Saturday, June 6, 2015

Month of 'Shaban': 'Ibadah' for Blessings

Significance of Shaban

Alhamdulillah, Summa Alhamdulillah, in less than two weeks we shall Insha-Allah be blessed once again with the coming of the month of Ramadan, the month of Allah wherein He has ordained all His submitted servants to observe fasting and to observe His Remembrance more than in any other month so that they may be admitted into His mercy and proximity. Like you all know, before the month of Ramadan, there is the month of Shaban which we are currently living and which is also an important month in the life of a Muslim. 

Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra) once described the letters forming the word Shaban as thus:

1. Sheen for Sharaf – Respect
2. ‘Ayn for ‘Uluu – Elevation
3. Baa for Bir – Goodness
4. Alif for Ulfat – Friendship
5. Nun for Nur – Light.

It is in the month of Shaban, the eighth month of the Islamic calendar that our beloved Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) used to prepare himself physically, morally and spiritually to welcome the month of Ramadan. He (pbuh) said: “Many people are unaware of this month’s significance; it is between Rajab and Ramadan. In this month the deeds of people are lifted to the Lord of the worlds. I like my deeds to be lifted while I am in a state of fasting.” (Nasai). 

Imam Bukhari reports in his Book of Hadiths a narration from Hazrat Aisha (ra) in which she said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to fast until we thought he would never break his fast, and he would not fast until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) fast for an entire month except in Ramadan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Shaban.”

It is not advisable for a Muslim to welcome Ramadan by fasting the last one or two days of Shaban. Hazrat Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: Do not anticipate Ramadan by fasting one or two days before, except for a man who has a habitual pattern of fasting, in which case let him fast.” (Bukhari)

This Hadith gives us the notion to distinguish the Obligatory from the Voluntary, for in another Hadith found in An-Nasai and narrated by Hazrat Umm Salama (ra), it is reported that the prophet (pbuh) would not fast any month of the year in full except Shaban and he used to join it to Ramadan. This means that as a man used to fast on a regular basis, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would occasionally also observe the fast and join it to the first and complete days of Ramadan, or he would prefer to skip fasting the ending days of Shaban and fast only in the month of Ramadan as it was not an obligatory act, but rather a voluntary act. But he liked honouring the month of Ramadan by beginning his preparations for it in Shaban.

15th of Shaban: Shab-e-Baraat

In addition to fasting, Nabi Kareem (pbuh) used to maximise his time in additional prayers (Nafl Salat), supplications (dua) and Remembrance of Allah (Zikrullah). Furthermore, in many ahadiths though not in the famous Sahih Hadith books, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) has been reported to give the importance to the night of mid-Shaban.

Hazrat Aisha (ra) reported:

“The Messenger of Allah stood up in prayer during part of the night and made his prostration so lengthy that I thought his soul had been taken back. When I saw this I got up and went to move his big toe; whereupon he moved, so I drew back. When he raised his head from prostration and finished praying, he said: “O Aisha, O fair little one (Humayra)! Did you think that the prophet had broken his agreement with you?” 

She replied: “No, by Allah, Oh Messenger of Allah, but I thought that your soul had been taken back because you stayed in prostration for so long.” 

He said: “Do you know what night this is?” 

She said: “Allah and His Prophet know best.” 

He said: “This is the night of mid-Shaban! Verily Allah the Glorious and Majestic look at His servants on the night of mid-Shaban, and He forgives those who ask forgiveness, and He bestows mercy on those who ask mercy, and He gives a delay to the people of envy and spite in their state.” (Baihaqi)

Though there is no doubt that the importance of the month of Shaban is unquestionable in the history of Islam, yet throughout the centuries some innovations have crept into the pure teachings of Islam and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), more specifically during the mid-Shaban which people have skyrocketed its importance more than necessary. The Ibadah of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) was not restricted to the 15th of Shaban. There is no specific form of Ibadah prescribed for this night. There is no specific prescribed Salah reserved for this night. But some scholars and Mujaddids of Islam received signs of Allah on the night of 15th Shaban.

One example: It was during that night that Hazrat Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (ra) after having completed his prayers saw a piece of green paper. Light emanated from that paper and illuminated the sky and on it was written that this was from the part of Allah for His servant Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (ra), and Allah gave him the assurance of salvation from the fires of hell.

Even if the night of mid-Shaban may be filled with blessings and observed by the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh), it is however a misconception among a section of the Muslim Ummah to state that the blessing of mid-Shaban is mentioned in none other than the Holy Quran, in Chapter 44, Ad-Dukhan. They quote the following verse to state that the blessed night mentioned is that of mid-Shaban whereas it is not so.

Allah says: 

“By the clear Book, Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn (mankind). On that night is made distinct every precise matter – (Every) matter (proceeding) from Us (44: 3-6)

When we study the Holy Quran we find that Allah has already mentioned in His Holy Book (in Chapter 2) that the Holy Quran was revealed during the month of Ramadan, and thus the “Lailatin Mubaraka” can only be referring to the Laila-tul-Qadr, the Night of Decree and blessed night (mentioned in Chapter 97) during which the Holy Quran was revealed and that also more precisely during the holy month of Ramadan.

Moreover, like reported in Sunan Nasai, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: “…In this month the deeds of people are lifted to the Lord of the worlds. I like my deeds to be lifted while I am in a state of fasting.” Here, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) has not mentioned a specific night but rather the whole month of Shaban where the deeds of man are taken up, and thus that is why Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) preferred that his deeds be lifted for Allah’s scrutiny when he is in a state of purity and agreeable to Allah, for the reward of fasting is none but Allah Himself.

Furthermore, the custom of cooking a specific food (Halwa-Roti) for the 15th night of Shaban or the belief that the connection with the dead is open on this night and the following day has no basis in the Quran or Sunnah. Neither these nor the lighting of lamps or the illuminating of lights outside the Mosques, as practised by some people till this day.

It was the noble practice of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to engage in Ibadah during the last portion of every night. Ibadah was not restricted to the 15th of Shaban or any other specific night. Hazrat Aisha (ra) reports that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) used to go to bed during the first portion of the night and he would stay awake the last portion of the night (spending it in worship). (Bukhari & Muslim)

Allah (swt) descends to the nearest heaven during the last third of every night. (Bukhari).

 This is not restricted to the 15th night of Shaban. And visiting the graveyard is not a special characteristic of this night; it is proven from other authentic narrations that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) would visit the graveyard during the last portion of many nights.

Mind you, it is not at all a sin to pray a lot (Farz & Nafl) during the night of mid-Shaban, or even throughout the month of Shaban, but it is a sin to add innovations to the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and attribute to his practices that which he did not do or commanded to do.

It is most unfortunate that our brothers and sisters of the same faith as us, being Muslims and believing in the Shahada: Laa-Ilaaha Illallah Muhammadur Rassullullah have twisted out of proportion such practices of our beloved prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and to give credence to their own beliefs sought to invent such practices which are out of the pale of Islam. Had the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) really known the special blessings of mid-Shaban and done a lot of worship thereafter, then this have been blown out of proportions by those who call themselves Muslims to state according to their own opinions that such a night is worth even more than the Night of Decree or the days of the blessed month of Ramadan, thus establishing such school of thoughts in Islam which contradict the basic teachings of Islam.

Allah judges His servants according to their good intentions. Those who really seek Him, then Allah forgives them and embraces them with His mercy, and makes them submissive to Him. And the best example to have graced this world with his presence is none other than the best of mankind who came to teach us the true value of religion and the means and ways to accede to Allah. And he also taught us how to rid us of all evils (Satan and his army) which seek to come in our way to twist our deeds and thoughts according to his liking, and not that of Allah (twa).

May Allah protect us from any evil innovation which may prove fatal to our faith as Muslims. And may Allah grant us shelter in His mercy and give us the Tawfiq to derive the divine blessings of the forthcoming month of Ramadan, with a sound faith devoid of any satanic inclination. Ameen, Summa Ameen, Ya Rabbul Aalameen...

A Distinguished Scientist/Muslim Lady President for Mauritius

Dr. Amina Bibi Firdaus Gurib-Fakim is sworn in as President of the Republic of Mauritius today Friday, 05 June 2015 and yesterday there was a parliamentary session convened by the Prime Minister Sir Jugnauth Aneerood at 11.20am to elect Dr. Amina Bibi Firdaus Gurib-Fakim ​​as President of the Republic, and she was elected unanimously.

In my name (as the Khalifatullah of this era) and the name of Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam National and International, we send her our sincere congratulations. May Allah help her in her duties, and through the way she will serve the country, we hope that through this honour she will demonstrate the teachings of Islam (in her behaviour and principles) before one and all. Insha-Allah.

The post itself is an honour for this world, but Insha-Allah, may Allah (swt) gives her the ability to act as a believer first. It should not be that her position makes her forget the teachings of Islam because she has to implement these teachings and not let this be a dishonour to the Creator. This honour does not mean that because we live in a non-Muslim country we must go against the teaching of the Quran and of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). On the contrary, we must give others lessons on the beauty of Islam, preserving the dignity of women. So tomorrow if there is disobedience to Allah, who is the one who must bear the burden of that responsibility on his back? There shall be disobedience to the Creator when it comes to diversity. The message of the Quran is clear: cooperate in good deeds but do not cooperate in evil.

Although we know that the position of chief of state is a very respectable position, but without power, nevertheless we want our sister Gurib-Fakim ​​to reflect on the position she will occupy as from today! Which is better? Obedience to the Creator and His Prophet (pbuh), or to the Government of Mauritius and the Prime Minister? So, the future will tell. Insha-Allah, we pray for her that she may accomplish her duties according to the divine teachings. Ameen.

-Extracts from the Friday Sermon of 05 June 2015 (17 Shabaan 1436 Hijri) delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius. 

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