QUESTION.

Many South Asian Muslims commemorate 'Shab-e-Barat', is there any evidence of observing this in the Qur’an and Hadith?

Answer:

Shab-e-Barat refers to the middle night of Sha’ban (eighth month of Islamic calendar). It is the night between the 14th and 15th of Sha’ban. Muslim communities around the globe have been observing this night throughout Islamic history. 

 

Numerous traditions have been narrated from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) in regards to the virtues of this night. Before the traditions are cited, it is of paramount importance to comprehend the following two principles of Usul al-Hadith (the science relating to the principles of Hadith) that are agreed upon by all experts of the science:

1. Traditions which have a technical weakness in their chains of narrations are to be accepted in Fada’il al-'Amal (Acts of Vitue); i.e. acting upon a weak narration is mustahabb (desired) and not obligatory, as long as it is not a fabricated (mawdoo’) tradition.

2. If numerous weak traditions exist concerning a single act or concept then the weakness of one corroborates the others and the tradition no longer remains weak. 

 

Some of the numerous traditions concerning the virtues of Mid-Sha’ban Night are mentioned below. Even though some of these traditions may be weak when observed individually, however due to the multitude of traditions their strength is increased and observing this night is permissible, rather desirable, in light of prophetic traditions, as opposed to being a bid'ah. None of the following traditions are fabricated.

 

Hadith 1:

Narrated by A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her): 

I failed to see the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) one night. So I went out looking for him. I found him in Al-Baqi’ with his head raised towards the sky. He said, ‘O A'isha, were you afraid that Allah and His Messenger would wrong you? She said, ‘No, it is not that, but I thought that you had gone to one of your other wives.’ He (peace be upon him) said, ‘Allah descends on the night of the middle of Sha'ban to the lowest heaven, and he forgives more than the number of hairs on the sheep of Banu Kalb.’ 

(Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Chapter concerning what is narrated concerning the middle night of Sha’ban.  

Sunan Ibn Maja, the chapter of establishing the prayer and the sunnah regarding them)

 

Hadith 2:

Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) that he said, “Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all His creation, apart from the disbeliever and the one whose heart is filled with enmity towards others."

(Sunan Ibn Maja, Chapter concerning what is narrated concerning the middle night of Sha’ban)

 

Hadith 3:

Ali Ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When it is the night of the middle of Sha’ban, spend its night in prayer and observe a fast on that day.  Allah descends at sunset on that night to the lowest heaven and says, ‘is there no one who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive himIs there no one who will ask me for provision, that I may provide for him? Is there no one afflicted by trouble that I may relieve him?’ And so on until dawn appears.”

(Sunan Ibn Maja, Chapter concerning what is narrated concerning the middle night of Sha’ban)

Conclusion:

In conclusion observing the night of middle of Sha’ban is established from many Prophetic traditions and hence it is not a bid'ah. At the same time it is not an obligation upon every Muslim to observe it, rather it is desirable and an act of great virtue. No doubt, Allah and his beloved Messenger know best.

Answered by Mufti Zulfiqar Haidar Pirzada Al-Azhari

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