This is a most auspicious night. In a report from the Prophet’s 6th Infallible Heir, Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS) who says that when his father, Imam Mohammad Baqer (AS) was asked about the excellence of the night of 15th Sha’ban, he replied:
“It is the best of nights after the Night of Qadr (which occurs in late Ramadhan). During it, God Almighty confers His grace on His servants and forgives them out of His favour and munificence. Therefore, try earnestly to obtain nearness to God during the course of this night. Indeed it is a night wherein God has sworn by His sacred Being not to turn away empty-handed any supplicant from His door, unless he requests something sinful. It is a night which God Almighty has appointed for us, the progeny of the Prophet, in the same way that He appointed the Night of Qadr for our Prophet. Therefore, apply yourself to celebrating His praise and supplicating Him on this night.”
Among the blessed events pertaining to this auspicious night is the birth at daybreak following this night, of the Master of the Age and the Imam of the Era, may our spirits be sacrificed for him, in the year 255, corresponding to 869 AD of the Gregorian Calendar at Samarra in Iraq, an event which has enhanced the excellence of this auspicious night.
There are several observances pertaining to this night. First, one should perform a bath, an act which leads to remission of sins. Second, observing the night’s vigil while engaging in prayer, supplication and “istighfar”, or seeking forgiveness from the Lord Most High, as was the practice of the Prophet’s 4th Infallible Heir, Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS). It is stated in a hadith that whoever keeps vigil during this night, his heart shall not die on the day when the hearts die. The third highly recommended act on this night is the performance of the ziyarah, or standard form of salutation, of the Martyr of Karbala, the Prophet’s younger grandson, Imam Husain (AS). This is the most meritorious of observances pertaining to this night and an effective means for forgiveness of sins. It has been said that whoever wishes to shake hands with the spirits of the 124,000 prophets, should perform the ziyarah of Imam Husain on this night (in Karbala). The least one can do in performing this observances is to ascend to the roof of one’s house, and from there, after casting a glance to the right and the left, raise his head toward the sky and greet the Imam with the following words:
“O Abu Abdullah, peace upon you! Peace upon you, and may Allah’s mercy and His blessings be upon you!”
It is hoped that whoever greets the Immortal Martyr of Karbala in this manner, at whatever time and regardless of his location, there shall be written for him/her the reward of a Hajj pilgrimage and an Umrah.
The famous scholar, Shaikh at-Ta’efa Tusi, who flourished a thousand years ago, has reported on the authority of Ismail al-Fazl al-Hashemi, who says that he was taught by Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) a special supplication, to be recited on the night of the 15th of Sha’ban, which we present you here:
“O Allah, You are the Living One, the All-Sustainer, the All-Exalted, the All-Great, the All-Creator, the All-Provider, the Giver of life and the Causer of death, the Beginner, and the Originator. To You belong all glory, grace, and praise, and to You belong all favours, generosity, munificence, command, majesty, and thanks! You are One and have no partner! O Single, O One, O All-Embracing, O You Who neither begat, nor were begotten, nor have You any equal!
“Bless Mohammad and the Progeny of Mohammad and forgive me and have mercy upon me! Suffice me concerning that which is of con cern to me, pay my debts, and expand my Your provision, for You resolve every vital matter on this night, and provide any of Your creatures that You wish! So provide me, as You are the Best of providers! Indeed You have said, and You are the Best of speakers, “Ask Allah for His grace.” So I beseech You for Your grace, having turned toward You, putting my reliance on the son of Your Prophet, I pin my hopes in You! so have mercy on me, O Most Merciful of the merciful!”
Here is another supplication for this night quoted from Prophet Mohammad (blessings of God upon him and his progeny), which could also be recited at all times of the year in view of its benefits.
“O Allah, grant us a share of Your fear that may serve as a barrier between us and disobedience to You. Grant us a share of Your obedience that will enable us to attain Your approval. Grant us a share of certainty that may enable us to bear with ease the afflictions of this world!
“O Allah, grant us to enjoy the benefit of hearing, sight and strength, as long as You keep us alive! Appoint him our heir and avenge our blood against those who wrong us. Help us against those who are hostile to us, and do not let our afflictions be those that affectour religion. Do not make mundane concerns our biggest worry, and the sum and substance of our knowledge.
“Do not impose on us someone who will show us no pity, by Your mercy, O Most Merciful of the merciful!”
Among the other observance of the blessed night of mid Sha’ban are the special Salawat from Imam Zain al-Abedin (AS) that is recited daily in this month at the time of noon. It is also highly recommended to recite on this night the Du’a Kumail, the famous supplication taught by the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) to his disciple Kumail ibn Ziyad, which is indeed an eloquently moving petition in the Divine Court that opens up the doors of mercy for the suppliants. Shaikh Tusi has cited a report in the book “Misbah al-Mutahajjed” about the excellence of the 15th night of Sha’ban transmitted by Abu Yahya, who says: “I asked my master Imam Ja’far Sadeq (AS) about the best supplication for this night. He replied: “After offering the Isha Prayer, perform two raka’ahs with Surat al-Hamd and Surat al-Kaferoun in the first, and al-Hamd and Surat at-Tawhid in the second. After salaam, say Subhan-Allah (or Glory to God) 33 times, al-Hamdu lillah (or Praised be Allah) 33 times, and Allahu Akbar or (God is Greatest) 34 times.
Then recite this supplication:
“O You, Who are the refuge of Your servants in exigencies and with whom the creatures take shelter in misfortunes! O Knower of all that is open and hidden! O You, from Whom are not hidden the thoughts that pass in the minds and their unrestrained ideas! O Lord of the creatures and the earth’s denizens! O You in Whose hand is the dominion of all the heavens and the earths! You are Allah, there is no god besides You, and I turn to You for there is no god besides You! O You besides whom there is no god, appoint me this night among those at Whom You look and have mercy on them, listen to their supplications and answer them, and knowing their failings You forgive them, and overlook their past errors and major offences. For with You do I seek refuge from my sins and with You do I take shelter for covering my defects! O Allah, be generous to me out of Your magnanimity and relieve me of my misdeeds with Your forbearance and pardon! Enfold me this night in Your abounding magnanimity and appoint me therein among Your protégés, Whom You have chosen for Your obedience and elected for Your worship, making them Your dedicated servants and elect! O Allah, appoint me to be among those whose efforts prosper, whose share of good deeds is plentiful,and appoint me among the blameless and the blessed, the triumphant and the felicitous. Save me from the evil of my past conduct, and preserve me from advancing in deeds of disobedience to You! Endear me to Your obedience and what brings me near to You and enables me to draw close to You! My Master, those who flee take refuge in You and those who are seekers entreat You, and those who repent from their sins trust Your magnanimity! You have educated Your servants by honouring them, and You are the most munificent of the munificent! You have commanded Your servants to pardon, and You are the All-forgiving and the All-Merciful! O Allah, do not deprive me of my hope in Your magnanimity; do not disappoint my hope in Your abounding blessings; do not disappoint me from Your generous dispensations in this night meant for for those who obey You, and shield me from the evil ones from amongst Your creatures! My Lord, if I am not worthy of that, You are surely magnanimous and worthy topardon and forgive! Be generous to me by virtue of that which is worthy of You, not for reason of what I deserve! I certainly have a good opinion of You, a convinced hope in You, and my soul clings to Your magnanimity, for indeed You are the Most Merciful of the merciful and the Most Munificent of the munificent! O Allah, assign to me a handsome share of Your munificence! I seek protection in Your pardon from Your punishment. Forgive me the sins that make me wretched and tighten my provision, so that I may be enable to earn the best of Your approval, be blessed with the plenty of Your gifts, and prosper with Your abounding blessings. For indeed I have taken refuge in Your sanctuary, presented myself for Your munificence, sought protection in Your pardon from Your punishment, and in Your forbearance from Your wrath! So grant me generously what I have asked You and give what I have requested You! I beseech You by You, and there is nothing greater than You!”
Then bow down in prostration and say “Ya Rabb” 20 times, “Ya Allah” 7 times, “La hawla wa la quwwata illah-billah” 7 times, “Masha’ Allah” 10 times, and “La quwwata illa-billah” 10 times. Then invoke Salawaat or blessings on Prophet Mohammad and his Progeny. Then make your petition. By God, should you make petitions as numerous as the drops of rain, God, Almighty and Glorious, will answer them by virtue of this observance out of His boundless Grace and Munificence! ”