يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآَخِرِ
“O you who believe, Obey Allah, Obey His Messenger and those in authority from amongst you and if you differ then refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you believe in Allah and the Last Day.” [An-Nisa: 59]
We have recently passed the 15th of Sha’ban, and the night which people call ‘Shabe barat’ or ‘Laylatul barat’ it is also known as Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’baan, in the Indian sub continent we see people engaging in all types of practices on this day, where some consider that it is like Eid, others go to graveyards saying the souls visit the world. People give out sweets, people spend the night in prayer, etc.
In Arabic Bara’a means forgiveness and pardon. The night of 15th of Sha’ban (the night between 14th and 15th) has come to be known as Shab-e-Bara’at, the night of pardon from sins, probably because of a narration recorded by Imam Tirmizi.
I want to begin by clarifying the issue and then discussing other points related to the issue of the confusions people have surrounding the topic of Taqdeer.
Before discussing this topic we need to be reminded that we base our actions upon evidences from the Quran and that which is authentic from the Sunnah. We do not base our actions on custom, tradition, the actions of people even scholars.
There is nothing about this night in Qur’an. Imam Tirmizi has recorded the following Hadith: “Narrated Ayesha that one night (she awoke and) she did not find Prophet (Pbuh) (in his bed). She went out (to search for him) and found him in Baqi’ (the graveyard in Madinah)... The Prophet (Pbuh) said: In the night of 15th of Sha’ban, Allah descends to the lowest of skies and grants pardon to the people more than the number of hair of the goats of Kal’b tribe.” (Tirmizi)
After recording the above Hadith Imam Tirmizi wrote the following note underneath: “I have heard Imam Bukhari saying that this Hadith is Za’eef as Hajjaj. One of the chain of its narrators is a’eef (less reliable). (Tirmizi; Abwab-us-Saum)
There are also various other narrations which people quote regarding this night but they are not authentic.
Al-‘Allaamah al-Shawkaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in al-Fawaa’id al-Majmoo’ah:
“The hadeeth: ‘O ‘Ali, whoever prays one hundred rak’ahs on Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’baan, reciting in each rak’ah the Opening of the Book [Soorat al-Faatihah] and Qul Huwa Allaahu Ahad ten times, Allaah will meet all his needs…’ This is mawdoo’ (fabricated) [i.e., it is falsely attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]. Its wording clearly states the reward that the person who does this will attain, and no man who has any common sense can doubt that this is fabricated. Also, the men of its isnaad are majhool (unknown). It was also narrated via another isnaad, all of which is mawdoo’ (fabricated) and all of whose narrators are majhool (unknown).
In al-Mukhtasar he said: The hadeeth about the salaah for the middle of Sha’baan is false, and the hadeeth of ‘Ali narrated by Ibn Hibbaan – “ When it is the night of the middle of Sha’baan, spend that night in prayer and fast that day” – is da’eef (weak).
Al-Haafiz al-‘Iraaqi said: “The hadeeth about the prayer during the night of the middle of Sha’baan is fabricated and is falsely attributed to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).”
Imaam al-Nawawi said in his book al-Majmoo’: “The prayer that is known as salaat al-raghaa’ib, which is twelve rak’ahs between Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’ on the night of the first Friday in Rajab, and the prayer of Laylat al-Nusf min Sha’baan, of one hundred rak’ahs – these two prayers are reprehensible bid’ahs. No one should be deceived by the fact that they are mentioned in the books Qoot al-Quloob and Ihyaa’ ‘Uloom al-Deen, or by the hadeeth which is mentioned in these two books. All of that is false. Nor should they be deceived by the fact that some of the imaams were confused about this matter and wrote a few pages stating that these prayers are mustahabb, for they were mistaken in that.”
It is recommended to fast in Sha’ban in general
'Aa'ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: "The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to fast until we thought he would never break his fast, and not fast until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allaah fasting for an entire month except in Ramadaan, and I never saw him fast more than he did in Sha'baan." (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 1833; Muslim, no. 1956).
Emotional belief and the wrong attitude
What we see today is a sign of the intellectual decline, where people follow Islam emotionally rather than believing in it intellectually and following its rules. We see so much hypocritical behavior such as people spending the whole night in prayer thinking that Allah will forgive them and the next day go back to committing haram such as riba, socializing with the opposite sex, tribalism, women not covering their awra, etc.
In fact if we have the correct understanding based on the authentic evidences we would realize that Allah accepts the prayers every night:
Allah’s Apostle said, “When it is the last third of the night, our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, descends every night to the heaven of the world and says, ‘Is there anyone who invokes Me (demand anything from Me), that I may respond to his invocation; Is there anyone who asks Me for something that I may give (it to) him; Is there anyone who asks My forgiveness that I may forgive him?’ (Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 75, Number 333)
Misconceptions regarding Taqdeer
MISCONCEPTION: This is the blessed night on which the taqdeer is decided. Who will live…who will die. Who will get how much rizq…
The issue of qadar that the text refers to the knowledge of Allah. The mention in the text about Al-Lauh al-Mahfooz, the protected decree is an expression of the knowledge of Allah
There are various texts in the Quran and the Sunnah about this:
وَمَا كَانَ لِنَفْسٍ أَنْ تَمُوتَ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ الله كِتَاباً مُّؤَجَّلاً"Nor shall a soul die except by Allah's leave, the term being fixed by writing." [Aali-Imran: 145]
The Prophet (saw) said: "The first thing which Allah created was the pen. Then, He said to it: Write. It asked: My Lord, what should I write? He said: Write the Qadar of all things up until the Hour." [Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, and it is hassan]
It is narrated from Amru bin Al-‘Aas, he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: “Allah decreed the destinies ‘maqadeer’ of the creatures fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth.” [Muslim]
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, "Allah has appointed an angel in the womb, and the angel says, 'O Lord! A drop of discharge (i.e. of semen), O Lord! a clot, O Lord! a piece of flesh.' And then, if Allah wishes to complete the child's creation, the angel will say. 'O Lord! A male or a female? O Lord! wretched or blessed (in religion)? What will his livelihood be? What will his age be?' The angel writes all this while the child is in the womb of its mother." [Bukhari]
Therefore it is false to say it occurs on this night, as the knowledge of Allah regarding this world and what will occur in it was written before we existed.
The confusing of people between al-qadar (the knowledge of Allah) and al-Qada wal qadar (fate and destiny) & free will
People confuse between the knowledge of Allah and the subject of al-Qada wal Qadar which was a debate that came about after the time of the Sahaba when the Muslims encountered the Greek philosophy. Essentially that topic is to do with free will, do we have free will or not? What do we control and what we don’t control?
If one was to come to an accurate understanding of the subject of al-Qadaa wal Qadar he must first have an understanding of the correct basis upon which the argument is built. This basis should not be whether the actions of man are created by himself or by Allah (swt). It is also not the knowledge of Allah (swt) (‘ilmullah علم الله), in terms of the fact that He (swt) knows that man will perform such an action and that His (swt) knowledge encompasses it. Nor is it the decree of Allah (swt) (iraadatullah إرادة الله) in terms that His (swt) decree was related to the servant's action, i.e., that the action must happen because of this will. It also shouldn't be that the servant's action is recorded in the Al Lauh Al Mahfooth (اللوح المحفوظ - Protected Decree or Register), so as a result he is inevitably going to carry out this action in accordance with what is recorded.
The fact that Allah knows everything it is to do with his attributes and that he is unlimited, it is a clear part of Iman. We cannot build any logical argument on that basis – that because he knows what we will do that we have no free will, this is completely false. As he knows everything and he has clearly given us free will and he knows what we will do with our free will as he is unlimited, beyond perception. In fact the Prophet (saw) warned us not to discuss the essence of Allah as it is beyond our reality as the Quran says ‘Laysa kamislihi shay’ ‘There is nothing like unto him’. The Prophet also specifically warned not to enter into discussing the unlimited knowledge of Allah and try to debate about it
Al-Tabarani extracted with a good [hasan] chain from the hadīth of Ibn Mas'ūd who reported it without mentioning the reference to the Messenger of Allah (saw) [marfū']:
إذا ذُكِرَ القَدَرُ فأمْسِكُوا
“If the qadar is mentioned leave it”, [Tabarani]
That is, if the Knowledge of Allah or His Determination for things are mentioned then do not involve (in discussion) about it, because the fact that the determination of thing is from Allah means that He Recorded them in the Lawh al-Mahfūdh, that is, He knew them. The fact that Allah is knowing about them is one of the attributes of Allah in which īmān is obligatory. So the meaning of the hadīth is that if it was mentioned that Allah is the One who Determined the things and He knew them, that is, He recorded them in the Lawh al-Mahfūdh, then do not involve yourself in discussing that, rather abstain from that and submit to it.
Allah is unlimited and he has all knowledge, this does not mean we become fatalistic and submit to what may be included in that knowledge, if we did this we would be sinful as we have free will and will be accounted upon our actions.
The subjects of the knowledge of Allah and the inclusion in Al Lauh Al Mahfooth of everything are detached from the subject of reward and punishment for the action. This is what needs to be our focus. In other words, is man compelled to perform an action, good or bad, or does he have a choice? And does man have the choice to perform an action or abandon it? Or does he not have the choice?
Any individual who studies the actions of man accurately will observe that man lives within two spheres: one of them he dominates, which is the sphere that falls within the domain of his free will and within it, his actions, which he carries out by his own free will, occur. The other sphere dominates him and it is the sphere within whose domain he lives and within it the actions, which he has no free will in, occur; whether they occur from him or not.
We can see the correct understanding in the Sahabah
The phrase ‘the qadar of Allah’ has come in the speech of the Sahabah with the meaning of the taqdīr of Allah and His Knowledge. It is narrated from Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas that, “Umar ibn al-Khattāb left for al-Sham, until he reached Sawgh where he met the leaders of the armies, Abu Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrah and his companions who informed him that plague had befallen the land of al-Sham. Ibn ‘Abbas said, Umar ibn al-Khattāb said, ‘Call for me the first Muhājirīn’. So they called them, he consulted them and informed them about the plague that that befallen al-Sham, but they differed. Some of them said, you went out for a matter and we do not think you should change your mind about it. Some others said that you have with you some people and the Companions of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and we do not think that you should expose them to this plague. Umar said ‘Withdraw from me’. He then said, ‘Call for me the Ansār’, so they called them, he consulted them, and they took the path of the Muhājirīn, so they differed like them. He said: ‘Withdraw from me.’ Then he said, ’Call for me whoever present here of the leaders of Quraish who are of the Muhajireen of the Conquest’, so they called them and even two men of them did not differ in their opinion to him. They all said, ‘We think that you should turn back together with the people who are with you and not expose them to this plague.’ Thus Umar announced to the people, ‘I will be riding (back) in the morning, so you do the same’. Abu Ubaydah then said, ‘(Are you) fleeing from the qadar of Allah?’ Umar replied, ‘had someone else said that O Abu Ubaydah; Yes, we are fleeing from the qadar of Allah to the qadar of Allah. What do you think if you had camels and you descended a valley that has two slopes (sides), one of them is fertile and the other barren. Is it not true that if you grazed (in) the fertile one you would do so with the qadar of Allah, and if you grazed (in) the barren one you would so that with the qadar of Allah.” The qadar of Allah here means the determination and the knowledge of Allah, that is, if you grazed (in) the fertile you did what Allah had decreed in the Lawh al-Mahfūdh and what He did know. Similarly if you grazed in the barren one you did what Allah decreed in the Lawh al-Mahfūdh and what He did know.
They had the correct understanding that there are some things we control which we are accountable and the things beyond our control are from Allah, so we should worry about that.
As narration by As-Suyuti in Tarikh al-Khulafah that a man came to Ali (ra) asking him about what we control and what we don’t. He asked him to lift one of his legs up and then the second leg – then said there are some things we control and others we don’t.
Narrated from ‘Imran bin Hussein, he said: “A man said; O Messenger of Allah! Are the people of the jannah and the people of the nar known? He said: Yes. He said: Why then the people have to strive? He said: Every one will strive for what he was created (jannah or nar), or for what he was facilitated.” [Al-Bukhari]
This is quite explicit that iman in al-qadar does not mean depending (on it), because al-qadar and recording, i.e. the knowledge of Allah, are not disclosed to any creature; so on what man has to depend? Therefore, the Messenger said to the one who asked him, should not we depend? He said: No, i.e. He forbade him from depending. He was not satisfied with that, he rather said to him as well: ‘strive’, i.e. he ordered him to strive. Thus his forbiddance from depending (on al-qadar) and his order of striving is explicit evidence on not linking the action with al-qadar.
Moreover, the knowledge of Allah that the particular matter would happen does not mean to neglect considering the causes and effects (la-asbab wal-musabbabat) and not to link the causes with their effects. This is because the knowledge of Allah was not revealed to any body so as to know the matter and thus he does not consider its causes; for recording and al-qadra are impossible to be known by the creatures so as to judge on whether the matter would happen or not. Therefore, they should not neglect considering the cause and effects under the pretence of al-qadar and the recording, for this is linked with unknown matter. They must rather consider the causes and the effects without linking them with al-qadar, i.e. without thinking of it.
The danger of al-Qadariya al-Ghaibiya (fatalism)
Muslims used to believe in the Qadr and keeping it in the realm of belief (Iman). But now, Muslims started noticing this Iman in the Qadr, before performing any action and they started to carry various actions shaped by this Iman in the Qadr. Thus, they surrounded themselves by what is predetermined. Muslims started to think that whatever Allah predetermined is going to happen, regardless if they became active or passive in carrying out an action. They started believing like this, despite the fact that they know for sure that, it is impossible for anyone to have access to Allah's knowledge. In other words, the Muslims do believe that it is impossible for anyone to know what Allah's knowledge is.
Muslims know all of this, yet they still link their actions with this knowledge of Allah. Thus, al-Qadaria al-Ghaibiya (fatalism) emerged. It became something different than believing in al-Qadr. This is because, believing in the Qadr is to believe conclusively that nothing will happen in this universe, other than what Allah has predetermined everything and wrote in al-Lowh al-Mahfooth. However, al-Qadariya al-Ghaibiya means to surrender to what is predetermined. There is a difference between believing in the Qadr and surrendering to the predetermined. Surrendering to this predetermined is simply the result of believing in the Qadr with the absolute surrender; which is that what is predetermined is going to happen and nothing will happen if Allah did not predetermined it.
e.g. The situation of the Ummah today, we can’t do anything to change it as Allah will bring the change
e.g. We cannot stand against the corrupt rulers as Allah has given them power over us
e.g. Accepting the occupation of Islamic lands and butchering of Muslims
We do believe that Allah knows or predetermined everything. This, however, should not be observed in our actions. We do not have access to Allah's knowledge. No one knows that there is going to be a failure or success. No one knows whether there is going to be obedience or disobedience. We do not have access to Allah's knowledge and consequently Allah's knowledge should not be observed and linked to our actions, because we do not know it and it is impossible for us to know. Thus, we do not surrender to it. Rather, we should put a thick barrier separating it (Allah's knowledge) from our minds. It should not be thought about, imagined or speculated before carrying any action. But, we should restrict ourselves to the issue, the hukm Sharii, causes of success, the factors of failure and keep this alone in mind.
Even in those matters beyond our control which are from Allah such as Victory (nasr), Rizk (livelihood), Ajal (lifespan), etc – The Prophet (saw) and the Sahaba were not fatalistic.
The Prophet was promised victory, yet he still followed the commands of Allah and tirelessly worked to change the society and establish the Islamic state and after that to prepare the armies for Jihad. He fought in numerous battles like Badr and Uhud.
There is a difference between the matters of Iman and the matters of Shariah. Regarding actions we have to refer to the Shariah, although Iman is permanent.
Anas bin Malik, who said: “A man said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, should I tie it and make tawakkul, or let it go free and make tawakkul?’ He (saw) said: “Tie it and make tawakkul.’” [At-Tirmizi]
The Prophet showed us to look after the means to achieve the results and have tawakal in Allah.
The Sahaba worked to achieve their rizk and did not wait for Allah to send it from the sky. In fact they were strictly against that, it was narrated that Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) passed by some people, who were known as readers of the Qur’an. He saw them sitting and bending their heads, and asked who they were. He was told: "They are those who depend (al-mutawwakiloon) upon Allah (swt)." Umar replied: "No, they are the eaters who eat the people’s properties. Do you want me to describe those who really depend upon Allah (al-mutawwakiloon) are?" He was answered in the affirmative, and then he said: "He is the person who throws the seeds in the earth and depends on His Lord The Almighty, The Exalted (‘azza wa jall)."
Therefore we need to work to fulfill all the commands and prohibitions of Allah, at the same time believing the absolute knowledge of Allah and having tawakkal in Him.