The excellency of the 15th night of Shabaan
Many Muslims in various countries pray on the 15th night of Sha’ban, and ask for forgiveness of their sins and on the following day proceed to fast. To do this is in no way against the Qur’an or theSunna. There are many narrations that support its validity.
There is one night in the year when Allah Most High gives the knowledge to the angels about what is going to happen in the following year. For example, who is going to die, who will be born, who will be ill and how much food people will have in the year, etc.
Position of the ‘Ulema
The majority of the scholars of Islam say:
“That night is Laylat al-Qadr in the month of Ramadan but the other scholars like ‘Ikrimah, student of ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), say that the night is 15th of Sha’ban. There is a hadith which Imam at-Tabari writes: ‘The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘From Sha’ban to Sha’ban there is a decision made of who is going to die and who is to be married. And some people get married but their names are written in the death program'”
[at-Tabari, Tafsir Tabari, under Sura ad-Dukhan, verse 1]
This narration is ‘Ikrmah’s and the other scholars’ statements prove that the 15th night of Sha’ban is a holy night. Furthermore, there is no doubt that Allah Most High gives the full knowledge to the angels in the night of Laylat al-Qadr, which is in the month of Ramadan.
If we read all the narrations regarding Laylat al-Qadr and the 15th night of Sha’ban we can reach the conclusion that the yearly program started on the 15th night of Sha’ban and completed on Laylat al-Qadr. There might be a suspicion as to, ‘Why does a year program take so long from Sha’ban to Ramadan?’The answer is that Allah knows best. No one can understand for sure the philosophy or wisdom behind Allah’s work. He made the world in six days. Who knows why He took six days to make the world. To examine all of the above statements consult the following books: Tafsir Tabari, Fath al-Qadir, Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Tafsir al-Baghawi, Tafsir Mazhari, Tafsir Ma’ariful Qur’an, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Zia al-Qur’an – all under Sura ad-Dukhan, verses 1 to 5.
Excellency of 15th Sha’ban
There are some other narrations that inform us about the excellency of the 15th night of Sha’ban. Imam Ibn Majah states:
“It is narrated by Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated, ‘When it is the 15th night of Sha’ban, do qiyam[stand in prayer] in the night, and fast in the morning, and ask for forgiveness because on that night Allah calls:’Is there anyone who is asking for forgiveness so that I can forgive them, who is in distress that I may relieve his distress. Is there anyone who needs provision that I may give it to him.’And this continues till the morning'”
[Ibn Majah, chapter on ‘Salat’]
Imam at-Tirmidhi writes:
“‘A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: ‘On this night the Prophet went to Jannat al-Baqi’ to make du’a’; I followed him. The Prophet said to me: ‘Allah puts His attention towards the first Heaven, and forgives the sins of the people, even if they were equivalent to the hairs of the goats of Bani Qalb [A tribe who at the time had a lot of goats]'”
[at-Tirmidhi, ‘Kitab as-Siyam]
Imam al-Bukhari has objected upon one narrator but this is compensated by the fact that Ibn Majah has narrated it with different chains. Allama adh-adh-Dhahabi,and Hafiz Ibn Kathir quote from Hafiz Abu Zur’a that only 30 ahadith in Ibn Majah are weak [adh-Dhahabi, Tadhkirat al-Huffaz; Ta’rikh Ibn Kathir, ‘Biography of Ibn Majah’]
Some other people have stated that more than 30 ahadith are da’if (weak) but the narrations we have are not amongst those 30, and that is why these ahadith can be used to support the validity of 15th Sha’ban night.
Even Imam at-Tirmidhi’s narration is weak but this does not belittle the subject when it concerns its merits and excellence – since weak narrations are still acceptable. However, we would like to ask those people who are so against the observance of 15th of Sha’ban, whether they have even a weak hadith to disprove the prayers on the 15th of Sha’ban? In reality they have no narration against the 15th night of Sha’ban. If there are any they should produce it. Those who are against the 15th night of Sha’ban usually ask, ‘Why do you celebrate the 15th night of Sha’ban?’ An appropriate answer might be, ‘Why do all of the Saudi Arabian scholars celebrate Laylat al-Qadr on the 27th night of Ramadan in Haramayn (Makka and Madina)? Did the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his Companions celebrate the Laylat al-Qadr on the 27th night of Ramadan?’ The answer is clearly, ‘No, they did not.’ So if this is permitted then the 15th night of Sha’ban is permitted as well.
The Ahl as-Sunna say that observing the 15th night od Sha’ban is a permissible act, but it is not a Sunna. There is enough proof that if the majority of the Muslims consider it to be good then it is sufficient.As the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated: ‘The thing that a group of a Muslims says is good, it is accepted by Allah[ Mishkat, chapter on ‘Istihsan’]
Two great followers of Ibn Taymiyya and Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab an-Najdi, are Hafiz ‘Abdullah Rawpari and Thana’ullah Amritsari, who both state that to worship on the 15th night of Sha’ban is not a bid’a and the person who worships on this night will obtain reward for it. The narrations concerning this night are weak but this does not matter since weak ahadith are acceptable for virtuous actions
[Hafiz Rawpari, Fatawa Ahl al-Hadith; Amritsari, T., Fatawa Thana’iya, chapter on ‘Fasting’]
Hafiz Ibn Taymiyya writes:
“The excellency regarding the 15th of Sha’ban is an area of dispute between the scholars; some of them say that there is no significance of this night, but Imam Ahmed recognises the excellency of this night, and our other Hanbali scholars also agree with Imam Ahmed.There are ahadith on this night being significant, some of them are from the Sunnan of at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and other books of ahadith as well”
[Ibn Taymiyya, Iqtida Sirat al-Mustaqim, page 203]
The people who reject the significance of this night argue that the Holy Qur’an was not revealed on this night so that is why there is no significance of this night. It is true that the Holy Qur’an was revealed in Ramadan, but the significance is due to the ahadith that tells us about the reward one will obtain if one worships on the 15th night of Sha’ban.