The Fifteenth of Sha’baan in the light of Qur’aan & Hadeeth
Excerpt from article by Shaykhul-Hadeeth (Maulana) Fazlur Rahman Azmi
It must be understood that Islam is a pure and unadulterated religion in which no form of innovation will be tolerated. Only the application of the Holy Quraan and its supreme and perfect illustration by our beloved Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) is acceptable in the sight of Allah Ta’ala. Any deviation from this is sure to gain naught but loss and disappointment by its perpetrators. It was a keen realisation of the fundamental importance of this authenticity and purity of the teachings of Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) to be protected from adulteration that led to the Sahabah (RA) and the chosen scholars of the first few centuries of Islam expending untiring efforts towards its preservation. As the time passed from the demise of Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam), so too did the efforts of the enemies of Islam increase in the quest to vanquish the Deen of Allah Ta’ala with one area of effort being a direct attack at the Muslims and the truth of Islam.
Allah Ta’ala has, due to his infinite grace and mercy, presented to His bondsmen some special occasions wherein they have a golden opportunity of earning the mercy and forgiveness of Allah. Some explicit examples of these special occasions are the month of Ramadhan and Laylatul Qadr. In the same mould is the fifteenth night of Sha’baan. Several Ahaadith extol the tremendous merit of this occasion. Amongst them is the fact that countless people are forgiven by Allah during this blessed night. It is due to this reason that this night is called “The night of Bara’at” (i.e. the night wherein judgment of saviour from Jahannam and punishment is passed).
However, it should be borne in mind that a vast majority of the narrations declaring the benefit and virtue of this night are in fact quite weak. The weakness of most of the narrations regarding the virtue of Laylatul Bara’at is known to many. However, since these narrations are quite numerous and the weakness in many is not severe, the virtue of this night will be considered authentic due to the sheer number of these narrations. This is the general consensus of the scholars of this field.
Some Ahadith concerning Shabe Bara’at
It is reported from Sayyidina Mu’adh Ibn Jabal (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said:
“On the fifteenth night of Sha’baan Allah bestows his special attention on His entire creation. He then pardons His entire creation except an idolater and one who harbors enmity. (Tabarani has recorded this Hadith in Awsat, Ibn Hibaan in his Sahih and Baihaqi in Targhib-wat-Tarhib Page 118 V2, Page 459 V3)
It is narrated from Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn Amr (RA) that Rasulullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: “Allah looks with special attention towards His creation on the fifteenth night of Sha’baan and forgives all his servants except two categories of people; the person who harbours enmity and a murderer.” (lmam Ahmad reports this Hadith with a slightly weak chain of narrators – Targhib-wat-Tarhib Page 461 V3)
It is related from Sayydina Makhool who narrates from Sayydina Katheer bin Murrah (RA) that Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: “On the fifteenth night of Sha’baan Allah forgives all the inhabitants of the earth except an idolater and one who harbours hatred for others.” (Baihaqi has narrated this Hadith and says that it is an acceptable “Mursal” 3 – Targhib-wat-Tarhib Page 461 V3)
It is narrated from Sayydina Makhool who narrates from Sayydina Abu Tha’labah (RA) that Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said:
“On the fifteenth night of Sha’baan, Allah devotes special attention towards His bondsmen. He then pardons the believers and grants respite to the disbelievers (i.e. he delays their punishment), and he leaves the spiteful ones as well, until they abandon their spite (malice) (i.e., no decision of their mercy and forgiveness is made until they resolve their differences). (Tabarani and Baihaqi have narrated this Hadith, Baihaqi said that this narration is also an unacceptable Mursal between Makhool and Abu Tha’labah (RA) – Targhib-wat-Tarhib Page 461 V3)
An overview of the various narrations regarding this night lends credence to the acceptability of the virtue of this night. The reason being that although these narrations are weak, they are numerous and narrated by a number of Sahabah. Some are such that not much criticism has been levelled at their Sanad (chain of narrators). Ibn Hibbaan has included some of these narrations in his “Sahih” and Hafidh Mundhiri has remarked regarding the Sanad of some that LA BA’SA BISI (it is acceptable).
Therefore, according to the principal of the Muhadditheen, the excellence of the night of Bara’at is proven from a conjunction of all these narrations. This is the general consensus of the Muhadditheen and Fuqaha, and this is correct.
Moulana Abdur Rahman Mubarakpuri writes in his commentary of Tirmidhi: “The sheer number of Ahaadith regarding this serves as proof against those people who refute the excellence of this night. (Tuhfatul-Ahwazi Page 53 V2)
We should therefore not fall prey to the deception of a few zealots, who completely reject this night. We should instead derive maximum benefit from this night.
The virtue of this night that is established from these Ahaadith is that from the very beginning of the night Allah turns with special mercy and attention towards the creation and forgives those who repent and seek forgiveness.
Every Muslim should therefore value this night. Turn towards Allah with sincere regret and shame over sins committed and make a promise never to return to sin again and seek forgiveness from Allah. Seek forgiveness for oneself and the rest of the Muslims, living and deceased. Have the firm hope and resolution in the heart that Allah will surely show mercy and forgiveness.
It is understood from the Ahaadith that even on this night, some servants of Allah are deprived of His forgiveness.
They are as follows:
2) Those who harbour enmity against others;
3) Consumers of alcohol;
4) Those who disobey their parents;
5) Those who wear their trousers, Kurtas (Shirt, upper garment etc.) , Lungis (lower garment etc.) etc. below their ankles;
6) Those who commit adultery and murderers;
7) And those who sever family ties.
We can thus gauge the severity of these sins and the need to perpetually abstain from them as they are so grave that even on an occasion when Allah’s mercy comes to the fore; they still pose an obstacle to our forgiveness.
Fasting on the Fifteenth of Sha’baan is not established from Hadith
Some people are of the misconception that fasting on the fifteenth of Sha’baan is Sunnah. They have been deceived by the Hadith of Sayyidina Ali (RA) that appears in Ibn Majah. This narration is totally unreliable. An interesting point is that fasting on this day is only discussed in this weak Hadith. No other narration regarding any significance of fasting on this day is found.
Ibn Abi Sabirah, is a very weak narrator and has been accused of fabricating Hadith. (Mizanul-A’itidal of Dhahabi Page 503 V4. No action can be proven as Sunnah on the basis of such a weak Hadith)
This Hadith is extremely weak and it is not even narrated by any other chain of narrators.
Fasting on this day therefore cannot be regarded as Sunnah, it could be regarded as Nafl (optional) only. If fasting on this day be regarded as Sunnah, this will result in attributing to Rasulullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) something which cannot be proven from him and this could be very dangerous.
Fasting during the Month of Sha’baan itself is Sunnah and a clearly established practice of Shari’ ah.
Fasting in the month of Sha’baan, without the stipulation of any day, is proven from Rasulullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam). In fact, he used to fast excessively during this month.
Sayyidituna Aisha (RA) describing the fast of Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) says that aside from the month of Ramadhan, he never used to fast for the entire month. However, of the remaining eleven months, he would fast in Sha’baan the most (Bukhari).
Ibn Abbas (RA) has also narrated that besides the month of Ramadhan, Rasulullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) never spent the entire portion of any month in fasting. To fast excessively during the month of Sha’baan would therefore definitely be in conformance to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam).
Is sustenance, life and death decided on this night?
Qazi Abubakr bin Arabi writes that there is no reliable Hadith regarding the fifteenth of Sha’baan from which it may be understood that sustenance, life and death are decided on this night. He has even gone as far as to say that there isn’t any reliable narration concerning this night being the blessed one. [Ma’ariful Qur’aan, vol. 7, pg. 757]
Since the significance of the night of Bara’at has been mentioned in a number of narrations, and the narrations are not in conflict with any verse in the Qur’aan or any authentic narration, we do accept its significance. However, the opinion that sustenance, death, etc. are determined on this night is in conflict with the Qur’aan and is therefore unacceptable. It has been established from the Qur’aan that these decisions are passed to the Angels on Laylatul Qadr and not on the night of Bara’at. It is on this account that the research scholars have always rejected this opinion.