Islamic Themes

Ibn Rajab and Nisf min Shaban

“Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali:

The Night of Nisf min Sha`ban”

***

shaban

the month of shaban

  • Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d.795/1393) states in his superb book on the Islamic months and seasons entitled Lata’if al-Ma`arif:

Arabic text:

وليلة النصف من شعبان كان التابعون من أهل الشام كخالد بن معدان، ومكحول، ولقمان بن عامر وغيرهم، يعظمونها ويجتهدون فيها في العبادة، وعنهم أخذ الناس فضلها وتعظيمها، وقد قيل: إنه بلغهم في ذلك آثار إسرائيلية، فلما اشتهر ذلك عنهم في البلدان، اختلف الناس في ذلك فمنهم من قبله منهم ووافقهم على تعظيمها، منهم طائفة من عباد أهل البصرة وغيرهم، وأنكر ذلك أكثر علماء الحجاز منهم: عطاء، وابن أبي مليكة، ونقله عبد الرحمن بن زيد بن أسلم عن فقهاء أهل المدينة، وهو قول أصحاب مالك وغيرهم وقالوا: لك كله بدعة واختلف علماء أهل الشام في صفة إحيائها على قولين

أحدهما: أنه يستحب إحياؤها جماعة في المساجد. كان خالد بن معدان ولقمان بن عامر وغيرهما يلبسون فيها أحسن ثيابهم، ويتبخرون ويتكحلون، ويقومون في المسجد ليلتهم تلك، ووافقهم إسحاق بن راهويه على ذلك، وقال في قيامها في المساجد جماعة: ليس ذلك ببدعة، نقله حرب الكرماني في مسائله

والثاني: أنه يكره الاجتماع فيها في المساجد للصلاة والقصص والدعاء، ولا يكره أن يصلي الرجل فيها لخاصة نفسه، وهذا قول الأوزاعي إمام أهل الشام وفقيههم وعالمهم، وهذا هو الأقرب إن شاء الله تعالى

Translation:

“The tabi`un[1] like Khalid Ibn Ma`dan, Makhul, Luqman Ibn `Amir and others from al-Sham[2] would exalt the night of Mid-Sha`ban and in it would strive in devotion. People took from the virtues of that night as well as its greatness from those [tabi`un]. It is said that what reached them regarding this issue[3] are from and isra’iliyyat reports[4]. So when it became well-known amongst them in their lands, the people began to differ regarding them such that some accepted the reports and exalted the night such as a group of worshippers in Basrah and others whereas most of the people of Hijaz rejected them which included: `Ata’, Ibn Abi Malikah as well as the jurists of Medina as transmitted by `Abd al-Rahman Ibn Zayd Ibn Aslam which is also the opinion of Malik’s companion as well as others… the people of Sham differed in how to observe this night:

The first group considered it recommended observing the night as a congregation in the Mosque. The likes of Khalid Ibn Ma`dan, Luqman Ibn `Amir and others would wear their best clothes, burn incense, apply kohl and stand in prayers at the Mosque during that night. Ishaq Ibn Rahwayh agreed with in that saying: ‘this is not an innovated matter’ as cited by al-Kirmani in his Masa’il.

The second group disliked any congregation in the Mosque for Prayers, relating stories and making supplications. However, they did not dislike individuals offering prayers by themselves. This was the position of al-Awza`i who was the jurist and scholar for the people of al-Sham and this perhaps is closest to the truth – Allah willing…”[5]

[End].

Notes:

  • The early Tabi`un figures differed over the narrations upholding veneration of the Night of Mid-Sha`ban.
  • Some of the early Tabi`un figures venerated the Night of Mid-Sha`ban.
  • Some of the early Tabi`un figures devoted themselves in the Night of Mid-Sha`ban.
  • Some of the early Tabi`un figures offered Prayer in congregation in observance of the night of Mid-Sha`ban.
  • Imam al-Awza`i preferred individual devotion in the night of Mid-Sha`ban over congregational devotion.
  • Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali believes al-Awza`i’s position is the soundest position on the matter (closest to the truth).

And with Allah is all success.

s.z.c.


[1] التابعون | The generation that overlapped with the Companions of the Prophet responsible for preserving and explaining much of the traditions, understanding and practices of Islam. M. Siddiqi, Hadith Literature, p.29.

[2] الشام | Historical region of the Caliphate covering the territories of Syria, Egypt and Palestine. In modern geographical terms, it refers to the entire Levant region. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilad_al-Sham

[3] Of the night if Mid-Sha`ban.

[4] إسرائيلية | oral and written traditions of the Jews and Christians; see B. Wheeler, art. “Isra’il”, §. Isra’iliyyat, in The Qur’an: An Encyclopaedia, ed. O. Leaman, pp.323-

[5] Ibn Rajab, Lata’if al-Ma`arif, vol.1, pp.189-190.

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