Published in  
March 14, 2022

The 15 Sha’ban Debate

 It is that time of the year whereby conflicting messages regarding the month of Sha’baan, and in particular the 15th of the month are being circulated. What is the reality of this month and its middle?

باسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله صحبه أجمعين،

The month of Sha’ban and its middle has been a discussion documented with the earliest of generations, and not one famous to our time alone.

In terms of the earliest of generations, we find some of the seniors from our pious predecessors from Shaam treating the month of Sha’ban and it’s middle with special care. In retrospect, we also find seniors from our pious predecessors from Madinah and other Muslim cities manifesting importance regarding the month of Sha’ban, however, they never gave the middle of the month the importance found with some of the inhabitants of Shaam. Rather they considered the 15th night of the month as another night amongst other nights, and the 15th day of the month as another day amongst other days.

The reason for this difference in approach and view is because of a series of narrations attributed to Messenger ﷺ regarding this night, and a difference of opinion among the scholars regarding the attribution of these narrations to the Messenger ﷺ.

In all matters, it is important for us to consider the outcomes based on the best application of the evidence we have, and with this introduction; I share the following points for your consideration which will also, InShaAllah, answer the question at hand:

Firstly: It is established that the month of Sha’ban is a month in which we should revive the worship of fasting as the Messenger ﷺ fasted most of the Sha’ban.

Abu Salamah said: “I asked Aishah رضي الله عنها about the fasting of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and she said: ‘He used to fast until we thought that he would always fast, then he would not fast until we thought that he would always not fast, and I never saw him fast in any month more than he fasted in Sha’ban. He used to fast all of Sha’ban, and he used to fast all of the Sha’ban apart from a few days”. [Muslim].

Benefit: In fasting much of Sha’ban, we also allow for our bodies the necessary acclimatisation and provide an opportunity for our bodies to calibrate its energy release function, which in turn ensures an even more diligent fast during Ramadan.

Secondly: We are taught that the month of Sha’ban is a month in which our deeds of the year are raised to Allah Almighty.

Usamah bin Zayd said: “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any month more than in Sha’ban.’ He said, ‘That is a month concerning which many people are heedless, between Rajab and Ramadaan. It is the month in which people’s deeds are taken up to the Lord of the Worlds, and I would like my deeds to be taken up whilst I am fasting”.  [Nasai]

Benefit: Our sources teach us that our deeds are also raised to Allah Almighty on a weekly basis, every Monday and Thursday. Fasting was an established practice of the Messenger ﷺ on these two days as well.

Our scholars explain that the rewards for the patient are vast and countless, and fasting manifests the quality of patience with a believer. Allah Almighty says in ayah: 10 of Surah az-Zumar:

Say, “O My servants who have believed, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world is good, and the earth of Allah is spacious. Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account”.

Thirdly: The Middle (15th) of Sha’ban

The discussion about the middle of Sha’ban can be divided into two parts, represented by the following two questions:

1. Is the night virtuous (meritorious)?

2. Are there specific acts of worship that should be practised during the day and night of the 15th of Sha’ban?

In answer to the first question; a large group of our scholars from our distant and recent past have confirmed the night of the 15th of Sha’ban to possess virtue. This conclusion has been reached after a study of several narrations attributed to the Messenger ﷺ via several of his ﷺ companions, such as Aisha, Abu Musa, Abu Tha’labah, Mu’ath bin Jabal, Abdullah bin Umar and others رضي الله عنهم.

It should be noted though, that each of these narrations has certain conditions missing (as established by the scholars of hadeeth) which prevent the narrations from being attributed to the Messenger ﷺ in an authentic and authoritative manner.

However, some scholars of hadith have supported the meaning of these narrations as fair and acceptable through context. They agree that the narrations in and of themselves are weak in terms of being established as something taught by the Messenger ﷺ, however they say that these weak narrations support each other and collectively present a case of the teaching to have come from the Messenger ﷺ. This, in turn, permits the deduction of the night of the 15th of Sha’ban to possess virtue.

One of these narrations is the following text:

Mu’adh bin Jabal رضي الله عنه‎‎  narrates that the Messenger ﷺ said: “Allah looks at His creation during the middle night of Sha’ban and forgives everyone, except an idolater and one who harbours hatred”. [Ibn Majah]

And in another narration recorded by Imam Ahmed رحمه الله‎‎ and narrated by the companion Abdullah Ibn Amr ibn al’Aas رضي الله عنه‎‎  the following ending to the narration is found: “except an idolater and a murderer”.

After evaluating the different chains of this narration, Sheikh al-Albaani رحمه الله‎‎ concludes the narrations to collectively establish virtue for the 15th night of Sha’baan. (For further reading, please see: Silsilah al-Ahadith as-Sahihah, 3:138).

Benefit: We learn from the discussion the importance of looking after the rights of Allah and the rights of the servants of Allah Almighty.

As for looking after the rights of Allah; this should be done through servitude and obedience and at the top of this discussion, not associating any partners with Allah Almighty. A Muslim should always revise his/her intentions and ensure that all actions are solely for Allah Almighty alone.

As for looking after the rights of the servants of Allah; this is understood from the words of the narration which state that a person who harbours hatred towards other believers will not be forgiven. May Allah save us all and correct our affairs! Ameen.

Footnote: It is important and appropriate for me to address here another issue which many Muslims write in asking about and is related to fellow Muslims that you may have harmed and refuse to forgive you.

In answer to this; our scholars teach us that we should work on ridding our hearts of the issues that caused us to wrong the other believers in the first place, and then go on to sincerely supplicate to Allah Almighty for them, asking Him to bless them, forgive them and protect them in this life and the next.

We must always remember that the successful person on the day of judgement is the one who meets Allah Almighty with a pure and sound heart. Allah Almighty says about the day of judgement in Surah Shua’raa, Aayah 88-89:

“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart”.

An insincere heart or a heart which harbours hatred and enmity towards other believers can never be sound or pure.

May Allah Almighty purify our hearts and forgive us! Ameen.

Thus far, we have stated that several scholars from our distant and near past have attributed the status of virtue to the 15th of Sha’ban and shared some insights as to how they have reached their conclusions.

This discussion and conclusion leads us to the second question stated earlier:

Are there specific acts of worship that should be practiced during the day and night of the 15th of Sha’ban?

In answer to this; I state that from my research, I have not come across any authoritative evidence detailing the Messenger (ﷺ) or his blessed companions رضي الله عنهم having revived the night or day of the 15th of Sha’ban, because of it being the 15th of Sha’ban, with any special worship. Rather they worshipped Allah Almighty during its day and night as they would worship Allah Almighty during any other day and night. If there was goodness in reviving specifically this night, the Messenger ﷺ would have completed this deed before anyone else as he was the greatest worshipper of Allah Almighty, and his special worship during this night would have reached us in unequivocal authentic reports just as all other important acts of worship have been transmitted through to us today.

Based on this, and given that our mandate is one of reviving the way of the Messenger ﷺ and not innovating in religion; a Muslim should not revive the night or day of the 15th of Sha’ban for any special worship, such as fasting or reviving the night in prayer, whilst believing his/her worship to be an act from the acts of the night and day of the 15th of Sha’ban specifically.

If a person however, wakes up during the last third of night and worships Allah Almighty, because its the last third of night and the best time for the tahajjud prayer, or fasts the 15th day of Sha’ban because it denotes the middle days of fasting which Islam has encouraged us to do during every month; then his/her actions will be one of conformity to the teachings and practices of the Messenger (ﷺ), and he/she will be rewarded accordingly based on the strength of the intention present when the worship took place. And Almighty knows best.

Finally, I conclude by stating that many of us do react to the 15th day and night of the month of Sha’baan despite the nature of the evidence and plausible conclusions advanced before you all in this answer. However, we almost never see a reaction from the ummah regarding a teaching of  Islam that is clear beyond doubt and accepted by all the scholars of Islam! This teaching is in the form of the following narration in which Abu Hurairah رضي الله عنه reports a narration which denotes a lesson taught to him by the Messenger (ﷺ).

He says: “The deeds are presented (To Allah Almighty) every Monday and Thursday, and Allah, the Exalted and Glorious grants pardon to every person who does not associate anything with Allah, except the person in whose (heart) there is enmity against his brother. (In his case) It would be said: Put both of them off (from being pardoned) until they have reconciled”. [Muslim]

I repeat, there is no difference of opinion regarding this narration and it’s lesson between the scholars of Islam, so will we take heed!? And Allah Almighty knows best.

Originally posted on Sheikh’s official website. Follow Sheikh’s website for more of such questions and other amazing posts.

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