My family celebrates 15th night of Sha'baan as Eid for the Deceased. They decorate, cook food, light up the house and place lamps on graves believing the souls of the deceased come to visit us on this night. Is this true? What is the evidence for it?
Unfortunately, 15th night of Sha’ban has been wrongly singled out for worship. There is no evidence for the nawafil that people offer on 15th night of Sha’ban, in any Sahih hadith, nor in the lives of companions of Prophet.
In support for their all night worship, the people quote many hadith, which in actuality are either fabricated, or Da’eef (weak in narration).
Hadith and Quran have described all the important nights of worship. For example, worship in the nights of Ramadan has been highly recommended.
Narrated Abu Hurayrah (R.A):
I heard Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) saying regarding Ramadan, "Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." [Sahih Bukhari]
We find no evidence of any kind of worship specifically for the night of 15th of Sha’ban, from the life of our Prophet ﷺ, his companions, Tabe’een (students of the companions of the Prophet), or even the four Imams.
Who would be better than them? There could be none better than them in terms of knowledge of Deen, their quest for Jannah, their love of Prophet SAW, and their role as the perfect followers of Prophet ﷺ.
If this particular worship for the 15th of Sha’ban was not there in the times of Prophet ﷺ, or his companions, or Tabe’een (students of companions) then how could it later become part of our Deen?
Today, the daily five prayers have less importance than the worship of night of 15th Sha’ban.
Just think for a moment. Companions of Prophet wouldn’t waste such night if it were true. They were eager and keen to gain goodness in every possible manner. So how and why would they leave out the night of 15th of Sha’ban, if it indeed held such importance?
A person can only be successful in this world and in Hereafter, only if he follows instructions of Allah SWT, his Prophet SAW, and the companions of the Prophet, and Tabe’een (students of the companions of Prophet).
We should follow them. They are role models for us.
“ And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success” (Chapter At-Tawba, Verse 100)
This verse of Qur’an shows that the Companions of Prophet, Muhajireen and Ansar included, are the ones who yearn for goodness and Allah SWT is pleased with them. They are the ones worthy of being our role models till the Day of Judgment. We can be successful in this world and in the Hereafter by following their footsteps.
But sometimes, if you tell people it is not in Quran, hadith, or we do not see that in the Prophet’s life, or the lives of companions, they would say:
Yes, we have no example, no instructions for doing it, but this is worship: A good deed. What evil could come out of a good deed like worship? They certainly did not forbid us to do it. Offering nawafil is good deed. There’s nothing wrong in it.
This is the result of ignorance of Deen. Islam is what Quran and Sunnah is. Islam is what is in the 30 parts of Quran, and in the 23 years’ Seerah of our Prophet’s life (whatever he said, and whatever he did)
If there is no evidence in Quran and hadith, then we need to take a look at the lives of companions of Prophet, and Tabe’een (their students’ lives). Did they consider it a part of their Deen (religion)? If they did not, then how can we add to the already perfected, already complete Deen?
Deen is what it was in the days of companions of Prophet ﷺ, and this holds true till the Day of Judgment.
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Al Maida 5:3)
If Khayr ul Quroon (the generation of Prophet ﷺ and his companions) have not added anything in Deen, then how can we add it now? Are we more learned, more competent, more pious, more worthy than them? The stature of companions of Prophet has been established in Qur’an and hadith and there can be no doubt about it. They have been described as the “Best generation” and with whom Allah SWT is pleased.
Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood reported: The Prophet, ﷺ, said, “The best people are those of my generation, then those who come after them, then those who come after them. Then, there will come people after them whose testimony precedes their oaths and their oaths precede their testimony.”
The Qiyaam of 15th night of Sha’ban is not present in the life of our Prophet ﷺ, in the lives of his companions, Tabe’een (students of companions of Prophet) or in the lives of four Imams. If it wasn’t there for so long, then it cannot be added to our Deen till the Day of Judgment.
Q2: Is lighting up the graveyards, or placing lamps on the graves prescribed by Sharia?
It is a custom in many places to light up the graveyards as if a function is going to be held there. It has been highly condemned.
Chapter: The Stern Warning Against Putting Lamp On Graves
It was narrated that Ibn Abbas said:
"The Messenger of Allah cursed women who visit graves, and those who take them as Masjid and put lamps on them.” [Sunan an-Nasa'i 2043]
Jannat ul Baqee was the graveyard in Medina. Our Prophet’s (ﷺ) loved ones were also buried there. Two of his (ﷺ) daughters, his uncle, many of his companions.
Graveyard was there; the month of Sha’ban was also there. And the people at that time showed their dead more honor, more love, and were more thoughtful for the dead than us.
But never did the Prophet ﷺ, or his companions, or the Tabe’een (students of the companions) light up the graveyard or placed lamps on the graves of their loved ones.
Why didn’t they do that? Because lighting the graveyard or placing lamps on graves has been forbidden in Islam. They had fear of Allah SWT in their hearts. How could they do anything that the Prophet of Allah ﷺ had cursed on?
The Prophet of Allah ﷺ cursed on those who prostrated on the graves and placed lamps on the graves (lighted the graveyards)
Some people quote a hadith as evidence to support the lighting of graveyard. True, that hadith is Sahih. It has been quoted in Tirmidhi as well. But it is only the half-truth, which is quoted to support their claims.
One night, a man died. The grave was dug in darkness. Our Prophet SAW led the Janazah prayer. When it was time to bury, because of the darkness, Our Prophet SAW asked for a lamp to be lighted, so that they could bury the man properly. This is the complete truth, which shows the lamp was lighted only for ease and because of darkness, not with any other intention. Most importantly, it was not the night of 15th of Sha’ban. There’s another objection, too.
Also, this lighting up of graveyards is usually done through an illegal electric connection.
Q3: Do the “Rooh” (souls) of the deceased come and visit their homes on the night of 15th of Sha’ban?
In some places strange customs and rituals are carried out in the night of 15th of Sha’ban. Some people make extra efforts to clean, decorate, and light up their houses. Some even go to the extra mile to paint their houses, as if they are preparing for Eid.
Their reason for all this? All the souls of their deceased family members come and visit their house on the night of 15th of Sha’ban. Some widows even go to the extent that they take baths, wear new clothes, get ready, believing that the soul of their dead husband would be coming to meet them on the night of 15th of Sha’ban, and he would be happy to see them dressed up. For the same reason, people have made it a custom to cook fancy food for the night of 15th of Sha’ban.
The concept of souls of deceased coming down to meet their family is totally Un-Islamic.
The evidence is from Quran:
And behind them is Barzakh (a barrier) until the Day they are resurrected. (Chapter Mominoon 23:100)
Allah SWT Says that He has made Barzakh between the living and dead. Barzakh is a kind of barrier through which no one can move across, and across which both sides cannot see.
Barzakh has been explained in Chapter Ar-Rahman, too.
He released the two seas, meeting [side by side];
Between them is Barzakh (a barrier) [so] neither of them transgresses. (Ar-Rahman 55:19-20)
This shows no movement across Barzakh is possible.
It was said, "Enter Paradise." He said, "I wish my people could know
Of how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honored.
(Yaseen 36: 26-27)
Here, Allah SWT mentions how a dead person wished he could go back and tell his people that he had been honored, but since no one can return to this Earth till the Day of Judgment, it was not possible.
All these misconceptions (regarding 15th of Sha’ban and other Aqeeda issues) arise because of lack of knowledge of Quran, and Hadith. This concept of souls returning to meet their loved ones comes from Hindu concept of avagon. Because of close contact with Hindus, stretched over several hundreds of years, this concept penetrated and became a malign influence. Some people call the night of 15th of Sha’ban as the Eid of the deceased.
People dress up, decorate, and cook food believing that the dead souls would be coming to their houses, and when they see their families, they become happy, so this is assumed to be their Eid.
This is all against the teachings of Quran and Hadith. There is no evidence of this in the lives of our Prophet SAW, his companions, Tabe’een (students of companions of Prophet) or even the four Imams. It should be strictly avoided.
Q4: What are the virtues of the 15th Night of Sha’ban?
The month of Sha’ban holds special importance. It gives us the glad tidings of the coming month of Ramadan. But its importance is only because of fasts.
It was narrated that 'Aishah said:
"The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not fast any month more than Shaban; he used to fast (all of) it, or most of it." [Sunan an-Nasa'i 2354]
Our Prophet ﷺ has taught us to offer Nawafil (voluntary worship) as to compensate for any missed faraidh (Obligatory worship). But the times and occasions for this voluntary worship have been mentioned and explained. That is why our Prophet ﷺ used to fast a lot during the month of Sha’ban.
The companions of the Prophet followed his role model, and did the same. Fasting in Sha’ban is the only virtue of the month of Sha’ban that has been recorded by Sahih (correct) hadith.
Usamah bin Zaid said:
"I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Shaban.' He said: 'That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting."' [Sunan an-Nasa'i 2357]
Coming to the virtues of the night of 15th of Sha’ban, all scholars of hadith, who have sound knowledge, agree that no virtues specific to 15th of Sha’ban were mentioned in Quran or Sahih hadith, none at all.
A small percentage of scholars mentions the Da’eef hadith, that show that the night of 15th of Sha’ban may have some importance, but they, too, say that there is no evidence of any specific worship or ritual that needs to be done on 15th night of Sha’ban.
It has always been preferred to follow what the majority of scholars agree up on. In this case, 99% of the scholars agree that the night of 15th of Sha’ban holds no significance, and there are no specific rituals or worship that should be done in that night.
There is a small percentage (1%)of Scholars of Hadith that say that we should consider Da’eef hadith, too.
Ayesha (R.A) said:”……….’ He (SAW) said, ‘Verily, Allah (may He be Glorified and Exalted) descends on the night of mid-Sha‘ban to the nearest heaven, and He forgives a number of people which exceeds the number of the sheep owned by Kalb (a tribe known for their sheep).
Even if all Da’eef (weak) narrations are accepted, only one virtue of the 15th night of Sha’ban is established, none other than that. That is:
On the 15th night of Sha’ban, Allah SWT Forgives and Pardons a large number of people.
The points to consider here are: First, that the only virtue that is established, even when all Da’eef narrations are accepted, is forgiveness, that you should ask Allah SWT to Pardon you and forgive you. There is no evidence of any other kind of worship for this night.
Second: A large number of scholars have declared these (Da’eef) hadith not fit for argument.
But what about the day of 15th Sha’ban?Even the scholars, who think that the night of 15th of Sha’ban has some significance, say that the day of 15th of Sha’ban holds no significance.
Sunan Ibn Majah
Narrated by Ali Ibn Talib
“When the Middle Night of Sha’ban arrives, you should stand (Praying) in the night and should fast in the day following it.”
This is a fabricated hadith. This hadith has nothing to do with the teachings of our Prophetﷺ.
Q5: Are the decisions regarding Rizq, life, death etc, taken on the Night of 15th of Sha’ban?
Some people also believe that the night of 15th of Sha’ban holds importance because Allah SWT Takes the main decisions of Rizq (sustenance), life or death, and Taqdeer (fate) on this night. Because of this concept, people try to offer Nawafil (voluntary prayer), ask for forgiveness the whole night, considering it a blessed, holy night. It is also customary to offer two nawafil for your each need: for your dead, for your Rizq, for your children, and even for the love of your husband.
Is this concept true?
Because the decisions regarding Rizq (sustenance), life and death, health and sickness, off spring, and Taqdeer (fate) are taken by Allah SWT on the Night of Qadr in Ramadan, not on the 15th of Sha’ban. Allah SWT Takes the decisions and hands them to his angels on the night of Qadr in Ramadan.
“Indeed, We sent the Qur'an down during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.
Therein descend the angels and the Ruh [Jibrael (Gabriel)] by Allah's Permission with all Decrees,
Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.” (Al-Qadr 97:1-5)
Allah SWT Shows the importance of the night of Qadr by mentioning that Qur’an was revealed in the night of Qadr. Allah SWT takes decisions regarding every matter that needs to be taken care of: This is what Amr means. And then these decisions are conveyed to Jibraeel, and all angels, who then descend on Earth to take care of their duties. This clearly shows that the night of decree is actually the night of Qadr, not the night of 15th of Sha’ban.
Another evidence is from Chapter Ad-Dukhan
Indeed, We sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, We were to warn [mankind].
On that night is made distinct every precise matter -
It is mentioned here, too, that Qur’an has been revealed on a blessed night, during which all decision regarding matters that need to be taken care of are settled. To be certain of the fact that the blessed night in which Quran was revealed is in the month of Ramadan, we have evidence from chapter Al-Qadr as well as Al-Baqarah
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. (Al-Baqarah 2:185)
All these evidences indicate that Quran was revealed on the blessed night in which Allah SWT takes all decisions, and that blessed night is in Ramadan. It has nothing to do with any day of Sha’ban. Saying that the blessed night of decree is in Sha’ban is actually dishonoring Qur’an.
Our Prophet ﷺ said that there are six men on whom Allah and his Prophet ﷺ have cursed. One of them is a person who adds to or subtracts from the wordings of Qur’an to take advantage (of the situation)
Q6: Is visiting graves prescribed for the night of 15th of Sha’ban?
It has become a custom to visit the graves of your loved ones on the night of 15th of Sha’ban. To single out the night of 15th of Sha’ban for visiting the graves is not prescribed in our Deen. It should be and can be done at a time of convenience for us, not on a particular day.
Visiting the graveyard should be done for two purposes only.
First: To keep your end in mind: That you also have to die like the many who are lying in their graves. There is simply no discrimination amongst them now. Scholars, teachers, sinners, pious, rich, poor! All leave their belongings in this world and die one day. Visit the graves so that you are more inclined to work for the betterment of your Akhira.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Visit the graves, for they remind you of the Hereafter." (Narrated by Muslim, 976).
Second: To make dua for their forgiveness.
Q7: What simple logic could we give to a person who indulges in the bidda’h associated with the night of 15th of Sha’ban?
Khayr ul Quroon means the time of our Prophet SAW, his companions, Tabe’een (students of the companions of Prophet)
If we wish to see the authenticity of any matter, let us see if it was present in Khayr ul Quroon, or times of these blessed people. With reference to 15th night of Sha’ban, no one can prove that Sha’ban was celebrated at that time, in the way it is celebrated now. This shows that it is entirely a bidda’h (innovation), and bidda’h has been forbidden in Islam.
“Every innovation is going astray, and every going astray will be in the Fire.” Narrated by Muslim (867) and an-Nisai (1578)
Furthermore, there is not even a single Sahih Hadith or any verse from Quran, that shows that the night of 15th of Sha’ban has some particular worship prescribed for it.
Hence, we should refrain from associating ourselves with the numerous bidda’h of 15th night of Sha’ban that are widespread today.