Slaughtering an Animal on Eid al-Adha

Q: 

Is it required to slaughter an animal for Eid al-Adha or is it recommended?

 

A:

The majority of scholars held that it is a highly recommended act to sacrifice an animal for Eid al-Adha. This means that they did not consider it to be required but rather high recommended. Imam Abu Hanifa was of the opinion that sacrificing on Eid al-Adha is required for those who are capable of doing so.

The majority based their opinion on a hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) wherein he said, “If the ten days of Dhul Hijjah begin and one of you wishes to sacrifice then they should not cut their hair or nails.” The wording of this hadith indicates that the person has a choice as to whether or not they want to sacrifice. It is also narrated that Abu Bakr and Umar (ra) would not sacrifice in some years so that people would know that it is not required.

As to how many animals should be slaughtered then a sheep is enough for one person and a camel or cow is enough for seven people. The Shafi’is and Hanbalis held that one sacrifice is enough for an entire family. So if a family with a father, mother, and several dependent children was to slaughter one sheep then that would be enough for the whole family.

It is important to remember that the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is a great tradition and an important act of worship in Islam. Therefore, the one is able to sacrifice should sacrifice even if they believe that it is recommended and not required.

The Maliki View on Pictures of Humans and Animals

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

 

Question:

Assalaamu alaikum,

I hope this reaches everybody in a state of spiritual wellness.

I read some of the previous post on SeekersGuidance and noticed that children should be discouraged from drawing humans and animals. I have read in other sources that Imam Malik interpreted the commonly cited hadiths to be in relations to carving statues as they were still so close to the polytheistic culture and the worship of man-made idols.

Would you clarify this matter please?

 

Answer:

According to the Maliki madhab, 3-dimensional complete figure of creatures possessing souls are prohibited. If the figure is not complete (like missing arms), or it is not 3-dimensional, then it would be disliked (makruh). Thus, drawings of animals and humans would not be prohibited.

The Maliki scholars mention that if the drawing is going to be in a place where it is degraded, then it goes from being disliked (makruh) to being permissible (mubah) but not the best thing to do (khilaf al awlaa). An example of when this would occur is if the drawing of an animal is on a plate that will be eaten from or a rug or pillow that will be used. [Dardir, Al-Sharh al-kabir]

 

Rami Nsour

 

[source : http://seekersguidance.org/ans-blog/2013/10/14/the-maliki-view-on-pictures-of-humans-and-animals/]

Fasting on Only the Day of Arafat if it Falls on a Friday

Q:

I’ve heard that it’s not permissible to fast on Friday by itself without adding either a day before or after to it. If this is the case what do we do this year if Arafat falls on a Friday and someone wants to only fast the day of Arafat?

 

A:

It is true that one should avoid fasting on Friday by itself. There are hadith that indicate that the practice should be avoided. However, if one is accustomed to fasting on a certain day or a special day such as ‘Arafat or ‘Ashura were to fall on a Friday then one could fast that day by itself because they would be intending to fast on the special day and not Friday per say.

That being said, the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are the best days of the year and one should strive to do as many good deeds as possible during that time. This could include fasting as many of the first nine days as possible (the tenth is the Day of Eid wherein it is impermissible to fast). This especially includes the day of Arafat about which the Prophet (pbuh) said that fasting on it expiates the sins of the previous year and the coming year.

 

For more on the importance of the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah and what to do in them see here and here.

For more on fasting during the first days of Dhul Hijjah see here.

For more on the ruling of singling out Friday for fasting see here.

For more on observing a recommended fast on Friday see here.

Trimming Hair and Nails if Intending Eid Sacrifice

*This article was written by Imam Mustafa Umar and was originally published on his website, mustafaumar.com, here.

 

I begin in the name of Allah, the most kind and merciful:

 

Summarized Answer

Scholars, past and present, have differed over this issue, so it should not be turned into a matter of dispute. It appears to me that refraining from cutting/removing any hair or nails on the body is recommended for those who intend to sacrifice an animal, whether they will slaughter the animal themselves or are commissioning someone to do it for them. However, whoever decides to do so will not incur any sin. The person who will be slaughtering for another does not need to refrain from anything since they are not doing it for themselves.

The wisdom behind this could be that a person who is offering a sacrifice wants to resemble a person performing Hajj since it is about sacrifice, so they refrain from cutting the hair and nails to further the resemblance [since pilgrims to Makkah are also not allowed to cut].[1]

 

 

Reason for the Difference of Opinion

 

Pieces of Evidence

A: The prophetic report narrated by Umm Salamah states: “Whoever sights the crescent for the month of Dhul Ḥijjah and intends to sacrifice an animal should cut neither his hair nor his nails.”[2]

B: The prophetic report narrated by ʿĀ’ishah that: “…the Prophet sent a sacrificial animal to the Kaʿbah [while residing at Madīnah] but did not abstain from anything [that a person performing Ḥajj would abstain from]…”[3]

FIRST OPINION

Scholars who said it is forbidden for a person who intends to slaughter: Saʿīd ibn al-Musayyib, Rabīʿah, Aḥmad ibn Ḥambal, Dāwūd, Ibn Ḥazm, Isḥāq, some Shāfiʿī scholars, and Ṭaḥāwī [of the Ḥanafī school].[4] Among the later scholars who upheld this opinion: Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ibn Qudāmah, al-Shawkānī, Ibn Bāz, and Ibn al-Uthaymīn.

REASONING BEHIND THE FIRST OPINION

  • Report A is authentic.
  • Report B is confined to only those who send a sacrificial animal, not those who sacrifice within their own city.[5]
  • Report A must be taken literally because even if it was considered to be disliked and not prohibited, the Prophet would never do something which is disliked.[6]

SECOND OPINION

Scholars who said it is disliked but not prohibited: al-Shāfiʿī and some of Aḥmad ibn Ḥambal’s students [such as Abū Yaʿlā].[7] Among the later scholars who upheld this opinion: al-Nawawī.

REASONING BEHIND THE SECOND OPINION

  • Both reports A and B are authentic and appear to be contradictory because they are speaking about the same issue.
  • It is best to reconcile both reports by saying that report A is not to be taken literally but rather as something disliked but not prohibited.

THIRD OPINION

Scholars who said that there is nothing wrong with cutting the hair or nails: Abū Ḥanīfah and his students, Mālik and his students, and Sufyān al-Thawrī.[8]

REASONING BEHIND THE THIRD OPINION

  • Report A has some weakness in it so report B takes precedence over it.
  • Report A doesn’t make sense because it is contrary to analogy. If a person was supposed to refrain from cutting their nails and hair, they should have also been instructed to refrain from certain clothing, perfume, and intimacy because that is what people who are performing Hajj must also do.[9]

Conclusion

There is clearly a legitimate difference of opinion due to both the clarity and authenticity of the two reports in question.



[1] Sharḥ al-Nawawī ʿalā Muslim 13:138-139. Al-Nawawī mentioned another possible reason as well which I prefer not to mention here.

[2] Muslim 3:1565, Abū Dā’ūd 3:94, Tirmidhī 4:102, Nasā’ī 7:211.

[3] Bukhārī 7:102, Muslim 2:957.

[4] al-Tirmidhī 4:102, Tuḥfah al-Aḥwadhī 5:99-100, Sharḥ Mushkil al-Āthār 14:141-143.

[5] `Awn al-Maʿbūd wa Ḥāshiyah ibn al-Qayyim ʿalā Sunan Abī Dāwūd 7:346, al-Istidhkār 4:84.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Tuḥfah al-Aḥwadhī 5:99-100, `Awn al-Maʿbūd wa Ḥāshiyah ibn al-Qayyim ʿalā Sunan Abī Dāwūd 7:346.

[8] Tuḥfah al-Aḥwadhī 5:99-100, al-Istidhkār 4:84.

[9] `Awn al-Maʿbūd wa Ḥāshiyah ibn al-Qayyim ʿalā Sunan Abī Dāwūd 7:347.

Q&A: How Much is Fidya and What to do if Pregnant of Nursing?

Q:

How much is the fidya for a person who cannot fast? What do I do if I am pregnant and/or nursing and cannot fast? Do I make it up, pay fidya, or both?

 

A:

Fidya is an amount of money or food that is paid to the poor by the one who is not able to fast. It applies to those who have enduring medical conditions that make them unable to fast currently AND in the future. Such a person would pay fidya equivalent to feeding a poor person two meals for each day of fasting they have missed. The dollar amount of this will vary depending on where the person lives and what they are feeding the poor person but it is generally estimated at around 10-15 dollars per day of fasting missed. If their medical condition is not lasting or they can make up the days when the days are shorter then they would make up the days rather than paying the fidya.

For a pregnant or nursing woman there are some details to mention and there are many differences of opinion among the scholars as to how and when she should make up the fasts or pay the fidya. Basically, if she is expected to miss only one Ramadan of fasting then she would make up the days that she missed by simply fasting them when she is able to. If she is expected to miss more than one Ramadan in a row, either because of pregnancy and then nursing or back to back pregnancies then she can pay fidya for each day of fasting that she has missed and she does not need to make the days up later.

 

Shaykh Osman Umarji has written a small research about this which I am including here for the general benefit.

Fasting and Fidyah Regarding the Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mother by Osman Umarji
A common question and concern for Muslim women has been the rules regarding fasting and making up fasts or paying fidya during pregnancy and breastfeeding. There are numerous classical answers amongst the major scholars and companions. It should be made clear that there is one primary cause for these differences that will help us understand the issue.
Should the pregnant and breastfeeding mother be compared with the temporarily sick, who has to make up his fasts after Ramadan, or should they be compared with the elderly or chronically sick who are incapable of fasting and pay fidyah (feeding a poor person) in place of their fasting, or should they be compared to both?
Some Major Opinions on the Issue:1. They should both make up their missed fasts and pay fidyah
2. They should only make up their missed fasts
3. They should only pay the fidya
4. Differentiate between the two: The pregnant woman has to make up her fasts, and the breastfeeding mom should make up her fasts and pay fidyah.My Preferred Opinion:
Generally, the fidya is considered to be the equivalent of fasting (badl) and it is not normal in Fiqh for one to have to perform the wajib and its equivalent (badl). Thus, it should be either fasting or fidyah, and not both.

The reason that women are allowed a concession to not fast in Ramadan is out of concern for their heatlh and well being. If a woman wants to fast during her pregnancy and breastfeeding, she should consult her doctor to see if fasting during pregnancy or breastfeeding would be ok for her and her child. If the doctor approves, the woman may fast Ramadan or even parts of it (as long as she has the energy and health). However, even if the doctor gives his ok, but the woman is still concerned and scared, she may skip fasting Ramadan.

 

In regards to atoning for the missed fasts, there are a few considerations.

If a breastfeeding mother is concerned for her or her child’s health (like her milk running dry, her feeling weak, the baby not getting enough nutrition), then she may elect to pay the fidya for each day she missed and that would be sufficient. She would NOT have to make up any fasts. This applies to days she missed during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
However, if after delivering, she does not breastfeed her child and her health is ok, then she should make up her fasts that she missed during pregnancy.  
Thus, the breastfeeding women is compared to someone with continuous hardship in fasting (since she may not have fasted for one year during pregnancy, and 1-2 years of breastfeeding, and if she gets pregnant again this process would continue longer), while the mother who does not breastfeed is more like someone who was temporarily sick (her pregnancy) and capable of making up her fasts later.

 

 

Q&A: Do I Have to Wear Hijab When Reading the Quran?

Q:

Do I have to cover my hair when I recite the Quran? I’ve heard different answers.

 

A:

The question of whether or not a woman has to cover her hair when reciting the Quran is a question of whether or not one’s ‘awra (private areas according to Islamic law) has to be covered when reading Quran. There is no specific evidence from the Quran or Sunnah that indicates that one must do so. However, it is from the etiquette of reading the Quran to dress fully when reciting it out of respect for God’s word. Therefore, it is recommended but not required.

For more see this link and this link.

Women Praying Beside Men with a Barrier

* Taken from islamqa.info here.

 

In our town there is a mosque where the women pray alongside the men, but they are separated by a wall. Is this action valid, or must the women pray behind the men?

 

Praise be to Allaah.
Firstly:If a woman prays alongside a man but there is a barrier between them, such as a wall, or a gap which is wide enough for a person to stand and pray there, then the prayer is valid according to the majority of scholars among the Hanafis, Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis, but they differed with regard to a woman who prays beside a man with nothing separating them. The Hanafis are of the view that she invalidates the prayer of three men: one to her right, another to her left and a third behind her, subject to conditions that they mentioned.See al-Mabsoot (1/183); Badaa’i’ al-Sanaa’i’ (1/239); Tabyeen al-Haqaa’iq(1/136-139).Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, discussing the difference of opinion on this topic and summing up the Hanafi view: If a man prays and there is a woman beside him, that does not invalidate his prayer or hers, whether he is leading the prayer or praying behind an imam. This is our view and it was also the view of Maalik and the majority. Abu Haneefah said: If the woman is not praying or she is offering a different prayer than him and is not praying with him, his prayer and hers are both valid. If she is praying with him – and in Abu Haneefah’s view she cannot be praying with him unless the imam intended to lead the women in prayer too – then if she joins the prayer and stands beside a man, the prayer of the men who are standing on either side of her is invalidated, but her prayer and the prayer of the man who is beside the man who is beside her are not invalidated, because there is a barrier between her and him. If she is in the row in front of him, the prayer of those who are beside her and behind her are invalidated, but the prayer of those who are beside the ones who are beside her is not invalidated, because there is a barrier between them. If the women’s row is behind the imam and there is a row of men behind them, then the prayer of the row behind them is invalidated, but by analogy the prayer of the rows behind that row is not invalidated, because there is a barrier. But we say that the prayer of the rows of men behind them is invalidated, even if there are a hundred rows. If she stands beside the imam, then the prayer of the imam is invalidated, because she is next to him, and his view is that if the prayer of the imam is invalidated, the prayer of those who are praying behind him is also invalidated, and her prayer is also invalidated, because she is one of those who are praying behind him.

This view is based on weak evidence and this argument has no basis. Our view is that the prayer is valid unless there is sound shar’i evidence to prove that it is invalid, and they do not have such proof. Our companions drew an analogy from her standing in the funeral prayer, which is not invalidated in their view. Allaah knows best which is correct, and to Him be all praise. He is the Source of strength, guidance and protection. End quote from al-Majmoo’(3/331).

But if there is a barrier, the Hanafis agree with the majority that it does not invalidate the prayer of either of them, as it says in Tabyeen al-Haqaa’iq(1/138)

Secondly:

Undoubtedly the Sunnah is for the women’s rows to be behind the men, as was the case at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Al-Bukhaari (380) and Muslim (658) narrated from Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) that his grandmother Mulaykah invited the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to a meal that she had made for him, and he ate some, then he said: “Get up and let me lead you in prayer.” Anas said: I went and got a reed mat of ours that had become blackened from long use, and sprinkled it with water. Then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) stood, and the orphan and I stood behind him, and the old lady stood behind us, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led us in praying two rak’ahs, then he left.

Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath: This hadeeth teaches us a number of things… that women should stand behind the men’s rows, and a woman should form a row on her own if no other woman is present. End quote.

But if what you describe happens, and a woman is praying alongside men, the prayer is valid, praise be to Allaah.

And Allaah knows best.

Holding Jumuah Before the Normal Time for Zuhr

Before reading this article I recommend people to read this: What is My Methodology?

Several people have asked about the time at which the first jumuah prayer is held at ICOI during this time of the year. The prayer sermon starts at 12:30pm and zuhr doesn’t come in until around 12:50 so how is permissible to do this? And now during Ramadan, you are praying three jumuahs with one at 12?

 

Surely this question is asked as an evidence of one’s faith and their keenness to follow the teachings of Islam. It is praiseworthy for people to take personal responsibility for their deeds and to seek answers to basic questions in their faith. It is also appreciated that most people who have spoken to me about this issue have done so with beautiful character and manners.

 

Although the Quran and the Sunnah are undoubtedly and without dispute the primary sources of guidance for Muslims, we rely on the works of erudite scholars throughout history in order to understand these sources. That being said, our foundation in holding the service before zuhr is in the Hanbali school of jurisprudence. It is there that we find the opinion of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal that it is permissible to perform the jumuah prayer in the time of the Eid prayer (i.e. from duha time all the way through zuhr to asr).

Many scholars and fiqh councils have addressed this question. Among them are the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of American (AMJA) which stated in the decisions related to its Sixth Conference:

  • If the necessity or need demands that the Jumu’ah prayer or the sermon is moved forward to before the Zawaal (i.e. Dhuhr time), it is permissible to do so, acting upon the madhhab of Imam Ahmad, rahimahullaah.

It was also considered acceptable, while not optimal, by Shaykh Ibn Baaz (ra) as mentioned in this article which discusses the question in much detail.

Dr. Hatem al-Haj was also asked this question and answered that prayer is acceptable in the time shortly before zuhr based on the Hanbali school and he mentions briefly one of the evidences of the school as well. That answer can be found here.

 

We ask Allah to accept from all of us and forgive us for our shortcomings. For anyone who still does not feel comfortable with the timing of the first prayer they are more than welcome to attend the second.

 

In service,

Jamaal Diwan

 

Worship on the 15th of Sha’ban

*Article taken from muslimmatters.org

 

Fussing Over the 15th of Sha‘ban

Posted by: Abu Aaliyah June 21, 2013in Aqeedah and FiqhFeaturedIslamOpinionQuran and SunnahWorship 26 Comments

Question: Is marking out the 15th night of Sha’ban (laylat al-nisf min sha’ban) with extra prayers and devotion sanctioned by Islam, or is doing so judged to be a reprehensible innovation (bid’ah)?

Answer: Each year, a fair amount of fussing and fighting takes place over this issue. Yet the truth of the matter is that scholars have long-held this issue to be one over which there is a valid difference of opinion. The first group considered the night to have no specific virtues over and above any other night of the year, and believed that singling the night out for extra acts of worship is unsanctioned. Another group begged to differ and held that the middle night of Sha’ban does possess special merits and should be earmarked for extra prayers and devotion.

What follows is a discussion about why such a difference has arisen and how each of the two stances has its legitimacy in the canons of classical Islamic jurisprudence. The discussion will also make a distinction between prayer in mid-Sha’ban and the prayerof mid-Sha’ban: the first, as will be shown, is textually grounded; the second, actually unfounded.

I

Although there is no explicit reference to the 15th of Sha’ban in the actual Qur’an, the hadith corpus does record the merits or fada’il of this night – of which the following hadiths are among the most significant and widely cited:

1. The hadith of Mu’adh b. Jabal that relates the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying: ‘God looks at His creation during the middle night of Sha’ban and forgives all of them, except an idolator and one who harbours rancour.’1

2. The hadith of ‘Abd Allāh b.’Amr where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘God, majestic is He, looks at His creation on the middle night of Sha’ban and forgives all of His slaves, save an idolater and a murderer.’2

3. The hadith of the lady ‘A’ishah: ‘Allāh, exalted is He, descends to the nearest heaven in the middle night of Sha’ban and His forgiveness is greater than the number of hairs on the sheep [in the tribe] of Kalb.’3

II

At first blush, the bone of contention seems to be settled. For if the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has spoken about the merits of mid-Sha’ban (as per the above hadiths), then who are we to object. That said, the fact of the matter is that the actual authenticities of the above hadiths have been greatly disputed. Hadith specialists differ over whether or not the above words can be reliably ascribed to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

Typifying those in ‘the night has no special distinction’ camp is the acclaimed Maliki jurist, Qadi Abu Bakr b. al-‘Arabi, who said: ‘There is no authentic hadith which may be relied upon in respect to the middle night of Sha’ban; neither about its merits, nor the decree being written in it. So pay no attention to it.’4 Others in this camp include Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Tartushi and al-Hafiz al-‘Iraqi.5

This group of eminent scholars take the view that, although there is a sizeable body of hadiths that speak about the merits of this night, none of these hadiths are free from having defects and flaws in their chains. Some contain narrators whose memory and precision have been called into question. Some contain missing links in their chains. While in other cases they contain narrators whose truthfulness or veracity have been seriously doubted and disparaged.

III

In contrast, there are those who advocate singling out mid-Sha’ban with optional acts of devotion. Their reasoning is straightforward enough. They take the view that since some of the hadiths about mid-Sha’ban are only mildly weak they may, according to certain established rules in the science of hadith, be used to strengthen one another to yield a final grading of sahih or hasan (“authentic” or “sound”). On this basis, Ibn al-ṣalāh, the notable Shafi’i jurists and hadith master, ruled: ‘The middle night of Sha’ban does have merit. To spend its night in acts of worship is recommended (mustahabb); but on an individual basis, not collectively.’6

Ibn Taymiyyah wrote: ‘Hadiths and salaf-reports about the virtues of the middle night [of Sha’ban] have been related. It is also reported about a group of the salaf that they would pray during the night. Thus the prayer of someone praying individually during the night has a precedent with some of the salaf, and therefore stands as a proof for it. So it cannot be objected to.’7

In another fatwa, he stated: ‘If someone offers prayer in the middle-night of Sha’ban, whether individually or collectively, then this is excellent (fa huwa ahsan).’8

In closing his definitive account about the 15th of Sha’ban and the stance of the early scholars concerning it, Ibn Rajab states: ‘Thus it befits a believer to devote himself in this night to God’s remembrance (dhikr), exalted is He, and to asking Him to pardon one’s sins, conceal one’s faults and relieve his hardships. This should be preceded by offering sincere repentance. For God, exalted is He, relents towards those who turn to Him in repentance.’9

IV

The above is a sample of the juristic difference surrounding mid-Sha’ban. And insofar as there is a legitimate difference on the subject, there need be no fussing over the 15th of Sha’ban; no dividing Muslims over it; no deploying it as a benchmark to distinguish ‘pure’ follower of the Sunnah from ‘tainted’ ones; and no whipping up a frenzy among the public by blowing things out of proportion. Wherever such schisms are occurring, they simply have to stop, and repentance be made.

Upon investigation into both views, those qualified in the art of juristic evaluation and who see the validity of the night’s virtue, honour it; those who do not, treat it like any other night. The rest of the Muslims are muqallids; in other words, they simply follow the scholar they trust or feel at ease with in the issue, leaving it at that. Ibn Taymiyyah wrote:

‘Whoever adopts a view by being a muqallid to someone, cannot rebuke one who takes another view due to being a muqallid to someone else. But if one of them does have a conclusive shari’ah proof, it is required to comply with it when it becomes known. It is not allowed for anyone to to say that one view is preferable to another, without  proof; nor be biased to one opinion over another – or one person over another – without a definitive proof. Instead, one who is a muqallid is obliged to follow a qualified scholar: he cannot evaluate, weigh-up, or say something is right or wrong … As for someone who only knows the opinion of one scholar and his proofs, but does not know the other scholar’s opinion or proofs, he is from the generality of the muqallids. He is not of the scholars who are able to evaluate or weigh-up [proofs].’10

V

The above discussion tackled the subject of prayer in mid-Sha’ban. As for the prayer ofmid-Sha’ban, often called ṣalāh al-alfiyyah – “Prayer of One Thousand Quls” – many a scholarly objection has been levelled against it. Ibn Taymiyyah, as an example, having endorsed praying optional prayers during this night, cautioned: ‘As for assembling in mosques so as to pray a fixed and defined prayer – such as congregating to offer one hundred rak’ahs of prayer that require reciting Say: “HeAllāh, in One!” one thousand times during it – this is an innovation which none of the salaf ever recommended.’11

Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari states about ṣalāh al-alfiyyah: ‘How bizarre it is from those who have inhaled the fragrance of the knowledge of the Sunnah that they be taken in by such nonsense and pray it. This prayer was contrived in Islam after the fourth century and originated from Jerusalem.’12

In his documentation of various innovations and infringements against the Sunnah,al-Suyuti wrote: ‘And this includes ṣalāh al-alfiyyah, which is prayed in the middle of Sha’ban. It is a lengthy and arduous prayer which is neither established by any [sound] hadith, nor any weak report from any of the salaf. The masses are put to trial with it, in their striving to perform it.’13

There is, I suggest, a peppering of confusion here. For some people mistakenly use the words of some jurists who have censured ṣalāh al-alfiyyah, and have taken this to mean that they object to any prayer or act of worship during the said night. In other words, they have confused between censuring a specific prayer of mid-Sha’ban and prayer in mid-Sha’ban. The first censure doesn’t entail the second, as can be seen in the fatwas from Ibn Taymiyyah.

VI

In winding up the discussion, let me gloss two more concerns related to mid-Sha’ban. The first concerns fasting the 15th day of Sha’ban, based on the hadith: ‘When it is the middle night of Sha’ban, pray the night and fast the following day.’14 Al-‘Iraqi is one of a number of hadith masters who have graded this hadith to be weak (da’if).15 Ibn Rajab concluded likewise,16 as did al-Mundhari.17 Majd b. Taymiyyah declared: ‘The merits of the middle night of Sha’ban are related in the [hadith] narratives and salaf-reports, proving its virtue. There were those of the salaf who even singled it out with prayer. Also, fasting in Sha’ban is related in the sound reports: as for specifying the fifteenth day to fast, this has no [sound] basis to it. Rather, it is disliked to do so.’18

Other exhort fasting this day, based on the principle of fada’il al-a’mal – encouraging “virtuous deeds”. This is the rule which states that, provided a hadith is not a forgery or extremely weak, then it is permitted to put it into practice, if the deed it is encouraging already has a general basis in the shari’ah.19 In this case, they say to fast the “white [full moon] days” – the 13th, 14th and 15th of each lunar month – is encouraged in the sahih hadiths; so this forms a general basis for fasting mid-Sha’ban.

VII

Some people believe that the yearly decree is written down during the 15th night of Sha’ban; and this is the second and last loose end that will be discussed. The yearly decree is mentioned in the verse: We sent it down on a blessed night, for We are warning. In that night every affair is wisely decided. [44:2-3] Though it is related from ‘Ikrimah, an eminent scholar among the Successors, that he held the night in which every affair is widely decided to be the middle-night of Sha’ban; a second opinion is related from him which says that the night refers to laylat al-qadr – “The Night of Power”.20 This latter view is also that of the vast majority of scholars.21

Hence, Ibn al-‘Arabi asserted: ‘The majority of scholars hold that it refers to laylat al-qadr. Some have stated that it refers to the night of mid-Sha’ban; however, this [latter] view is futile.’22

And God knows best.

References:

1. Ibn Majah, no.1390; Ibn Hibban, no.1980. After evaluating eight different chains for this hadith, al-Albani concludes: ‘The hadith, with its collective chains of transmission, is authentic (sahih) without doubt.’ Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma’arif, 1979), 3:138.

2. Ahmad, Musnad, no.6642. Al-Albani stated: ‘There is no harm in using this chain as support.’ Refer to: Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihahah, 3:136.

3. Ibn Majah, no.1389; al-Tirmidhi, no.736. Al-Mubarakpuri wrote: ‘Collectively, such hadiths constitute a proof on those who allege that nothing is confirmed with respect to the merits of the middle night of Sha’ban.’ Consult: Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi bi Sharh Jami’ al-Tirmidhi (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1990), 3:367.

4. Ahkam al-Qur’an (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, n.d.), 4:1690.

5. See: Kitab al-Mawdu’at (Riyadh: Adwa al-Salaf, 1997), 2:440-45; al-Mughni ‘an Haml al-Asfar (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Tabariyyah, 1995), 1:157; al-Hawadith wa’l-Bida’ (Riyadh: Dar al-Samay’i, 2000), 3:789, respectively.

6. Approvingly cited by al-Suyuti, al-Amr bi’l-Ittiba’ wa’l-Nahy ‘an’l-Ibtida’ (Riyadh: Dar Ibn al-Qayyim, 2001), 170.

7. Majmu’ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 23:132.

8. ibid., 23:131.

9. Lata’if al-Ma’arif (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm & Mu’assasah al-Rayyan, 1996), 154.

10. Majmu’ Fatawa, 35:233.

11. ibid., 23:131.

12. Al-Asrar al-Marfu’ah fi’l-Akhbar al-Mawdu’ah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1986), 439-40.

13. Al-Amr bi’l-Ittiba’ wa’l-Nahy ‘an’l-Ibtida’, 176.

14. Ibn Majah, no.1388.

15. Al-Mughni ‘an Haml al-Asfar, 1:157; no.634.

16. Lata’if al-Ma’arif, 151.

17. Al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma’arif, 2003), no.1491.

18. Cited in al-Munawi, Fayd al-Qadir (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, n.d.), 2:317.

19. This principle is discussed in al-Nawawi, al-Adhkar (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj, 2008), 36; Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu’ Fatawa, 18:65-6; al-Sakhawi, citing Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani,al-Qawl al-Badi’ (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1987), 215.

20. See: Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1984), 7:336-37, where the two conflicting views ascribed to ‘Ikrimah are reported.

21. Consult: al-Tabari, Jami’ an Ta’wil al-Qur’an (Cairo: Dar Hijr, 2001), 21:5-6; Qurtubi,al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an (Beirut: Dar al-Kutib al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1996), 16:84-5; Ibn Kathir,Tafsir Qur’an al-‘Azim (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, 1987), 4:148; Sawi, Hashiyah al-Sawi ‘ala Tafsir al-Jalalayn (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 2000), 5:261; Ibn ‘Ashur, al-Tahrir wa’l-Tanwir (Beirut: Mu’assasah Tarikh al-‘Arabi, 2000), 25:308.

22. Ahkam al-Qur’an, 4:1690.