribute to others. It is totally unislamic. We, as true Muslims, are not supposed to worship the dead but rather pray for them.
2. According to another superstition, some Muslims believe that the decisions of life and death are made by Allah (SWT) during this night or on the 15th day of Sha’ban. It is true that Allah makes these decisions of life and death. However, these decisions were made before we were even created.
3. Another prevalent story is that there is a celestial or heavenly tree and people’s names are written on the leaves of this tree. During this night, this tree is shaken and leaves would fall symbolizing the people who are going to die.
4. Another wrong practice which goes on during this night is that people display fireworks. Allah only knows for what purpose they do this. This is due to the influence of some other cultures, like Hindus or Buddhists. We get very used to these wrong practices year after year, and, hence, we get very comfortable with these wrong practices. We do not even care to go to the learned people amongst us for fact-finding.
The Messenger of Allah (SAS) said, “I am leaving behind me two things for you, The Quran and my Sunnah. If you adhere to these, you will not go astray.”
An obvious question is, what is the position of the Quran and the sunnah about this night of Sha’ban?
There is no reference to this night in the Quran, although very few commentators say that it is mentioned in Surah Ad-Dukhan, # 3-4
We revealed it during the blessed night, and we are ever warning. That night is decreed every matter of ordainments.
Most of the commentators believe that this verse is also mentioning “layla-tulqadr”, or the Night of Power, which falls in the month of Ramadan. As we notice in the translation, Allah says in Surah Al-Dukhan that, “I revealed it during the blessed night.” Allah (SWT) also says in Surah Al-Qadr # 1
I revealed it during the Night of Power.
Finally, Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah # 185
I revealed the Qur’an during the month of Ramadan.
Hence, verses of Surah Al-Dukhan refer to Layla-tulqadr and not to the middle of sha’ban.
In his book “Targheeb wa-Tarheeb”, Imam Al-Mundhiri has given fourteen sayings of Prophet Mohammad (SAS) about the month of Sha’ban. Some of them are as follows.
The Messenger of Allah (SAS) said, “Pay special attention to the month of Sha’ban, because it comes before the month of Ramadan. Month of Ramadan is the sacred month in which Quran was revealed. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe mandatory fasting. Prepare yourself for the month of Ramadan during the month of Sha’ban. As an example, you make all sort of preparations before an honored guest arrives. Similarly, you make preparations during the month of Sha’ban for the sacred month of Ramadan.”
According to another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (SAS) used to fast very often during the month of Sha’ban. Aisha (RU) said, “Prophet Mohammad (SAS) used to fast the most during the month of Sha’ban. Sometimes, he would fast continuously during Sha’ban and it appeared that he would omit no day for fasting. At other times he did not fast for a long time during Sha’ban, teaching us that these fastings are only voluntary and for extra credit.” According to another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (SAS) said, “Allah (SWT) takes account of his creatures during this night.” What does this mean? It means Allah gives a special chance to his creatures, especially rational creatures to repent, correct their behavior and lifestyle. Allah says, “Is there somebody who asks for forgiveness so that I may forgive him? Is there somebody who asks me for help so that I may help him? Is there somebody who has a difficulty or a need and asks me so that I may remove his difficulty?”
Hence, divine power is open to all, and there is an open invitation to all, especially during this month of Sha’ban.
According to another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (SAS) said,
“Visit cemetaries during the month of Sha’ban, since the cemetery is a significant and sufficient reminder.” The Messenger added, “If somebody does not learn a lesson about this life and the hereafter by visiting the cemetery, he has no other hope of having true guidance.”
I pray that Allah (SWT) guides us according to the Quran and the Sunnah and keep us on his true path. Ameen.