In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful Announcement Concerning: The Crescent Moon of…
The month of Sha’ban is one of the most important months in the Islamic calendar and is part of its spiritual season. Many traditions point to the fact that this sacred month is “the month of the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp),”1 and there are a wide variety of important rituals and practices to perform to attain proximity to God in its blessed days and nights. It is a month of worship; prayers, fasting, giving charity, seeking forgiveness, and supplicating to God are just a few of the means by which we draw closer to fulfilling our responsibilities during the month. But the climax and peak of this blessed month occurs at its halfway point. Many traditions from the Prophet (pbuh&hp) and his family (pbut) speak to the great value and merit of the fifteenth of Sha’ban.
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (p) states, “Surely it [the fifteenth of Sha’ban] is the greatest night after the night of Qadr…so stay awake in supplicating to God and praising Him.”2
The Merits of the Fifteenth of Sha’ban
The blessed night of the fifteenth of Sha’ban is full of merit and virtue. The faithful are advised to sleep less and stay in a state of worship. Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (p) said, “I like that a person makes time [for worship] to stay awake four nights a year; the night of Eid al-Fitr, the night of Eid al-Adha, the night of the fifteenth of Sha’ban, and the first night of Rajab.”3 When reading about the traditions from the Imams (pbut) concerning the magnificence of this night, we recognize its incredible sacredness, which should inspire us to make our best effort to reap its rewards and blessings.
Moreover, this night marks the birth of the Imam of our time, Imam al-Mahdi (p), making the night that much more special.
Recommended Acts of Worship
Staying Up the Whole Night in Worship: There is great emphasis on utilizing the night of the fifteenth of Sha’ban to seek closeness to God, as it was the practice of the Prophet and his family. In a hadith we are told: “The one who stays awake on the night of Eid and the night of the fifteenth of Sha’ban, his heart will not die on the day in which all other hearts die.”4 In other words, the hadith is advising us to recognize the significance of this night and to make sure we follow the recommendations offered to us by the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut).
In the books of supplication and ziyarat (visitation of the Prophet and his family (pbut)), we find numerous suggested prayers, verses of the Quran, dhikr (remembrance of God), and supplications to recite on this blessed night.5 For instance, amongst the recommendations on this night is to recite the Dua of Khidr or what is famously known as Dua Kumayl.6
Ziyarat Imam Hussain (p): There are numerous traditions from the Ahl al-Bayt which speak to the importance of the visitation of Imam Hussain (p) on the fifteenth of Sha’ban. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (p) says, “On the fifteenth of Sha’ban, there will be a call made from the highest heavens: ‘Oh visitors of Hussain! Return back, for your sins are forgiven! Your reward is with your Lord and with Muhammad, your Prophet!’”7
Build a Link with Imam al-Mahdi (p): We have been advised to use the night of the fifteenth of Sha’ban and its day to supplicate and seek closeness to the Imam of our time (p), as it is the night of his birth.8 It is recommended to ask God to hasten his reappearance and to visit his home in Samarra if we have the ability to do so.9
Steps to Help Us Prepare for the Blessed Night
We need the months of Rajab and Sha’ban to prepare us for the month of Ramadan. In the same way, we should also utilize the days leading up to the fifteenth of Sha’ban to cleanse our hearts and souls so that we maximize the rewards and blessings of the night. To make the best use of our time, we can follow some simple practical steps:
1. Fast During Sha’ban: Fasting is full of spiritual benefits and doing so in the days leading up to the fifteenth of Sha’ban will impact our focus and diligence when the night of worship approaches. Imam Ali (p) never missed fasting during the month of Sha’ban after hearing of its reward from the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp).10 If we fast in the days that precede Sha’ban’s most important night, we will already be in a spiritual mode and ready for that holy night.
2. Learning About Imam al-Mahdi (p): For some of us, Imam al-Mahdi (p) is perhaps a very distant, mysterious figure. During the fifteenth of Sha’ban, so many of our acts of worship revolve around devotion to the Imam of our time (p), and it is important for us to know something about him. Perhaps reading a book or listening to a lecture about our Imam (p) will help prepare us for the night of his birth. Naturally, we would not attend a birthday party unless we knew the individual we were celebrating!
3. Ask others to forgive our wrongdoings: Since we hope that God will forgive our sins during this blessed night, we should make sure to ask our peers, friends, and family members to forgive us if we have wronged them in any way.
The night of the fifteenth of Sha’ban is among the most sacred nights of the Islamic year. To make the most of this holy night, we should prepare ourselves before it arrives. It is important for us to be mindful of its rewards and blessings and thus put our full effort into worship and obedience to God. This way, we will have observed the holy night as we should.
1. Bihar ul-Anwar, vol. 94, p. 71.
2. Bihar ul-Anwar, vol. 94, p. 85.
3. Hurr al-Amili, Wasail al-Shia, vol 8, p. 109.
4. Hurr al-Amili, Wasail al-Shia, vol 8, p. 105.
5. See Mafatih al-jinan and Dhiya al-salihin.
6. Syed Ibn Tawus, Iqbal al-Amal, vol. 3, p. 331.
7. Shaykh al-Kulayni, Al-kafi, vol. 4, p. 589.
8. Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-jinan (Beirut, Al-alami Library, 2006), 223.
9. Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-jinan (Beirut, Al-alami Library, 2006), 239.
10. Abbas al-Qummi, Mafatih al-jinan (Beirut, Al-alami Library, 2006), 222.