The Night of Freedom
The 15th night of Sha’ban, the eighth lunar month, is called the “Night of Freedom”. This coming Tuesday 7th March 2023 (after Maghrib) will mark this blessed night, also referred to as Laylat al-Bara’ah, Laylat an-Nisf min Sha’ban, and Shab-e-Barat.
The importance of the 15th night of Sha’ban is a subject of debate among Muslims. However, the majority of the Ahl us Sunnah commemorate the night with special prayers and fast the following day. Here I present some authentic ahadith that describe the nature of this wonderful night.
virtues of 15th night of Sha’ban
Mu’adh (may Allah be pleased with him) says that the Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “On the fifteenth night of Sha’ban, Allah looks upon His creation with special favour, forgiving all except the idolater and the person full of rancour and hatred” (At-Targhib wat-Tarhib).
A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reports that the Messenger (peace be upon him) once asked me, “do you know what happens on the fifteenth of Sha’ban?” I replied no. He (peace be upon him) then said, “on this night a list is prepared of all those that will be born and all those that will die that year. On this night, people’s works are raised to the heavens and their annual sustenance is fixed” (Mishkat al-Masabih).
In another narration, Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say. “On the night of the fifteenth of Sha’ban, do the night vigil and fast the next day. For Allah manifests Himself from sunset announcing ‘is there anyone out there seeking forgiveness so he could be forgiven? Is there anyone seeking sustenance so that he could be blessed with it? Is there anyone who is pain-stricken so that he could be relieved?’ And so on and so on. This continues till dawn” (Ibn Majah).
A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) says the Messenger (peace be upon him) said Jibril came to me and told me about the fifteenth of Sha’ban, he said “On this night Allah frees people from hell in large numbers as large as the hair of Bani-Kalb’s goats. However, He does not forgive the idolater, the one full of rancour, the one who breaks family ties, the one who is disobedient to his parents and the drunkard” (At-Targhib wat-Tarhib).
Prophet’s Sunnah on 15th night of Sha’ban
In light of these ahadith narrated by different companions we can understand some of the virtues of this night. It is truly a night of forgiveness and freedom from Divine wrath. How the Merciful Lord comes down to the sky offering His mercy and forgiveness to the earthly sinners. How should we spend this most wonderful night? The Messenger (peace be upon him), according to the hadith of A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) did the following things during this night:
- Visited the graveyard of Jannat-al-Baqi.
- Prayed most of the night, spending a lot of time in prostration.
- Made this special Du‘a: “O Lord! You are forgiving, You love forgiveness, forgive us.”
Imam Fakhr-ud-Din ar-Razi describes five distinct benefits of this great night:
- Every important affair affecting human life is decided upon.
- The excellence of worship. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said “whoever prays 100 rak‘ah of nafl, Allah will send 100 angels to bless him”.
- Showering of Divine Mercy. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said “Allah forgives the sinners on this night and frees them from the shackles of Hell”.
- Allah forgives everyone except the persistent sinners like those full of anger, hatred of others, drunkards and those disobedient to parents.
- The Messenger (peace be upon him) interceded for his Ummah on the 13th of Sha’ban, he was granted one-third. On the 14th of Sha’ban, he was granted another third, and on the 15th of Sha’ban he was granted the whole of his Ummah.
There are many other narrations from the companions and early Muslims confirming the greatness of this night, as mentioned by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in his Lataif al-Ma`arif and others. Therefore, we believe the night of the 15th Sha’ban is a blessed night when pious people immerse themselves in complete devotion and loving worship. They recite the Quran, do zikr and pray nafl during the night and fast the following day.
Du’a for the 15th of Sha’ban
Oh, Allah! You shower favours on everyone and no one can do You any favour. Oh, Possessor of Majesty and Honour, Oh Distributor of bounty and rewards. There is no one worthy of worship except You. You help the fallen and provide refuge to the refugees and give peace to those who are in fear.
Oh, Allah! If in the Mother of All Books that is with You. You have written me down as someone who is doubtful of achieving salvation. Or deprived, or rejected or without enough sustenance. Then, Oh Allah, with Your Grace remove all of these misfortunes from me. And in the Mother of All Books that is with You. Establish me as someone who is blessed, with abundant provision and charitable good deeds.
Indeed, what You said in The Book You sent through the tongue of Your Blessed Prophet is true. That Allah changes and establishes what He wants and with Him is the Mother of All Books. Oh my Lord! For the sake of Your Divine Manifestation. On this fifteenth night of the blessed month of Sha’ban, in which You issue all Wise and Irrevocable Decrees, remove from us all calamities and hardships. Those that we know about as well as those that we don’t, while You know everything.
Truly, You are the Most Powerful, Most Generous. And may Allah the Exalted shower blessings and peace on Sayyidina Muhammad, and on his family and his companions. And all praise is for Allah, Lord of the worlds.