Question # 58: Is standing the night of the 15th of Sha’baan in prayer and fasting during its day legislated?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: The two ahadith relied on by many for the celebration of 15th Sha’baan (variant: Shab-e-Baraat and Shab-e-Bara’ah) are ‘Daeef’ (weak) (Jami’ At-Tirmidhi) and ‘Mawdoo’ (fabricated) (Sunan Ibn Majah). Sadly, based on these unauthentic ahadith, the following innovations have been introduced on the 15th Sha’baan:
- Praying al-Salaat al-Alfiyyah, which is one hundred rak‘ahs in which Soorat al-Ikhlaas is recited ten times in each rak‘ah, offered in the congregation;
- Praying six rak‘ahs with the intention of warding off calamity, having a long life and being independent of people, and reciting Soorah Ya-Seen and offering du‘aa’ in between;
- Gathering in the mosques or graveyards/cemeteries.
Since the ahadith concerning the above acts of worship are not sahih, scholars have regarded celebrating this day as an innovation (bid ‘ah).
Further, some scholars affirm that there are two of three different ahadith showing the virtue of this night; however, in the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), there is no indication for specifying this night with a specific kind of worship or the desirability of fasting the next day. But if someone chooses to do so without believing there is a special virtue in performing rituals that night or the next day, there is no harm on him. All the same, it is to be remembered that it has been authentically reported that Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to fast most of the days in Sha’baan without singling out any particular day of the month.
Long Answer: It is reported in authentic ahadith that Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to fast most of the month in Sha`baan. Narrated ‘Aisha (رضي الله عنه) “….and I did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha’baan.” (Bukhari) However, there is no sahih hadith about a particular ibaadah on the specific day of 15th Sha’baan. Unfortunately, there are many popular beliefs associated with this night, which is often called by many “Shab-e-Baraat” (in Urdu/Persian language), i.e., “the night of celebration/ gathering”. Some others call it with a slightly different name, which is “Shab-e-Bara’ah,” i.e., “the night of freedom/ salvation/ forgiveness”. People use the following ahadith to support their practices:
Aishah (رضي الله عنه) narrated: I could not find Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) one night. So, I left & found him at Al-Baqi (the graveyard near Prophet’s masjid in Al-Madinah). He said, “Did you fear you had been wronged by Allah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم)?” I said, “O Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم)! I thought that you had gone to one of your wives.” So, he said, “Indeed Allah, Mighty & Sublime is He, descends to the lowest Heavens during the night of the middle of Shaban to grant forgiveness to more than the number of hair on the sheep of (Banu) Kalb.” (Hadith No. 739, Chapters on Fasting, Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, Vol. 2; Hadith No. 1389, Chapters of Establishing the Prayers & the Sunnah regarding them, Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 2)
It was narrated that Ali bin Abu Talib (رضي الله عنه) said: Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “When it is the night of the middle of Sha’baan, spend its night in prayer and observe 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 provision, 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.” (Hadith No. 1388, Chapters of Establishing the Prayers & the Sunnah regarding them, Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 2).
In fact, the first hadith mentioned above in Jami’ At-Tirmidhi is reported by Imam Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and both these Imams have categorized this narration as ‘Daeef’ (weak), while the second hadith from Sunan Ibn Majah is classified as ‘Mawdoo’ (fabricated).
Muhammad ‘Abd al-Salaam al-Shuqayri said: Imam al-Fatni said in Tadhkirat al-Mawdoo‘aat: “Among the innovations that have been introduced on “Laylat an-Nusf” (mid-Sha‘baan) is al-Salaat al-Alfiyyah, which is one hundred rak‘ahs in which Soorat al-Ikhlaas is recited ten times in each rak‘ah, offered in the congregation; they pay more attention to this than to Jumu‘ah and Eid prayers, although there is no report concerning it, except da‘eef (weak) and mawdoo‘ (fabricated) reports, and we should not be deceived by the fact that these reports were quoted by the authors of al-Qoot and al-Ihya’ and others, nor should we be deceived by what was mentioned in Tafseer al-Tha‘labi, that it is Laylat al-Qadr.”
Al-‘Iraaqi said: The hadith about the prayer on Laylat al-Nisf (mid-Sha‘baan) is false. Ibn al-Jawzi narrated it in al-Mawdoo‘aat (which is a compilation of fabricated hadiths):
The chapter on the hadith, prayer, and supplication on Laylat al-Nisf:
“The hadith, “When the night of ‘nisf Sha‘baan’ (mid-Sha‘baan) comes, spend the night in prayer and fast on that day,” was narrated by Ibn Maajah from ‘Ali. Muhashiyyah said: (It was also narrated) in al-Zawaa’id. Its isnad is da‘eef (weak) because of the weakness of Ibn Abi Basrah, of whom Ahmad and Ibn Ma‘een said: He fabricates hadith. “
Praying six rak‘ahs on Laylat al-Nisf with the intention of warding off calamity, having a long life and being independent of people, and reciting Soorah Ya-Seen and offering du‘aa’ in between that — there is no doubt that this is something that has been introduced into the religion and is contrary to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم). The commentator on al-Ihya’ said: This prayer is well known in the books of later Sufi masters, but I have not seen any sahih report in the Sunnah to support it and the connected du‘aa’. Rather this is the action of some shaykhs. Our companions said: It is makrooh to gather on any of the nights mentioned in the mosques or elsewhere [graveyard]. Al-Najm al-Ghayti said, describing spending the night of al-Nisf min Sha‘baan (mid-Sha‘baan) praying in the congregation: That was denounced by most of the scholars of the Hijaz, including ‘Ata’ and Ibn Abi Mulaykah, the fuqaha’ of Madinah and the companions of Malik. They said: All of that is an innovation (bid‘ah), and there is no report to suggest that the Prophet spent that night praying in the congregation or that his Companions did that either. Al-Nawawi said: The prayers of Rajab and Sha‘baan are two reprehensible innovations.” from al-Sunan wa’l-Mubtada‘aat.
Al-Fatni said, after the comments quoted above: “…The first time this prayer occurred was in Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) in 448 AH. Zayd ibn Aslam said: We never saw any of our shaykhs or fuqaha’ saying that Laylat al-Baraa’ah (15 Sha‘baan) had any superiority over other nights. Ibn Dihyah said: The hadiths about the prayer on Laylat al-Baraa’ah are fabricated, and one has an interruption in the isnad. Anyone who acts upon a report which is known to be false is a servant of the Shaytaan.” (Tadhkirat al-Mawdoo‘aat by al-Fatni) (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)
Shaykh Ibn Baaz said: “There is no sahih hadith concerning the night of the fifteenth of Shabaan. All the ahaadith that have been narrated concerning that are mawdoo (fabricated) and daeef (weak) and have no basis. There is nothing special about this night, and no recitation of the Qur’an or prayer, whether alone or in the congregation, is specified for this night. What some scholars have said about it being special is a weak opinion. It is not permissible to single it out for any special actions. This is the correct view.” (Fataawa Islamiyyah)
If a person prays qiyaam on this night or fasts on this day out of his usual habit as he does on any other night or day, without singling out, then there is no harm, so long as he is not seeking extra reward that has not been proven (in the sahih texts).
Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, a Member of the Fatwa Committee of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America, states that “There are two of three different ahadith show the virtue of this night and that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) would forgive the sins of all believers, except for those who dispute and argue, or otherwise, for infidels or those who associate partners with Allah. [However,] in the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), there is no indication for specifying this night with a specific kind of worship or the desirability of fasting the next day. But if someone chose to do so without believing there is a special virtue of performing rituals at that night or in the next day, there is [no] harm on him.”
One of these ahadith is as follows: Mu’adh ibn Jabal (رضي الله عنه) reports that Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Allah looks at his creation on the night of mid-Sha’baan and He forgives all his creation except for the idolater and the one bent on hatred.” (Narrated by Ibn Hibban with a sound chain according to al-Arna’ut and al-Haythami who said that Tabarani also narrated it in his Kabir and Awsat with chains containing only trustworthy narrators, that is: sound (sahih) chains; Ibn Khuzayma included it in his Sahih, which has the same level of acceptance among the experts as Sahih Muslim; and even Albani included it in his Silsilat ul-Ahadith-as Sahiha)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.