Proofs of Laylat ar-Ragha'ib & Laylat al-Bara'ah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The night of the first Friday of the month of Rajab or its first night are both known as the “Night of Wishes,” Laylat ar-Ragha’ib, during which is performed swalah ar-ragha’ib.  Its observance was disapproved by Imam an-Nawawi (r.a.) in his Sharh al-Muhadzdzab and Fatawa as based on bathil evidence, and this is also the position of Imam al-‘Izz ad-Din ibn ‘Abd as-Salam (r.a.).  However, the hafizh, Imam ibn asw-Swalah (r.a.) disagreed with Imam al-‘Izz ad-Din (r.a.) and considered the performance of swalah ar-ragha’ib praiseworthy, while Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari (r.a.) said in his Asrar al-Marfu’ah regarding this, “The hadits, swalat an-nahar ‘ajma', even if bathil, nevertheless, its meaning is true.  The same holds about the hadits of the prayers they have mentioned concerning honoured days and exalted nights such as swalat ar-ragha'ib - the most famous example being the prayer of mid-Sha’ban - because the hadits concerning them are not forged but merely weak.”

Finally, Imam ibn ‘Abd ar-Razzaq (r.a.) narrated in his Muswannaf that ibn ‘Umar (r.a.) said, “There are five nights in which du’a is not turned back: the night of Juma’ah, the first night of Rajab, the night of mid-Sha’ban, and the two nights of ‘Iyd.”

Please note that it is enough for us that our shuyukh practise it and their shuyukh practise, in a chain of authority that is verifiable to the Prophet (s.a.w.).

Allah (s.w.t.) Says:

We Sent it down during a Blessed night: for We (ever) wish to warn (against Evil).  In that (night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom by Command, from Our presence.  For We (ever) Send (Revelations) as a Mercy from thy Lord: for He Hears and Knows (all things); (Surah ad-Dukhan:3-6)

Although the majority of the commentators consider the ‘Blessed night’ in the above verses to refer to the Night of Decree, Laylat al-Qadr, which is in the month of Ramadhan, yet the commentaries also mention that this ‘Blessed night’ may also be that of mid-Sha’ban, Laylat al-Bara'ah.  This view is based on the profusion of ahadits on the great merits of the latter.  Consequently the shari’ah has commended observance of that night.  Concerning supererogatory worship on the night of mid-Sha’ban, Imam as-Suyuthi (r.a.) said in his Haqiqat as-Sunnah wa al-Bid’ah aw al-Amr bi al-Ittiba’ wa an-Nahi ‘an al-Ibtida’, “As for the night of mid-Sha’ban, it has great merit and it is mustahabb to spend part of it in supererogatory worship.”  He added, “However, this must be done alone, not in congregation.”

Even Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.), the putative authority of Wahhabis, considered the night of mid-Sha’ban, “a night of superior merit,” in his Iqtida' asw-Swirath al-Mustaqim: “Some said, ‘There is no difference between this night and other nights of the year.  However, the opinion of many of the people of learning, and that of the majority of our companions (the Hanbali madzhab) and other than them is that it is a night of superior merit, and this is what is indicated by the words of Ahmad, in view of the many ahadits which are transmitted concerning it, and in view of what confirms this from the words and deeds transmitted from the early generations.  Some of its merits have been narrated in the books of hadits of musnad and sunan.  This holds true even if other things have been forged concerning it.”  Among the ahadits stressing the status of Laylat al-Bara’ah are the following.

Imam ibn Hibban (r.a.) narrated from Mu’adz ibn Jabal (r.a.) in his Swahih the following narration which the hadits scholar and editor of Swahih Shu’ayb Arna’ut confirmed as sound.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Allah Looks at His Creation in the night of mid-Sha’ban and He Forgives all His Creation except for a mushrik or one bent on hatred.”  Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.) said that Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) also narrated it in his Kabir and Awsath with chains containing only trustworthy narrators, that is, swahih.  Imam ibn Khuzaymah (r.a.) included it in his Swahih, which has the same level of acceptance among the experts as Swahih Muslim.  Even the Wahhabi innovator, al-Albani included it in his Silsilah Swahihah.

Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.) and Imam Ahmad (r.a.) narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (r.a.), and Imam al-Bazzar (r.a.) with a chain he graded as hasan through the great tabi`i jurist Imam al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr asw-Swiddiq (r.a.), “Allah Looks upon His creatures on the night of mid-Sha’ban and He Forgives all His servants except two: one intent on hatred, and the homicide.”

Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) related from ‘Aishah (r.a.) in Shu’ab al-Iman with his chain of transmission.  ‘Aishah (r.a.) said, “The Prophet stood up in prayer during part of the night and made his prostration so lengthy that I thought his soul had been taken back.  When I saw this, I got up and went to move his big toe, whereupon he moved, so I drew back.  When he raised his head from prostration and finished praying, he said, ‘O ‘Aishah, O fair little one!  Did you think that the Prophet had broken his agreement with you?’

I replied, ‘No, by Allah, O Messenger of Allah, but I thought that your soul had been taken back because you stayed in prostration for so long.’

He asked, ‘Do you know what night this is?’

I replied, ‘Allah and His Prophet know best.’

He said, ‘This is the night of mid-Sha’ban!  Verily Allah the Glorious and Majestic Looks at His servants on the night of mid-Sha’ban, 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.’”

Imam al-Azhari (r.a.) said, “Concerning his words, ‘broken his agreement with you,’ this is said to a person who betrays his companion and therefore has not given him his due right.”

Imam al-Bayhaqi (r.a.) continued, “This hadits is missing the companion in its chain, and is a good hadits.  It is probable that al-‘Ala' ibn al-Harits took it from Makhul, and Allah knows best.”

Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.), Imam Ahmad (r.a.) and Imam ibn Majah (r.a.) related from ‘Aishah (r.a.), “I missed the Prophet one night so I went out to al-Baqi’.  He said, ‘Were you afraid that Allah would wrong you and that His Prophet would wrong you?’

I replied, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I thought that you might have gone to visit one of your wives.’

He said, ‘Allah Glorious and Exalted Descends to the nearest heaven on the night of mid-Sha’ban and He Forgives more people than the number of hairs on the hides of the sheep of the tribes of Kalb.’”

Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.) said that he had heard that Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) had graded this hadits weak because some of the sub-narrators did not narrate directly from each other.

Imam Ahmad (r.a.) and Imam ibn Majah (r.a.) related from ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (r.a.), “The Prophet said, ‘The night of mid-Sha’ban, let all of you spend in prayer and its day in fasting, for Allah Descends to the nearest heaven during that night beginning with sunset and says, ‘Is there no one asking Forgiveness that I may Forgive them?  Is there no one Asking sustenance that I may Grant them sustenance?  Is there no one under trial that I may Relieve them?  Is there not such-and-such, is there not such-and-such, and so forth until dawn rises.’”  Its chain contains ibn Abi Swabra who is dha’if.


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