The Significance of 15th Shabaan in Islam
Tags: Ahle Sunnah, Imam Mahdi (a.s.) -- Birth, Imamat, Salafi, Shia, Sunnah
A niche set of Muslims consider 15th Shabaan to be like any other day of the year. They reject any special status and importance for the day. They maintain that it is an innovation (bidah) to consider 15th Shabaan as a day of worship. In their view all days are for worship and remembrance of Allah and to mark a particular day as such is not correct and is against Islamic fundamentals.
These Muslims reject any effort to mark specific events of the year as significant for worship and remembrance of Allah including the day of their Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) birth, day of his (s.a.w.a.) appointment to Prophethood (be’sah) and the like.
1. Important days of the Muslim calendar
2. Importance of Shabaan
3. Importance of 15th Shabaan
4. Traditions on 15th Shabaan from the Al-Sihaah al-Sittah and other books
5. Ibn Taymiyyah’s view on 15th Shabaan
6. Naasir al-Deen Albaani’s view on 15th Shabaan
7. Real reason why the sceptics oppose 15th Shabaan
By rejecting the importance of 15th Shabaan and other important days of the Muslim calendar, like the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) birth, these Muslims only end up showing their stark ignorance of Islam and Islamic values.
Back to Top1. Important days of the Muslim calendar
If all days and moments of the year are equally important for Allah’s worship as they claim, then what about specific days and occasions like:
• the month of Ramadan,
• the night of Qadr (Lailah al-Qadr) which is better than a 1,000 months,
• the eve and day of Friday,
• the Friday dusk (Asr-e-Jumuah),
• the four sacred months when battle is forbidden and worship highly encouraged (Rajab, Zilqad, Zilhajj and Muharram)
• the day of Arafah,
• Eid al-Zoha,
• the 11th, 12th and 13th of Zilhajj (Ayyaam-e-Tashreeq) and so on
Can the Muslims deny the special status accorded to these and other days of the year? Can they argue against Allah’s judgement to grant special status and reward for worship on these days?
The most that can be said about setting aside certain days for worship like the day of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) birth for instance, is that the practice is mubah (permissible). Of course, we don’t agree even on this count. By no means, can one suggest that the practice is bid’ah and haraam.
It would be considered bid’ah and haraam if there were evidence in the Holy Quran and reliable Sunnah that Muslims cannot set aside specific days for worship and remembrance of Allah. But there is no such evidence and as we have seen there is a long list of days in the Muslim calendar when worship has in fact been emphasized.
The same is the case with 15th Shabaan.
Back to Top2. Importance of Shabaan
Before venturing specifically into 15th Shabaan, it is worth reflecting on the importance of Shabaan in general.
According to traditions, Shabaan is the month of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), just like Rajab is the month of Allah and month of Ramadan is for the believers.
Traditions emphasize fasting in the entire month of Shabaan out of love for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and to acquire proximity with the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and other Imams (a.s.) used to fast accordingly.
In addition to this, there are many other virtues of Shabaan mentioned in the Sunnah.
The point worth noting is that Shabaan is specifically for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) while other months are generally for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). If a Muslim chooses to worship and remember Allah or fast in any other month (excepting the two days of Eid and Ashoora) specifically to gain proximity with the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), it would still be worthy of reward. No one can call it bidah.
This is just like the importance of salawaat on the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny (a.s.) which is highly emphasized on the night and day of Friday. The day of Friday is specific for the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and his progeny for salawaat, while it is general for the other days of the week.
No one can say that salawaat should be recited only on Friday and it is bid’ah on other days.
Back to Top3. Importance of 15th Shabaan
Many correct (Sahih) and good (Hasan) reports from the Ahle Tasannun (or Sunni as they call themselves) scholars including (their) Imams Shaafe’i, Nawawi, Ghazzali and Suyuti consider the night of 15th Shabaan as a night of worship and salvation.
While traditions consider the ‘blessed night’ لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ of Surah Dokhan (44) to mean Lailah al Qadr in the month of Ramadan, there are many reports which indicate that night of 15th Shabaan is also a possibility since no one really knows the precise ‘blessed night’ and one should take all possibilities into consideration so as not to miss out on the occasion.
Thus, Muslim scholars have documented the excellence of this day.
Suyuti says: As for the night of mid-Shabaan, it has great merit and it is desirable (mustahabb) to spend part of it in supererogatory worship (nawaafil).
• Haqiqah al-Sunnah wa al-Bid’ah wa al-Amr bi al-Ittiba wa al-Nahy an al-Ibtida, p. 58
Shafe’ee says: Verily, supplications are accepted on the five nights: the night of Friday (Jumuah), the night of Eid al-Azha, the night of Eid al-Fitr, the first night of Rajab and the 15th night of Shabaan.
• Al-Umm vol. 1 p. 231
Back to Top4. Traditions on 15th Shabaan from the Al-Sihaah al-Sittah and other books
There are many reports from the most reliable books of the Ahle Tasannun on 15th Shabaan.
We have listed a few by way of example:
Ayesha: I missed Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.) during the night and found him in al-Baqi. He (s.a.w.a.) said: Were you afraid that Allah and His Messenger would deal unjustly with you? I said: Allah’s Messenger! I thought that you had gone to some of your other wives. He (the Prophet) retorted: Verily Allah, comes down to the heaven of the world in “the middle night of Shabaan” and forgives sins even more abundant than the hair of the goats of KalIbn
• Sunan Tirmidhi vol. 1, tradition 670
• Sunan Ibn Maajah vol. 2, tradition 1379
Imran Ibn Husain: Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.) having said to him or to someone else: Did you fast in the ‘middle of Shabaan?’ He said: No. Thereupon he (s.a.w.a.) said: If you did not observe fast, then you should observe fast for two days.
• Sahih Muslim book 6, tradition 2,607
Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari: Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.a.) said, “Allah looks down on “the middle night of Shabaan” and forgives all His creation except a polytheist or one who is quarrelsome.”
• Sunan Ibn Maajah vol. 2, tradition 1380
Similar traditions with slight variations are recorded in:
• Musnad Ahmad vol. 3, tradition 6353
• Bayhaqi in his Tafsir, Suyuti in al–Durr al Manthur under Surah Dokhan (44): Verse 3
• Sahih Ibn Hibbaan, vol. 12 tradition 5665
All classical scholars consider the tradition of Ibn Hibbaan as correct (Sahih) and his Sahih, according to many, is the most authentic book after the Saheehain (of Bukhari and Muslim) and Sahih-e-Ibne Khuzaymah.
Ayesha: The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) stood up in prayer during part of the night and made his prostration so lengthy that I thought that he has departed from this world. On seeing this, I got up and went to move his big toe whereupon he moved, so I drew back. When he (s.a.w.a.) raised his head from prostration and finished praying, he (s.a.w.a.) said: O Ayesha, O Humayrah! Did you think that the Prophet had broken his agreement with you? She replied: No, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah, but I thought that your soul had been captured because you stayed in prostration for so long. He (s.a.w.a.) retorted: Do you know what night this is? She said: Allah and His Prophet know best. He (s.a.w.a.) said: This is the night of mid-Shabaan! Verily Allah looks at His servants on ‘the night of mid-Shabaan, and He forgives those who ask forgiveness, and He bestows mercy on those who ask mercy, and He gives a delay to the people of envy and spite in their state.
• Bayhaqi in Sho’ab al-Emaan vol. 3 tradition 3835
Back to Top5. Ibn Taymiyyah’s view on 15th Shabaan
Ibn Taymiyyah was asked about the night of 15th Shabaan.
He said: As for the night of 15th Shabaan, there are many narrations and reports regarding its virtue. It has been reported of the Salaf (first three generations of Muslims) that they prayed in this night. Therefore, praying alone on this night, which has a precedent in the Salaf, is sufficient evidence and something of this kind surely cannot be denied‘.
On another occasion, Ibn Taymiyyah was asked the same question and he replied: If one prays on this night alone or in a select company of people as many groups amongst the Salaf did, ‘then it is good’.
• Al-Fataawaa of Ibn Taymiyyah vol. 23 pp. 131-132
Back to Top6. Naasir al-Deen Albaani’s view on 15th Shabaan
Even contemporary Salafi scholars consider 15th Shabaan as a day of importance. For instance Naasir al-Deen Albaani (expired 1999 A.D.), the primary figurehead of the Salafi movement in the 20th century, has declared that traditions related to 15th Shabaan are correct (Sahih).
• Silsilah al-Ahaadith al-Sahihah vol. 3 p. 135
Back to Top7. Real reason why the skeptics oppose 15th Shabaan
In the face of such proofs from the Holy Quran, traditions and writings of scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah and Naasir al-Deen Albaani, it is strange to see such vehement opposition to the practice of marking 15th Shabaan as a day of worship and remembrance.
We have to ask ourselves the question whether the opposition to 15th Shabaan is rooted in the fact that the Shias celebrate this day to mark the birth of the 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his noble reappearance), whose birth and advent has been forecast in books of all Muslims regardless of creed and school of jurisprudence.
This is but another instance of prejudice getting the better of a well-established Islamic belief and practice.