Reality of Shab-e-Barat

This post is based on Excerpts taken from Various Websites, collected to answer questions raised on Night of the Middle of Shaban (Shab-e-Barat) as follows:

Islamic Voice Website:
Q1. What is the significance of Shab-e-barat in Qur’an and Hadith? People of our town cook Halwas on the night of 15th Shaban. Some say, that the fates are written and scaled on this night. It is also said that Allah (SWT) forgives all the sins of those who hear Milad Shareef in this night. Please explain the true significance.
Faraz Ali Khan; Rampur

Answer 1: There is nothing in Qur’an about the night of 15th Shaban. There is a narration in Tirmidhi, which is considered as Da’eef (weak) according to Imam Tirmidhi. All the narrations regarding glorification of the night are weak. The authentic Hadiths inform us that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) with the exception of Ramadan, never kept so many fasts as in Sha’ban. But we also find that the Prophet (ﷺ) forbade others to keep any fast after the mid Sha’ban. Other than this, no reference of the 15th night is authentic.

Shias believe that 15th Sha’ban is the birth date of their last and 12th Imam who is invisible and will come back as Imam Medhi. This may be the reason behind Halwas, crackers and other celebration-like things prevalent among those who lack knowledge.

About Milads etc., every moment of the day or night when Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is remembered, is pious but again, there is nothing in Qur’an and Sunnah which links the Prophet (ﷺ) to the said night in particular.

The weak narrations, stating that fate is written in this night are to be ignored because they contradict the Qur’an. The Qur’an in clear words ascribe this pre-eminence of Shab-e-Qad’r or Lailat-al-Qad’r. It says; “Verily we have sent it (The Qur’an) down in the night of Al-Qad’r (The Decree)… The night of Decree is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and Ruh (the spirit) by Allah’s permission with all decrees.” (97:1-4)

In another Surah, the same thing has been specified; “We sent it (The Qur’an) down on a blessed night. Verily we are ever warning. Therein is decreed every matter of ordainment.”(44:3-4)

It is clear from the above verses that the night in which the Lord sets the decree about individuals, races and countries, is Shab-e-Qad’r and not Shab-e-Bara’at. Shab-e-Qad’r lies in one of the odd nights of the last one third of Ramadan. Forum:
Q 2. Please comment on the following: What is Shab-e-barat? What is the significance of the night of the 15th of Sha’ban? Why is the Arab world not aware of this night? When did we start celebrating this religious festival and where? Is there any mention of this night in our Holy Qur’an? Is there any authentic book where something is mentioned about this night? In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, some people celebrate this night and mix it up with the greatest night “Laylatul Qadr” of the month of Ramadan. (Jamshed Taher, L.A.)

Answer 2. The month of Sha’ban is the eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The fifteenth night of this month is known as Laylatul Bara’ah or Laylatun Nisfe min Sha’ban in the Arab world. In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Afghanistan, etc., it is known as Shab-e-barat. Some people believe that in Surah al-Dukhan (44:3-4) there is a reference to this night as Allah (SWT) says, “We sent it (the Qur’an) down during a blessed night. We are truly warners. In that night is made distinct every affair of wisdom” But the night referred to here cannot be a Sha’ban night, because it is said here clearly that the Qur’an was revealed in this night. We know from the Surah al-Qadr (97) that the Qur’an was revealed in the night of Qadr and we also know from the Qur’an (Al-Baqarah 2:185) that the Qur’an was revealed in the month of Ramadan, so it is obvious that the night of the revelation of the Qur’an was in Ramadan, not Sha’ban, and that it was Laylatul Qadr not Shab-e-barat (or the night of the middle of Sha’ban). Some people also say that in the 2nd year of Hijrah, the direction of Qiblah was changed from Jerusalem to Ka’bah (Makkah) on the 15th day of Sha’ban. This report is also not confirmed by authentic Ahadith. According to most of the scholars of Tafsir, the Qur’an has not mentioned anything about the Sha’ban night. There are some Ahadith that speak about the Middle of Sha’ban and its night. However, the scholars of Hadith say that most of the Ahadith concerning this night are not sound. They are weak (da’if) according to the criteria of the Muhaddithin. Imam al-Mundhiri (died in 656 A. H.) in his famous book Al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib (vol. 2, pp. 116-120) has reported fourteen Ahadith on the subject of this night. The following points can be summarized from those Ahadith:

– The month of Sha’ban is a great month.
– In this month Allah takes the account of His creation.
– Because this month occurs between two other important months, viz. Rajab and Ramadan, many people do not pay enough attention to it.
– The Prophet (ﷺ) loved to fast during this month. He used to fast most of the month of Sha’ban.
– After sunset during the night of Middle of Sha’ban, Allah in His great mercy and kindness turns towards His creation and asks, “Is there anyone who would seek My forgiveness and I forgive him/her? Is there anyone who is in need to ask Me and I provide for his/her needs. Is there anyone who in pain and seek My help and I help him/her? Is there? Is there? until the time of Fajr.”
– The Prophet (ﷺ) is said to have recommended prayers during this night and fasting during the following day.
– It reported that the Prophet (ﷺ) used to visit the Muslim cemetery on this evening and he used to pray for the deceased Muslims.

These are the things that we learn from some Ahadith about the significance of this night. However, there are many practices and customs common in some Muslim countries, such as making a sweet dish (Halwa), doing fireworks (atish baazi) etc. These things have no meaning and no reference in Ahadith. There are also some superstitious beliefs about this night. For example, some people believe that the spirits (arwah) of the deceased visit their relatives during this night. Some believe that there is a special Tree in the heaven upon whose leaves are the names of all human beings, and whatever leaves drop during this night, those people are destined to die in this year. Some think that the decisions about the life and death of people are made during this night. All these beliefs and superstitions do not belong to the authentic teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. We must try to follow the Qur’an and the authentic Sunnah of the blessed Prophet (ﷺ). It is our duty as Muslims to take advantage of all good occasions to revive our faith, to purify our souls and to increase our love and devotion to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, but we must follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ). We must not do anything in our celebrations that is against his teachings.

Firstly, the narrations which have been mentioned about praying and fasting have been declared as weak by many scholars, including mufti Taqi Uthman. So maybe you can fast on that day without making the intention its sunnah or something, thats what mufti taqi uthman said. The hadith in question was narrated by a man, the majority of the scholars of Hadith have held Abu Bakr ibn Abi Saburah as a weak reporter of Hadith, but they did not declare him as a forger or fabricator.

Q3. The especial night mentioned in surah Dakan means which it the shaban or Qadar?
what is the importance of 15 shaban, is it the night in which the fate of every one is decided for the next year?
the especial night mentioned in surah Dakan means which night. is it the shaban or Qadar?

Answer 3: Praise be to Allaah.
Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’baan (the night of 15th of Sha’baan) is like any other night, and there is no sound report from the Prophet (ﷺ) to indicate that on this night the fate or destiny of people is decided.

With regard to the night mentioned in the verses:
“We sent it (this Qur’aan) down on a blessed night. Verily, We are ever warning [mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of worship]. Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments” [al-Dukhaan 44:3-4]

Ibn Jareer al-Tabari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: the commentators differed concerning that night, i.e., which night of the year it is. Some of them said that it is Laylat al-Qadr, and it was narrated from Qurtaadah that it is Laylat al-Qadr. Others said that it is the night of the 15th of Sha’baan. The correct view is the view of those who say that it is Laylat al-Qadr, because Allaah has told us of that when He says, ‘Verily, We are ever warning’ [al-Dukhaan 44:3].” (Tafseer al-Tabari, 11/221)

With regard to the phrase, “Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments”: Ibn Hajar said in his commentary on Saheeh al-Bukhaari: “What this means is that the decrees for the year are decided on that night, because Allaah says: ‘Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments’. And al-Nawawi said: the scholars said that it is called Laylat al-Qadr because on this night the angels write down the decrees (aqdaar), because Allaah says, ‘Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments’. This was also narrated by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq and other mufassireen with saheeh isnaads from Mujaahid, ‘Ikrimah, Qutaadah and others. Al-Toorbashti said that the word used in the Qur’aan is qadr, whereas people think it is qadar (decree); the word qadr refers to the detailed manifestation of the decree.

Laylat al-Qadr brings great reward for the one who does good deeds and strives in worship on that night. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree).
And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?
The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allaah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).
Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel (Gabriel)] by Allaah’s Permission with all Decrees,
(All that night), there is peace (and goodness from Allaah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn”[al-Qadr 97:1-5]

There are many ahaadeeth which speak of the virtue of that night, such as the hadeeth narrated by al-Bukhaari from Abu Hurayrah, in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever spends Laylat al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and hoping for reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven, and whoever fasts Ramadaan out of faith and hoping for reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, al-Sawm, 1768).
And Allaah knows best.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

This article was first published on 28-Apr-2012, and is republished as is.

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