9 Misconceptions about the 15th of Sha’baan (Shab-e-barat)

It’s that time of the year again when a certain number of Muslims, mainly from the sub-continental region including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, will be involved in doing certain acts of worship and celebrations on the particular night and day of 15th Sha’baan.

Growing up around this practice, one would see Muslims gathering in the houses of Allāh to do particular acts of worship, to increase in their regular worship, to have a festivity of sharing food especially sweet dishes like Halwa and to even go to the graveyards.

Most of those who partake in such deeds, do so out of ignorance as they are simply following their fore-fatherly practices or whatsoever their local Imams instigate without verifying whether what they have mentioned is true or not.

Little do they know that enjoining in these acts could be destructive for their worldly and hereafter affairs. Why? Since if these acts have no basis in the Sharee’ah – the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) – then such acts, no matter how virtuous they may seem from the outset, they will not be accepted and are in fact leading one to the displeasure of Allāh, since adding to the religion is a grave sin.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to say, when beginning a khutbah (sermon):

“… The best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The worst of things are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation is a going astray…” [1]

Here are some of the misconceptions regarding the fifteenth of Sha’baan. Humbly request all to read them with a sincere heart and an open-mind, one which is willing to accept the truth when it is presented to it.

Misconception #1: The night of the 15th of Sha’baan should be singled out for worship, prayer, etc.

Clarification: Our best example and role model is the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he never, ever singled out this night for worship or qiyaam nor did his Sahaba (may Allāh be pleased with them all).

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allāh have mercy upon him) said:

“There is no saheeh hadeeth concerning the night of the fifteenth of Sha’baan. All the ahaadeeth that have been narrated concerning that are mawdoo’ (fabricated) and da’eef (weak), and have no basis. There is nothing special about this night, and no recitation of Qur’aan or prayer, whether alone or in congregation, is specified for this night. What some of the scholars have said about it being special is a weak opinion. It is not permissible to single it out for any special actions. This is the correct view. And Allāh is the Source of strength.” [2]

Misconception #2: There are special prayers to be offered on this night.

Clarification: The truth of the matter is that there are NO special prayers to be offered on this night specifically. And all those ‘ahaadeeth’ giving you long lists of special ‘formulas’ that are “supposed to guarantee you Allāh’s forgiveness and Jannah” are all fabricated, false and innovations in our Deen. If there were such prayers, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have told us about them and we would have had evidence of him (peace be upon him) and the Sahaba (may Allāh be pleased with them) doing it.

Misconception #3: Allāh descends to the first heaven on this night to forgive us.

Clarification: Allāh’s descending to the first heaven does not only happen on the night of the fifteenth of Sha’baan. Rather it happens every single night of the year.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Every night when it is the last third of the night, our Lord, the Superior, the Blessed, descends to the nearest heaven and says: Is there anyone to invoke Me that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone asking My forgiveness so that I may forgive him?.” [3]

Thus, when ‘Abd-Allāh ibn al-Mubarak was asked about the descent of Allāh on the night of the fifteenth of Sha’baan, he said to the one who asked him:

“O weak one! The night of the fifteenth?! He descends every night!” [4]

Misconception #4: This is the night when our fate, lifespan, and provisions are decreed.

Clarification: Some people think that the “blessed night” (laylatim-mubarakah) mentioned in Surah ad-Dukhan, 44: 3, refers to the night of 15th Sha’baan, when Allāh decrees our lifespan, provisions and fate. In fact, they even pray 6 rakahs, 2 for each of these things. However, all that is fabricated and far, far away from the authentic Sunnah.

And, in reality, the “blessed night” mentioned in Surah ad-Dukhan, actually is referring to Laylatul Qadr that comes in Ramadhan. [5]

Misconception #5: One should fast specifically on the day of the fifteenth.

Clarification: Here again, there is no saheeh reports that tell us that the Prophet (peace be upon him) or his Sahabah (may Allāh be pleased with them all) ever picked this day specifically to fast. The Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to fast most of the month of Sha’baan and not just the 15th. However, if the fifteenth of Sha’baan coincides with a Monday or Thursday, or with the three white days (which in this case it does since the three white days of every lunar month are 13th, 14th and 15th) or if a person is generally fasting, without associating seeking extra rewards to fasting this specific day, then it is allowed. [6]

Misconception #6: This is the night when the souls of departed ones return to their families.

Clarification: Yet again what we have here is some people misunderstanding the ayat in surah al-Qadr and thinking that the ‘sending down of the Ruh’ as mentioned in this surah refers to the souls of the dead people returning to see their families,

even though the ayat is referring to Jibreel (peace be upon him).[7]

And that is why we see women preparing the sweets, the Halwas and other ‘goodies’ for the souls of their loved ones.

Not only is that in itself an erroneous, a deviant belief and a bid’ah, but to believe that the souls of the dead can return back to the world and meet with their relatives is also totally incorrect and false. The teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah clearly state that the souls of the dead do not return back to the world.

Misconception #7: Visiting graveyards, especially on this night is something good.

Clarification: Although the Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged visiting graves, he forbade singling out any day or night for any kinds of good deeds if it is not prescribed in the Sharee’ah. And he (peace be upon him) did not specifically visit the graveyard on the night of the 15th of Sha’baan. The hadeeth of ‘Aisha (may Allāh be pleased with her) that mentions that the Prophet (peace be upon him) visited the graveyard this night is not authentic and thus does not have any proof for visiting graves specifically on this night of Sha’baan.

Misconception #8: Even if the ahadeeth about worship on this night are weak, one can still do it.

Clarification: The correct scholarly view is that weak ahadeeth should not be followed at all, even if they speak of righteous deeds or of targheeb and tarheeb (promises and warnings). The saheeh reports are sufficient and the Muslim has no need to follow the da’eef reports.

Shaykh Ahmad Shakir said:

“There is no difference between rulings or righteous deeds; we do not take any of them from da’eef reports, rather no one has the right to use any report as evidence unless it is proven to be soundly narrated from the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him him) in a saheeh or hasan hadeeth.”

Even Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself stated what a Muslim ought to do when there is a doubtful matter, and this is most certainly at the very least a doubtful matter:

“That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear and between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allāh’s sanctuary is His prohibition. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart”. [8]

Misconception #9: Look at all those people doing it. How can they all be wrong?

Clarification: The Muslim is supposed to refer to Allāh and the Sunnah of His Messenger (peace be upon him) if there is any confusion or dispute about matters and NOT what the rest of the world is doing.

“O you who believe! Obey Allāh and obey the Messenger (peace be upon him) and those of you who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allāh and His Messenger (peace be upon him), if you believe in Allāh and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” [9]

Shaykh Ibn Jibreen said:

“These reports (about worship and fasting an the 15th of Sha’baan) became very well known in some countries which were overwhelmed by ignorance; One should not be deceived by the large numbers of ignorant people who do these things.”

Remember it’s not about the quantity, but rather about the authenticity of the practice.

The REAL Sunnah regarding Sha’baan:

If you truly and sincerely want to please Allāh and do deeds that will be acceptable to Him, then follow the REAL and authentically proven Sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him). Here is what is proven in the authentic Sunnah:

1. Fast most of this month as much as you can, especially the white days and/or Mondays and Thursdays.

‘Aisha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said:

“I never saw the Messenger of Allāh (peace be upon him) fasting for an entire month except in Ramadan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha’baan.” [10]

2. However, if you are weak or do not fast habitually and feel that this nafil (voluntary) fasting may be a hindrance to your obligatory fasting in the month of Ramadan, then the person may stop the nafil fasting in the last few days of this month. And for that person, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“When Sha’baan is half over, do not fast.” [11]

3. If you have fasts left over from last Ramadan to make up, then hurry up and do so in this month of Sha’baan before the next Ramadan comes.

It is not permissible to delay missed fasts until after the following Ramadan, except in cases of necessity (such as a valid excuse that continues between the two Ramadans). ‘Aisha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said:

“It used to be that I had days to make up for Ramadan and I would not be able to do so except in Sha’baan.” [12]

So, if you are someone who used to or planned to celebrate the 15th of Sha’baan thinking the acts and deeds you were told to perform would bring you closer to Allāh’s mercy, we request you to kindly think again, very carefully. Is it really worth it? Why can’t we not just stick with the authentic acts? At least on the day of judgement, we know we did what was authentically passed to us and not that which had clouds of doubts over them.

May Allāh guide us to that which is best for our worldly life and the hereafter.

Source: Alhuda Institute and IOU
[1] Muslim, 867
[2] Fataawa Islamiyyah, 4/511
[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, 1145
[4] Narrated by Abu ‘Uthmaan al-Saabooni in I’tiqaad Ahl al-Sunnah, no.92
[5] Tafseer Ibn Kathir of Surah al-Qadr
[6] Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
[7] Tafseer Ibn Kathir
[8] al-Bukhari and Muslim
[9] Al-Qur’an, 4:59
[10] al-Bukhari and Muslim
[11] Saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi
[12] al-Bukhari

Written by Adeel Malik

Born in Hong Kong, grew up in Scotland and ethnically Pakistani, Adeel primes himself to be a multicultural individual who is an advent social media user for the purpose of learning and propagating Islam while is also a sports fan. Being an English teacher himself, he envisions a bright future for Muslims which he strongly believes can only be done with education.

One Comment

Muslims of Hong Kong: Hong Kong Muslim Student wins Nationwide Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Best Student Award

The Dos and Don’ts When Correcting Others