By Abu Amina Elias
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Scholars disagreed about the virtue of praying during the night on the 15th day of Sha’ban. The reason for their differences was due to a disagreement on the authenticity of traditions attributed to the Prophet in this regard.
Abu Musa reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَيَطَّلِعُ فِي لَيْلَةِ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ فَيَغْفِرُ لِجَمِيعِ خَلْقِهِ إِلاَّ لِمُشْرِكٍ أَوْ مُشَاحِنٍ
Verily, Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all of His creation except for the idolaters and those with grudges.
Source: Sunan Ibn Majah 1390
This tradition was declared fair (hasan) by Al-Albani in Sahih Ibn Majah 1148 and Sahih Al-Jami’ 1819 on account of other narrations in support of it. However, Adh-Dhahabi declared it to be weak (da’eef) in Takhlees 184.
Scholars who do not recognize the 15th night of Sha’ban do not believe that these traditions are strong enough to warrant recognition of the night. Their concern is to preserve the integrity of the prophetic tradition by not adding anything inauthentic to it. In contrast, the scholars who recognize the 15th night of Sha’ban noted that there are several traditions reported concerning it which, when added together, raise them to the level of acceptable practice.
Moreover, there was a group of the righteous predecessors who acted upon these traditions and they singled out this night for prayer, remembrance of Allah, and acts of worship.
Ibn Taymiyyah writes:
وَأَمَّا لَيْلَةُ النِّصْفِ فَقَدْ رُوِيَ فِي فَضْلِهَا أَحَادِيثُ وَآثَارٌ وَنُقِلَ عَنْ طَائِفَةٍ مِنْ السَّلَفِ أَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يُصَلُّونَ فِيهَا فَصَلَاةُ الرَّجُلِ فِيهَا وَحْدَهُ قَدْ تَقَدَّمَهُ فِيهِ سَلَفٌ وَلَهُ فِيهِ حُجَّةٌ فَلَا يُنْكَرُ مِثْلُ هَذَا
As for the night of the middle of Sha’ban, there are prophetic traditions and reports mentioning its virtue and it has been reported from a group of the righteous predecessors that they would pray during it. Thus, the prayer of a man individually has been done by the predecessors and there is a proof for it, so it cannot be rejected.
Source: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa 23/132
Therefore, there is no blame upon any Muslim who chooses to pray or not to pray during this night. Those who choose not to pray should not accuse others of innovation for praying on this night. Likewise, those who choose to pray should not accuse others of belittling a prophetic practice, although they must avoid exaggerating this issue beyond what the righteous predecessors and scholars have said about it.
In general, we should avoid argumentation and disputes about secondary issues in Islam such as this. It is a matter of scholarly difference with each side citing valid proofs and principles for their position. Every Muslim should be free to choose what he believes is the better opinion and to maintain friendly relations with those who have an opposing view.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.