Sha'ban and the 15th of Sha'ban

Introduction

The month of Sha'ban has already started and many people are still in negligence regarding its virtues and importance. On the other hand, many people will go beyond the limit to celebrate the 15th of Sha'ban. Let us have a quick look in the Hadith to analyse the importance of Sha'ban alongside the boundaries of the 15th of Sha'ban in order to fulfil the command of Allah the Almighty as shown by his beloved messenger, Sayyiduna Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam).

(1) Sayyidah 'Aisha (radhiyallahu anha) narrated, “I did not see the messenger of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) keeping fast for the whole month except for Ramadhan, and I did not see him fasting so much in any other months as in Sha'ban”. She also said, “as if the prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was fasting for the whole month of Sha'ban” (Bukhari 1969, Muslim 1156, Mishkat 2036). Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that the holy prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Count the moon of Sha'ban in preparation for Ramadhan” (Tirmidhi 687, Dar Qutni 2154).

(2) Sayyiduna Usama ibn Zayd (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated, “I asked the messenger of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), ‘O prophet of Allah, I see you fast in Sha'ban so much that I do not see you fast in any other months?’ The prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) replied “Sha'ban is the month many people are in negligence about it; it is the month when the actions of servants are raised towards Allah the Almighty, and I want my actions to be raised to Allah the Almighty while I am fasting” (Nasaie 2359, Ahmad 201/5).

(3) Sayyiduna Abu Zar Al Gifari (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that the holy prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “O Abu Zar, when you intend to fast three days in every month, then fast the 13th, the 14th and the 15th” (Tirmidhi 761, Nasaie 2422).

Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Abbas (radhiyallahu anhu) said, “The holy prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) would never miss the fast of Ayyamul beedh (13, 14 and 15 of every Arabic month) even if he is in a journey or at home” (Nasaie 2415, Mishkat 2071)

Very regretfully, many people are in negligence regarding the above mentioned authentic Ahadith which indicate the virtues of fasting in Sha'ban.

Ahadith regarding the 15th of Sha'ban

It must be noted that there is not even a single Hadith which is Sahih regarding the 15th of Sha'ban. Only one Hadith is found which is Hasan and the rest of them are either Dha'eef or Maudhu' (fabricated). Similarly, out of the six authentic books of Ahadith only Tirmidhi mentions one weak Hadith, and Ibn Majah mentions two weak and one fabricated hadiths. The remaining four books did not record any hadith about the 15th of Sha'ban.

(1) Sayyida 'Aisha (radhiyallahu anha) narrated that I could not find the prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) one night, so I went out looking for him. Suddenly, he was in Al-Baqee'. When he saw me he asked, ‘O 'Aisha, do you think that Allah and his messenger would oppress you?’ I replied, ‘O prophet of Allah, I thought you might have gone to your other wives’. The prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) then said, “Verily, Allah the Almighty descends on the night of the mid-Sha'ban to the sky of the world and he forgives people more than the number of the goats of the Kalb tribe” (Tirmidhi 739, Ibn Majah 1389).

This Hadith is classified as weak by the Muhaddithun.

Many people try to prove the virtue of the 15th Sha'ban and visiting the graves in that night from the above Hadith, but the followings things should be noted:

    1. It is a weak Hadith; it must not be given the same importance as of a Hadith which is Sahih or Hasan.
    2. The prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) visited the grave alone, not with groups of people.
    3. He visited the grave at night, not on the day before the 15th of Sha'ban.
    4. The prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) did it only once in his life time; it was not commonly practiced by him.
    5. People who practise this thing on the 15th of Sha'ban have made it like a celebration. In reality, it is not a celebration. The maximum you can do is to worship alone.
    6. This Hadith is classified as very weak by Hafiz Al Busairi in Zawaid Ibn Majah.
    7. Many scholars have classified it as Maudhu', i.e. fabricated.
    8. For the argument’s sake, the maximum that can be proven from this Hadith is to worship alone. Nothing collectively, like a celebration, can be proven.

 

(2) Sayyiduna Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated that the prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “When it is the night of the 15th of Sha'ban, stand in night prayers and fast on the next day; as Allah the Almighty descends on that night after sunset to the sky of the world and says: “Is there anyone seeking forgiveness who I can forgive? Is there anyone seeking sustenance who I can provide sustanance? Is there anyone who is facing difficulties who I can help? And so forth until the time of Fajr begins”’ (Ibn Majah 1388, Tahzeebul kamal of Hafiz Jamaluddin al Mizzi 107/33).

Notes regarding this Hadith:

  1. This Hadith is classified as very weak by Hafiz Al Busairi in Zawaid Ibn Majah.
  2. Many scholars have classified it as Maudhu', i.e. fabricated.
  3. For the argument’s sake, the maximum that can be proven from this Hadith is to worship alone. Nothing collectively, like a celebration, can be proven.

 

(3) Sayyiduna Abu Musa al Ash'aree (radhiyallahu anhu) narrated from the prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) that he said, “Verily Allah the Almighty looks at the creation on the night of the 15th of Sha'ban and he forgives all his creation, except for a polytheist (mushrik) and someone who holds enmity against somebody (mushahin)” (Ibn Majah 1390, Ibn Hibban 5665. Baihaqee 382/3).

Some important notes about this Hadith:

  1. Not all the Ahadith found in Sahih Ibn Hibban and Sahih Ibn Khuzaimah are Sahih unless verified by the Muhaddithun to be Sahih, and this Hadith is verified as Hasan.
  2. This is the only Hadith found on this issue which is Hasan LiGhairihi because of the additional chains of narrations; individually they are all weak. (Some companions who narrated this Hadith are Sayyiduna Abu Bakr, Mu'az ibn Jabl, Abu Tha'laba al Khushani, Abdullah ibn 'Amr, Abu Hurairah, 'Aauf ibn Malik and Sayyida 'Aisha, May Allah the Almighty be please with them all).
  3. Imam Baihaqee (rahimahullah) narrated this Hadith in Shu'abul Iman 382/3 from Sayyida 'Aisha (radhiyallahu anha) where she said, “The prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) was performing long prostration that I thought he passed away”. Then she continued mentioning the above Hadith. This proves that a person can pray long salah on this night as it was the common practice of the prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), even though the narration of Baihaqee is weak.
  4. The holy prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) performed night prayers privately without awakening any of the family members.
  • Conclusion

  1. The Ahadith of the 15th of Sha'ban are not very sound. Therefore the importance shown by some people about it is over the limit. Similarly those people who totally deny the virtue and label it as baseless or innovation are wrong too, as there is one Hadith which is Hasan that verifies the virtue. Therefore all the Hadiths should be kept to their level while practising.
  2. If someone individually performs any optional salah or engages himself in to ibadah, he should be allowed to do so, as some weak narrations support this. However nothing collectively is proven from the Sahabah, Tabi'oon or Atba' al Tabi'een. Therefore collective worshiping would not be allowed.
  3. The Hadith, which talks about visiting graves, is very weak. Therefore making the habit of collective visits every year, doing collective dua in the graveyard and making visit before the night of the 15th Sha'ban would be classified as bid'ah (inmovtion). And committing Bid'ah is a major sin.
  4. To hold gatherings in the Masjid by inviting people, decorating the Masjid, lighting candles and fire works and distributing food - none of these things is proven from the Sunnah or from the practice of the Salaf.
  5. Fasting on the15th of Sha'ban is allowed because of the Ahadith of Ayyam al Beedh, which are authentic. However the Hadith which talks about fasting on the 15th of Sha'ban only, as mentioned before from Sayyiduna Ali (ra) is either very weak or fabricated.
  6. It is not mentioned in any of the Hanafi fiqh book such as Nurul Idah or Mukhtasar Al Qudoori to fast on the 15th Sha'ban only, because the Ahadith are not authentic.
  7. Calling the 15th of Sha'ban as “Lailatul Bara'a” is not proven from any of the authentic Ahadith.
  8. The third and the fourth verses of Surah Al Dukhan are often quoted to prove the virtue of the 15th of Sha'ban that, in this night, the fate (taqdeer) of every individual is written:
  9. It is recorded in the fundamental Hanafi fiqh book, Nurul Idah: “It is disliked to hold gatherings in the Masjid in these nights” (Nurul Idah: 80, Beirut print).
  10. Sayyid Yusuf Al Bannori (rahimahullah) has written in Ma'arifus Sunan 319/5 (the famous commentary of Tirmidhi): “Hafiz Suyuti, Abu Talib Makki, Imam Ghazali and Shaykh Abdulqadir Jilani quoted many weak and denounced narrations in favour of the virtue of 15th of Sha'ban, and all these narrations are baseless”.
  11. Finally, please look in to the issue wholeheartedly and with sincerity; do not just make it a Hanafi-Salafi debate.

Allahu A'lam.

May Allah the Almighty grant us the ability to adhere to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, like our pious predecessors! Ameen.


Shaykh Faizulhaq Abdulaziz.
Lecturer of Hadith, Jamia Islamia Birmingham.