Explanation of Praying Salat al-Khayr on Mid-Sha`ban According to the Shafi`i Madhhab

*Tabsira for students of fiqh*

This mas’ala is a subtle one, and as our wise teachers have explained in the solution to it, the “academic” difference is in fact between an Idafa and a Zaraf: Salat Laylat Nisf Sha`ban vs. al-Salat fi Laylat Nisf Sha`ban; hA ilay-humA tahtadI! So don’t be quick to be among those who object if you do not know the legal background behind the original objection in the first place! Because it is subtle, thus one might easily overlook this, so watch out! Our advice to you is to not stop someone from wanting to perform `ibada on this auspicious night, even if in your eyes he is performing an “ugly innovation”. Remember that the prayer is after all something good, and as our beloved Prophet (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him!) famously said, as narrated by Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him!): al-SalAtu khayrun Mawdu`un istakthara aw aqalla [The prayer is [always] a good thing; whether [done] a little or a lot] (Related by al-Tayalisi, Ahmad, Ibn Majah, al-Bazzar, Ibn Hibban, al-Tabarani (in his Kabir and Awsat), al-Hakim, al-Bayhaqi (in his Shu’ab), with variants). It would be especially unwise for you to be the cause of a mukhalafa qulub between your friend and the “shaykh in Tasawwuf” from whom he or she clearly benefits.

In practice, to stay up during this night by filling one’s time with `ibada and dhikr, seeking His presence and devoting oneself to Him, is a well known ‘amal that the Shafi’is from Hadramawt, South East Asia to East Africa do (as well as Hanafis, Malikis, and Hanbalis), whether in mosques, zawiyas, or in the corner of one’s houses. The Fiqh is easy to study and the Adab is what takes a lifetime to understand. If someone wanted to perform this Fadila and also wants to avoid the Bid`a, then it is recommended that he or she adopts the solution sanctioned by our school (and the hukm of adopting the solution is itself Mandub/Sunna following the general fiqhi principle of “al-khurUju mina lkhilafi mustaHabbun” [to avoid the controversy is desirable]). This is among the benefits of following the same path of Fiqh and Tasawwuf. Indeed, this is the meaning of the words of the Mujtahid Imam, the teacher to our Mujtahid, al-Malik (may Allah be well pleased with both of them!), when he said:man taSawwafa wa lam yatafaqqah fa-qad tazandaqa wa man tafaqqaha wa lam yataSawwaf fa-qad tafassaqa wa man jama’a bayna-humA fa-qad taHaqqaqa [Whoever studies Tasawwuf and does not study Fiqh will be a heretic. Whoever studies Fiqh and does not study Tasawwuf will be corrupted. Whoever combines the two will have the truth.] And from that, we have the following verse (in Tawil) composed by his most famous student; and behold truly it is true advice:

faqIhan wa SUfiyyan fakun laysa wAHidan #

fa-innI wa Haqqi LlAhi iyyAka anSaHu

[Be (both) a jurist and a Sufi but never (either) one!

Indeed it is by God’s Right that I am advising you!]

#Fa’ida# Some useful philological notes on the Fadila of the month of Sha`ban from the Shafi’i lexicographer, Imam Ibn Manzur (may Allah be pleased with him!) in his Lisan al-‘Arab [1:502]: innamA summiya Sha`banu Sha`bana li annahu sha’aba ay Zahara bayna shahray ramaDAna wa rajabin [Sha`ban is called “Sha`ban” because it ‘branches out’, that is, it stands out between the two months of Rajab and Ramadan!]. This perplexing statement is immediately made clear by the following Hadith of Anas (may Allah be well pleased with him!):atadrUna li-mA summiya Sha`bana qAlU allAhu wa rasUluhu a’lamu qAla li-annahu yatasha”abu fIhi khayrun kathIrun [Do you all know why it is called Sha`ban? They said: “Only Allah and his Messenger know best!” He said: “Because there are many benefits branching out in this month.”] (Related by Abu al-Shaykh al-Hibbani, al-Daylami, al-Rafi’i (in his Tarikh), al-Suyuti, with variants). So take from it what one can! We should restrict our explanation to what has been said here, and this is sufficient for those who understand. May this risala be beneficial, for what pertains specifically to your question with regards to its fiqh and furu’, I have answered no more, no less. ja’ala-ha Allahu nafi’atan mubarakatan ila yawmi l-qiyama! Only Allah and His Messenger know the best and right ruling!al-raji min Rabbihi ‘afwa ma janahu,

© Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti

in Oxford 4 Muharram 1425 25 II 2004

Select Bibliography:

al-Bakri. Hashiyat I’anat al-Talibin. 4 vols. Bulaq, 1300 H.

Ibn Hajar al-Haytami. Tuhfa al-Muhtaj bi-Sharh al-Minhaj al-Nawawi in Hawashi al-Shirwani wa-Ibn ‘Qasim ‘ala Tuhfa al-Muhtaj. Edited by Muhammad ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Khalidi. 13 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub ‘Ilmiyya, 1996.

al-Ghazali. Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din. 4 vols. Bulaq, 1306 H. Ibn Manzur. Lisan al-‘Arab. 15 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Sadir, 1955-1956.

al-Kurdi. al-Hawashi al-Madaniya ‘ala Sharh Ibn Hajar ‘ala Mukhtasar Bafadl al-Hadrami. 2 vols. Surabaya: al-Hidaya, 1397

H. al-Mallibari. Irshad al-‘Ibad ila Sabil al-Rashad. Bulaq, 1302 H.

al-Nawawi. al-Majmu` Sharh al-Muhadhdhab. Edited by Mahmud Matraji. 22 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1996.

taken from : www.livingislam.org


Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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