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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Q&A: Specifying Night of Eid for night prayers

Recently I was given an sms which quoted a hadith regarding spending the night of Eid in prayers. I was shocked to see this hadith in circulation. The following is a Q&A I translated from http://www.islamonline.com/.

Question: Is it correct that the messenger of Allah (SAW) encouraged the ummah to perform night prayers in the night of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha?

Answer:
In the name of Allah, and peace and blessings upon the messenger of Allah.

To proceed,

The night of Eid is like other nights, (and) the encouragement to spend the night in night prayers is either clearly weak or confirmed to be fabricated upon the messenger of Allah (SAW). Therefore, to specify that night for night prayers out of other nights is not legislated, rather, it is an innovated matter which has no (authentic) proof. As for normal superogatory prayers in these nights just like other nights without believing any specific virtue in (performing the prayers in) these nights, then this is not prohibited.

Dr. Husam El-Din Afaneh, Professor of Jurisprudence and its Principles, in Al-Quds University said:
Nothing is established from the Messenger of Allah (SAW) in performing nights prayers on the night of Eid, whether night of Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha, and whatever narrations that exist are very weak and some are fabricated upon the messenger of Allah (SAW) as I will explain in a short while. Therefore spending the night of Eid in prayers is a bid’ah, so a special prayer, or special zikr or other acts of obedience (during the night of Eids) is not legislated.

Al-Allamah Ibn al-Qayyim in describing the guidance of the prophet (SAW) in the night of Eid al-Adha:
Then he (SAW) slept until morning, and did not pray any night prayers that night, and nothing is established from him (SAW) regarding night prayers during both nights of Eids.”
 [Zad al-Ma’ad 2/247]

To the contrary, the night of Eid is like other nights, there is no speciality over other nights. As for the hadith narrations, the scholars of hadith have explained its status and classification, and I shall mention some of it:

1. Hadith narrated on the authority of Abu Umamah (RA) from the prophet who said:

من قام ليلتي العيدين محتسباً لم يمت قلبه يوم تموت القلوب

Whoever stands in (night) prayers in nights of the Eids seeking the rewards, his heart will not die on the Day hearts will die (ie. Day of Judgment),” in another narration: من أحيا Whoever spends the night in prayer…” The hadith was reported by Ibn Majah, ad-Daraqutni in al-‘Ilal amd Ibn al-Jauji in Al-‘Ilal al-Mutanahiyah, and in the chain of narrators there is someone who is accused of lying. Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajr said: “It is a hadith with shaky chain of narration,” and he was mentioned that there is someone accused of lying. Al-Manawi mentioned it in Faidh al-Qadir (6/39), and Al-Albani said: It is fabricated, see Silsilatul Ahadith ad-Da’ifah (2/11)

2. Hadith narrated on the authority of Mu’azh (RA): Messenger of Allah said:

من أحيا الليالي الأربع وجبت له الجنة ليلة التروية وليلة عرفة وليلة النحر وليلة الفطر

Whoever spends these four nights in prayers, Paradise is incumbent for him: Night of Tawriyah(8th of Zulhijjah); Night of ‘Arafah; Night of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha); and Night of (Eid) al-Fitr .” The hadith was reported by al-Asbahani and Nasr al-Maqdisi. In its chain of narrators is Abd ar-Rahman bin Zaid al-‘Ami who is matruk (abandoned), just as an-Nasa’i and al-Hafiz Ibn Hajr said. Yahya bin Ma’in said (he is) a liar. And Shaikh al-Albani’s ruling of the hadith: It is fabricated, as can be seen in Silsilat al-Ahadith ad-Da’efah (2/11).

3. Hadith narrated by ‘Ubadah that messenger of Allah (SAW) said:

من أحيا ليلة الفطر وليلة الأضحى لم يمت قلبه يوم تموت القلوب

Whoever spends the nights of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in prayers, his heart will not die on the Day the hearts die (ie. Day of Judgment.” The hadith was reported by at-Tabarani in al-Awsat and al-Kabir and the chain of narrators contained Umar bin Harun al-Balkhi, who is a liar, as Yahya Bin Ma’in and Ibn al-Jawzi said, and al-Albani’s ruling of the hadith is that it is fabricated.

4. Hadith narrated by Kardus that the prophet (SAW) said:

من أحيا ليلتي العيد وليلة النصف من شعبان لم يمت قلبه يوم تموت القلوب

Whoever spends the Night of Eid al-Fitr and the Night of Nisf ash-Sha’ban, his heart will not die on the Day the hearts die (ie. Day of Judgment).” Ibn al-Jawzi said: “This hadith is not authentic from the messenger of Allah (SAW) and it has several flaws.” Then he mentioned among the flaws was the narrator Marwan bin Salim whom an-Nasa’i, ad-Daraqutni and al-Azadi said: He is matruk (abandoned). [al-‘Ilal al-Mutanahiyah 2/562] Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajr said about him: “Marwan is accused of lying.” [al-Isabah 5/580] And al-Hafiz also said in Lisan al-Mizan: “This hadith is munkar mursal.” [4/391] And az-Zahabi said: “This hadith is munkar mursal.” [5/372]

There are some people of knowledge who made these hadiths as strong (authentic) considering all of the chains (in support of the other), like in Misbah az-Zujajah [2/85], where al-Busairi said: “It is strong when considering all the chains (in support) together.” There are some who said: "These hadiths can be tolerated because they are concerning the virtues of actions", as Imam an-Nawawi said: {Know that it is recommended to spend the two Nights of Eid in remembrance of Allah, prayers and other acts of obedience due to the hadith: “Whoever spends the nights of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in prayers, his heart will not die on the Day the hearts die (ie. Day of Judgment),” and it was narrated: “Whoever stands in (night) prayers in nights of the Eids seeking the rewards, his heart will not die on the Day hearts will die (ie. Day of Judgment),” Likewise is the narration of ash-Shafi’e and Ibn Majah and it is a weak hadith that we have reported from the authority of Abu Umamah in marfu’ (related as a hadith) and mawquf (related as a saying of companion) form and both are weak, but hadiths in virtues of actions is tolerated as we have mentioned in the introduction of the book.}
[al-Azkar pg. 145]

What was mentioned by Imam an-Nawawi regarding leniency in considering hadiths on virtues (of actions) that he wrote earlier in the introduction of al-Azkar which he alluded to, he said: “It is permitted to act on weak hadith regarding virtues of action, targhib (encouragement) and tarhib (warning) as long as it is not fabricated.” [Al-Azkar pg. 5]

And these hadiths that were mentioned regarding spending both Eid nights in prayer, a group of scholars of hadith have ruled that they are fabricated, or in its chain there is a liar, or someone accused of lying, hence this earlier (mentioned) principle does not apply.

In summary, the instruction to spend both Eid nights in prayer is a bid’ah ( innovation) that is not supported by any authentic hadith that is acceptable as proof or to rely on. Allah knows best.
[Translated from original article (click: http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-Arabic-Ask_Scholar/FatwaA/FatwaA&cid=1122528622518)]

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