The night of the middle of Sha’baan: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, in his discussion of the merits of the month of Sha’baan, writes the following concerning the magnification that some give to the night of the 15th of Sha’baan and performing extra special acts of worship therein:

وفي فضل ليلة نصف شعبان أحاديث أخر متعددة ، وقد اختلف فيها ، فضعّفها الأكثرون ، وصحّح ابن حبان بعضها وخرّجه في صحيحه

There are many hadeeth concerning the virtue of the night of the middle of Sha’baan, and there has been differing about them. The majority [of the muhaddithoon] have graded them as weak, but Ibn Hibbaan authenticated some of them and reported them in his Saheeh collection.

ومن أمثلها حديث عائشة ، قالت : فَقَدْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيْلَةً فَخَرَجْتُ فَإِذَا هُوَ بِالْبَقِيعِ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ أَكُنْتِ تَخَافِينَ أَنْ يَحِيفَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكِ وَرَسُولُهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنِّي ظَنَنْتُ أَنَّكَ أَتَيْتَ بَعْضَ نِسَائِكَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَنْزِلُ لَيْلَةَ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا فَيَغْفِرُ لأَكْثَرَ مِنْ عَدَدِ شَعْرِ غَنَمِ كَلْبٍ . خرّجه الإمام أحمد والترمذي وابن ماجه ، وذكر الترمذي عن البخاري أنه ضعّفه.

An example of those is the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah, where she said, “I could not find the Messenger of Allah one night. So I left and found him at Al-Baqi. He said: ‘Did you fear that you had been wronged by Allah and His Messenger?’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! I thought that you had gone to one of your wives.’ So he said: ‘Indeed Allah – The Mighty and Sublime – descends to the lowest Heavens during the night of the middle of Sha’baan, to grant forgiveness to more than the number of hairs on the sheep of (Banu) Kalb.'” It was recorded by Imam Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, and ibn Maajah, and al-Tirmidhi mentioned that al-Bukhari had graded it as weak.

وخرج ابن ماجه من حديث أبي موسى عن النبي ﷺ ، قال :  إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيَطَّلِعُ فِي لَيْلَةِ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَيَغْفِرُ لِجَمِيعِ خَلْقِهِ إِلاَّ لِمُشْرِكٍ أَوْ مُشَاحِنٍ .

And ibn Maajah recorded the hadeeth of Abu Moosaa from the Prophet (ﷺ) who said, “Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’baan and forgives all His creation, except for the mushrik and the mushaaḥin [one who holds a grudge/enmity towards someone else].” [Saheeh ibn Maajah 1/233]

وخرج الإمام أحمد من حديث عبد الله بن عمرو عن النبي ﷺ ، قال : إن الله ليطلع إلى ليلة النصف من شعبان فيغفر لعباده إلّا اثنين : مشاحن ، أو قاتل نفس.

And Imam Ahmad recorded the hadeeth of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr from the Prophet (ﷺ) who said, “Verily Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’baan and forgives His slaves except for two: the mushaaḥin and the murder.”

وخرجه ابن حبان في صحيحه ، من حديث معاذ مرفوعا.

And Ibn Hibbaan recorded that in his Saheeh collection as a marfoo’ hadeeth from Mu’adh.

ويروى من حديث عثمان بن أبي العاص مرفوعا : إذا كان ليلة النصف من شعبان نادى مناد : هل من مستغفر فاغفر له ؟ هل من سائل فأعطيه؟ فلا يسأل أحد شيئا إلّا إعطيه ، إلّا زانية بفرجها أو مشرك. وفي باب أحاديث أخر فيها ضعف.

And it is narrated in a marfoo’ hadeeth of ‘Uthman ibn Abil-‘Aas, “When it is the night of the middle of Sha’baan, a caller calls out: Is there anyone seeking forgiveness, so that I can forgive him? Is there anyone asking so that I can grant him? For no one asks for anything except than I grant it, except for the fornicator/adulterer or the mushrik.” And there are other hadeeth on the subject, but they contain weaknesses.

ويروى من نوف البكالي أن عليا رضي الله عنه خرج ليلة النصف من شعبان فأكثر الخروج فيها ، ينظر إلى السماء ، فقال : إنّ داود عليه السلام خرج ذات اليلة في مثل هذه الساعة فنظر إلى السماء فقال : إنّ هذه الساعة ما دعا الله أحد إلّا أجابه ، ولا استغفره أحد في هذه اليلة إلّا غفر له ، ما لم يكن عشّارا أو ساحرا أو شاعرا أو كاهنا أو عريفا أو شرطيا أو جابيا أو صاحب كوبة أو عرطبة – قال نوف : الكوبة : الطبل ، وعرطبة : الطنبور – اللهم رب داود ، اغفر لمن دعاك في هذه الليلة ولمن استغفرك فيها.

And it is narrated from Nawf al-Bakaali that ‘Ali (raadiAllaahu ‘anhu) went out on the night of the middle of Sha’baan, so many people went out with him, and he looked to the sky and said, “Verily Dawood (‘alaihis salaam) went out on this night around this hour and looked to the sky and said, ‘Verily in this house, no one makes du’a to Allah except that He answers it, and no one seeks His forgiveness during this night except that He forgives him – so long as he is not one of those who withholds the tithe or a magician or a poet or a soothsayer or a chief or a constable or tax-collecter or a drummer. O Allah, Lord of Dawood! Forgive whoever supplicates to You in this night and whoever seeks Your forgiveness during it!.'”

وليلة النصف شعبان كان التابعون من أهل الشام كخالد بن معدان ومكحول ولقمان بن عامر وغيرهم يعظمونها ويجتهدون فيها في العبادة ، و عنهم أخذ الناس فضلها وتعظيمها ، وقد قيل : إنه بلغهم في ذلك آثار إسرائيلية ، فلما اشتهر ذلك عنهم في بلدان اختلف الناس في ذلك ؛ فمنهم من قبله منهم ووافقهم على تعظيمها ؛ ومنهم طائفة من عُبّاد أهل البصرة وغيرهم. وأنكر ذلك أكثر علماء من أهل الحجاز ؛ منهم عطاء وابن أبي مليكة ، ونقله عبد الرحمن بن زيد بن أسلم عن فقهاء أهل المدينة ، وهو قول أصحاب مالك وغيرهم ، وقولوا : ذلك كله بدعة . واختلف علماء أهل الشام في صفة إحيائها على قولين:

And as for the Night of the Middle of Sha’baan, the Taabi’een of the people of al-Shaam such as Khaalid ibn Ma’daan, Makhool, Luqman ibn ‘Aamir and others used to magnify it and exert themselves therein in acts of worship, and the people took (the idea of) its virtue and magnification from them. And it is said: verily, that was conveyed to them in an Israa’eeliyaat narration, and then that became popularized from them in their country (al-Shaam), but the people differed about it. So among them were those who accepted it from them and agreed with them about its magnification, and from them was a group of devoted worshippers from the people of Basrah and others. And the majority of the scholars of the people of Hijaaz rejected it. Among them were ‘Ataa’ and ibn Abi Mulaykah, and that position was narrated from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Zaid ibn Aslam from the fuqahaa’ of the people of al-Madinah. And that was the statement of the companions of Maalik [ibn Anas] and others. And they said, “It is entirely a bida’h.” And the scholars of the people of al-Shaam fell into two groups when describing its practice:

أحدهما : أنه يستحب إحيائها جماعة في المساجد ، كان خالد بن معدان ولقمان بن عامر وغيرهم يلبسون ثيابهم ويتبخّرون ويكتحلون ويقومون في المسجد ليلتهم تلك ، ووافقهم إسحاق بن راهويه على ذلك ، وقال في قيامها في مساجد جماعة : ليس ذلك ببدعة ، نقله عنه حرب الكرماني في مسائله.

The first of them: that it is recommended to practice it communally in the masaajid. Khaalid ibn Ma’daan, Luqman ibn ‘Aamir and others used to don their (nice) clothes, apply perfume and kohl and stand [in prayer] in the masjid during that night of theirs. Ishaaq ibn Raahawayh agreed with them on that, and he said about standing [in prayer] in the masaajid in congregation: that is not a bida’h. And that was transmitted from him by Harb al-Karmaani.

والثاني : انه يكره الاجتماع فيها في المساجد للصلاة والقصص الدعاء ، ولا يكره أن يصلي الرجل فيها بخاصة نفسه ، وهذا قول الأوزاعي إمام اهل الشام وفقيههم وعالمهم ، وهذا هو الأقرب إن شاء الله تعالى.

The second: that it is disliked to gather in the masaajid for salaah and making du’a, but it is not disliked for a man to pray on that night by himself. This is the statement of al-Awzaa’ee, the imam of the people of al-Shaam and their faqeeh and their ‘aalim. And this is closer [to the truth], inshaAllaah.

وقد روي عن عمر بن عبد العزيز أنه كتب إلى عامله بالبصرة : عليك بأربع ليالي من السنة ؛ فإن الله يفرغ فيهن الرحمة إفراغا ؛ أول ليلة من رجب ، وليلة نصف من شعبان , وليلة الفطر ، وليلة الأضحى ؛ وفي صحته عنه نظر.

It is has been narrated from ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-Azeez that he wrote to his governors in Basrah: There are four nights of the year to observe, for Allah has filled them with an abundance of Raḥmah: the first of Rajab, the night of the middle of Sha’baan, the night of al-Fitr, and the night of al-Adhḥa. And there are different views as to whether this is authentically from him or not.

وقال الشافعي : بلغنا أن الدعاء يستجاب في خمس ليال ، ليل الجمعة ، والعيدين ، واول رجب ، ونصف شعبان. واستحب كل حكيت في هذه الليالي. ولا يعرف لاامام أحمد كلام في ليلة نصف شعبان . ويخرج في استحباب قيامها عنه روايتان عنه : في قيام ليلة العيد ، فإنه في رواية لم يستحب قيامها جمعة ؛ لأنه لا ينقل عن النبي ﷺ وأصحابه . واستحبها في رواية لفعل عبد الرحمن بن يزيد بن الأسود لذلك , وهو من التابعين . فكذلك قيام ليلة نصف شعبان لم يثبت فيها شيء عن النبي ﷺ  ولا عن أصحابه ، وثبت عن طائفة من التابعين من أعيان فقهاء أهل الشام

al-Shaafi’ said, “It has reached us that du’a is answered during five nights; the night of jumu’ah, and the two eids, and the first of Rajab, and the middle of Sha’baan, and it is recommended for everyone to observe these nights.” And no speech of Imam Ahmad is known concerning the night of the middle of Sha’baan. And the preferability of standing [in prayer, i.e. during some of these nights] has been reported from him in two narrations: about standing the night of the eid, and in another narration that he did not consider it preferable to stand the night of jumu’ah. This is because this practice was not transmitted from the Prophet (ﷺ) or his companions. And the preferability to do so comes in another narration from ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Yazeed ibn al-Aswad, and he is from the taabi’een. And similarly concerning standing [in prayer] in the night of the middle of Sha’baan, there is nothing authentically reported about this from the Prophet (ﷺ) nor from his companions, but it is authentically reported from a group of the taabi’een of the eminent fuqahaa’ of the people of al-Shaam.

وروي عن كعب ، قال : إن الله تعالى يبعث ليلة نصف من شعبان جبريل عليه السلام إلى الجنة ، فيأمرها أن تتزيّن ، ويقول : إن الله تعالى قد أعتق في ليلتك هذه عدد نجوم السماء وعدد أيام الدنيا ولياليها ، وعدد ورق الشجر ، وزنة الجبال ، وعدد الرمال.

And it is narrated from Ka’b that he said, “Verily Allah the Exalted raises Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) up to al-Jannah in the night of the middle of Sha’baan, and he orders that it be beautified, and he says, ‘Verily Allah the Exalted has set free during this night of yours as many slaves as there are stars in the sky, and days and nights of this world, and leaves of the trees, and weight of the mountains and grains of sand.'”

وروي عن سعيد بن منصور ، حدثنا أبو معشر ، عن أبي حازم محمد بن قيس ، عن عطاء بن يسار ، قال : ما من ليلة بعد ليلة القدر أفضل من ليلة نصف من شعبان ، ينزل الله تبارك وتعالى إلى السماء الدنيا فيغفر لعباده كلهم ، إلّا مشرك أو مشاحن أة قاطع رحم . فيا من أُعتق فيها من النار ، هنيئا لك هذه المنحة الجسيمة ، وياأيها المردود فيها ، جبر الله مصيبتك ؛ فإنها مصيبة عظيمة.

And it was narrated from Sa’eed ibn Mansoor, from Abu Ma’shar, from Abu Haazim Muhammad bin Qais, from ‘Ataa’ ibn Yasaar that he said, “there is no night – after laylah al-Qadr – which is better than the night of the middle of Sha’baan. Allah the blessed and exalted descends to the lowest heavens and He forgives all of His slaves, except for the mushrik or the mushaahin or the one who cuts the ties of kinship. So whoever is freed from the fire during that night, congratulations to you for this great blessing! And O you who are rejected in this night, Allah restores your sins, for verily they are great sins.

بَكَيتُ على نفسي وحُقَّ لي البُكاء ***** وما أنا من تضييع عُمري في شكّ
لئن قلتُ إني في صنيـعي محسن ***** فــإنــي فـي قـولـي لـذلـك ذو إفـك
لـيــالي شعـبــان ولــيـلة نـصـفـه ***** بــأيّـة حــال قــد تنــزّل لي صكي
وحّقَِي لعمري أن أديم تضـرعي ***** لعــلّ إلــه الخلق يـسمــح بــالفــك

فينبغي للمؤمن أن يتفرّغ في تلك ليلة لذكر الله تعالى ودعائه بغفران الذنوب وستر العيوب وتفريج الكروب ، وأن يقدم على ذلك التوبة ؛ فإن الله تعالى يتوب فيها على من يتوب.

So the mu’min should fill this night with dhikr of Allah the Exalted and supplicating to Him for forgiveness of sins and concealing one’s defects and relief of anguish, and he should precede all that with tawbah, for verily Allah the Exalted turns in forgiveness that night to whoever turns to Him in repentance.

فقُم لـيـلة النصـف الشـــريف مصـليــا ***** فـأَشرَفُ هـذا الشهـر ليلة نصفـه
فكم من فتى قد بات في النصف غافلا ***** وقــد نسخت فيه صحيفــة حتفـه
فبــادر بفِعلِ الخيــر قـبــل انـقـضــائه ***** وحاذر هجوم الموت فيه بصرفه
وصُـم يــومـهـــا لله واحـسـن رجــاءه ***** لتـظفر عنــد الكـرب منـه بلطفـه

[Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif pg. 261-265]

Also see the next section of Ibn Rajab’s Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif where he discusses avoiding those sins which prevent forgiveness or the acceptance of du’a on this night. Though the scope is specific to the ahaadeeth which mention this night, the benefits are general applicable. Click here to visit: Avoid the sins which prevent forgiveness and the acceptance of du’a: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: “The month of ‪‎Rajab‬ is the key to the months of goodness and blessings”: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: A Comprehensive Statement regarding Bid’ah: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Blessed Night is Laylah al-Qadr, not the Middle of Sha’baan

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4 thoughts on “The night of the middle of Sha’baan: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

  1. Pingback: Avoid the sins which prevent forgiveness and the acceptance of du’a: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “The month of ‪‎Rajab‬ is the key to the months of goodness and blessings”: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: A Comprehensive Statement regarding Bid’ah: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: The Blessed Night is Laylah al-Qadr, not the Middle of Sha’baan | Tulayhah

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