The significance of Nisfu Syaaban

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

MUSLIMS in the country will celebrate the Nisfu Sya'aban today, which is celebrated every 15th of Syaaban, the eight month in the Hijrah calendar. 'Nisfu' is an Arabic word which when translated means 'middle'.

Last night, Muslims assembled in mosques throughout the country, with the focus on the Jame' 'Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque, in Kampong Kiarong. As religious customs dictate, a recital of surah yaasin was held after the Maghrib prayer, led by the Imam.

The surah yaasin was read three times simultaneously, which included its different reasons and asked for different benefits. This was then followed with a 'doa nisfu sya'aban'.

The first reading of the surah yaasin was conducted to ask for longevity to enable the faithful to further commit or 'beribadat' to Allah the Al-Mighty. Second was to ask for good fortune or 'rezeki halal' and the last was to strengthen one's faith towards Allah and to hope that one would pass away by staying true to the faith.

The surah yaasin was recited after the Maghrib prayers as the Hijrah date will changed at the time that the Maghrib prayer is called.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Muhammad Zulhilmi Mohd Jefri, an Imam at the Seria Town Mosque, said that in the culture of Bruneians, they were accustomed to bringing a bottle of water to the surah yaasin recital, in which the water was used for drinking.

"This is not wrong, as they are just getting the 'berkat' (benefits) of the surah yaasin", he said. He added that, if people truly believed that the water will bring benefit, this was totally against the 'aqidah'. They have to treat the water as an effort and they should always have faith that it was in the will of Allah that something would happen.

Nisfu Sya'ban is also one of the time that Muslims are encouraged to perform more good deeds and to be committed to their obligations towards Allah, such as the 'puasa sunat' (sunat fast), Quran recital, and 'sembahyang hajat' (hajat prayers).

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) practised a lot of 'ibadah sunnah' at this time of month. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to fast at this month and continued it until Ramadhan.

One of the benefits of performing the 'puasa sunat' during this month was as an exercise and to prepare for fasting before performing it for the whole month of Ramadhan, which follows after Sya'aban. During Ramadhan, it is an obligation for all Muslims to fast and stated as one of the five pillars of Islam.

However, it should be noted that, Allah would always open one's heart to 'taubat' (be penitent) for everyone at anytime, and not during the 'Nisfu Sya'aban'.

A hadith said that the advantage of the month of Rejab is the same as the benefits of the Holy Quran compared to other 'qalam', the month of Sya'aban as the same as the entire 'Anbia', and the month of Ramadhan as the same as Allah over all the creatures.

One of the benefits of Sya'aban is that those who fast on any day, Allah will forbid him from hellfire and they will be companions to Prophet Yusof in heaven.

Another hadith, as narrated by Ibnu Habban in his authentic book, from Muaz bin Jabal ra, said that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spoke that "Allah will see his followers on the night of Nisfu Sya'aban and Allah will give rewards or pahala to all of the followers, except those who commit syirik (witchcraft) and adultery".

As narrated by Abdullah bin Amru bin al-As, which means "Allah looks at his creatures on the night of Nisfu Sya'aban, and will grant forgiveness, except for two groups, that are those who commit suicide and those who spread fitnah".

Abul Khair Al Talaqaani counted the name for the night of Nisfu Sya'aban totalling 22. Some of it are, 'malam rahmat' or a night full of blessing, 'malam syafaat' or a night of forgiveness and 'malam taubat' or a night of repentance.

One of the historical event in the month of Sya'aban was the event in which the 'kiblat' was moved from Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem to the Kaabah in Mecca.

Muhammad Zulhilmi also added that, this year's Nisfu Sya'aban is more special as the lunar eclipse will also fall today, which starts at 5.52pm and the full eclipse will be experienced at 6.37pm, before the 15th date of Hijriah changes to the 16th, during the call for the Maghrib prayers.

According to him, this is the first time that the lunar eclipse falls on such a blessed day of Nisfu Sya'aban, and this clearly shows the signs of the mightiness of Allah.

Mosques throughout the country will hold an eclipse sunat prayer which comprises of two 'rakaat', two 'qiam' and two 'rukuk'.

There will also be special sermon for the eclipse.

The Brunei Times