In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, Prophet Muhammad, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Dear brothers and sisters! Sha’aban is the eight month of the Islamic calendar. It falls between two sacred months, Rajab and Ramadan. Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) used to spend most part of Sha’aban in fasting, Imam Bukhari reports in his Sahih that Aisha (RA) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) used to fast until we thought he would never break his fast, and he would not fast until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) fasting for an entire month except in Ramadan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’aban.”
Respected brothers and sisters! Some ignorant people however have themselves specified particular nights of the year, when they stay awake all night and worship Allah. It is believed that anyone who worships Allah in these specific nights, it will recompense for his yearly deeds and will be enough for his salvation and entering Jannah. One among these nights is the night of mid Sha’aban (15th Sha’aban), which is popularly known as NISF SHA’ABAN. In shaa Allah I will elaborate further on this issue in a bit.
Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali said:
“Fasting in Sha’aban is better than fasting in the sacred months (i.e. Dhul-Qadah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab – Surah Tawbah (9:36), and the best of voluntary fasts are those that are (observed in the months) closest to Ramadan, before or after. The status of these fasts is like that of al-Sunan al-Rawatib, which are done before and after fard (obligatory prayers) and which make up for any shortfall in the number of obligatory prayers. The same applies to fasts observed before and after Ramadan. Just as al-Sunan al-Rawatib are better than other kinds of voluntary prayers, so fasts observed (in the months) before and after Ramadan are better than fasts at other times.” [See Lata’if al-Ma’arif fima li Mawasim al-Am minal-Waza’if, by Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali]
When Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) was asked, why he fasted so abundantly in the month of Sha’aban, he (Peace be upon him) said:
“(Sha’aban) is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.” [an-Nasa’i, See also Sahih al-Targhib wal-Tarhib, page 425]
My beloved people! This and other Hadiths of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) encourage performing good deeds when people are likely to become negligent of Allah’s remembrance and worship, like remembering Allah in the market place, where people get busy in their business dealings and in times of difficulty – Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said:
“Worship at times of tribulation (fitnah) is like Hijrah (migration) to me.” [Sahih Muslim]
The virtue and superiority of worshiping Allah when people tend to become negligent of Allah’s remembrance is because worship at such times is more difficult than worshiping Allah when everybody is engaged in the worship.
Fasting in Sha’aban serves as training before Ramadan. However, fasting the whole month of Sha’aban is Makruh (disliked) and against the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him). Ibn Abbas (RA) said:
“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) did not fast any entire month apart from Ramadan.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
It is also prohibited to fast at the end of Sha’aban with the intention of not missing the first days of Ramadan, except for those who have the habit of fasting regularly and the last day of Sha’aban coincides with a day when the person habitually fasts, those who are bound by vows or have to make up some obligatory fasts. It is reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari from Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Do not pre-empt Ramadan by one or two days, except for those who have the habit of fasting regularly, in which case they may fast.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Fasting at the end of Sha’aban is prohibited to maintain distinction between the obligatory and voluntary fasts – it is also a precaution to prevent the people from falling into the trap of Shaitan, who persuaded the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) to add more fasts to that which Allah had made obligatory for them. For this same reason, it is also prohibited to fast on the ‘day of doubt.’ A day of doubt is when people are not sure about the start of Ramadan, because of cloudy weather, or some other reason.
* 15th Sha’aban (Nisf Sha’aban): Is there any reality?
Respected servants of Allah! Some ignorant people have themselves specified particular nights of the year, when they stay awake all night and worship Allah. It is believed that anyone who worships Allah in these specific nights, it will recompense for his yearly deeds and will be enough for his salvation and entering Jannah. One among these nights is the night of mid Sha’aban (15th Sha’aban), which is popularly known as NISF SHA’ABAN.
Specifying particular nights for worshiping Allah is against the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). In fact, he (Peace be upon him) has strictly forbade specifying particular nights for worship, he said concerning Friday:
“Do not single out the night (preceding) Friday among the nights for prayer and do not single out Friday among days for fasting but only when anyone among you is accustomed to fast (on dates) which coincide with this day (Friday).” [Sahih Muslim]
Friday is the best day of the week and it is also greatly encouraged to perform good deeds on Friday. If it had been enough to worship Allah during some specific nights, and then become negligent of Him throughout the year, then Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) would have specified the night of Friday for worshiping Allah, but he forbade it. This clearly proves that worshiping Allah only during some particular nights in the whole year does not fulfill the servant’s obligation of worshiping his Lord. The servant of Allah is required to worship Allah at all times until his death, because worship is the sole purpose of man’s creation. Allah the Almighty says:
“Glorify the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves (to Him). And worship your Lord (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) until there comes to you death.” [Qur’an, 15:99]
And it was the practice of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) to worship Allah all throughout the year, all his nights and days were spent in the worship of Allah.
The Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) during the month of Sha’aban was to fast, and he (Peace be upon him) said concerning the virtue of Sha’aban:
“…it (Sha’aban) is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.” [an-Nasa’i, also See Sahih al-Targhib wal-Tarhib, page 425]
Apart from this, most narrations that are commonly spread among the people concerning the virtues of the month of Sha’aban or specifically the night of 15th Sha’aban are weak and fabricated. Scholars like Imam Ibn Taimiyyah, Imam ash-Shawkani, Imam Ibn Jawzi, Imam Ibn Hibban, Imam al-Qurtubi, Imam Ibn Baz, Imam al-Uthaimin, have greatly condemned these narrations. (For details refer to al-Fawa’id al-Majmu’ah, Maudhu’at al-Kubra and Tafsir Qurtubi).
Shakhul Islam Ibn Taimiyyah (rahimahullah) said when discussing the innovations in Sha’aban:
“…and also taking it (i.e. The 15th night of Sha’aban) as a festival where food is made and place is decorated. This is from the innovated festivals that have no basis (i.e there is no proof from the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah to support its celebration).” [See Iqtida’u Siratal Mustaqim…, page 302]
Shaykh Muhammad Salih al-Uthaimin also said when discussing the innovations of Sha’aban:
“…and also taking it (i.e. the 15th night of Sha’aban) as a festival where food is made.” [See Majmu’u Fatawa wa rasa’ili Shaykh al-Uthaimin, vol. 7, page 205]
* The 100 Raka’ah Salah (Prayer) That Is Prayed On The 1st and 27th Night Of Rajab And On The 15th Night Of Sha’aban Is An Innovation!
Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taimiyyah also said:
“As for inventing a Salah (Prayer) that comprises of a specific number of raka’ahs where a specific number of verses are recited at a specific time and is prayed as an optional prayer in congregation like the following salawat (prayers): “Salat ar-Ragha’ib that is prayed on the first Jumu’ah of Rajab, or the al-Alfiyyah (i.e. the 100 raka’ah Salah wherein Surah al-Ikhlas is recited 1000 times) that is prayed in the beginning of Rajab, or the 15th of Sha’aban, or the 27th night of Rajab and others like this, then this was not legislated by consensus of the Imams of Islam as stated by the Ulama’ who are reliable. No one will invent such a Salah (Prayer) except that he is an ignorant and innovator.” [Fatawa al-Kubrah, vol. 2, page 239]
Dear brothers and sisters! From among the fabricated Hadiths are those which mention, that ‘on this day (15th Sha’aban) Allah frees people from the Hell-Fire in accordance with the number of hair found on the skin of the goats of the tribe of Banu Kalb’, ‘anyone who prays fourteen Raka’ahs of Salah on the night of 15th Sha’aban will get the reward of accepted fasts and Hajj of twenty years’, etc. Anybody who relates such fabricated Hadiths should be reminded of the authentic Hadith of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him), which says:
“Whosoever narrated a lie on my behalf, let him make his place in Hell-Fire.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
The night of 15th Sha’aban has also been given the status and virtues of Lailatul-Qadr by misinterpreting Qur’anic verses. It is claimed that the lailatim-mubarakah (blessed night) mentioned in Surah ad-Dukhan (Qur’an, 44:3), refers to the night of 15th Sha’aban, when Allah forgives the sins of His servants, increases their ages and provisions. Therefore, people stay awake all night and say innovated supplications in loud voices.
Allah the Most High says in Surah ad-Dukhan:
“By the manifest Book (this Qur’an) that makes things clear, We sent it (this Qur’an) down on a blessed night (lailatim-mubarakah). Verily, we are ever warning.” [Qur’an, 44:2]
Allah informs us in this verse that He sent down the Qur’an in lailatim-mubarakah (the blessed night). The Qur’an itself identifies lailatim-mubarakah in other verses, it is mentioned in Surah al-Qadr (Qur’an, 97:1):
“Verily, We have revealed it (the Qur’an) down in the Night of al-Qadr.”
So, according to this verse, lailatim-mubarakah is not the night of 15th Sha’aban but it is the Night of al-Qadr, which comes in Ramadan. Allah says in Surah al-Baqarah (Qur’an, 2:185):
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an…”
Respected brothers and sisters! Another deviant belief related to the night 15th of Sha’aban is that the mention of the descent of Ruh in Surah al-Qadr (Qur’an, 97:4), means that the souls of the dead people return back to the world and meet their wives and relatives. For this reason, widows prepare food liked by their husbands and wait for their arrival. People also visit graves and seek forgiveness for all those people who have died between the last Sha’aban and the present one.
Allah says in Surah al-Qadr:
“Therein (in the Night of Qadr) descend the Angels and the Ruh by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees.” [Qur’an, 97:4]
Firstly, this verse refers to the Night of al-Qadr and not 15th Sha’aban as explained earlier. Secondly, descending of the Ruh in this verse means the descending of Angel Jibrilu with other Angels and not souls of the dead people (see Tafsir Ibn Kathir). Besides, believing that souls of the dead can return back to the world and meet with their relatives is itself an incorrect belief. The teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah clearly state that the souls of the dead do not return back to the world after death.
As far as visiting the graves is concerned, a weak narration of Aisha (RA) reported in Sunan at-Tirmidhi, in the book of fasting, is often brought forth to support the visiting of graves on the night of 15th Sha’aban. The Hadith reads as follows:
“One night (i.e. night of mid Sha’aban) I found the Messenger of Allah absent from my apartment. I therefore, went out to search him out and he was in Baqi’ah raising his head towards the heaven.’ He said, “O Aisha were you afraid that Allah and His Messenger will wrong you?” She said, ‘I replied: I had not such low opinion about Allah and His Messenger, but I presumed that you had gone to some of your wives for some need.” He said, “Verily, Allah descends in the night of mid-Sha’aban to the heaven of the world and then forgives people more than the number of the hair of the sheep of Banu Kalb.”
A similar Hadith is also found in Sahih Muslim, but it does not mention the night of 15th Sha’aban. However, the Hadith of Sunan at-Tirmidhi is not authentic and thus does not have any proof for visiting graves specifically on the night of Sha’aban.
Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) has permitted the men to visit the graves at any time and make Du’a for the engraved. He (Peace be upon him) said:
“I used to forbid you from visiting graves, but now you should visit them, for surely they are reminders of the next life.” [Sahih Muslim]
And he (Peace be upon him) also taught us the Du’a of visiting graves as follows:
“Peace be upon the Believers and Muslims among the inhabitants of these dwellings. May Allah have mercy on those who have gone ahead of us, and those following us. And we shall, Allah-willing, be joining you.” [Sahih Muslim]
But to specify certain days for visiting graves was neither the practice of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him), nor the Sahabah (RA) therefore, visiting graves specifically on 15th Sha’aban should be avoided, as it falls under the category of innovations (Bid’ahs), and Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said about innovations:
“…the worst of affairs are the newly invented matters (in religion), every newly invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Hell-Fire.” [An-Nasa’i]
My beloved people! Many people also light candles on graves, which has no basis from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. In fact, lighting candles is an imitation of the fire-worshipers, and Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) cursed the women who visit the graves. He also cursed those who set up Mosques and lights over graves.” [Hasan, reported by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, at-Tirmidhi and an-Nas’ai]
* A Reminder in Sha’aban
Dear brothers and sisters! If you still have to make up any missed obligatory fasts of last Ramadan, then hasten to make them up before the next Ramadan arrives. It is not permissible to delay missed fasts until after the following Ramadan, except in cases of necessity (such as a valid excuse that continues between the two Ramadan). Aisha (RA) says:
“It used to be that I had days to make up for Ramadan and I would not be able to do so except in Sha’aban.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Anybody who is able to make up the missed fasts before the (second) Ramadan and does not do so has to make them up after the (second) Ramadan and in addition, he should repent and feed one poor person for each day that was missed. [This is the view of Imam Malik, Imam al-Shafi’i and Imam Ahmad]
The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah the Almighty. Our last prayer is, all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, Muhammad, his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, sent this piece from Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He can be reached via: email@example.com