RE: [Embracing Islam] Commemorating the 27th Of Rajab Or 15th Of Sh?aban
- What is correct, you mentioned pray 5 times a day. Is it 5 or 3 ??-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Border [mailto:withheld62@...]
Sent: Wednesday 30 August 2006 17:00
Subject: [Embracing Islam] Commemorating the 27th Of Rajab Or 15th Of Sh?abanCommemorating the 27th Of Rajab Or 15th Of Sh'abanThis has been my experience that the question of two nights, which are commemorated in certain parts of the Muslim world, namely, 27th Rajab & 15th Sh'aban. One reader has sent me newspaper cuttings from his home country with comments on importance of commemorating these nights which is at variance with the views expressed by me on earlier occasions. The present article seeks to answer all these queries and similar ones in the hope that this may serve as a final word on this subject.It is important to understand that religious rulings may be divided into two groups; those relating to dealings among people and those relevant to worship. Of the first type are matters such as commercial transactions, service contracts, agreements, promises, selling goods or property, marriage and inheritance, employment of people for specific jobs, personal and financial commitments, etc.In most of these matters, Islam allows a wide area for the discretion of people, so that they may determine how to conduct their business. Islam provides certain guidelines within a framework of its concept of fair dealing. As long as people adhere to these guidelines and remain within the Islamic framework, whatever they do is acceptable. To give an example: Islam forbid exploitation by one person of the need of another in order to make a financial or commercial gain. Over the centuries, people have invented all sorts of transactions, which geared to exploit the need of others in order to make excessive profit. All such transactions are, therefore, forbidden in Islam.What happens sometimes is that a certain society invents a totally new arrangement arguing that it solves the problem of a certain section of society and benefits another. Our attitude to this arrangement is that we look into it in the light of Islamic principles. If we find it based on exploitation of the need of a certain group of people, then we give our ruling that it is forbidden. People cannot argue with us saying that this arrangement is totally new and that it was unknown to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions, and therefore, it should be permissible. Our judgement is based on the fact that exploitation is forbidden.In a small area of people's financial relations, Islam gives detailed guidance, as in the case of inheritance. The reasons are obvious. God has willed that all Muslim societies should be rid of the problems that are created by people's favoritism to one or more of their heirs over others. Hence, the legislation of inheritance must be observed at all times, in all societies. When people establish a different system as in the areas that do not allow women to inherit, their action is forbidden.Within these guidelines, people may determine their financial and commercial systems, and they can be certain that whatever they determine is acceptable to Islam.Matters of worship fall under a different category. They relate to that area which is sometime defined as the relationship between man and God. According to Islam, every human being must submit himself to the will of God. In relation to this basic principle, all people are the same. Their susceptibility to accepting the faith based on the Oneness of God is not influenced in any way by the degree of civilization achieved by their society, or by living in an industrial or agricultural community. Hence, we find Islamic legislation, which relates to worship highly detailed. Moreover, it does not change from one generation to another or from one community to another.Ever since Islam was revealed, Muslims fast during the month of Ramadhan, pray five times a day and go to pilgrimage at a specific time every year. The Prophet's example gives us the perfect guidance in matters of worship. We know that he was the man who has worshipped most perfectly in all situations. Moreover, we have a very detailed record of what he did and what he omitted throughout the 23 years beginning with the first revelations he received from God to the end of his noble life. In addition, we have the divine commandment stated clearly in the Qur'an: "Whatever the Messenger bids you, you must do, and whatever he forbids you, you must abandon."In view of all this, we cannot add anything to what the Prophet, peace be upon him, has taught us by way of worship. When we realize that he has given us the most complete and most perfect example of worshipping God, then we cannot add to what he has taught us or 'improve' on it. If we try to do something of worship, which the Prophet, peace be upon him, has not done, we are in effect claiming that we know better than what the Prophet, peace be upon him, knew or that we can provide a better standard of worship. Far it may be from us to make any such claim.If we bear all this in mind, we need now to ask whether the Prophet, peace be upon him, has commemorated, or bid anyone to commemorate either of the two nights in question and what form did that commemoration take. If we find in the Sunnah or in the practice of the Prophet, peace be upon him, or his companions any indication of that, we act on it. If we do not find any, then no such commemoration is required.The fact is that there is no single authentic Hadith, which recommends the observation of either of these two nights in any particular way. The night of the 27th of Rajab is supposed to be the anniversary of the Prophet's miraculous night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and his ascension to Heaven. This event took place three years before the Prophet's emigration to Madinah. When we make a thorough study of the Prophet's life, we find that at no time during the intervening period of thirteen years between this event and his passing away did he commemorate that event or encouraged or recommended any of his companions to commemorate it in any way. He did not single out that anniversary for night worship or the following day for fasting. Hence, neither action is required or recommended.Having said that, I should add that the event itself, i.e. Prophet's night journey, was of high significance in the history of Islam. If we try to emphasize its significance and to study it in detail, our action is commendable. It should not be attached, however, to a specific date and made in a specific fashion, which may lead to its being institutionalized. We can, for example, organize a lecture or a seminar to discuss this event. This, however, need not be a regular feature of our activity.Even if we make it a regular feature, it should not be done in a specific pattern. We can make our choice of how to study it, which may differ from one year to another. [We could include this in the curriculum of our educational institutions.] That is different from what people do of making a special effort to spend that night in worship and to fast the following day. These practices give that night a special significance as a night of worship, which indeed it was not.As for the middle night of the month of Sh'aban, people have come to hold certain beliefs about it. Some people say that it is the night in which God determines the fortunes of people for the following year. They claim that the opening verses of Surah 44 entitled "Ad-Dukhan" or "Smoke," refers to this particular night. These beliefs cannot be supported by any evidence from the Qur'an, or authentic Hadiths. Those particular Qur'anic verses refer to the Night of Power, which occurs in the last third of the month of Ramadhan. Again, when we study the authentic Sunnah, we find that there is nothing to support the view that this night has any particular significance. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has not ordered or encouraged any of his companions to commemorate it in any way.All that we find in the Sunnah is that one night, Ayesha, the Prophet's wife, discovered that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had gone out. When he came back before dawn, she asked him wherever he was. He told her that he went to Al-Bakee' graveyard to pray for the dead. Now this report remains lacking in authenticity. It is classified as "weak". Moreover, the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not encourage Ayesha to do anything on that night. Nor did he speak to any of his companions about it. Nor do we find that any of the Prophet's companions made a special effort to either spend that night in worship or to fast the following day as a result of any words spoken to him by the Prophet, peace be upon him. Hence, we cannot attach any significance to that night.It is true that the Prophet, peace be upon him, used to fast more frequently in Sh'aban than in any other month. He, however, did not make any particular effort to fast on the 14th of Sh'aban or do any particular thing on the middle night of that month. If we happen to fast that day, our fasting should come naturally without making a deliberate attempt to fast particularly on that day. We should follow the Prophet's guidance in our voluntary fasting and fast any number of days in the month of Sh'aban. If we do not fast, we contravene no Islamic rulings and we miss out on no particular occasion.Some of the readers have asked whether there are any differences among schools of thought on this particular subject. My answer is that there is none, since there is no specific guidance by the Prophet, peace be upon him, relevant to either of these two nights. What we have to remember is that all schools of thought seek to follow the Prophet's example. If he has given us no guidance on something, then there is nothing to be done about it. What we have to understand is that when we undertake to do any voluntary worship on either of these two nights, we should remember that they have no special significance. We could do our voluntary worship on any other night and earn the same reward. If we attach any specific significance to either night or day, then our action constitutes an invention. No invention is admissible in matters of Islamic worship."For to us will be their return; then it will be for us to call them to account." (Holy Quran 88:25-26)
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