Today I would like to talk about the middle day of this month of Shaban and what we can expect to see in this month, especially the Laylatul Baraah or referred to Shabbay Baraat in the Indian subcontinent. This will happen next Thursday Insha Allah. I would like to say that unfortunately many people say that this is Bid’at (innovation). This notion is incorrect. The ahadith below show the significance of this night/day, and these hadith relate to Nabi Sallalahu Alaihi wasallam. So if you use the most strictest of definitions and say that anything done other than Nabi Sallalahu Alaihi wasallam is a bidah will still have to admit that it can not be an innovation. If some scholars challenge the authenticity of any of the ahadith then that is fine, they can say it is based on weak hadith but still can not claim it is an innovation. I have already mentioned in previous khutbahs that ulema have accepted even weak hadith for acts of virtue and the evidence below prove the virtue of this day and the night before. So my brothers and sisters please dont get caught up in these discussions and increase your worship on this night/day and Insha Allah you will be rewarded immensely for your efforts, Ameen.
I have also attached a document that lists even more ahadith on the subject. It provides references and what the scholars have said about its authenticity. Reading this, you will see that those people who say that it is an innovation or is based on fabricated ahadith are totally wrong. If after seeing the evidence in its full glory a person wants to continue in their erroneous ways then there is nothing more that can be done. We base our religion on the Quran and Sunnah. So if one is willing to ignore the sunnah then they will have to answer to Allah SWT.
Another significant feature of the month of Sha’ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as “Laylatul-bara’ah” (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha’ban. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy.
There are many hadith on the merits of this Night and some of them are weak ( dai’f).However, it is to be noted that not all of the ‘weak’ Ahadith suffer from major weaknesses and in fact the minor weaknesses in some Ahadith are curable and strengthened by other narrations.
( “Wahabi” Scholar Albani : : Silsilah Al-Ahadith Al Sahihah 3/135)
When all the numerous weak Ahadith are combined together, they reach a level of acceptability among Hadith scholars equivalent to being ‘Hasan’ (good).
Here are a few Sahih (Authentic) Hadith on the merits on the Night of 15 th of Shaba’an.
Ibn Hibban narrated from Mu`adh ibn Jabal in his Sahih the following narration which the hadith scholar and editor of the Sahih Shu`ayb Arna’ut confirmed as sound:
The Prophet said : yattali`u Allahu ila khalqihi fi laylati al-nisfi min sha`bana fa-yaghfiru li-jami`i khalqihi illa li mushrikin aw mushahin.
Allah looks at His creation in the night of mid-Sha`ban and He forgives all His creation except for a mushrik (idolater) or a mushahin (one bent on hatred).
( Reference: Al-Tabarani: Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir 20/108-9, Ibn Hibban: Sahih Ibn Hibban 7/470, Al-Bayhaqi: Shu’bal Iman 2/288, Abulhasan Al-Qazwini: Al-Amali 4/2, Ibn ‘Asakir: Al-Tarikh 15/302 & Ibn Abi ‘Asim:Al-Sunna1/224)
1)Ibn Hibban (May Allaah have mercy on him) considered this Hadith to be Sahih.
(Ibn Rajab: Lataif Al-Ma’arif 1/224)
2)And Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami (May Allaah have mercy on him) said: “This Hadith is related by Al-Tabarani (May Allaah have mercy on him) in Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir and Al-Awsat and the narrators of both are trustworthy”(thiqat) ( Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami: Majma’ Al-Zawaid 8/65)
3)The great hadith scholar of the present time , Shaykah Shuayb Al-Arna’uat ( Rh) and the self claimed Wahabi hadith scholar Nasiruddin Al-Albani, have also considered this Hadith as ‘Sahih’.
( Ref: – Shuayb Al-Arna’ut: Al-Ihsan fi Taqrib Sahih Ibn Hibban 12/481 #5665 & Nasiruddin Al-Albani: Silsilah Al-Ahadith Al-Sahihah 3/135 #1144 )
There is another identical Hadith related from the Companion Abdullah b.’Amr (May Allaah be pleased with him) which says that the Prophet(Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam) said: “Allah looks at His creation during the night of the 15th of Sha’ban and He forgives His servants except two- one intent on hatred (mushanin) and a murderer (qatilu nafs).
( Ref : Musnad Ahmad 2/176 #6642. Al-Bazzar also related this Hadith and he classified it as ‘hasan’. )
In his edition of Musnad Ahmed, Shaykh Ahmed Shakir has classified this Hadith as’Sahih’ and Nasiruddin Al-Albany classified it is ‘Hasan’
( Al-Albani: Silsilah Al-Ahadith Al-Sahihah 3/136).
A similar narration as above , but narrated by Abu Bakr Siddiq RA.
It has been classified as sound by Haafiz al-Munzhiri (RA) in his al-Targheeb (vol.3 pg.459). This narration is of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (Radhiallaahu Anhu) and is recorded by Imaam Bazzaar (RA) in his Musnad. In fact, Hafiz ibn Hajar (RA) has also classified one of its chains as Hasan (sound). (al-Amaalil mutlaqah pgs.119-120)
An important Note:
All the weak hadith which talks about the merits of 15th of Shaba’an, have got only minor weakness in them. Going by the principle of hadith, these weak hadiths also strengthen each other.
Besides the above, there are many other Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Anhum) that narrated Ahaadith regarding the merit of this night, such as: Abu Hurayra (Musnad al-Bazzaar), Abu Tha’labah (Shu’ubul Imaan), Awf ibn Maalik (Musnad al-Bazzaar), Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas (Musnad Ahmad Hadith6642), Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (ibn Majah Hadith1390; Shu’ubul Imaan Hadith3833) and others. The collective strength of these narrations cannot be refuted.
What the Scholars have said about this Night:
1) The general virtue of this night has been accepted by many great Ulama of the past. From among many great scholars which have agreed to the virtue of this night are: Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz, Imaam al-Shaafi’ee, Imaam al-Awzaa’ie, Attaa ibn Yassaar, Imaam al-Majd ibn Taymiyah, ibn Rajab al-Hambaliy and Hafiz Zaynu-ddeen al-Iraaqiy (Rahmatullaahi alayhim) .
Refer Lataiful Ma’aarif of Hafiz ibn Rajab pgs.263-264 and Faydhul Qadeer vol.2 pg.317.
2) Even Ibn Taymiyya — the putative authority of “Salafis” — considered the night of mid-Sha`ban “a night of superior merit” in his Iqtida’ al-sirat al-mustaqim:
[Some] said: There is no difference between this night (mid-Sha`ban) and other nights of the year. However, the opinion of many of the people of learning, and that of the majority of our companions (i.e. the Hanbali school) and other than them is that it is a night of superior merit, and this is what is indicated by the words of Ahmad (ibn Hanbal), in view of the many ahadith which are transmitted concerning it, and in view of what confirms this from the words and deeds transmitted from the early generations (al-athar al-salafiyya). Some of its merits have been narrated in the books of hadith of the musnad and sunan types. This holds true even if other things have been forged concerning it.
( Ref:Ibn Taymiyya, Iqtida’ al-sirat al-mustaqim (1369/1950 ed.) p. 302.)
Ibn Taymiayh also said
“ As for the middle night of Sha’baan, there are various narrations that have been narrated regarding its significance and it has been reported from a group of the Salaf (predecessors) that they performed Salaat in it individually, hence, such a deed cannot be disputed.’
(Majmoo’ al-Fataawa ibn Taymiyah vol.23 pg.132)
3) Imam Suyuti (Rh) says in his Haqiqat al-sunna wa al-bid`a:
“As for the night of mid-Sha`ban, it has great merit and it is desirable (mustahabb) to spend part of it in supererogatory worship.”
( Ref: Suyuti, Haqiqat al-sunna wa al-bid`a aw al-amr bi al-ittiba` wa al-nahi `an al-ibtida` (1405/1985 ed.) p. 58. He adds: “However, this must be done alone, not in congregation.”)
4. Imam Haskafi ( Rh) said in his Durr al-Mukhtar, one of the primary references in the Hanafi school:
“Among the recommended [prayers] are on. . . . the nights of the two Eids, the middle of Sha`ban, the last ten of Ramadan, and the first [ten] of Dhul-Hijjah”.
5. Imam Nawawi ( Rh) mentioned in his Majmu`, where he also quoted Imam al-Shafi`i from the latter’s al-Umm that it has reached him that there are 5 nights when dua is answered, one of them being the night of the 15th of Sha`ban.
6. Imam Shafi’ee (Rh) stated:
“it has reached us that supplications are answered on five night: the night of Jumuah, the two night of Eid The first night of Rajab and the 15th night of Sha’ban (Shabe Bara’ath), (Kithab al-umm), 1:131).
7. Imam Is’haque Ibn Rahwiyah (d. 238H), one of the foremost teachers of Imam Bukhari (ra), commented: “to come together in the Masjid of on 15th night of Sha’ban (Shabe Bara’ath) is not Bid’ah (innovation). (Lataa’if al-Ma’arif. P.190).
Only Sahih hadiths have been quoted above. The weak hadith on this topic suffer only from minor weakness . There is general consensus that weak hadiths may be acted upon for virtuous acts, such as voluntary fasting and prayer, as long as the hadith is not excessively weak, returns to a general basis in the Shariah, and one is not convinced that the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) specifically prescribed it.
What Should be Done in this Night?
In order to observe the Night of Bara’ah, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he should spend the whole night in worship and prayer. However, if one cannot do so for one reason or another, he can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably of the second half of it for this purpose, and should perform the following acts of worship:
(a) Salah. Salah is the most preferable act to be performed in this night. There is no particular number of Rak’at but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the Salah like qiyam, rukoo’ and sajdah should be longer than normal. The longest surahs of the Holy Qur’an one remembers by heart should be recited in the Salah of this night. If someone does not remember the long surahs, he can also recite several short surahs in one rak’ah.
(b) Tilawa. The recitation of the Holy Qur’an is another form of worship, very beneficent in this night. After performing Salah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Holy Qur’an as he can.
(c) Dhikr. One should also perform dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah) in this night. Particularly the following dhikr is very useful:
One should recite Salah (durood) on Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as many times as he can. The dhikr can also be recited while walking, lying on bed and during other hours of work or leisure.
(d) Dua. The best benefit one can draw from the blessings of this night is prayers and supplications. It is hoped that all the prayers in this night will be accepted by our Lord, insha-Allah. Prayer itself is an ‘Ibadah, and Allah Almighty gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator’s need. Even if the purpose prayed for is not achieved, one cannot be deprived of the reward of the prayer which is sometimes more precious than the mundane benefits one strives for. The prayers and supplications also strengthen one’s relation with Allah Almighty, which is the main purpose of all kinds and forms of worship.
One can pray for whatever purpose he wishes. But the best supplications are the ones made by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. These are so comprehensive and all-encompassing prayers that all the human needs, of this world and the Hereafter, are fully covered in the eloquent expressions used in them. Actually, most of the prophetic prayers are so profound that human imagination can hardly match their greatness.
Several books in various languages are available which provide these prophetic prayers, and one should pray to Allah Almighty in accordance with them, whether by reciting their original Arabic text or by rendering their sense in one’s own language.
(e) There are some people who cannot perform any additional Salah or recitations for any reason, like illness or weakness or being engaged in some other necessary activities. Such people also should not deprive themselves completely of the blessings of this night. They should observe the following acts:
(i) To perform the Salah of Maghrib, ‘Isha’ and Fajr with Jama’ah in the mosque, or in their homes in case of their being sick.
(ii) They should keep reciting the dhikr, particularly the one mentioned in para (c) above, in whatever condition they are until they sleep.
(iii) They should pray to Allah for their forgiveness and for their other objectives. One can do so even when he is in his bed.
(f) The women during their periods cannot perform salah, nor can they recite the Qur’an, but they can recite any dhikr, tasbeeh, durood sharif and can pray to Allah for whatever purpose they like in whatever language they wish. They can also recite the Arabic prayers mentioned in the Qur’an or in the hadith with the intention of supplication (and not with the intention of recitation).
(g) According to a hadith, which is relatively less authentic, Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, went in this night to the graveyard of Baqi’ where he prayed for the Muslims buried there. On this basis, some of the fuqaha hold it as mustahabb (advisable) in this night to go to the graveyard of the Muslims and reciteFatihah or any other part of the Qur’an, and pray for the dead. But this act is neither obligatory nor should it be performed as regularly as an obligatory act.
Fast of the 15th Sha’ban
On the day immediately following the Night of Bara’ah, i.e. the 15th of Sha’ban, it is mustahabb (advisable) to keep fast. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have recommended this fast emphatically. Although the scholars of hadith have some doubts in the authenticity of this report, yet it is mentioned earlier that the fasts of the first half of Sha’ban have special merits and Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the days in Sha’ban. Moreover, a large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha’ban. This constant practice indicates that they have accepted the relevant hadith as authentic.
Therefore, it is advisable to fast the 15th of Sha’ban as an optional (nafl) fast. One can also keep a fast of qada on this day and it is hoped that he can also benefit from the merits of this fast.
The night of 15 Shaban is expected to be next Thursday night and the fast will be next Friday insha Allah. Please consult your local calendar for Islamic dates in your place of residence.