Shab-e-Barat, also known as Sha’ban, is a festival that is celebrated on the 14th night and 15th day of Shaban, which is the eighth month of the Islamic (Hijri) calendar. For many, it is a lesser-known celebration – often referred to as the neglected month - as it precedes the more significant month of Ramadan, which is one of the main focuses of the Muslim world and follows the sacred month of Rajab.
However, this does not distract from the innate importance of the 15th Shaban or the month as a whole. There is ample evidence to show that our beloved Prophet (PBUH) saw Shaban as an opportunity to fast for the entire month, raising his consciousness to the struggles and problems of millions of people living in destitution and poverty all over the world.
To this end, Muslims are encouraged (but not compelled) to fast for at least 24 hours, starting on the 14th Shaban. If they are keen to deepen their faith and elevate good deeds, fasting for the entire month of Shaban will put them on the right path.
Whether you decide that the 15th is your Shab-e-Barat fasting date or you elect to fast for the entire month, there may be no normal compulsion to do so. Despite this, it will help you to prepare for the month ahead. Ramadan might be the holiest of months – but to approach it with no ‘training’, without trying to focus the mind, will make it all the more difficult for yourself to reach those depths of attention and concentration that elevate your spiritual experience associated with Ramadan.
Fasting throughout Shaban eases you into a higher state of acceptance and glory that can be deepened and intensified as you move in Ramadan. It is for this reason that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would choose to fast for the entire month:
Aisha (a) said: “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to fast (so continuously) that we said that he would not break it, and he did not fast at all until we said that he would not fast. And I did not see the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) completing the fast of a month, but that of Ramadan, and I did not see him fasting more in any other month than that of Sha’ban.”
One of the more famous Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Shab-e-Barat quotes states:
“When it is the night of the middle of Sha’ban, spend its night in prayer and observe a fast on that day. For Allah descends at sunset on that night to the lowest heaven and says: ‘Is there no one who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is there no one who will ask Me for provision so that I may provide for him? Is there no one who is afflicted by trouble, that I may relieve him. And so on until dawn comes.”
So, it is to this end that Muslims will pray through the night of the 14th Shaban.
Are there Special Shab-e-Barat Dua that We Make?
On the night of the 14th and right through the night into the morning of the 15th Shaban, Muslims will offer up special dua for Shab-e-Barat and perform certain rituals. The main aim is to ask for forgiveness for past sins and wrongdoings that they may have committed over the past year.
For many, it is an opportunity to visit the graves of loved ones and give special Shab-e-Barat dua for their souls.
It is tradition to fast for one day on the 15th Shaban and distribute food and sweets to your neighbours, but more importantly, to the poor and vulnerable in your community. Although some Muslims choose to fast for the entire month, it is not compulsory.
When is Shab-e-Barat 2023?
In 2023 Shab-e-Barat takes place on the evening of 18 March through to 19 March. In addition to fasting during this time, Muslims can deepen their connection with Allah (SWT) by donating to charity. Donate here and make this Shab-e-Barat count.