The famous supplication Salawat Sha’baniyyah (the Benediction of Sha’ban) is one of the most beautiful and valuable prayers gifted to us by the mercy of the Almighty in the holy month of Sha’ban and was taught by Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him). It is also sometimes referred to as Dua Shajarat Al-Nubuwwah (Supplication of the Tree of Prophethood), since the supplication commences with these profound words. It is reported through authentic sources that Imam Zainul Abideen used to recite this supplication every day in Sha’ban at the time the sun passes the meridian (Waqt az-Zawal) and on the eve of 15th Sha’ban.
The supplication is composed of nearly 100 words and is a unique prayer which presents a multitude of ideas and condenses them in a few words. Each word and phrase speaks volumes of knowledge which may be dissected thoroughly. This supplication is commonly known as Salawat Sha’baniyyah, since it begins by repeatedly sending benedictions (Salawat) on the Holy Prophet and his purified Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them). The main theme of this supplication revolves around the virtues of Ahlul Bayt, as this is the month which Allah dedicated to the Holy Prophet. Every call for benediction is followed by presentation of a fabulous virtue and exceptional merit which only these divine guides possess due to their high rank and close position to Allah. After the servant recognizes the high status and lofty position of the Ahlul Bayt, he then acknowledges their right of guardianship and obedience over all believers and presents them as intercessors between him and his Lord.
The servant beseeches Allah by the blessings of the month of Sha’ban, which is honored due to its association with the Holy Prophet. This special month which precedes the holy month of Ramadan also contains a very fateful night, the 15th, which marks the holy birth of Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his reappearance). It is no wonder that this supplication is also recommended to be recited on this extraordinary night, as it reminds us again that this month has received its exceptional status because of the birth of Imam Mahdi, the 12th star which rose on that day to shine till the end of time just like the sun benefits the earth from behind the clouds! It is certainly not a coincidence that this same night of the 15th is also the night when the Almighty takes decisions in the matters of sustenance, life, death, and welfare of the people for the next year.
Next to the Night of Power, the 15th night of Sha’ban is the most auspicious night of the Islamic calendar (also known as Night of Bara’at). According to both Imam al-Baqir and Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon them), Allah has promised to fulfill every legitimate desire put forward to Him on that night, and He bestows on His creation from His bounty and forgives them out of His grace and generosity.
With that in mind, the servant calls to Allah by the sanctity of these Divine Luminary Guides and prays to attain the pleasure and forgiveness of Allah by the blessings of the Holy Prophet, who is the owner of this holy month. If a believer recites this fantastic supplication daily during the month of Sha’ban while recognizing its true essence and significance, he will be more prepared to receive this special night of the 15th which highlights the climax and peak of blessings of this month! He will also ascend himself to a spiritual level that will make him more ready to embrace the holy month of Ramadan! The servant concludes the supplication by recognizing the fact that true happiness is to shadow the Infallible Imams and inhabit the heavens with them eternally while enjoying the proximity of the Almighty Creator. Indeed, true bliss is to taste the pleasure of unconditional love and continuous servitude to Allah alongside His best of creation and model for mankind, represented in the Holy Prophet and his purified Ahlul Bayt.
A brief analysis of this precious supplication was attempted so that we may encounter some treasures in this short journey and walk away with valuable fruits to digest in our spiritual systems and enrich our minds and souls. The aim was to simply touch the water of vast knowledge so that perhaps some light may be shed on the apparent and hidden meanings of this supplication based on the Holy Qur’an and authentic narrations by the purified Ahlul Bayt as well as the interpretation of esteemed scholars and exegetists. The words of this discourse with Allah serve more as a lesson for us which provides insights than just mere request for personal needs for the mundane world. It is a crash course designed to walk us quickly through the garden of Wilayah and help us recognize the essence and goal of our existence.