Answered by Sidi Wasim Shiliwala
Question: I have always prayed nawafils on the nights of Mi`raj and Bara’a and kept the fasts following days. Recently I came across an article that such ibadah is biddah. Kindly clear this confusion..
Answer: May Allah reward you for your concern regarding these special nights.
Before offering some resources related to your question, I first want to mention that voluntary acts of worship are always good. On no night during the year is it ever discouraged to pray more, supplicate more, and remember Allah more. Similarly, aside from the two Eids, there are no days when fasting is discouraged either.
The question, rather, is about whether certain nights in question are holier than others, and whether specific acts of worship on such nights (and the days that follow them) have a basis in the sunnah of the Prophet (peace upon him) or not. So the question is not whether extra prayers and fasting are worthy of merit on these dates, but rather if they are worthy of extra merit.
It is truly sad that the byproduct of these types of debates is that people fast less, pray less, and remember Allah less. Discussions about the legal details related to worship are indeed very important, but such discussions should result in our acts of worship becoming more frequent, more meaningful, and more faithful to the sunnah of the Prophet (peace upon him), who would spend every night in deep prayer and contemplation.
Resources on the Merits of Rajab, Sha’ban, and their Holy Nights
It is also important to think about the broader aims of these months as preparation for Ramadan, as beautifully outlined in this article by Shaykh Jihad Brown: CERTAINTY VS. UNCERTAINTY IN PREPARATORY PROGRAM OF
RAJAB AND SHAABAN
According to the above, it is indeed meritorious to fast more and pray more during the sacred months of Rajab and Sha’ban. It is also recommended to perform extra acts of worship on the 15th of Sha’ban, including fasting on its day.
As for Laylat al-Mi`raj, there is a general recommendation to increase one’s good acts out of commemoration for this sacred event, although no specific acts are authenticated. Furthermore, there is some discussion as to whether the date actually falls in Rajab or not. Still, as mentioned before, increasing in one’s fasting and worship at any time during the month of Rajab is meritorious given the month’s sanctity.
Again, keep in mind that these discussions focus on the question of whether there is any additional or specific significance to these dates, which are already holy because they fall in the sacred months of Rajab and Sha’ban. I hope that the above resources will motivate us to increase in our devotional acts during these sacred months, and indeed throughout the rest of the year.
In general, voluntary acts of worship are always meritorious and praiseworthy. As mentioned in the famous hadith qudsi, these extra acts of worship are the means by which we get close to Allah.
And Allah knows best, and to Him is our return.
Baarak Allahu Fikum,
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani