There has been much confusion and controversy regarding this Laylatu Nisfu min-ash-Sha’baan or better known in the sub-continent as Shaab-e- Baraat. Literally In Arabic “Laylah” means “night”, “Nisf” means half, “min” means “from” and Sha’baan means, well “Sha’baan- the 8th month of the Islamic lunar calendar”.
In farsi (persian) or urdu “Shaab” means “night” and “Baraat” means “Emancipation” just as it does in Arabic, however it is pronounced as “Baraa-ah”.
Now that we have the technical terms out of the way, let’s get down to why so many people are confused and others have a bee in their bonnets regarding whether the 15th of Sha’baan is meritorious or not.
So in our earlier post, we quoted this hadeeth… Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) has stated: “Allah Ta’ala looks upon all those He created in the middle Night of Sha’baan and forgives them all, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has hatred in his heart (against a Muslim).” (Saheeh ibn Hibbaan)
1) This hadeeth has been narrated by the Mu’aadh bin Jabal and is found in ibn Hibbaan’s Sahih which the hadith scholar and editor of the Sahih Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut confirmed as sound:
Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) 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)
2) There is another identical Hadith related from Sayyidunaa ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) which says that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) 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-Albani classified it is ‘Hasan’ (Al-Albani: Silsilah Al-Ahadith Al-Sahihah 3/136).
3) A similar narration as above has been narrated by Sayyidunaa Abu Bakr Siddiq (radhiyAllahu ‘anhu).
It has been classified as sound by Haafiz al-Munzhiri (rahimahullah) in his al-Targheeb (vol.3 pg.459). This narration is of Sayyidunaa Abu Bakr Siddiq (radhiyAllahu ‘anhu) and is recorded by Imaam Bazzaar (rahimahullah) in his Musnad. In fact, Hafiz ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has also classified one of it’s chains as Hasan (sound). (al-Amaalil mutlaqah pgs.119-120)
Besides the above, there are many other Sahaaba (RadhiAllaahu ‘anhum) that narrated Ahaadith regarding the merit of this night, such as: Sayyidunaa Abu Huraira (Musnad al-Bazzaar), Sayyidunaa Abu Tha’labah (Shu’ubul Imaan), Sayyidunaa Awf ibn Maalik (Musnad al-Bazzaar), Sayyidunaa 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.
All the weak ahaadith which mentions the merits of 15th of Shab’aan, have got only minor weakness in them. Going by the principle of hadith, these weak hadiths also strengthen each other.
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 (Rahimahumullah) .
Refer Lataiful Ma’aarif of Hafiz ibn Rajab pgs.263-264 and Faydhul Qadeer vol.2 pg.317.
2) Even Ibn Taymiyyah considered the night of mid-Sha’baan “a night of superior merit” in his Iqtida’ al-sirat al-mustaqim: [Some] said: There is no difference between this night (mid-Sha’baan) 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 Taymiyyah, Iqtida’ al-sirat al-mustaqim (1369/1950 ed.) p. 302.)
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) 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 (rahimahullah) says in his Haqiqat al-sunna wa al-bid’ah: “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 (rahimahullah) 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 Eeds, the middle of Sha`ban, the last ten of Ramadan, and the first [ten] of Dhul-Hijjah”.
5. Imam Nawawi (rahimahullah) mentioned in his Majmoo’, where he also quoted Imam al-Shafi’ee (rahimahullah) 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’baan.
And Allah knows best.
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 Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) specifically prescribed it.
Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamah.
Coming to “Laylatul-Baraa-ah” (The night of freedom from Fire or Emancipation) there are certain traditions of Rasool (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy. Some of these traditions are quoted as follows:
Ummul-Mu’mineen ‘Aaishah (radhiyAllahu ‘anhaa) is reported to have said, “Once The Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) performed the Salaah of the night (Tahajjud) and made a very long Sajdah until I feared that he had passed away. When I saw this, I rose (from my bed) and moved his thumb (to ascertain whether he is alive). The thumb moved, and I returned (to my place). Then I heard him saying in Sajdah: ‘I seek refuge of Your forgiveness from Your punishment, and I seek refuge of Your pleasure from Your annoyance, and I seek Your refuge from Yourself. I cannot praise You as fully as You deserve. You are exactly as You have defined Yourself.’ Thereafter, when he raised his head from Sajdah and finished his salaah, he said to me: ‘Aa’ishah, did you think that the Prophet has betrayed you?’ I said, ‘No, O Prophet of Allah, but I was afraid that your soul has been taken away because your Sajdah was very long.’ He asked me, ‘Do you know which night is this?’ I said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘This is the night of the half of Sha’baan. Allah Almighty looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but keeps those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they relieve themselves from malice).’”
So is the 15th of Sha’baan a night to be simply discarded as a meritorious night or one in which we exert in prayer? It is good to do good a’maal on this night that one usually does provided that one practices what is within the Sunnah. For example, if one has never fasted a day in Sha’baan and then decides that he/she will only fast on the 15th of Sha’baan, then we would regard this as bid’ah for the hadeeth on fasting is Ummul Mu’mineen (The Mother of the Believers) Sayyidatunaa 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 that he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) month except in Ramadaan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’baan”. (Bukhari, no. 1833, and Muslim, no.1956)
So why single out only one day when the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) used to fast many more days than just one.
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen mentions “If a person wants to pray qiyaam on this night as he does on other nights – without doing anything extra or singling this night out for anything – then that is okay. The same applies if he fasts the day of the fifteenth of Sha’baan because it happens to be one of the Ayyaam al-Beed, along with the fourteenth and thirteenth of the month, or because it happens to be a Monday or Thursday. If the fifteenth (of Sha’baan) coincides with a Monday or Thursday, there is nothing wrong with that (fasting on that day), so long as he is not seeking extra reward that has not been proven (in the Sahih texts). And Allah knows best”.
Another example: A person never simply visits the maqbarah (cemetery), yet he would visit on this day only because it is the 15th Sha’baan. Here again, no saheeh hadeeth proves visiting only on Nisf-um-min-ash-Sha’baan, so why choose do it only on that day when the Rasool (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) did otherwise.
Call it what you like, Nisf-um-min-ash-Sha’baan; Laylatul Baraa-ah; Shaab-e-Baraat, is it authentic? Yes it is. Are there special prayers? No. Ask from Allah from your heart, we need that so much. Rise for Qiyaam-ul-Layl (Tahajjud), prepare for Ramadaan- All within the confines of Qur-aan and Sunnah. We do not take any extreme stances on 15th night of Sha’baan. We should do good works within confines of Shari’ah and we should not do what the Nabi of Allah, Muhammad al-Mustafaa (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) did not do. If we love him, let us follow him the way he ought to be followed and that is without additions and deletions, just as his Sahaabah (radhiyAllahu ‘anhum) did.