Questioner: O noble shaykh, we are now getting close to the middle of Sha’ban, and you know – may Allah preserve you – what takes place with regards to innovations during this time, so my wish is that the people are notified and made aware of this.
Shaykh Muhammad Amaan al-Jaami: A questioner asks regarding what the people customarily do mid-Sha’ban, i.e. fasting the middle day of Sha’ban and engaging in worship on that night; believing that this is from the Sunnah, and perhaps some of them may even believe that this will increase their life span; So the answer is …
The guidance of the Messenger ﷺ –which is the best guidance, is that you fast the month of Sha’ban completely or the majority of it.
It has been confirmed in the hadith of ‘Aaisha that the Messenger ﷺ would fast the month of Sha’ban completely, and according to another hadith, he would fast the majority of it. Ahlul-Sunnah, the people of hadith, reconcile between the two hadiths and say: he ﷺ would occasionally fast it completely and occasionally fast most of it in order that it is not mistaken for Ramadan (which would have been the case) had he continued to always fast it completely. Therefore, his guidance ﷺ which should be followed in this regard is: whoever is able to fast the month of Sha’ban completely or most of it then he should do so.
As for what the latter-day people have introduced, namely the Soofis and those who were educated amid them, which is this bidah of fasting mid-Sha’ban (exclusively) and spending its night in worship and congregating over food that night, is an innovation that is not befitting (of a Sunni) to fall into nor believe that it is a good ‘bidah’ innovation; after it has been confirmed from the Messenger ﷺ that he said: “Every innovation is misguidance”.
All Innovating of new practises in the religion is misguidance, and if innovation is necessary, then it must only be in worldly affairs. Innovate as you wish! But as for Innovating in the religion, then No! No innovation, no development and no addition.
One may ask, and indeed many have, ‘what do you say about Umar’s statement, when he gathered the people behind one imam for Taraweeh, and after being delighted at seeing this he said’: “what a blessed ‘bidah’ innovation”. The answer is: the word ‘bidah’ innovation mentioned by Umar implies the linguistic meaning, not the legislative meaning –the evidence being: the congregating of the people behind one imam for the Taraweeh prayers occurred at the time of the Prophet ﷺ – wherein he lead the people in his masjid for three nights consecutively, then he feared that it would be made compulsory on them and then they would not be capable of doing it, so he abandoned it out of mercy for his nation. But when the reason for abandoning it no longer existed, Umar, during his reign, gathered the people – meaning he renewed the congregating of the people behind one imam and he did not pray with them; he did not pray behind Ubayy (bin Ka’b) with the companions, however, he came out to them while they were lined up in a row behind one imam, and so the sight of that delighted him, thus he said: “what a blessed innovation” and the word ‘bidah’ innovation used here is not the legislative meaning of the word. (Because) The legislative meaning of bidah is that you perform an action which is apparently righteous (religious) but has no basis in the religion, as for this [taraweeh], it has a basis in the religion. For three nights the Prophet ﷺ led the people in prayer, and for that reason the people of knowledge state that the innovation mentioned by Umar in this instance implies the linguistic meaning i.e. renewal of the practise after a long period of its absence.