بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
EBRATING THE UNCELEBRATED NIGHT OF SOULS CEL ( Shub-e-Baraat)
إِنَّ الْحَمْدَ لِلَّهِ، نَحْمَدُهُ وَنَسْتَعِينُهُ، مَنْ يَهْدِهِ اللهُ فَلَا مُضِلَّ لَهُ، وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَلَا هَادِيَ لَهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ، أَمَّا بَعْدُ
I – For those who do not know what exactly happens on this night
Today, many sects and schools of thought, particularly outside the Middle East, celebrate the Night of Acquittal or Night of Forgiveness in the middle of the month of Sha’ban (15th) with great religious enthusiasm; It is commonly known as “”ليلة النصف من شعبان (Laylat al-nisf min Sha’ban) meaning the Night of the Middle from Sha’ban in the Arab world and “شبِ براءت” (Shab-e-Baraat) meaning ‘freeing from responsibility of a wrong doing’ amongst the South Asian Muslims.
Many people believe that the departed souls of their dear ones return to their graves and homes that night. Some of them believe that whatever is going to happen to them in the next one year is written in this night.
It is common almost everywhere:
- To see hundreds of people visiting graveyards at night.
- Graves of their relatives are decorated with candles, flower petals and leaves and with burning of incense (South Asians call it agarbatti).
- Other than the graveyards, people decorate the tombs, mosques and other building with fancy lightings;
- People spend the night worshipping and praying declared as sunnah by their sectarian ulema.
- People gather on a bridge throwing chits with their prayers attaching some bait for the fish; they believe that their ‘escapee Imam’ will receive and fulfill their wishes.
- Fire crackers and fireworks are also specialty of this night.
- They also believe that great pardon is made by Allah Ta’ala acquitting them of their sins.
- Baseless wazeefas (dhikr in Arabic) are promoted for this night like wazeefa on a ten-rupee note in this night will bring them millions.
The Christians do similar rituals in their graveyards on 2 November each year, calling it ‘All Souls Day’. They also believe that the souls of their dear ones return to their graves that day.
But surprisingly this so-called holy festival of Islam is neither mentioned in the Quran nor the sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) reaching us through authenticated prophetic narrations. Let us analyze what justifications are given to celebrate Shab-e-Baraat.
Let’s start with the as basic as this name ‘Shab-e-Baraat’ used almost everywhere by the subcontinental Muslims. ‘Shab’ is not an Arabic word but a Persian word meaning ‘night’. ‘Baraat’ is an Arabic word meaning ‘acquittal’ thus combining Persian with Arabic to give a religious touch. But there is no parallel word for ‘Shab-e-Baraat’ used in Quran and Sunnah. That is, ‘Shab-e-Baraat’ has nothing to do with Islam which was revealed in Arabic, but it is the invention of the Persians or Persian-loving Indian Muslims.
II – Justification offered in favour of Shab-e-Baraat from the Quran
Some claim that Sura Dukhan Ayaat 3-4 mention about this night.
اِنَّاۤ اَنْزَلْنٰهُ فِيْ لَيْلَةٍ مُّبٰرَكَةٍ اِنَّا كُنَّا مُنْذِرِيْنَ۰۰۳فِيْهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ اَمْرٍ حَكِيْمٍۙ۰۰۴
Indeed, We sent it (the Quran) down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [through it]. On that night, is made distinct every affair of wisdom.
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ…
The month of Ramadhan is the one in which Quran was revealed …
- Hence it is unanimously acknowledged that the distinction of first revelation is associated with the month of Ramadhan NOT Sha’ban.
- Then many authentic ahadeeth further restrict it to the last ten nights of the Ramadhan NOT Sha’ban.
- It is also shocking contradiction that despite such a clear verdict, Laylat-ul-Qadr has also been changed from one night to two nights that too falling outside of Ramadhan by Deobandi Shaikh Zakariya in his book ‘Fadhail-e-Aa’mal’ Chapter ‘Fadhail-e-Ramadhan’ the standard syllabus of Tablighi Jamat.
- The Prophet or his Companions have not related 15th night with the revelation of the Quran.
- Though it is narrated from Ikrimah (), a successor to the Companions, that he considers (not what the Prophet said) the night in which every affair is widely decided to be the middle-night of Sha’ban; Then he contradicts himself in another narration that the night refers to Laylat al-Qadr. (Zaad-ul-Maseer fi ilm al tafseer, Chapter Tafseer Surah Al-Dukhan, by Ibn al-Jawzi d. 597 hijri).
- Qadhi Abu Bakr ibn ‘Arabi (d. 543 hijri) asserted: ‘The majority of scholars hold that it refers to Laylat ul-Qadr. Some have stated that it refers to the night of mid-Sha’ban; however, this [latter] view is futile.’ Then he categorizes the one who claims falsely that this is Laylat ul Qadr as ‘the one who has told a great lie on Allah’. (Ahkam al-Quran, Chapter Tafseer Surah Al-Dukhan, by Qadi Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah Ibn al-‘Arabi Al-Andulusi)
- Darul Ulum Deoband has published a booklet by Shaikh Abdul Hafiz Abdul Haqq Al-Makki, available of their website, in favour of Shab-e-Baraat (15th Sha’ban) but not a single ayat is quoted to support it. It appears that the writer knew well the tafseer of abovementioned ayaat from Al-Dukhan or he had read the assertion of Ibn al-‘Arabi about telling a great lie on Allah if someone calls Shab-e-Barat as Laylatul Mubarakah.
- Ironically, religious scholars distort the Quranic verses and shift their places to suit their ulterior motives which was the habit of Bani Israel, يُحَرِّفُونَ الْكَلِمَ عَنْ مَوَاضِعِهِ ’those who distort words from their [proper] usages’ (Surah Al-Nisa Ayat 46).
Hence there is no ayat of the Quran which mentions this night of 15th Sha’ban nor any ritual to be practised on this night or at any other time of the day. For those who still prefer to use this ayat as an argument, Allah Ta’ala says:
ؕ قُلْ اَتُنَبِّـُٔوْنَ۠ اللّٰهَ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ لَا فِي الْاَرْضِ
… ‘Say, “Do you inform Allah of something He does not know in the heavens or on the earth? …”
(Surah Younus Ayat 18)
- Second Justification. Another misconception spread by the sectarian ulema about this ‘Night of Acquittal’ is that the souls of those who die come to this world and visit their graves and homes that night.
- Analysis. This belief is neither proved by the Quran and authentic ahadeeth rather is against the belief declared by Allah Ta’ala who says:
حَتّٰۤى اِذَا جَآءَ اَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ رَبِّ ارْجِعُوْنِ
Until, when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: “My Lord! Send me back,
لَعَلِّيْۤ اَعْمَلُ صَالِحًا فِيْمَا تَرَكْتُ كَلَّا١ؕ اِنَّهَا كَلِمَةٌ هُوَ قَآىِٕلُهَا١ؕ وَ مِنْ وَّرَآىِٕهِمْ بَرْزَخٌ اِلٰى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُوْنَ
“So that I may do good in that which I have left behind!” No! It is but a word that he speaks, and behind them is Barzakh (a barrier) until the Day when they will be resurrected.
…فَيُمْسِكُ الَّتِي قَضَىٰ عَلَيْهَا الْمَوْتَ…
…Then He keeps those for which He has decreed death…
(Sura Al-Zumar Ayat 42)
أَلَمْ يَرَوْا كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا قَبْلَهُمْ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ
Do they not see how many of the generations We have destroyed before them? Verily, they will not return to them.
(Surah Yaseen Ayat 31)
All of these ayaat and others clearly establish that the dead WILL NOT return to this world. This belief of souls returning to earth in any form is against the Quranic Verdict. Hence no soul is visiting their relatives present on their graves on Shab-e-Baraat or any other day or night.
III – Justification offered in favour of Shab-e-Baraat from the ahadeeth
- The believers of Shab-e-Baraat also resort to a few ahadeeth to prove this night, which, if researched, would show that all of them either weak or fabricated. Those narrations are analyzed in the following paragraphs.
- Third Justification. Mother of the Believers A’isha (رضی اللہ عنہا) said: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:
“Sha’ban is my month and Ramadan is the month of Allah.” (Musnad Al-Firdous)
- Analysis. Hafiz Sakhawi attributed it to Musnad al-Firdaus. This narration is judged to be fabricated; its chain of narration is very weak (dha’if jiddan) due to Hasan ibn Yahya al-Khashni. Sheikh Al-Albani recorded it in Al-Silsala Al-Dha’eefah (The Chain of the Weak Narrations) Volume 8 Page 222 Hadith 3746.
- Fourth Justification. Following hadith is quoted for special significance of this night:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ 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 كَلْب
Aisha (رضی اللہ عنہ) says that one night she did not find the Prophet (ﷺ) in bed. … …. (Allah) forgives as many people as the hairs of the goats of Banu Kalb.
- Analysis. It is mentioned in Quran:
اِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُوْرِ عِنْدَ اللّٰهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِيْ كِتٰبِ اللّٰهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الْاَرْضَ
Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; …
(Surah Al-Tauba Ayat 36)
- When Allah created heaven and the earth and divided the year, all the months belong to Him as he created them long before Adam ( علیہ السلام ) was created. Nobody shares this ownership with Allah. Moreover, if the Prophet () had given a specialty attached with him like prayer for himself, celebrations for him, then it would have been deduced that month of Sha’ban has some special relevance with the Prophet () but that is not the case. Dedicating a month to someone other than Allah is clearly shirk (association with Him).
- Secondly Imam Tirmidhi, himself, called it weak (dha’if) and quoted from Imam Bukhari as weak. (Jam’ at- Tirmizi 739 , Book 8 , Hadith 58,Vol 2 , Book 3, Hadith 739) Hajjaj ibn Arta narrated this narration from Yahya ibn Abi Katheer but his listening from him is not proven. This narration is broken in two places. Shaykh al-Albani also declared it weak.
- Fifth Justification. Following hadith is quoted for special significance of this night:
عَنْ أَبِي مُوسَى الأَشْعَرِيِّ، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ “ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيَطَّلِعُ فِي لَيْلَةِ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَيَغْفِرُ لِجَمِيعِ خَلْقِهِ إِلاَّ لِمُشْرِكٍ أَوْ مُشَاحِنٍ
“Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all His creation, apart from the mushriks (those who associate anyone with Allah in any sense) and a Muslim who carries something against his Muslim brother in his heart).” Another chain from Abu Musa, from the Prophet (ﷺ) with similar wording.
- Analysis. This narration is very weak. In it, Waleed bin Muslim, is a mudallis (one who knowingly hides defect in his narration). Then another narrator Ibn Lahiyah is weak, while Zahak bin Ayman is unknown. In the second chain of narrators, besides Ibn Lahiyah, both Zubair ibn Saleem and Abdul Rahman ibn Azrab are unknown.
- Sixth Justification. Another narration is often quoted in favour of this night:
When the fifteenth night of Sha’ban comes, Allah Ta’ala looks at His creatures and forgives the believers. He gives respite to the disbelievers and leaves the haters behind because of their hatred. (Fadhail-e-Awqaat No. 23)
- Analysis. This narration is weak because its main narrator, Ahus ibn Hakim, is weak according to the vast majority of the scholars of hadith. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani describes this narrator in his book al-Taqreeb al-Tahdhib 290, as having ‘weak memorization’. Therefore, the argument from this tradition is not ‘jaiz’ (religiously permitted).
- Seventh Justification. Another hadith is quoted to justify celebration of this night:
عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَالِبٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ إِذَا كَانَتْ لَيْلَةُ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَقُومُوا لَيْلَهَا وَصُومُوا يَوْمَهَا . فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَنْزِلُ فِيهَا لِغُرُوبِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَى سَمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا فَيَقُولُ أَلاَ مِنْ مُسْتَغْفِرٍ فَأَغْفِرَ لَهُ أَلاَ مُسْتَرْزِقٌ فَأَرْزُقَهُ أَلاَ مُبْتَلًى فَأُعَافِيَهُ أَلاَ كَذَا أَلاَ كَذَا حَتَّى يَطْلُعَ الْفَجْرُ
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: ‘When it is the night of the middle of Sha’ban, spend its night in prayer and observe a fast on that day. For Allah descends at sunset on that night to the lowest heaven and says: “Is there no one who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is there no one who will ask Me for provision, that I may provide for him? Is there no one who is afflicted by trouble, that I may relieve him?” And so on, until dawn comes.’
(Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of establishing salat and sunnah, Chapter of what was narrated about the middle night of Sha’ban)
- Analysis. In this narration, Abu Bakr Ibn Abi Sabra is declared as a ‘liar’.See Sunun Ibn e Majjah ,Book 2, Mohammed Fawad Abdul Baqi This whole hadith is categorized as ‘fabricated’ and cannot be considered an argument at all. ( Ahmed Bin Humble , Sunun Ibn e Majjah ,Book 2 ( Albani called it ToTally Zaeef ).Ref : Al Musnud Almuzuei un e jame lil kutub Al ushrata.
- Eighth Justification. Yet another hadith:
“On the night of mid-Sha’ban, the names of those born and those who die throughout the year are noted and the deeds of the people are presented before Allah and on that night their sustenance also comes down.”
(Fadhail-e-Awqaat No. 26)
Analysis. This narration is very weak because it has a very weak narrator, Nadr ibn Katheer, and it is not permissible to present it as an argument from this narration.
- Ninth Justification. Deobandi justification appearing in the booklet by Shaikh Abdul Hafiz Al-Makki begins with many ahadeeth highlighting virtues of the month of Sha’ban at the end of which he himself writes the following:
“[Consequently,] without a doubt these hadiths and those similar to them include in their generality (‘umum) the night of the 15th of Sha’ban and its day.”
- Analysis. Like the above quoted ahadeeth for the whole month, he has also used three fasts of every month commonly called Ayyam-ul-Beidh (days of whiteness). The nights of 13th, 14th and 15th are full moon-lit nights are given the simile of whiteness. Even this is applicable to all the months round the year. The authenticity of all these ahadeeth is not analysed as these, being generally applicable to all the months, therefore, these are not the arguments in favour of this particular night.
- Except for weak hadith from Sunan Ibn Majah, analysed above, not one hadith occurs in Sihah Sitta, Six canonical hadith books. The hadith from Sunan Al-Tirmidhi quoted above is declared by Tirmizi himself as weak as written there for record. Therefore, Imam Bokhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Nasai have not brought a SINGLE hadith in favour of Sha-e-Baraat. Similarly, the other ahadeeth in support of this night in this booklet are quoted as ‘athar’ (narrations related to Sahaba) an innovated term which was not used in this sense by the great scholars of hadith like the names mentioned above. In any case, none of the quoted these ‘athar’ are from standard books of hadith. These quotations are from al-Targhib wa ’l-Tarhib by Hafiz Al-Mundhari, Lata’if al-Ma’arif by Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Majma’ ‘l-Zawa’id by Nur al-Din al-Haythami, Husn al-Bayan by Abdullah al-Ghumari, Shu‘b al-Iman by Al-Bayhiqi,
- The Deobandi scholar has acknowledged in the same booklet and quotes:
‘At the end of it is mentioned: “Al-Tirmidhi said: I heard Muhammad i.e. al-Bukhari considering this hadith weak (dha‘if).”
- But then he goes on to defend acceptance of this weak hadith, by quoting verdict by Mulla Ali Al-Qari:
“However, weak hadith can be practiced upon in virtues (fadhail) according to ‘ijma ul ulema’ …” [ijma ul ulema is the unanimous agreement of the scholars]
- This makes ijma ul ulema as an extra source of our religion besides those defined by Allah Ta’ala and His Messenger (ﷺ). Thus, these ulema have justified many innovations including the Night of Acquittal / Shab-e-Baraat / “”ليلة النصف من شعبان (the Night of the Middle of Sha’ban) in the real Islam.
- IMPORTANTLY there is not a single narrationabout these rituals or deeds actually being performed by the Prophet (ﷺ), or by Ummahat ul Momineen (Mothers of the Believers) that is the respectable lady wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) or by the Sahaba (the Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) or even by the respectable Followers of the Companions or even their Followers. None, whatsoever. How is it possible that the night so fervently celebrated today on religious grounds has not an iota of resemblance with the practices of the best generations whom we are supposed to follow.
IV – So it concludes …
It has been proven beyond doubt that the night, which is considered as a holy night of Islam today in the name of ليلة النصف من شعبان (Laylat al-nisf min Sha’ban) meaning the Night of the Middle from Sha’ban in the Arab world and “شبِ براءت” (Shab-e-Baraat) in South Asia, is not proven by the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet () or the sunnah of the Sahaba ().
Also considering and promoting 15th night as ‘Laylatul Mubarakah’ which is actually the ‘Laylatul Qadr’ as mentioned in Quran and many authentic ahadeeth, is a great lie against Allah Himself, His Book and His Messenger ().
May Allah Ta’ala guide to the real Islam all those who are sincere in Your religion
and save us from going astray after the guidance
and grant us all the courage and strength to stay away from all innovations in our beloved religion, Islam.