(All errors are mine)
Nisfu in Arabic means half. Nisfu Shaban means the half of Sha'ban.
The night of nisfu Sha'ban is the 15th night, that is, its day is the 14th of Sha'ban.
It has become the practice of the righteous since the ancient times to recite surah YaSin on that night with 3 requests.
The first YaSin is read with a request for a long life in obedience to Allah the Exalted.
The second YaSin is read with a request to keep tribulation away.
The third YaSin is read with a request for a rich heart and a good end (husnul khatimah) or to be without need for the aid of others.
(Alhabib Muhammad bin Salem Alattas read the third YaSin with the intent of husnul khatimah and any requests of oneself.)
After completing each reading of the surah YaSin is read the doa nisfu Sha'ban, usually in congregation, in the manner composed by Imam Abdulrahman al-Yafie.
The benefits of reciting the surah Yasin
The reciting on the night of nisfu sha'ban has become a practice of the learned and the righteous for hundreds of years.
The surah is not long, and is frequently recited in group and contains great blessings.
Amongst with, the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, ever said - whosoever recites the surah Yasin once, it is written by Allah the Exalted for him as if he had recited the Qur'an ten times.
If it is asked is there any one who is able to recite the Qur'an ten times in a night, the answer would yes, it would be possible, but for most it is not possible.
As such, God be praised, those who recite the surah YaSin as many as 3 times on the night of nisfu Sha'ban will receive the merit of reciting the Qur'an 30 times.
The Prophet prayer and peace be on him, often explained that Allah the Exalted gives rewards for each letter of the Qur'an that is recited.
Do not consider "Alif Lam Meem" as one letter, but Alif as one letter, Lam as one letter, and Meem as one letter.
The Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, said - for every thing there is a heart, and the heart of the Qur'an is the Surah YaSin.
He prayer and peace be on him, also said - the YaSin is read for a thing, and for that it is (that is, the surah YaSin is read with whatever intent whatsoever).
The Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, said also - Whosoever recites YaSin, his sins sill be forgiven by God; and whosoever recites it whilst hungry, God will fill him; and whosoever recites it whilst lost, God will guide; whosoever recites it whilst in loss, God will make him find; whosoever recites it over food out of worry that it is not sufficient, God will give him sufficiency; whosoever recites it over a dying person, God will ease the death; whosoever recites it over a birthing woman, God will ease the birthing.
There are numerous hadith that show the greatness of the surah YaSin.
So also there are numerous hadith from the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, that enourage worship and prayer on the night of nisfu Sha'ban.
Therefore it would be wise for one to begin his/her worship with reciting the surah YaSin that forms the heart of the Qur'an and thereafter to pray to God the Exalted.
The Eve of Nisfu Sha'ban
The eve itself is full of blessing and mercy, second only to the night of Power (Laylatul Qadr).
Our Mistress Aishah, may God be pleased with her, relates that our Master the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, did not sleep on that night as described in a hadith narrated by Imam al-Baihaqy r.a. - the Prophet of God, prayer and peace be on him, rose in the night (of nisfu sha'ban) and prayed, and so long was his prostration that I thought he had passed on. When I saw that I touched his toe and he moved. Then I drew back and heard him, prayer and peace be on him, say in his prostration, "O God, I ask forgiveness from You from whatever is to be sent down, and I ask your pleasure instead of your wrath. I cannot measure praise to You as You praise Yourself. After he, prayer and peace be on him, had finished his prayer, he said to Aishah r.a., tonight is the night of nisfu sha'ban. Indeed God has come to His slave on this night and given forgiveness for them who asked for forgiveness, and gave mercy to those who give mercy, and He delays mercy and forgiveness to those who hate.
The Prophet Goes to the Cemetery of al-Baqi'
It is narrated that the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, profusely prayed on the night of nisfu Sha'ban for his ummat, those who are alive and those who have passed away. Sayidatina Aishah, may God be pleased with her, said that on that night the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, went out from home and went to the cemetery of al-Baqi', where he, prayer and peace be on him, prayed for the believing men and women, and the martyrs.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Imam al-Tarmizi, Imam at-Tabarani, Imam Ibn Hibban, Imam Ibn Maajah, Imam al-Baihaqqi and Imam an-Nasaai narrated numerous ahadith that demonstrate the Prophet, prayer and peace be on him, blessed and honoured the night of nisfu Sha'ban with many sunnah prayers, doa, and prayers for forgiveness.
It is narrated that Kaab al-Ahbar said that God the Exalted sent, on the eve of nisfu Sha'ban, the angel Jibreel, peace be on him, to paradise and ordered him to beautify it, and amongst which He said to him, indeed God the Exalted has liberated from hellfire on this night as many as stars in the sky, as many as the days and nights in the world and as many as the leaves on the trees.
Sayidina Omar bin Abdul Aziz, may God be pleased with him, once wrote a letter to his governor in Basra, saying - Guard 4 nights in each year in which God the Exalted sends down great mercy. The first night of Rajab, the even of nisfu Sha'ban, the eve of EidulFitri, and the eve of EidulAdha.
There are some who add to these the eve of Fridays, and the eve of Arafah.
It is narrated that Sayidina Ali ibn Talib, may God ennoble his face, kept himself free for worship 4 nights in each year. The nights were the first night of Rajab, the eve of EidulFitri, the eve of EidulAdha, and the eve of nisfu Sha'ban.
(to be continued, insha Allah, tomorrow)