What is the status of the hadith related to the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban (the night in the middle of the month of Sya’ban) and the related worships on this night?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The month of Sya’ban is one of the honoured months in syarak. The Messenger PBUH increases his worships in this month and it is sunnah for us to increase our good deeds and worships as stated in a sahih hadith. Furthermore, there are several hadiths which explain the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban.
The related hadiths regarding the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban are narrated from the Prophet PBUH through several paths of the narration. Among the paths are from Abu Musa al-Asy’ari RA, Aisyah RA, Abu Tha’labah RA, Abdullah bin Amr RA, Mu’az bin Jabal RA, Abu Hurairah RA and Abu Bakar RA.
Here, we present several matan hadiths related to the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban. Among them are:
- From Abu Musa al-Asy’ari, the Prophet PBUH said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيَطَّلِعُ فِي لَيْلَةِ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَيَغْفِرُ لِجَمِيعِ خَلْقِهِ إِلَّا لِمُشْرِكٍ أَوْ مُشَاحِنٍ
“Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all His creation, apart from the idolater and the Mushahin.”
Sunan Ibn Majah (1380) Imam al-Zahabi states the hadith is dhaif (weak) because there is Ibn Lahi’ah in its sanad (See Talkhis al-‘ilal al-Mutanihiyah, 184)
- From Aisyah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
إنَّ اللهَ تعالى يَنْزِلُ ليلةَ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ إِلَى سَمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا ، فيَغْفِرُ لِأَكْثَرَ مِنْ عَدَدِ شَعْرِ غَنَمِ كلبٍ
“Allah descends on the night of the middle of Sha’ban to the lowest heaven, and He forgives more than the numbers of hairs on the sheep of Banu Kalb.”
- From Abu Tha’labah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا كَانَ لَيْلَةُ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ اطَّلَعَ اللهُ إِلَى خَلْقِهِ فَيَغْفِرُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ، وَيُمْلِي لِلْكَافِرِينَ، وَيَدَعُ أَهْلَ الْحِقْدِ بِحِقْدِهِمْ حَتَّى يَدَعُوهُ
“On the night of nisfu Sya’ban, Allah SWT looks upon His creations. Then Allah SWT forgives the believers and left the people of kufr and those who are envious and let them be with their envy until they left it.”
(Narrated by Syu’ab al-Iman hadith no. 3551) [Ibn Jauzi said that the hadith is unauthentic] [See al-‘Ilal al-Mutanihiyah, 2:560]
- From Abdullah bin Amr RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
يَطَّلِعُ اللهُ عزَّ وجلَّ إلى خَلْقِهِ ليلَةَ النِّصفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ ، فيَغْفِرُ لِعبادِهِ إِلَّا لِاثْنَيْنِ مُشَاحِنٍ ، وقَاتِلِ نَفْسٍ
“Allah SWT looks on the night of nisfu Sya’ban, then forgives His slaves except two (groups of people), those who are enemies with each other and those who commit suicide.”
Musnad Ahmad (6353) [Ibn Hajar said the sanad of this hadith is layyin (one of the characteristics of a dhaif hadith)] (See al-Zawajir ‘an Iqtiraf al-Kabair, 2:43) While Ahmad Syakir said the sanad is sahih [See Musnad Ahmad, 10:127]
- From Mu’az bin Jabal RA, the prophet PBUH said:
يَطَّلِعُ اللهُ إِلَى خَلْقِهِ فِيْ لَيْلَةِ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَيَغْفِرُ لِجَمِيْعِ خَلْقِه إِلَّا لِمُشْرِكٍ أَوْ مُشَاحِنٍ
“Allah SWT looks upon His creations on the night of nisfu Sya’ban then forgives all His creations except the people who commit shirk and people who are hateful towards each other.”
Sahih Ibn Hibban (5665)
- From Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا كَانَ لَيْلَةُ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ يَغْفِرُ اللهُ لِعِبَادِهِ إِلَّا لمُشْرِكٍ أَوْ مُشَاحِنٍ
“When the night of nisfu Sya’ban arrives, Allah SWT forgives His slaves except those who commit shirk and holds enmity in their hearts.”
[Majma’ al-Zawaid, 8:68] Imam al-Sakhawi said none of the narrators is disputed. [See al-Ajwibah al-Mardhiyyah, 1:325]
- From Abu Bakar RA, the Prophet PBUH:
يَنْزِلُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لَيْلَةَ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا فَيَغْفِرُ لِكُلِّ نَفْسٍ إِلَّا إِنْسَانًا فِيْ قَلْبِهِ شَحْنَاء أَوِ المُشْرِكَ بِاللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ
“Allah SWT descends on the night of nisfu Sya’ban then forgives the sin of every living creature except those whose heart contains enmity and those who commit shirk.” Imam al-Bukhari said it should be analysed (nazhar), while Ibn ‘Adiy said the sanad is munkar. (See Lisan al-Mizan, 5:269)
Tarjih on the status of the hadith
After reviewing the related hadiths mentioning the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban, there are difference of opinions among scholars regarding the status of the hadith. Some of them stated that the hadiths are sahih while others said otherwise. According to the above-stated hadiths, it shows that these hadiths which narrate the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban are sabit that Ibn Hibban even stated one of the narrations from Mu’az bin Jabal is sahih without any support from other paths of the narration. Thus, we are inclined to state that this hadith is sahih with all of the paths of narrations and this proves that the hadith has an origin. However, the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban is sabit but there is no mention of any specific worship to be performed on the night except general types of worships such as increasing dhikr, istighfar to Allah SWT, perform sunnah prayers, supplicate, donate and others.
Among the scholars who stated as such is Syeikh Syuaib al-Arnaouth when doing tahqiq on the book Sahih Ibn Hibban stating that the hadiths related to the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban is sahih according to the syawahids and the syawahids strengthened each other in this chapter (the advantages of the night in the middle of Sya’ban), although each path of narration has its own discussion. (See Sahih Ibn Hibban, 12:481)
Among the fiqh hadith which can be taken and understood from these hadiths are:
- There are other hadiths which state that Allah SWT descends every night in a third of the night. However, in this hadith, it shows that Allah SWT descends all through the night of nisfu Sya’ban as told by the Prophet PBUH. The night begins after the sun sets.
- We are commanded to increase our supplication to Allah SWT on this night. Thus, it is undeniable that there are advantages on this night and in it is forgiveness and a special grant of forgiveness for those who seek it and supplicate to Him. Thus, Imam al-Syafie said that indeed, supplications on the night of nisfu Sya’ban are granted.
- In this hadith, it also shows the vast forgiveness of Allah SWT. Among them is a statement of Allah SWT which narrates the forgiveness attribute of Allah SWT. Allah SWT states:
فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا
“And said, 'Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver.”
Surah Nuh (10)
- Allah SWT does not forgive the sin of those who commit shirk to Him except after they have repented. This is in accordance with the statement of Allah SWT:
إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّـهِ فَقَدِ افْتَرَىٰ إِثْمًا عَظِيمًا
“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.”
Surah al-Nisa’ (48)
- People who hold a grudge will not be forgiven by Allah SWT. This is stated in a sahih hadith narrated by Imam Muslim RA. From Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
تُفْتَحُ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ يَوْمَ الِاثْنَيْنِ وَيَوْمَ الْخَمِيسِ، فَيُغْفَرُ لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ لَا يُشْرِكُ بِالله شَيْئًا إِلَّا رَجُلًا كَانَتْ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ أَخِيهِ شَحْنَاءُ، فَيُقَالُ: أَنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا، أَنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا، أَنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا
“The gates of Paradise will be opened on Mondays and on Thursdays, and every servant [of Allah] who associates nothing with Allah will be forgiven, except for the man who has a grudge against his brother. [About them] it will be said: Delay these two until they are reconciled; delay these two until they are reconciled.”
Sahih Muslim (4652)
- Allah SWT does not forgive those who are envious and Allah SWT will leave them until they leave their bad attribute. Envy can also be included under people who holds a grudge against each other. There is a hadith which prohibits us from being envious of others. From Anas bin Malik RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
لاَ تَبَاغَضُوا ، وَلاَ تَحَاسَدُوا ، وَلاَ تَدَابَرُوا ، وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللهِ إِخْوَانًا
"Do not hate one another, nor be jealous of one another; and do not desert one another, but O Allah's worshipers! Be Brothers!”
Sahih al-Bukhari (5612)
- Furthermore, those who commit suicide will not be forgiven by Allah SWT for the sin of suicide is included as a major sin which calls for a person to repent. According to a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
اجْتَنِبُوا السَّبْعَ الموبِقَاتِ . قالوا : يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ : وَمَا هُنَّ ؟ قال : الشِّركُ بِاللهِ ، وَالسِّحرُ ، وَقَتْلُ النَّفْسِ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللهُ إِلَّا بِالحَقِّ، وَأَكْلُ الرِّبَا ، وَأَكْلُ مَالِ اليَتِيْمِ ، وَالتَّوَلِّي يَوْمَ الزَّحْفِ ، وَقَذْفُ المحْصَنَاتِ المؤْمِنَاتِ الغَافِلَاتِ
"Avoid the seven great destructive sins." They (the people!) asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What are they?" He said, "To join partners in worship with Allah; to practice sorcery; to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islamic law); to eat up usury (Riba), to eat up the property of an orphan; to give one's back to the enemy and fleeing from the battle-field at the time of fighting and to accuse chaste women who never even think of anything touching chastity and are good believers."
Sahih al-Bukhari (2560)
Opinions of Scholars on the Advantages of the Night of Nisfu Sya’ban
The following are several opinions of scholars related to the night of nisfu Sya’ban:
Imam al-Syafie RA said: “Supplications are granted on 5 nights which are Friday night, the night of Eidul Adha, Eidul Fitri, the beginning of Rejab and nisfu Sya’ban.” (See al-Umm, 1:264)
Ibnu Rajab RA said: “Regarding the night of nisfu Sya’ban, during the times of the tabi’in who lived in Syria, such as Khalid bin Ma’dan, Makhul, Luqman bin Mair and several other tabi’in honour it (the night of nisfu Sya’ban) and they would strive in their performance of worship on this night.” (See Lathaif al-Ma’arif, 247)
The Opinions of Scholars Regarding Sunnah al-Raghaib Prayer (الرغائب)
Al-Raghaib prayer is a sunnah prayer which is performed in the beginning of night in the month of Rejab for 12 rakaat and it is also performed on the night of nisfu Sya’ban for 100 rakaat. Furthermore, this prayer is performed in between the time of Maghrib and Isyak prayer. Among the evidences used as the basis of the existence of this prayer is:
- Claimed to be from the Prophet PBUH:
يَا عَلِي, مَنْ صَلَّى مِائَة رَكْعَة لَيْلَة النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَان، يَقْرَأ فِي كُلِّ رَكْعَة بِفَاتِحَةِ الكِتَاب, وَقُلْ هُوَ اللهُ أَحَدْ عَشرَ مَرَّات, إِلَّا قَضَى اللهُ لَهُ كُلّ حَاجَة
“O Ali, whoever pray for 100 rakaat on the night of nisfu Sya’ban, then he recites surah al-Fatihah and al-Ikhlas ten times for each rakaat, surely Allah SWT will grant his every wish.”
This hadith is fake as evaluated by Imam al-Syaukani, Imam Ibn al-Jauzi and many others among the hadith scholars. Furthermore, Imam Ibn al-Qayyim also said that among the fake hadiths are hadiths narrating prayers on the night of nisfu Sya’ban. (See al-Manar al-Munif, 98)
Among the opinions of scholars regarding the sunnah al-Raghaib prayer are:
- Ibn Hajar al-Hathami said:
“As for the sunnah al-Raghaib prayer it is the same as other usual prayers on the night of nisfu Sya’ban and both (the prayer in the beginning of Rejab and the night of nisfu Sya’ban) is a bad and disgusting bid’ah. The hadith related to it is fake and this act is hated for its doer whether if it is performed alone or in congregation.” (See al-Fatawa al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kubra, 1:216)
- Imam al-Nawawi said:
“The prayer known as al-Raghaib prayer is performed at the beginning of Rejab for 12 rakaat and in between the time Maghrib and Isyak and on the night of nisfu Sya’ban for 100 rakaat. Both these prayers are bad and mungkar bid’ah.” (See al-Majmu’, 3:548)
- Imam Ibn al-Jauzi said:
“al-Raghaib prayer is fake (invented) and a lie on the Prophet PBUH ‘s name. Scholars have stated the bid’ah and harm of both these prayers through several methods: Among the Companions, tabi’in and generations after them from among the mujtahid imams never mention these two prayers. If both these prayers are sanctioned, they would never miss performing them. Furthermore, it emerges after 400 years.”
- Imam al-Syaukani said:
“This is the famous al-Raghaib prayer of which the huffaz have agreed that it is fake or invented.” (See al-Fawaid al-Majmu’ah, 48)
According to the presented opinions of scholars, thus, we would like to emphasize that al-Raghaib prayer is of no origin in this religion and it is a deception and a lie invented in the name of the Prophet PBUH.
Encouraged Worships on the Night of Nisfu Sya’ban
Islam does not specify any particular worship from the Prophet PBUH or sunnah to be practised on the night of nisfu Sya’ban but at the same time, we should take this opportunity to seek the advantages of this night by performing as much worship as we could whether by reciting the Quran, performing sunnah prayers, dhikr and others. However, it cannot be said to be the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH that is commanded to be performed for all these worships is just general forms of worship. Thus, once again we would like to reaffirm that there is no specific worship from the Prophet PBUH on the night of nisfu Sya’ban.
To conclude, the advantages of the night of nisfu Sya’ban is sabit according to the hadiths we stated at the beginning of this discussion which states that Allah SWT descends on the night of nisfu Sya’ban and forgives His slaves. At the same time, there are no specific worships which are commanded to be performed on the night of nisfu Sya’ban except the general types of worship. Lastly, may Allah SWT give us the strength to perform worship and protect us from anything that does not have an origin in religion. Amin.