The Month of Shaaban and Misconceptions Related to its Virtues
The Month of Shaaban and Misconceptions Related to its Virtues
There are many practices related to the month of Shaaban common amongst Muslims that are not supported by any authentic Hadith of the Prophet (S). This post summarizes some of those mistakenly held beliefs. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said: “Concerning the virtue of the night of the fifteenth of Shaaban there are numerous Ahaadeeth, concerning which the scholars differed, but most of them classed those Ahadeeth of the Prophet (S) as da’eef (weak), and Ibn Hibbaan classed some of them as Saheeh.” (Lataa’if al-Ma’aazif, 261.)
Similar to other matters, care should be taken to verify those ahadeeth, even though some of those ahadeeth mention a chain of narrators. As Muslims, we have been cautioned to not attribute anything to the Prophet (S) that he (S) did not say. It makes no difference whether such an attribution is intended for good or for evil intentions. We see that in the stern warning contained in the words of the prophet (s.a.w.) in which he said: “Whoever tells a lie about me deliberately, let him take his place in Hell.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhaari, 10; Muslim, 4.) (Source:islamqa.info).
Here is an explanation of some of those mistakenly held beliefs and the various explanations of the known scholars of Ahl-us-Sunnah (followers of the Sunnah of the Prophet (S).
No special virtues for middle of Shabaan
One of the very common but mistaken beliefs has to do with attributing special virtues to the 15th of the month of Shaaban. The reality, however, is that the Hadith literature lacks the evidence of any authentic Ahadith related to this topic. Shaykh Ibn Jibreen states the following:
There is no saheeh marfoo’ report (A Hadith that traces a statement directly to the Noble Prophet (saw) without any break in the chain of reporters) that speaks of the virtue of the middle of Sha’baan that may be followed, not even in the chapters on al-Fadaa’il (chapters on virtues in books of hadeeth etc.). Some maqtoo’ reports (reports whose chain of narrations do not go back further than the time of Taabi’een) have been narrated from some of the Taabi’een, and there are some ahaadeeth, the best of which are mawdoo’ (fabricated) or da’eef jiddan (very weak). These (weak) reports suggest that people’s lifespans are written on that day or that it is decided on that day who is to die in the coming year. On this basis (lack of any authentic hadith), it is not prescribed to spend this night in prayer or to fast on this day, or to single it out for certain acts of worship. One should not be deceived by (such ignorance)… And Allah knows best.
Singling out the Middle of Shaaban for special worship is not allowed
Based on the above, therefore, the middle of the month of Shaaban should not be singled out for special worship. In this context, the scholars have stated the following:
… 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 fine. The same applies if he fasts the day of the fifteenth of Shaaban 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 Shaaban ) 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 Saheeh Hadith texts).” (islamqa.info)
Abu Hurairah RA reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said,
“When there comes the middle of Sha`ban, don’t observe Saum (fasting).” (Tirmidhi)
Fasting on the last day of Shaaban is not allowed
The third issue has to do with fasting on the last day of Shaaban, which is also referred to as the “day of doubt.” It is so called because at times it is not possible to ascertain whether that day is the start of Ramadan or not. There are a number of Ahadith and scholarly opinions on this issue some of which are as follows:
‘Ammaar ibn Yaasir said: “Whoever fasts on the day concerning which there is doubt has disobeyed Abu’l-Qaasim (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).” This was narrated by al-Tirmidhi and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 553.
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said: “It was understood from this that it is haraam to fast the day of doubt, because the Sahaabah would not say such a thing based on personal opinion, so a report such as this has the same status as a marfoo’ hadeeth.
The Prophet (S) said: “Do not anticipate Ramadaan by fasting one or two days before it begins, but if a man habitually fasts, then let him fast.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1914; Muslim, 1082. So if a person is used to fasting on Mondays, for example, and that coincides with the last day of Sha’baan, then it is permissible for him to observe that as a voluntary fast and it is not forbidden for him to do so.
The scholars have stated concerning the day of doubt, “The Sunnah indicates that it is haraam to fast this day (last day of Shaaban).” (Fataawa al-Lajnah, 10/117).
Weakness of the Hadith Related to Forgiveness on the 15th of Shaaban
A weak hadith that is circulated on this issue states that it was narrated from Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah looks down on the night of the fifteenth of Shaaban and forgives all his creation except a mushrik or one who harbors hatred against the Muslims.” Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1390. (The “one who harbors hatred against the Muslims” means one who has enmity towards a Muslim brother.)
There is some scholarly difference of opinion as to the soundness of such Ahaadeeth. There is no saheeh hadeeth concerning the virtue of the night of the fifteenth of Shaaban, especially as it relates to Allah descending to forgive sins. For such ahadith, the isnaads (chain of narrations) are not free of some weakness, and some of them are very weak. Many other scholars have attributed this hadith to be as weak because of the weakness of the chain of narrators.
The scholars have maintained that Allah’s descending to the first heaven does not only happen on the night of the fifteenth of Shaaban, rather it is proven in al-Saheehayn and elsewhere that Allah descends to the first heaven every night, in the last third of the night. The night of the fifteenth of Shaaban is included in this general meaning.
Hence, when ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Mubaarak was asked about the descent of Allah on the night of the fifteenth of Shaaban, he said to the one who asked him: “…The night of the fifteenth?! He descends every night!” (Narrated by Abu ‘Uthmaan al-Saabooni in I’tiqaad Ahl al-Sunnah, no. 92.)