A general and brief advice about the virtues related to 15th night of Sha’ban.
All Praise Belongs to Allah (swt), and May the Saláh and Salám of Allah (swt) be upon our beloved Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم
I was asked by some of my beloved brothers about the Authenticity of a Hadeeth that relates the virtue of 15th of Sha’ban. After seeking the assistance of Allah (SWT) I made the intention of answering their request.
The Hadeeth that is in discussion is the following:
Narrated by Mu’adh ibn Jabal, and Abee Tha’labah and others (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (SA) said:
“Allah looks at His creation in the night of mid-Sha’ban and He forgives all His creation except for a Mushrik (The one who associates partners with Allah (SWT) in His Essence, Names or Attributes) or a Mushaahin (one having hatred against his brothers/ or one leaving the true group of Muslims).”
[Related by Ibn Hibban, Tabarani, Ibn Khuzayma and classified Sahih by Shaykh Shu’ayb Arnaut and Shaykh Albani]’
I will advice you brothers to ask Sincere, Knowledgeable, Muttaqi, and Trustworthy scholars amongst this Ummah. Also read and study some of the writings and articles that are written on this issue.
My brief and general advice on issues like these and similar issues is that:
Firstly, in any issue a Muslim must act according to the Speech of Allah and the Hikmah (Sunnah) of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, and the Ijma’ of the Sahabas without falling into any kind of Bid’ah, whether it is Bid’ah Haqiqiyyah (a innovation that has no base (Asl) in the Deen) or Bid’ah Idáfiyyah (a Bidah that has some base (Asl) in the Deen).
Every kind and every single Bid’ah in the Deen leads a Muslim to falsehood and more worryingly covers and removes a Sunnah.
Therefore a Muslim must be careful of not committing a Bid’ah in worship and be aware that it is one of the greatest sins, rather it is the greatest sin after Kufr and Shirk against Allah, (swt). Bid’ah leads a person to kufr and shirk whilst some are kufr and shirk.
A person who commits a Bid’ah in any kind of worship, instead of receiving rewards from Allah (aw) this person receives the displeasure of Allah (aw) and His Wrath (we take refuge with Him from that all).
As the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (sa) said: “Whosoever innovates anything in our Matter of this (i.e. Islam) which is not part of it, then it is rejected” (rejected back to the person without receiving any rewards from Allah (swt)).
[Agreed upon; Bukhari & Muslim]
Also the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (sa) said: “Whosoever does an action which is not according to our matter (i.e. Islam), then it is rejected” [Muslim]
Also we must be careful of not making something that is from the Deen into Bid’ah. Shaytan comes both ways, he makes Haram Halal and also makes Halal Haram, so take heed of the deceptions of Shaytan.
Secondly, Allah (swt) always from His Sunnah Emphasizes upon the greater evil that is happening in the society before He (swt) Emphasizes on the lesser evils. The Prophets (sa) did the same and their Inheritors (scholars) did and are implementing this Sunnah till today. For example, Allah (swt) Emphasized on kufr and shirk before He (swt) Emphasized on not taking Alcohol.
The Messenger of Allah (sa) also did the same, when three Sahaabah’s came to some of the wives of the Messenger of Allah (SA) and asked about his (sa) worship, after they were told about his worship, Anas bin Malik says “as if they took (sa) worship to be little”…so then one of them said:
“I will pray all night, the other said I will fast continuously, and the last said I will not marry…” when the Messenger of Allah was told of this, he gathered everyone and said:
“…As for me I stand during the night (Pray) and sleep, and I fast and break my fast, and I marry, so the one who dislikes my sunnah then he is not from me…”
[Bukhari, Muslim & others]
The Sháhid (point and evidence) here is that The Messenger of Allah (sa) did not speak of the virtues of voluntary prayer nor voluntary fasting, because the defect was not that they did not take these actions as virtuous, but the defect was in the way they wanted to implement these actions. So the Messenger of Allah (sa) emphasised the way of implementing these actions; He (sa) emphasized more on Sleeping after the prayer and Breaking the Fast than Praying and Fasting itself.
Praying at night and fasting (other than Ramadhán) is voluntary, whereas not sleeping after prayer and not breaking fast is not from the Sunnah of (sa), rather it is Bid’ah; which is a greater evil than leaving the voluntary actions in the first place. Therefore he (sa) emphasized more on the greater evil.
Coming to the subject of Nisf Sha’ban, for the sake of argument say the Hadeeth is Authentic. Is the defect today in the society that they do not virtue this night? Or is it that they virtue it too much, and worship Allah (swt) in ways which are not according to the Sunnah of Muhammad (sa)?
It’s very obvious from the actions of the society that they virtue this night too much. The way they act in that night, is against and contrary to the Sunnah of (sa). Therefore where should our emphasis be? On the virtue of this night or upon the actions which takes place on this night; which are contrary to the Sunnah of Muhammad (sa)?
From the above Hadeeth it is very clear that we should emphasise on the greater evil that takes place rather than the voluntary virtues.
A person who sleeps the whole night of Nisf Sha’ban without any voluntary worship is far better than the one who stays awake for a moment and commits an action that is against the Sunnah of the Messenger of Alláh (sa).
Thirdly, a Muslim should always be on the safe side, especially a lay person. The evidences for this principle can be found in the Quran and the Sunnah. There are many evidences in the Quran, take for example, Surah Hajj verse 11:
And among mankind is He who worships Allâh as it were, upon the very edge (i.e. In doubt); if good befalls him, He is content therewith; but if a trial befalls him, He turns back on his face (i.e. reverts back to disbelief after embracing Islâm). He loses both This world and the Hereafter. that is the evident loss.
Allah (swt) speaks about people who worship Allah on the Edge (close to haram and kufr), then eventually a trial comes to them, and they could not be steadfast.
Allah (swt) affirms their worship of Him but the problem was that they were too close to haram and kufr, therefore they could not be steadfast when they were tried. So the further a person is from the Edge the safer he is from falling into haram and kufr when he is tried, and the more likely he will be steadfast in times of trial and difficulty.
From the Sunnah also there are many Ahádeeth on this principle, for example take the Hadeeth where The Messenger (sa) said;
“…whomsoever fears (stays away from) doubtful matters verily he has protected his deen and his dignity, and whomsoever falls into doubtful matters (regularly) falls into haram…and then the Messenger (SA) gave an example in the Hadith just like the verse in Surah Hajj, verse11,…and then he said…”verily in the body there is a flesh, if it is pure then the whole body will be cured, and if it is diseased than the whole body will be diseased, verily (this piece of flesh) is the Heart” .
(Bukhari & Muslim, also in 40 Hadith of Imam An-Nawawi)
In the above Hadith the Messenger of Allah (sa) affirms the person who stays away from the doubtful matters to have saved his Deen and Dignity, and the one who is consistently falling into doubtful matters will eventually fall and commit haram.
Here The Messenger of Allah (sa) is advising us to stay away from the doubtful matters as far as possible, and then he (sa) says something very interesting. He says (sa) …verily in a body there is a flesh…until the end. Why does he (sa) mention the two conditions of the Heart? What is the connection between the doubtful matters and the Heart? The connection is that, the one who stays far away from the doubtful matters, he stays away because he has a pure Heart, and by staying away from the doubtful matters he keeps his Heart clean and purified from all kinds of diseases. The one who falls into doubtful matters, he falls into it because he has diseases in his heart. And by consistently falling into these doubtful matters he increases the diseases in his Heart.
And thus it is essential for a believer to stay far away from doubtful matters and stay on the safe side in any issue, especially where the scholars differed in order to keep his heart clean and purified from all types of diseases.
Also the Messenger of Alláh (sa) said: “leave what is doubtful to what is not doubtful” (Tirmdhi; Hasan Saheeh)
[In the above Hadeeth, as well as the other verses and Ahádeeth which I have mentioned, there are many benefits, which I cannot and could not highlight because of limited time].
Coming back to the issue of 15th night of Sha’ban, in which its virtue the scholars have differed upon.
Ask this question to yourself; what is safer for a lay person; to sleep the whole night without falling into any doubtful matter? Or worshipping the whole night and falling into doubtful matter? Or far worse, falling into something that is not from the Deen?
There is no doubt, it is far better and safer to sleep the whole night knowing that you have not fallen into a doubtful matter, and hence you could not have committed a single Bid’ah.
Also note that all the scholars who have Authenticated the Ahádeeth of 15th of Sh’ban are agreed upon that the virtue which is mentioned in these Ahádeeth are all under the category of Mustahabbáth (recommended), so there is no sin on a person who sleeps the whole night without performing any acts of voluntary worship. This is agreed upon by the scholars.
So for a lay man in any issue where the scholars differed between Mustahab (recommend) & Wajib (Obligatory) it is safer to Implement the Wajib e.g. Niqáb, where they differed between Jaaiz and Haram, its safer to Implement Haram, e.g. instruments in Nasheeds, where they differed between Sunnah and Bid’ah, it is safer to Implement Bid’ah, e.g. Ta’weedth (Amulets) of the Quran.
(I used the word “Implement” as the one who implements e.g. Niqáb, not necessarily she believes or takes it as Wájib).
Fourthly, the Hadeeth that is quoted and other Ahádeeth that are quoted on this issue are differed upon in its Authenticity amongst the Scholars of Hadeeth.
Sheikh Al-Bani and Sheikh Shu’aib Al-Arnaut (May Allah reward them with the best of rewards) are from the most knowledgeable and trustworthy scholars in Hadeeth of this century, and are the light and guide of Ahl As-Sunnah Wal- Jam’ah (followers of the Aqeedah and the Methodology of the Salaf As Salih (Pious Predecessors of first 3 generations)), but as scholars before them, they are not free from making mistakes.
I wanted to speak about the chain of the Hadeeth, and what the scholars of the past and present have said about the Ahádeeth of Nisf Sha’ban, and how we should worship Allah on that night. But because of limited time I could not.
Insha-Allah I may write something in the future with the Assistance and Guide of Allah (swt) and after the permission of our beloved Shaykh Muhammad ‘Amr ‘Abdul Lateef (may Allah preserve him for the benefit of the Ummah).
[This article was written before he (ra) passed away].
But Insha-Allah I will give some basic guidelines on how one should understand the differences that occur amongst the scholars in the Authenticity of a Hadeeth, and how we should implement the Ahádeeth:
1- Know my beloved brothers, not every scholars conditions are the same; for example the conditions of Imam Bukhari in Authenticity are more stronger than Imam Muslim’s; amongst Imam Bukhari’s conditions is that it must be affirmed that the Narrator met the person he is narrating from.
As for Imam Muslim that was not from his condition. His condition was that if they lived in the same era, and it is possible for them to meet then that suffices.
For this reason Imam Bukari’s ‘Saheeh Al-Bukhari’ is given more precedence in terms of Authenticity than Imam Muslim’s ‘Saheeh Muslim’.
[Note: Imam Muslim in general Implemented Imam Bukhari’s condition in his ‘Saheeh Muslim’].
2- Also not all scholars of Hadeeth imply the same meaning when they use a terminology in a Hadeeth; for example; some scholars when they used the terminology “Hasan” in the authenticity of a Hadeeth they mean “saheeh” (highest degree of Authenticity), others use the terminology “Hasan” to mean in the level of Acceptance,(meaning; it has not reached the level of highest degree of Authenticity, but the Hadeeth is accepted within the Authentic category), and sometimes they use the terminology “Hasan” on a Hadith that is Weak which has some strength from other Ahádeeth.
Some scholars at times use the terminology “Hasan” on a Hadeeth that is Gareeb, or Hadeeth that is Munkar, or even on a Hadeeth that is Muwdu’, IF THE WORDINGS AND MEANINGS OF THE HADEETH ARE GOOD.
Therefore, one must know and understand exactly what meaning is intended when a scholar is using a specific terminology. The way to know what he is intending is by asking him or studying and researching his works and writings.
3- This knowledge (science of Hadeeth) is undoubtedly the most difficult and amongst the vast knowledge that cannot be grasped so easily. A person, who studies this subject, needs to have a photographic memory, he has to be a Muttaqi (have Taqwa), be trustworthy, and his character has to be at the highest level and so fourth… Those who excel in this field, they excel only by the Mercy of Allah (aw).
This field of knowledge is so extraordinarily vast, for that reason a scholar can easily make a mistake. Therefore other scholars have to check his works in order to verify the Soundness or the Weakness of a Hadith. Just to give you an Idea of how vast this knowledge is, take the example of a book written by our beloved Shaykh Muhammad ‘Amr ‘Abdul Lateef. He only speaks about two Hadeeth and its chains in more than 400 pages, explaining the chains strengths and weaknesses. Can you comprehend how a person can write so much just on two small Hadeeth? Also is it not possible for him to have a single mistake and for him to make a wrong Ijthihád in any of these chains within those 400 pages? Of course it’s possible.
[Books Name: Ahádeeth wa Marwiyyáth fi Al-Mizán; vol; 1-2, published by Multhaqá Ahl Al-Hadeeth]
And thus my beloved brothers, know with certainty that no book of the creation is free from mistakes and contradictions. The only Book that is free from any kind of mistakes and contradictions is The Book of The Creator of the creations, The Speech of The Rabb Al ‘Aaalameen, The Light of Allah (Jalla Jaláluhu):
” …And it is an Honourable and Respected Book. Falsehood cannot come to it from front nor from behind; It is Sent Down by The Wise, Worthy of All-Praise.”
(Surah Al-Fussilath; 41-42)
One may ask; what does a lay person do when scholars differ upon the Authenticity of a Hadeeth?
Firstly, if you are a student of Hadith, then you must check and verify what they said, and then follow the strongest view according to the evidences you find and see.
As for a lay person, if the Authenticity is Jumhur (Majority) in Hasan or in Da’eef, then you follow the Jumhur Muhadditheen.
If the Authenticity in not Jumhur (majority) in Hasan or in Da’eef, then you ask the most knowledgeable and trustworthy person in this field, who you believe to be sincere, Muttaqi, trustworthy and reliable, or you go back to the principle of doubtful matter.
As for the Hadeeth the brothers requested it’s Authenticity, it is Narrated by Mu’adh ibn Jabal and Abee Th’labah and others (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) Said:
“Allah looks at His creation in the night of mid-Sha’ban and He forgives all His creation except for a Mushrik (The one who associates partners with Allah (swt) in His Essence, Names and Attributes) or a Mushaahin (one having hatred against his brothers/ or one leaving the true group of Muslims).”
[Related by Ibn Hibban, Tabarani, Ibn Khuzayma and classified Sahih by Shaykh Shu’ayb Al-Arnaut, and Shaykh Al-bani]’
Know my beloved brothers every Hadeeth that specifically speaks about the virtue of 15th night of Sha’ban, is either fabricated, very weak, weak, or differed upon in its soundness by the Muhadditheen. You will not find one Hadeeth that specifically speaks about the virtue of 15th night of Sha’ban whom the scholars are agreed upon in its soundness.
Rather the Majority of the Muhaddtheen (scholars of Hadeeth) weaken all the Hadeeth related to the 15th night of Sha’ban, as said by Hafiz Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali:
“and about the virtue of night of mid-Sha’ban (15th night of Sha’ban) there are many Ahádeeth, and verily they are differed upon, and the Majority of the scholars have weakened them, and Ibn Hibban Authenticated some of them..”
(Lathaaif Al-Ma’aarif; P: 143)
About the Hadeeth in discussion Imam Ad Daraqutni (ra) spoke lengthily about its chain and then said “both of these (chains) are not protected” he also said “the Hadith is not affirmed” in his book Al ‘Ilal (6/50-51 N0: 970)
Also Imam Ar-Razi (ra) Said: “This Hadith is Munkar with this chain” in ‘Ilal of Ibn Abee Hatim (2012).
And many other scholars have spoken about the severe weaknesses of these chains. Therefore the minimum one can say is that, the Hadeeth is differed upon.
As for why did S. Al-bani and S. Shu’aib Al-Arnaut classify this Hadeeth in the Accepted category, (as I indicated above; not all the scholars conditions are the same), but If Allah Wills, I will concentrate on this question and try to explain with its History in future Insha Allah.
There is nothing wrong for a lay person in following S. Al-bani or S. Shu’aib Al-Arnaut and others on this Hadeeth, if they believe this Hadeeth to be in the accepted category of Authenticity.
And hence if a believer takes this Hadeeth to be from the accepted category of Authenticity, then he should implement the Hadeeth. And the way to implement this Hadith, is that, the person should not to be amongst the Mushrik (the one who associates partners with Allah (swt) in His Essence, Names and Attributes) and Mushaahin (the one who has hatred against his brothers/ or the one who leaves the true group of Muslims) as the Hadeeih states, only then one can achieve the forgiveness of Allah (swt) on that night.
The Hadeeth does not speak about any voluntary prayer or voluntary fasting, and every Hadeeth that speaks about voluntary prayer & fasting specifically on the 15th night or day of Sha’ban, is either weak, very weak or fabricated.
Allahu A’laa Wa A’lam (Allah is The Most High and The Most knowledgeable.) And Allah Knows Best!
After speaking lengthily on the greater evil that takes place in the society, I would like to quote some Authentic Ahádeeth on the virtue of the Month of Sha’ban in general, in order for us to come close to Allah (swt) the correct way:
سألت عائشة رضي الله عنها عن صيام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقالت :
” كان يصوم حتى نقول : قد صام . ويفطر حتى نقول : قد أفطر .
ولم أره صائما من شهر قط أكثر من صيامه من شعبان .
كان يصوم شعبان كله . كان يصوم شعبان إلا قليلا”
Trans: ‘Aaishah (ra) said when asked about the fasting of the Messenger of Allah (sa): “…and I would not ever see Him (sa) fast more than in the month of Sha’ban” ولم أره صائما من شهر قط أكثر من صيامه من شعبان …
In a narration: “He (SA) used to fast all of Sha’ban” كان يصوم… شعبان كله
And in another narration: “he used to fast in Sha’ban except little” (few days)”… كان يصوم شعبان إلا قليلا
[Bukhari, Muslim and others]
In another Hadith Trans: Narrated by Usamah (RA) The Messenger of Allah (SA) Said:
“That is a month (Sha’ban) people are heedless of, it is between Rajab and Ramadhan and it is a month where in the good deeds ascend to the Rabb of Al ‘Aalameen, and I love my deeds to be raised up while I am fasting.”
[An Nisaaee, Hasan]
Thus it is recommended to prepare for Ramadhan by voluntary fasting during the majority of the days of Sha’ban in general, without specifying any specific day, night or time.
There are other Sound Ahádeeth about the virtue of fasting in the month of Sha’ban in general, please forgive me my beloved brothers and sisters for not quoting them, as I just do not have enough time.
Most importantly I do not want this article to be used as a means of refutation or for the sake of arguments, let this Advice be a reminder to you as an individual; verily reminders benefits the believers. So let this be just a reminder for those who have a heart or give an ear with heedfulness.
I ask Allah with His Beautiful Names and Highest Attributes to accept this work as khaalis for Him (swt). I ask Him with His Beautiful Names and Perfect HiHHHjhhfa;Attributes to guide me and all the Muslims to the straight path and make us steadfast upon it till Yaqeen comes to us. Allahumma Ameen!
And may the Saláh and Salám of Allah (swt) be Upon our beloved Messenger of Allah Muhammad (sa), his Family, his Companions and those who follow them exactly in faith and worship.
And my last words are: “All Praise Belongs to Allah The Rabb Al ‘Aalameen”.
Wassalaamu ‘Alaikum warahmathullahi wabarakaathuhu.
Abu Hasan, written on Thursday the 17th of Sha’ban 1428 Hijri, Nasar city, Egypt.