What is the Significance of the Night in the Middle of Sha’bān? ―Ibn ‘Uthaimīn, Ibn Bāz, Ibn Rajab, Al-Albāni, Abu Bakr At-Tartūshi, Ibn Waddāh

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Al-Allāmah Ibn ‘Uthaimīn

Is there any Sunnah that is legislated in the night of the middle of Sha’bān (i.e. the 15th of Sha’bān)? There are some hadeeth cited that are utilised by the people.

What is correct is: All that is cited concerning virtues of the middle of Sha’bān are weak narrations―and cannot be used as proof. And some of those narrations are fabricated. Furthermore, it is not known from any of the Sahābah that they would venerate the night of the 15th of Sha’bān or take it as a special night in which to perform righteous deeds―or that they would single the day out with fasting for the occasion. Most of those who would venerate this night were the people of Shām (Syria), and the tābi’ūn who did that were not, of course, Sahābah. Also, the tābi’ūn of Makkah and Madinah would rebuke them and forbid them saying that it is not allowed for you to venerate any occasion except with clear and authentic proofs (from the Qur’an and Sunnah and from the actions of the Sahābah). Therefore, that which is correct concerning the middle of Sha’bān is that it is to be treated like any other night―do not single it out for night prayer, nor is the day singled out for fasting. However, the one who normally prays the night-prayer each night should pray as normal, and we do not say to him that he should not pray―and the one who fasts the three days of the middle of each month should continue to do so. Rather, what we say is do not single out the night or the day and make them of special significance.

Ref: Al-Imām Muhammad Ibn ‘Uthaimīn (rahimhullāh), slightly adapted. See also Al-Imām Ibn Bāz (rahimahullāh).

Imām Ibn Bāz

From the innovations that some of the people introduced is the bid’ah of celebrating the night of the middle of Sh’abān and they single out its day for fasting. However, there is no evidence for them to base this action upon. There are some weak narrations that mention its virtues but they are not to be relied upon since they cannot be ascribed to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). And all the narrations that mention the virtue of praying its night are fabricated (mawdū’) as numerous scholars have pointed out. And we’ll mention some of their sayings, inshā’-Allāh.

We also have the narrations of some of the Salaf from the scholars of Shām, and that which the majority of the scholars are agreed upon is that celebrating the middle of Sha’bān is a bid’ah―and all the ahādīth (reports) mentioning its virtues are weak and others are fabricated. From the scholars who pointed that out includes Al-Hāfidh Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) in his book Latā’if Al-Ma’ārif and elsewhere. The weak narrations cannot be acted upon in acts of worship unless there is a basis that is established in ahādīth that are authentic. As for celebrating the night of the middle of Sha’bān, then there is no authentic basis for that such that we can refer any weak narration to that which is authentic. This tremendous principle was mentioned by Shaikh Al-Islam Abul-‘Abbās Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullāh).

The scholars of the past (rahimahumullāh) have agreed unanimously (by ijmā) that whatever the people differ over must be referred back to the Book and Sunnah for resolution. And whatever is found to be the judgement by these two sources or one of them, then that is the obligated legislation and Sharī’ah to be followed. And whatever opposes that is to be cast aside. And whatever is not proven by these two sources to be an act of worship, then it is a bid’ah (innovation) and not permissible to act upon let alone that people should call to it, endorse it or champion it! Allah stated:

يا أيها الذين ءامنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم فإن تنازعتم في شيء فردوه إلى الله والرسول إن كنتم تؤمنون بالله واليوم الآخر ذلك خير وأحسن تأويلاً

“O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you differ in any affair between yourselves, then refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” (An-Nisā: 59) And He (the Most High) said:

وما اختلفتم فيه من شيء فحكمه إلى الله

“And in whatever you differ, its judgement is with Allah.” (Ash-Shūrā:10) And He (the Most High) stated:

قل إن كنتم تحبون الله فاتبعوني يحببكم الله ويغفر لكم ذنوبكم

“Say to them (O Prophet): If you truly love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you and forgive your sins.” (Aali-‘Imrān: 31).

Al-Hāfidh Ibn Rajab (rahimahullāh) stated in his book Latā’if Al-Ma’ārif concerning this issue: “And the night in the middle of Sha’bān, some of the tābi’ūn of Shām (Syria) used to venerate it, such as Khālid bin Ma’dān, Mak-hūl, Luqmān bin ‘Āmir and some others. They would exert themselves in worship during this night. And it was due to them that the people took the night to be virtuous and they venerated it. And it was said that it was venerated due to narrations that reached them from the Jews and Christians (Isrā’īliyyah). So most of the scholars of Makkah and Madinah refuted them―from them was ‘Atā, Ibn Abi Mulaykah―and Abdur-Rahmān bin Zayd bin Aslam narrated this position from the scholars of Madinah. This was also the saying of the companions of Mālik bin Anas and others. They would say: ‘All of it is bid’ah.’ And there is no speech from Imām Ahmad bin Hanbal venerating the night of the middle of Sha’bān.” Until Ibn Rajab stated: “Standing in night-prayer for the night in the middle of Sha’bān is not established (or proven) from the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) or his Companions.”

Al-Imām Abu Bakr At-Tartūshi (rahimahullāh) stated in his book Al-Hawādith wal-Bid’ah: “Ibn Waddāh narrated from Zayd bin Aslam who said: “Nothing has reached us from any of our shaikhs or jurists that they would view the night in the middle of Sha’bān with any attention. Nor would they pay attention to the narration of Mak-hūl, and they would not see that it had any virtue over the other nights.” It was said to Ibn Abi Mulaykah: “Ziyād An-Numayri said: The reward of the night of the middle of Sha’bān is like the reward of Laylatul-Qadr.” So Ibn Abi Mulaykah responded: “If I had heard that from him, and in my hand was a stick, I would surely beat him.” But Ziyād was not present.”

See Majmū Fatāwā Al-Imām Ibn Bāz (2/882).

Al-Imām Al-Albāni

There is an oft-quoted narration authenticated by Shaikh Al-Albāni (rahimahullāh) that Mu’ādh bin Jabal narrated that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) stated: “Allah looks upon His creation on the night of the middle of Sha’bān and He forgives all of His creation except for the polytheist (who associates partners with Allah in worship) and the mashāhin (one who harbours hatred against the Muslims and the innovator who abandons the Sunnah).”

Reported by Ibn Abī ‘Āsim in As-Sunnah (no. 512) with Al-Albāni’s checking, Ibn Hibbān (1980), and others. Shaikh Al-Albāni declared the narration to be sahīh in As-Silsilatus-Sahīhah (no. 1144, 3/135 and 1563, 4/86). Also, Ibn Mājah from Abu Mūsā (no. 1390) declared hasan by Al-Albani.

This narration that has been authenticated by this Salafi Imām Al-Albāni does not prove that the Muslims should engage in special acts of worship on this night because the hadīth does not mention any deeds specified for this night. And it is surprising that those who celebrate this night by gathering in mosques, lighting candles, handing out sweets and so on from among the Sufis, Deobandis and others are the very people that this hadeeth threatens because the meaning of the term “mashāhin” refers to Ahlul-Bid’ah, those who abandon the Sunnah and harbour hatred for the people of Sunnah. Ibn Athīr (rahimahullāh) stated: “The mashāhin is the opposer and Al-Awzā’ī stated: ‘The Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) intended here by the term mashāhin: the person of innovation, one who splits from the Jamā’ah of the Ummah.” (See As-Silsilatus-Sahīhah, 4/86).

As for the narration ascribed to ‘Ali (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) that the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “When it is the night of the middle of Sha’ban, spend its night in prayer and observe a fast on that day for Allah descends at sunset on that night to the lowest heaven and says: ‘Is there no one who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is there no one who will ask Me for provision, that I may provide for him? Is there no one who is afflicted by trouble, that I may relieve him?’ And so on, until dawn comes.’” (Reported by Ibn Mājah, no. 1388). This hadīth is fabricated (mawdū’) and cannot be relied upon (see As-Silsilah Ad-Da’īfah of Al-Albāni, no. 2132). And there are many other weak and fabricated narrations like this.

Furthermore, it is known in the Islamic Sharī’ah that the presence of an event does not necessitate action from the worshipper unless there is a textual proof legislating that.

For example, the night of Isrā and Mi’rāj with the revelation of the five daily prayers, the migration of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) to Madinah, the birthday of the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam), Revelation in the cave of Hirā ― all of these are important events, but there is no proof from the Qur’an, Sunnah or from the Sahābah that the Muslim should do anything special or out of the ordinary on these occasions. In fact, to do so is an innovation and misguidance.

Some weak and fabricated narrations concerning the middle of Sha’bān:

وقال العلامة الشوكاني رحمه الله في الفوائد المجموعة ما نصه : “حديث : يا علي من صلى مائة ركعة ليلة النصف من شعبان ، يقرأ في كل ركعة بفاتحة الكتاب ، و( قل هو الله أحد ) عشر مرات ، إلا قضى الله له كل حاجة … الخ ” وهو موضوع [ أي مكذوب على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ] ، وفي ألفاظه – المصرحة بما يناله فاعلها من الثواب – ما لا يمتري إنسان له تمييز في وضعه ، ورجاله مجهولون ، وقد روي من طريق ثانية كلها موضوعة ، ورواتها مجاهيل .

وقال في المختصر : حديث صلاة نصف شعبان باطل ، ولابن حبان من حديث علي : ( إذا كان ليلة النصف من شعبان فقوموا ليلها وصوموا نهارها ) ضعيف .

وقال في اللآلئ: مائة ركعة في نصف شعبان بالإخلاص عشر مرات … موضوع وجمهور رواته في الطرق الثلاث ، مجاهيل وضعفاء ، قال : واثنتا عشرة ركعة بالإخلاص ثلاثين مرة ، موضوع وأربع عشرة موضوع .

وقد اغتر بهذا الحديث جماعة من الفقهاء ، كصاحب الإحياء وغيره ، وكذا من المفسرين ، وقد رويت صلاة هذه الليلة – أعني : ليلة النصف من شعبان – على أنحاء مختلفة كلها باطلة موضوعة ، .. انتهى المقصود .

وقال الحافظ العراقي : “حديث : صلاة ليلة النصف ، موضوع على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وكذب عليه”.

وقال الإمام النووي في كتاب المجموع : “الصلاة المعروفة بـ : صلاة الرغائب ، وهي : اثنتا عشرة ركعة بين المغرب والعشاء ليلة أول جمعة من رجب ، وصلاة ليلة النصف من شعبان مائة ركعة ، وهاتان الصلاتان بدعتان منكرتان ، ولا يُغتر بذكرهما في كتاب قوت القلوب و إحياء علوم الدين ، ولا بالحديث المذكور فيهما ، فإن كل ذلك باطل ، ولا يغتر ببعض من اشتبه عليه حكمهما من الأئمة فصنف ورقات في استحبابهما ، فإنه غلط في ذلك”

وقد صنف الشيخ الإمام أبو محمد عبد الرحمن بن إسماعيل المقدسي كتاباً نفيساً في إبطالهما ، فأحسن وأجاد ، وكلام أهل العلم في هذه المسألة كثير جداً ، ولو ذهبنا ننقل كل ما اطّلعنا عليه من كلامهم في هذه المسألة لطال بنا الكلام ، ولعل في ما ذكرنا كفاية ومقنعاً لطالب الحق .

See Majmū Fatāwā Al-Imām Ibn Bāz (2/882).

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