Q: Was is the ruling according to the Shafi’i school concerning Salat al Khayr ( 100 rakaats with 10 ikhlas in each rakaat ) since some consider it to be baseless.
A: “There are three qawls [positions] in the school concerning the one performing Salat Laylat Nisf Sha’ban:
1. The Asl [original ruling] is that it is Makruh according to Imam al-Nawawi (may Allah be pleased with him!) and others, because it is a “Bid’a Qabiha” [blameworthy innovation]; and under this Tafsil only one qawl says it is Haram. (This position is, for example, mentioned in the text of the Fath al-Mu’in [I’anat, 1:270]; al-Nawawi’s position, for instance, is in the Majmu’ [4:61]; the qawl that it is Haram is in the Irshad al-‘Ibad (which is not, note, a fiqh work) [al-Mallibari, Irshad, 24] (who is also the same author of the Fath al-Mu’in)).
2. The Asl is Mandub/Sunna according to Imam al-Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him!) and others. (This position is also related in the fiqh manual I’anat al-Talibin (the commentary to the Fath al-Mu’in above) [I’anat, 1:271-2]; al-Ghazali’s own position is in the Ihya’ (which is not, note, a fiqh work) [Ihya’, 1:203-4]) and this position is not brought up in his furu’ fiqhi works; the Wajiz or the Wasit.
3. The Asl is Jawaz/Mubah according to a SOLUTION provided by Imam Ibn Hajar (may Allah be pleased with him!) in the Tuhfa and others. This solution is by making a Qiyas to Imam Ibn Hajar’s own solution for the “Ishraq” prayer, which in the view of the Imam himself – like the Nisf Sha’ban prayer – has no legal status, or in other words, is Makruh to perform. (It goes without saying that although the Asl is Mubah for this qawl, and because if carried out using this method the act itself brings a reward, this can therefore be treated as a Fadila ‘Amal, making it Mandub in the end – since the hukm of the Nafl Mutlaq prayer is itself Mandub). (See below for details of the solution; technically however, this solution no longer makes it a “Salat Laylat Nisf Sha’ban”.)