||The Fast Of 15th Shaban (Revised opinion of Mufti Taqi Usmani)|
By Mufti Taqi Usmani
Q. I have read the Shabaan issue of
your magazine Al-BALAGH certain questions are bothering me with regard to
fasting on the 15th of Shabaan. I would like to explain the reason for this
question. Several months ago a friend explained to me that there is no special
significance of the fast of the 15th of Shabaan. However, he says this Hadith is
absolutely weak to such an extent that one of its narrators was a person who was
regarded by some scholars of Hadith as a fabricator of Hadith and a liar. Hence,
he says that, until another reliable Hadith can be found the fast of the 15th of
Shabaan has no special virtue. He also explained to me the following points :
(1) He has not come across any of the Fuqaha having even mentioned fasting
specifically on the 15th of Shabaan; where as they have mentioned the fasts of
Aashura and the six fasts of Shawwal etc.
(2) While it has been narrated in many authentic Ahadith that Rasulullah (S.A.W.)
fasted for most of the month of Shabaan, this cannot be used to prove any
special significance for the specific fast of the 15th of Shabaan. He told me
that those Ahadith must be explained as they are i.e. for the entire month of
Shabaan - not the 15th of the month.
(3) The Hadith regarding visiting the graveyard on the 15th of Shabaan is much
more authentic and reliable compared to the Hadith regarding fasting on the 15th
of Shabaan. However, despite this the Ulema have prohibited the people from
making it a habit. Therefore, since a very great number of people observe only
the fast of the 15th of Shabaan and regard it as a Sunnah, whereas the Hadith in
this regard is absolutely and totally weak, the Ulema should stop the people
from this also.
(4) When I suggested that what Harm, can here be if people observed this fast
even if in reality it is not Sunnah or even Nafl, he stated: This is the way
many Bidat have started (though this practice is not a Bid'ah). Furthermore this
is a matter of "Aqeedah" and to regard something as Sunnah which in reality is
not Sunnah is a very dangerous and grave matter. Hence it is necessary that
either the act be proved Sunnah or else the people should be stopped from this
since, if they practice, it they would do so regarding it as a Sunnah.
Hence I now wish to pose my questions.
(1) He has stated that this Hadith is "totally and absolutely weak" whereas
Mufti Sahib has stated that "the Scholars of Hadith have some doubts regarding
the authenticity of this Hadith." Has he exaggerated in this claim of "totally
(2) is it true that one of the narrators was regarded as a fabricator and liar?
(3) Are his arguments in (1),(2),(3) and (4) above correct?
(4) On page 14 Mufti Sahib has written; "Although the scholars of Hadith have
some doubts about the authenticity of this report, yet it is mentioned earlier
that the fasts of the first half of Shabaan have special merits...." I have not
found any narration in the article which explains the special merits of fasting
in the first half of Shabaan. All the narrations deal with the fasts of
the FIRST HALF of Shabaan, please quote this for me.
(5) Mufti Sahib also stated the practice of the Salaf (elders). Who is meant by
(6) If it is accepted that one of the narrators was accused of being a
fabricator and a liar did the "Salaf" regard this Hadith as authentic "as is"
i.e. despite the condition of this narrator?
(7) Mufti Sahib has stated; "therefore, it is advisable to fast on the 15th of
Shabaan as an optional (nafl) fast" Most people regard this fast as "Sunnah" and
not nafl. Is in incorrect to regard this fast as Sunnah?
(8) Is this Nafl fast equal to keeping a nafl fast on any other day for example,
the 1st of January; whichever Islamic date that may fall on? (excepting Ramadan,
the 10th of Muharram, etc)?
I hope Mufti Sahib will quickly answer these questions and remove my doubts and
the doubts of many others here in this regard.
(Yousuf Desai, South Africa)
A. I am grateful to you for your question which provided me with an opportunity
to revise my article and to study the subject in more detail. In fact, the fast
of the 15th of Shabaan is based on a tradition reported by Sayiddna Ali. Its
text runs as follows :
When the Middle Night of Shabaan arrives, you should stand (Praying) in the
night and should fast in the day following it.This Hadith is recorded by Ibn
Majah in his Sunan, one of the famous six books of Hadith, and also by Baihaqi
in his famous book Shu'ab-al-'iman'. Both of them have reported it without any
comment about its authenticity. But after a critical analysis of its chain of
narrators it is found that this tradition is mainly based on the report of Abu
Bakr Ibn Abi Saburah whose narrations cannot be relied upon. That is why the
scholars of Hadith have declared it as a weak (da'if) tradition. However, the
allegation that the narrator of this Hadith i.e. Abu Bakr ibn Abi Saburah, is a
fabricator who used to coin forged traditions does not seem correct. In fact, he
was mufti of Madinah, a well-known jurist and he was appointed as a qadi (Judge)
of Iraq in the days of Mansur and was succeeded in this office by Imam Abu
Yousuf. He was a colleague of Imam Malik.
Once Mansur, the Abbasi Caliph, asked Imam Malik referred to three names, and
one of them was that of Ibn Abi Saburah. Had he been a fabricator, Imam Malik
would have never referred to his name in this context. But despite his high
position among the jurists, his memory was not of the standard required for the
uthenticity of a tradition. That is why most of the critics of Hadith like Imam
Bukhari etc. Have held him as weak, but did not declare him a fabricator. Only
Imam Ahmed is reported to have remarked about him that he fabricates Hadith. But
this remark alone is not sufficient to hold him as a fabricator, for two
reasons: Firstly Imam Ahmed was born long after him, and his contemporary
scholars never held him as such, secondly the Arabic words used by Imam Ahmed
are some times used for confusing one tradition with another, and not for
This is the reason why the majority of the scholars of Hadith have held Abu Bakr
ibn Abi Saburah as a weak reporter of Hadith, but they did not declare him as a
forger or fabricator. Now, coming to his tradition about the fast of the 15th
Ramadan it is held by the scholars to be weak but i have not come across an
authentic scholar who has treated it as a fabricated (Mawdu) Hadith. There are a
number of books indicating the fabricated Ahadith, but this tradition is not
included in these books as fabricated.
It is well-known that Ibn Majah consists of about twenty Ahadith held to be
fabricated. The list of these fabricated AHadith is available, but the tradition
in question is not included therein.
Therefore, the correct position is that
this Hadith is not fabricated. However, being reported by a weak narrator, it
cannot be relied upon in the matter of the injunctions of Shariah. Thus, the
fast of the 15th of Shabaan cannot be termed as Sunnah or Mustahab in the strict
sense of the term. Nevertheless, it may be advisable to fast in the 15th of
Shabaan without taking it as Sunnah for several reasons:
Firstly it is fully established through a large number of Ahadith that the Holy
Prophet (S.A.W.) has emphasized on the merits of fasting in Shabaan, and
particularly in the first half of the month. The 15th day of Shabaan, being the
last day of the first half, is included in the preferable days for fasting.
Secondly, the merits of the 15th night of Shabaan is established by more than a
dozen Ahadith. It means that this night should be spent in prayers and other
forms of worship. On the other hand, all the blessed nights which the Muslims
are advised to spend in worship are generally followed by fasting on the coming
day like in the Laylatul-Qadr, where fasting on the following day is obligatory,
or like the first night Zilhijjah where fasting on the following days is
optional, rather advisable. on this analogy, too, the 15th night of Shabaan may
be followed by an optional fasting on the following day.
Thirdly, the tradition relating to the merits of fasting on 15th of Shabaan is,
no doubt, a weak tradition, not competent to prove this practice to be a Sunnah
or a formal Mustahabb, but it can be acted upon as a measure of precaution,
provided that the practice is not taken as Sunnah or a formal Mustahabb. It is
for these reasons that some Ulama and elders have been fasting on the 15th of
Shabaan and have been taking it an advisable practice. It is in this context
that I had mentioned this fast as advisable in my previous article. But when I
revised the article after receiving your question, I now feel that the relevant
paragraph may create misunderstanding and it needs clarification. I now armend
it in accordance with what is stated above in this article.
Again, I am thankful to you for your letter which enabled me to revise and
correct my previous article. May Allah give you the best reward for it.
Source: Taken (with Thanks) from Darul-uloom Karachi