Among the bid’ahs (innovation in religion) that have been invented by some people is celebrating the middle of Shaban (Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’ban), and singling out that day for fasting. There is no evidence (daleel) for that which can be regarded as reliable.

Praise be to Allah Who has perfected our religion for us, and has completed His Favour upon us. And blessings and peace be upon His Prophet and Messenger Muhammad, the Prophet of repentance and mercy.

Allah says (interpretation of the meanings):

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” – Al-Maa’idah 5:3

“Or have they partners with Allah (false gods) who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not ordained?” – Ash-Shuraa 42:21

In al-Saheehayn it is reported from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [Islam] that is not part of it, will have it rejected.” – Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 14.

In Saheeh Muslim it is narrated from Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to say in his Friday khutbahs:

“The best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The most evil of things are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation (bid’ah) is a going-astray.”

And there are many aayaat and hadith which say similar things.

This clearly indicates that Allah has perfected the religion of this ummah, and completed His favour upon them. He did not take the soul of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) until he had conveyed the Message clearly and explained to the ummah everything that Allah had prescribed for it of words and deeds. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained that everything that people would innovate after he was gone, all the words and deeds that they would attribute to Islam, all of that would be thrown back on the one who invented it, even if his intention was good. The companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) knew this matter, as did the scholars of Islam after them. They denounced bid’ah and warned against it, as has been stated by all those who wrote books praising the Sunnah and denouncing bid’ah, such as Ibn Waddaah, al-Tartooshi, Ibn Shaamah and others.

Among the bid’ahs that have been invented by some people is celebrating the middle of Sha’ban (Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’ban), and singling out that day for fasting. There is no evidence (daleel) for that which can be regarded as reliable. Some da’if (weak) hadith have been narrated concerning its virtues, but we cannot regard them as reliable. The reports which have been narrated concerning the virtues of prayer on this occasion are all mawdoo’ (fabricated), as has been pointed out by many of the scholars. We will quote some of their comments below, in sha Allah.

Some reports have also been narrated on this matter from some of the salaf in Syria, and others. What the majority of scholars say is that celebrating this occasion is bid’ah, and that the hadith concerning the virtues of this occasion are all da’if (weak), and some of them are mawdoo (fabricated). Among those who pointed this out was al-Haafiz Ibn Rajab, in his book Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif, and others. The da’if hadith concerning acts of worship can only be acted upon in the case of acts of worship which are proven by saheeh evidence. There is no saheeh basis for celebrating the middle of Shaban, so we cannot follow the da’if hadith either.

This important principle was mentioned by Imam Abu’l-‘Abbaas Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him).

The scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) were agreed that it is obligatory to refer matters concerning which the people dispute to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Whatever ruling both or one of them give is the sharee’ah which must be followed, and whatever goes against them must be rejected. Any acts of worship which are not mentioned in them are therefore bid’ah and it is not permissible to do them, let alone call others to do them or approve of them. As Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” – An-Nisa 4:59

“And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah (He is the ruling Judge)” – Ash-Shuraa 42:10

“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah, then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.” – Ali Imran 3:31

“But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission” – An-Nisa 4:65

And there are many similar aayaat which clearly state that matters of dispute are to be referred to the Qur’an and Sunnah, and that their ruling is to be accepted. This is the requirement of faith and this is what is best for people in this world and in the next:

“That is better and more suitable for final determination (Hereafter).” – An-Nisa 4:59

Al-Haafiz Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his book Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif concerning this matter – after previously discussing it – “Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’ban (the middle of Sha’ban) was venerated by the Taabi’een among the people of al-Shaam, such as Khaalid ibn Mi’daan, Makhool, Luqmaan ibn ‘Aamir and others, who used to strive in worship on this night. The people took the idea of the virtue of this night and of venerating it from them. It was said that they heard of Israa’eeli reports (reports from Jewish sources) concerning that. Most of the scholars of the Hijaaz denounced that, including ‘Ataa’ and Ibn Abi Maleekah. ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Zayd ibn Aslam narrated that view from the fuqahaa’ of Madeenah, and this was the view of the companions of Maalik and others. They said: this is all bid’ah… No comment from Imaam Ahmad concerning Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’ban is known of… Concerning spending the night of the middle of Shaban in prayer, there is no sound report from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or from his companions…”

This is what was said by al-Haafiz Ibn Rajab (may Allah be pleased with him). He clearly states that there is no sound report from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or from his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) about Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’ban (the middle of Shaban).

In every case where there is no sound shar’i evidence that a thing is prescribed in Islam, it is not permissible for the Muslim to innovate things in the religion of Allah, whether these are individual acts or communal acts, whether he does them in secret or openly, because of the general meaning of the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Whoever does any action that is not a part of this matter of ours [Islam], will have it rejected.” And there are other daleels (evidence) which indicate that bid’ah is to be denounced and which warn against it.

Imaam Abu Bakr al-Tartooshi (may Allah have mercy on him) said, in his book al-Hawaadith wa’l-Bida’: “Ibn Waddaah narrated that Zayd ibn Aslam said: We never met anyone among our shaykhs and fuqahaa’ who paid any attention to Laylat al-Nusf min

Sha’ban, or who paid any attention to the hadeeth of Makhool, or who thought that this night was any more special than other nights. It was said to Ibn Abi Maleekah that Ziyaad al-Numayri was saying that the reward of Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’ban was like the reward of Laylat al-Qadr. He said, If I heard him say that and I had a stick in my hand, I would hit him. Ziyaad was a story-teller.”

Al-‘Allaamah al-Shawkaani (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Fawaa’id al- Majmoo’ah:

“The hadeeth: ‘O ‘Ali, whoever prays one hundred rak’ahs on Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’ban, reciting in each rak’ah the Opening of the Book [Soorat al-Faatihah] and Qul Huwa Allahu Ahad ten times, Allah will meet all his needs…’ This is mawdoo’ (fabricated) [i.e., it is falsely attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him]. Its wording clearly states the reward that the person who does this will attain, and no man who has any common sense can doubt that this is fabricated. Also, the men of its isnaad are majhool (unknown). It was also narrated via another isnaad, all of which is mawdoo’ (fabricated) and all of whose narrators are majhool (unknown).

In al-Mukhtasar he said: The hadeeth about the Salah for the middle of Shaban is false, and the hadeeth of ‘Ali narrated by Ibn Hibbaan – “When it is the night of the middle of Sha’ban, spend that night in prayer and fast that day” – is da’if (weak).

In al-La’aali’ he said, “One hundred rak’ahs in the middle of Sha’ban, reciting (Soorat) al-Ikhaas ten times in each… (this is) mawdoo’ (fabricated), and all its narrators in its three isnaads are majhool (unknown) and da’if (weak). He said: and twelve rak’ahs, reciting al-Ikhlaas thirty times in each, this is mawdoo’; and fourteen (rak’ahs), this is mawdoo’.

A group of fuqahaa’ were deceived by this hadeeth, such as the author of al-Ihyaa’ and others, as were some of the mufassireen. The prayer of this night – the middle of Shaban – was described in different ways, all of which are false and fabricated.”

Al-Haafiz al-‘Iraaqi said: “The hadeeth about the prayer during the night of the middle of Shaban is fabricated and is falsely attributed to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).”

Imaam al-Nawawi said in his book al-Majmoo’: “The prayer that is known as salaat al-raghaa’ib, which is twelve rak’ahs between Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’ on the night of the first Friday in Rajab, and the prayer of Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’ban, of one hundred rak’ahs – these two prayers are reprehensible bid’ahs. No one should be deceived by the fact that they are mentioned in the books Qoot al-Quloob and Ihyaa’ ‘Uloom al-Deen, or by the hadeeth which is mentioned in these two books. All of that is false. Nor should they be deceived by the fact that some of the imaams were confused about this matter and wrote a few pages stating that these prayers are mustahabb, for they were mistaken in that.”

Shaykh al-Imaam Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Ismaa’eel al-Maqdisi wrote a very valuable book proving that these (reports) are false, and he did a very good job. The scholars spoke at length about this matter, and if we were to quote all that we have read of what they have said about this matter, it would take far too long. Perhaps what we have already mentioned is sufficient to convince the seeker of truth.

From the aayahs, hadith and scholarly opinions quoted above, it is clear to the seeker of truth that celebrating the middle of Shaban by praying on that night or in any other way, or by singling out that day for fasting, is a bid’ah which is denounced by most of the scholars. It has no basis in the pure sharee’ah; rather it is one of the things that was innovated in Islam after the time of the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). It is sufficient for the seeker of truth, in this case and in others, to know the words of Allah (interpretation of the meaning):

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you…” – Al-Ma’idah 5:3

and other similar aayaat; and the words of the Prophet (pbuh):

“Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [Islam] that is not part of it, will have it rejected” – Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 14.

and other similar hadith.  In Saheeh Muslim it is narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘Do not single out the night of Jumu’ah for praying qiyaam and do not single out the day of Jumu’ah for fasting, unless is it part of the ongoing regular fast of any one of you.’” – Sahih Muslim, Book 13, Hadith 190.

If it were permissible to single out any night for special acts of worship, the night of Jumu’ah would be the most appropriate, because the day of Jumu’ah (Friday) is the best day upon which the sun rises, as is stated in the saheeh hadeeth narrated from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Since the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) warned against singling out that night for praying qiyaam, that indicates that it is even more prohibited to single out any other night for acts of worship, except where there is saheeh evidence to indicate that a particular night is to be singled out.

Because it is prescribed to spend the nights of Laylat al-Qadr and the other nights of Ramadan in prayer, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) drew attention to that and urged his ummah to pray qiyaam during those nights. He also did that himself, as is indicated in al-Saheehayn, where it says that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam in Ramadan out of faith and seeking reward, Allah will forgive him his previous sins” and “Whoever spends the night of Laylat al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and seeking reward, Allah will forgive him his previous sins.”

But if it were prescribed to single out the night of the middle of Shaban, or the night of the first Friday in Rajab, or the night of the Israa’ and Mi’raaj, for celebration or for any special acts of worship, then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would have taught his ummah to do that, and he would have done it himself. If anything of the sort had happened, his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) would have transmitted it to the ummah; they would not have concealed it from them, for they are the best of people and the most sincere, after the Prophets, may blessings and peace be upon them, and may Allah be pleased with all the companions of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Now we know from the words of the scholars quoted above that there is no report from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or from his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) concerning the virtue of the first night of Jumu’ah in Rajab, or the night of the middle of Sha’ban. So we know that celebrating these occasions is an innovation that has been introduced into Islam, and that singling out these occasions for acts of worship is a reprehensible bid’ah. The same applies to the twenty-seventh night of Rajab, which some people believe is the night of the Israa’ and Mi’raaj; it is not permissible to single this date out for acts of worship, or to celebrate this occasion, on the basis of the evidence (daleel) quoted above. This is the case if the exact date (of the Israa’ and Mi’raaj) is known, so how about the fact that the correct scholarly view is that its date is not known! The view that it is the night of the twenty-seventh of Rajab is a false view which has no basis in the saheeh hadith. He indeed spoke well who said: “The best of matters are those which follow the guided way of the salaf, and the most evil of matters are those which are newly-innovated.”

We ask Allah to help us and all the Muslims adhere firmly to the Sunnah and to beware of everything that goes against it, for He is the Most Generous, Most Kind.

May Allah bless His slave and Messenger, our Prophet Muhammad, and all his family and companions.

Adapted from Majmoo’ Fataawa Samaahat al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, 2/882.