The 15th of Sha’ban, which is commonly referred to as “Laylatul Bara-ah” (refer: Tafsir Razi and Ruhul ma’ani, Surah 44. Ayah: 3) is one of the significant nights in the Islamic calendar.
Ibnul Haj (rahimahullah) states:
“The salaf (pious predecessors) would sanctify this night and prepare themselves for it in advance”
(Al-Madkhal, vol.1 pg.299)
Some people, due to being ill-informed actually refute the auspiciousness of this occasion. The following paragraphs serve to correct that false notion.
Hadiths on the virtue of the night
There are several Hadiths in which the merit of the 15th of Sha’ban has been discussed.
1) Amongst them is the narration of Sayyiduna Mu’adh ibn Jabal (radiyallahu ‘anhu) that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:
“Allah Ta’ala pays special attention to his entire creation on the fifteenth night of Sha’ban and forgives all of them except one who ascribes partners to Him and one who harbors enmity in his heart.”
(Al- Mu’jamul Awsat, Hadith: 6776 and Al-Mu’jamul Kabir vol.20 pg.108-109)
Reliability of this narration
Imam Ibn Hibban (rahimahullah) has classified this narration as sahih (authentic) and has included it in his book – Al-Sahih. (Sahih ibn Hibban; Al Ihsan, Hadith: 5665). ‘Allamah ‘Iraqi (rahimahullah) has labelled it as sound (hasan) (Sharhul Mawahib; see footnotes on Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith: 30479).
Hafiz Al-Haythami (rahimahullah) has mentioned that all the narrators of this Hadith are reliable. (Majma’ al-Zawa’id vol.8 pg.65)
2) Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:
“On the middle night of Sha’ban Allah Ta’ala’s mercy comes to the first sky and He forgives all besides the polytheists and those who harbour enmity for their brethren”
(Musnad Bazzar and Shu’abul Iman of Bayhaqi, Hadith: 3546)
Reliability of this one
Hafiz Mundhiri (rahimahullah) has classified this as sound (لا بأس به) in his Al-Targhib (vol.3 pg.459).
Al Haithami (rahimahullah) says: “Abdul Malik hasn’t been declared weak by Ibn Abi Hatim, and the rest of the narrators are reliable” (Majma’uz Zawaid, vol.8 pg.65)
In fact, Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has also classified one of its possible chains as hasan (sound). (Al Amali Al Mutlaqah pgs.119-1222)
Besides the above two narrations, there are many other Sahabah (radiyallahu ‘anhum) that narrated Ahadith regarding the merit of this night. Among them are the following:
3) Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) (Musnad al-Bazzar, Hadith: 3551 and Amali of Ibn Sam’un.
Hafiz Sakhawi (rahimahullah) has said: “There are no narrators in this chain that have been declared unreliable.” Al-Ajwibat ul-Mardiyyah vol.1 pgs.325)
4) Sayyidatuna Aishah (radiyallahu ‘anha) (Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 739, Musnad Ahmad, Hadith: 26018 and Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 3545)
5) Sayyiduna Abu Tha’labah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) (Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 3551)
6) Sayyiduna Awf ibn Malik (radiyallahu ‘anhu) (Musnad al-Bazzar, Hadith: 2048, see Majma’uz Zawaid, vol.8 pg.65
7) Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As (radiyallahu ‘anhu) (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith: 6642, classified as “layyin” i.e, slightly weak by Mundhiri and Haithami (rahimahumallah), Targhib, vol.3 pg.460 and Majma’uz Zawaid, vol.8 pg.65)
8) Sayyiduna Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (radiyallahu ‘anhu) (Ibn Majah, Hadith: 1390; Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 3552)
9) Sayyiduna ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radiyallahu ‘anhu) (Ibn Majah, Hadith: 1388; Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 3542)
10) Sayyiduna ‘Uthman ibn Abil-‘As (radiyallahu ‘anhu) (Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 3555)
11) The Tabi’i, Kathir Ibn Murrah (rahimahullah). (Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 3550) (see Ajwibatil Mardiyyah vol.1 pgs.325-332)
12) The Tabi’i,Yahya ibn Abi Kathir (rahimahullah). (Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 3544)
The collective strength of these (twelve) narrations cannot be refuted.
After quoting some of the above narrations, Imam Bayhaqi (rahimahullah) says:
“…when they are combined they acquire some strength”
(Da’watul Kabir; see: Is’aful Khullan, bima warada fi laylatin nisf min Sha’ban, of Shaykh Hammad Al-Ansari -rahimahullah- pg.19)
Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) has also accepted the collective strength of these narrations. (Majmu’ Fatawa. See below)
The Grand Mufassir, ‘Allamah Alusi (rahimahullah) has termed those who refute the virtues of the night entirely as “rash” and “reckless”. (Tafsir Ruhul Ma’ani, surah: 44, Ayah: 3)
Shaykh ‘Abdullah Siddeeq Al-Ghumari (rahimahullah) (a recent Moroccan Faqih and Muhaddith) has also termed this as an exaggeration. (Husnul Bayan fi laylati nisf min Sha’ban, pg.7)
Statements of the Scholars
The general virtue of this night has been accepted by many great ‘Ulama of the past.
Amongst those many great scholars who have attested to the virtue of this night are:
Verdicts of the Tabi’un
1) Imam ‘Ata ibn Yasar (rahimahullah) –the great Tabi’i of Madinah- said:
“After Laylatul-Qadr, there is no other night in the year that is more virtuous than the middle (15th) night of Sha’ban” (Lataif al-Ma’arif, pg.264 and Sunan Sa’eed ibn Mansur; refer: Husnul Bayan, pg.11)
2) Khalifah ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul Aziz (rahimahullah) wrote to his governor in Basrah: “Allah Ta’ala pours his mercy in abundance on four nights of the year, so ensure that you benefit there from. One of them being the middle (15th) night of Sha’ban” (Lataiful Ma’arif, pg.263. After quoting this, Ibn Rajab has expressed his reservation on the attribution of this statement to ‘Khalifah ‘Umar.)
3) & 4) There exists a narration from Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radiyallahu ‘anhu) and from Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) in which they two attest to the virtue of this night. (Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 262 and Musannaf ‘Abdur Razzaq, Hadith: 7927) However, the authenticity of this is unverified.
Those after the Tabi’un
5) Imam Shafi’i (rahimahullah) mentioned that du’as are accepted by Almighty Allah on the 15th of Sha’ban. (ibid, pg. 264 and Sunan Bayhaqi; refer: Husnul bayan,pg.7)
6) Imam Awza’i (rahimahullah) was of the view that people should engage in individual worship on this night. (ibid, pg.263)
7) Imam Ishaq ibn Rahuyah (rahimahullah) also approved of spending this night in worship/in the masjid. (ibid, pg.263)
8) Imam al-Majd ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) (Faydhul Qadir, vol.2 pg. 317)
9) Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah has said, ‘As for the middle night of Sha’ban, 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 salah in it individually. Hence, such a deed cannot be disputed.’ (Majmu’ al-Fatawa ibn Taymiyyah vol.23 pg.132)
10) Ibn Rajab al-Hambali (rahimahullah) writes: “Every Muslim is recommended to avail himself for ‘ibadah on this night” (Lataif, pg.265)
11) Hafiz Zaynuddeen al-‘Iraqi (rahmatullahi’alaih) (Faydhul Qadir, vol.2 pg.317)
12) Ibnul Haj –Demise: 737- (rahimahullah) states: “ This night has great virtue and abundant good” (Al-Madkhal, vol.1 pg.299)
Scholars who would personally engage in ‘ibadah (worship) on this night
Hafiz Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah) has cited that the following (and other) Tabi’un would engage in ‘ibadah (worship) on the fifteenth night of Sha’ban;
1) Makhool (rahimahullah)
2) Khalid ibn Ma’dan (rahimahullah)
3) Luqman ibn ‘Amir (rahimahullah) and others…
Those after the Tabi’un
4) Hafiz Ibn ‘Asakir –Demise: 571- (rahimahullah) the author of the volumous “Tareekh Dimashq” (in 70 volumes) would also engage in ‘ibadah on this night. (Siyar A’lamin Nubala, vol.20 pg.562)
5) Ibnul Haj –Demise: 737- (rahimahullah) states: “The salaf (pious predecessors) would sanctify this night and prepare themselves for it in advance” (Al-Madkhal, vol.1 pg.299)
From the above paragraphs it is clear that:
The virtue of the night is reported by more than ten Sahabah (radiyallahu ‘anhum) and Tabi’un (rahimahumullah)
There are verdicts of over ten ‘Ulama (from the Tabi’un onwards) that support this.
To engage in worship on this night (in addition to other occasions) has been the practice of numerous ‘Ulama.
That those who totally refute the merit of this night have been labelled as reckless and exaggerate.
That this night is actually considered as:
“The second most auspicious night of the Islamic calendar”!
All of the above sufficiently confirm the significance of the 15th night of Sha’ban.
Books on this topic
This discussion is further supported by the fact that several ‘Ulama have even written dedicated booklets on the virtue of the night. Among them are:
1) Hafiz Ibn ‘Asakir (rahimahullah) entitled: “Fadhlu laylati nisf min Sha’ban” – see: Al-Ajwibatul-Mardiyyah, vol.1 pgs.328.
2) Imam Ibnul Akhdar (rahimahullah) entitled: “Fadhlu Sha’ban”- see:Al- Ajwibatul-Mardiyyah vol.1 pg.328.
3) ‘Allamah ibn Hajar Al-Haitami (rahimahullah) entitled: “Al-Idah wal bayan…” I have a copy of the manuscript in my possession.
4) Al-Ajhuri (Maliki) rahimahullah. See Husnul bayan, pg.5
5) ‘Allamah Sakhawi (rahimahullah)- see: Is’aful Khullan, pg.1- (Shaykh Hammad Al-Ansari has cited this as a booklet on the virtues of the fifteenth of Sha’ban. Although it seems like Sakhawi’s (rahimahullah) main discussion in it is the issue of fasting after the 15th of Sha’ban, it is possible he discussed the virtue of the night too, like he has done in his: “Ajwibat al-Mardiyyah” vol.1 pgs.325-332. Wa Allahu A’lam)
6) Ibn Dihyah (rahimahullah)- see Is’aful khullan.
7) Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah) has a detailed section on the virtue of this night in his acclaimed book: “Lataiful Ma’arif”
8) Shaykh ‘Abdullah Siddiq Al-Ghumari -Morocco- (rahimahullah) entitled: “Husnul Bayan fi laylati nisf min Sha’ban”
9) Shaykh Hammad ibn Muhammad Al-Ansari -Madinah Munawwarah- (rahimahullah) entitled: “Is’aful Khullan, bima warada fi laylatin nisf min Sha’ban”
10) My Honourable Teacher, Al-Muhaddith Shaykh Fadlur Rahman Al-A’zami (may Allah protect him)
Final Cautionary Note
In addition to du’a and istighfar (seeking forgiveness from Allah Ta’ala), on this night one should engage in any act of worship that one feels comfortable with. (see here for some ideas)
There are no specific types of Salah etc. that are prescribed for the 15th night of Sha’ban. (Lataiful Ma’arif, pg.168, Islamic Months by Mufti Taqi Uthmani, pgs.63 and 79)
The Sahabah (radiyallahu ‘anum) and the Tabi’un (rahimahumullah) would increase their Quranic recital during these months (especially in Sha’ban), i.e. in preparation for Ramadan. (Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 192)
Some people engage in acts of bid’ah (innovation) on this night. The ‘Ulama of the past and present have always refuted these innovations.
Some contemporaries use the statements of these Scholars to refute the significance of the night itself. This is incorrect and irrational. The negation of certain innovated practices on this night does not necessitate the denial of the virtue of the night itself!
May Allah Ta’ala guide us all, and may He allow us to maximise our benefit from the auspiciousness of this night.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best.