Nisf ush Sha’baan 15th Sha’baan
Sha’baan is the eighth month in the Islamic calendar. It is alled Sha’baan because it ‘branches out’, that is, it stands out between the two months of Rajab and Ramadhaan. This is made clear by the following hadith of Sayyidinaa Anas (radiyallahu anhu):
“Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) asked ‘Do you know why it is called Sha’baan?’ They said: ‘Only Allah and His Rasool knows best’. He said ‘Because there are many benefits branching out in this month”. (Related by Abul Shaykh al Hibbani, Daylami, Rafi’i in his “Tarikh”)
Ummul Mu’mineen (The Mother of the Believers) Sayyiditinaa Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) said “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) used to fast until we thought that he would never break his fast, and not fast until we thought taht he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) month except in Ramadhaan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’baan”. (Bukhari, no. 1833, and Muslim, no.1956)
1) The vasy majority of narrations (Ahaadeeth) declaring the benefits and virtues of Laylatu Bara’at are weak.
2) However, since these narrations aee numerous and the weakness in many is not severe, the virtue of this NIGHT will be considered authentic. Even Allamah Ibn Taymiyyah, a scholar notorious for refuting such things also accepts the virtue of the night of Bara’at. He says: ‘So many ahaadith and reports exist regarding the excellence of the fifteenth night of Shabaan that one is compelled to accept that this night does possess some virtue’. 9Faydhul Qadeer p. 317, v. 2)
3) Allamah Anwar Shah Kashimiri has written regarding the matter that the significance of the night is proven. There is however no proof for those weak and unacceptable narrations mentioned in certain books. (al-Arf al-Shizee p. 156)
4) There is NO specific prescribed Salaah reserved for this night.
5) There is NO specific form of Ibadah prescribed for this night.
6) It was the noble habit of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) to engage in ibadah during the last portion of every night. Ibadah was not restricted to the 15th of Shaban or any other specific night. Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) reports that Rasoolullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam used to go to bed during the first portion of the night and he would stay awake the last portion of the night (spending it in ibadah). (Bukhari and Muslim)
7) Allah Ta’ala descends to the nearest heaven during the last third of every night. (Bukhari p. 153) This is not restricted to the 15th night of Sha’ban.
8) Visiting the graveyard is not a special characteristic of this night; it is proven from other authentic narrations that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) would visit the graveyard during the last portion of many nights.
9) It is the consensus (ijma) of all jurists that it is better for an individual to perform optional prayers in ones own home.
10) It was the practise of Rasoolullah (Salllallahu alayhi Wa Sallam) and the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) to engage in Nafl/optional prayers in their own homes. One can conclude from this that the customs and traditions prevalent today where people assemble on nights such as these have no base in the Qur’an or Sunnah.
11) Fasting on the 15th of Sha’ban is not proven from any Sahih Hadith.It is a misconception that the fast of the 15th of Sha’ban is Sunnah. There is only one hadtih regarding fasting on this day but it is extremely weak, as one of its narrators, Ibn Abi Sabrah is extremely weak, has been accused of fabricating Ahaadith too. (Mizaan al-I’tidaal, p. 503, v. 4) The Hadith : Ali ibn Abi Talib (radiyallahu anhu) reports that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wa Sallam) is reported to have said: “The night of mid-Sha’baan, let all of you spend in prayer and its day in fasting, for Allah descends to the nearest heaven during that night beginning with sunset and says: ‘Is there no one asking sustenance that I may forgive them? Is there no one asking sustenance that I may grant them sustenance? Is there no one under duress that I may relieve them? Is there not such-and-such, is there not such-and-such, a so forth until dawn rises’”
(Narrated from Ali by Ahmed and Ibn Majah with a chain containing Ibn Abi Sabra, Mufti Taqi Uthmani says regarding the authenticity of this hadith This Hadith is recorded by Ibn Majah in his Sunan, one of the famous six books of Hadith, and also by Baihaqi in his famous book Shu’ab-al-‘iman’. Both of them have reported it without any comment about its authenticity. But after a critical analysis of its chain of narrators it is found that this tradition is mainly based on the report of Abu Bakr Ibn Abi Saburah whose narrations cannot be relied upon. That is why the scholars of Hadith have declared it as a weak (da’if) tradition. However, the allegation that the narrator of this Hadith i.e. Abu Bakr ibn Abi Sabrah, is a fabricator who used to coin forged traditions does not seem correct.)
12) Fasting in the month of Sha’baan without the specification of any day is proven from Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wa Sallam). Infact, he used to fast excessively during this month as we mentioned earlier in the hadith of Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha)
13) Fasting on the Ayyaam-e-Beedh (13th, 14th and 15th of every lunar month) is proven from the Ahaadeeth.
14) The BLESSED NIGHT, mentioned in Surah Dukhaan of the Qur’aan, according to the Majority (Jumhoor) is the night of Qadr, and not the 15th night of Sha’baan.
15) The name Laylatul Bara’at was intoduced after a few centuries. Earlier Hadith books would mention Ahaadith regarding this night under the heading laylat al-Nisf min Sha’baan (Chapter on the night of the 15th of Sha’ban)
16) The custom of cooking a specific food for the 15th night of Sha’baan has no basis in the Qur’aan or Sunnah. Nor does the lighting of lamps or having lighting outside the Masaajid as practised by some people.
So, what should be done on this night?
1) Value this night. Turn to Allah in Ibadah (in your own homes). Seek forgiveness for the sins you may have committed.
2) There is no specific form of Ibadah prescribed by Shari’ah for this night.
3) Do not engage in any form of Bid’ah
4) Do not restrict the visiting of the graveyard or any form of Isaale Thawaab to the 15th night.
5) Fast as much as you can in the month of Sha’baan. However, if one fears this may make him weak by the time Ramadhan comes then he should not keep in the second half of Sha’baan.
6) Do not fast specifically on the 15th of Sha’baan as this would give the impression that you consider it Sunnah which it is not.
7) Nafl Ibadah is best performed individually at home. Avoid large gatherings.
8) Success lies in obeying the commands of Allah and adhering to the teachings of our Nabi Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi Wa Sallam)