Dr Sheikh Arshid
Shab-e-Baraat, the 14th night of the month of Sha’aban of the eighth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed as the night of atonement and reparation of wrongdoings in previous life. It commemorates the entry of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) into the city of Mecca. On this night, Allah said, “Who wants forgiveness, I will forgive you. Who wants food, I will provide food.” Allah said this over again and again till the time of Fajr.
Shab-e-Barat is observed with pomp and enthusiasm by Muslims all over the world. They believe that on this night Almighty Allah writes the destinies of all men for the coming year by taking into account the deeds committed by them in the past. It is considered one of the holiest nights in the Islamic Calendar. These are other names of this night as ‘the night of records’, ‘the night of assignment’ and ‘the night of deliverance’. The observance involves a festive nightlong vigil with prayers. In some regions, this is also a night when one’s deceased ancestors are commemorated. Other names for the observance include “Night of Innocence”.
Scholars including Imam Shafii, Imam Nawawi, Imam Ghazzali and Imam Suyuti have declared praying on the night of mid Shaban as acceptable. Aisha (RA) is reported to have said that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told her, “This is the middle night of Sha’ban. Allah frees in it a large number of the people from the Hellfire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb. But He does not even look at a person who associates partners with Allah, or at a person who nourishes malice in his heart (against another Muslim), or at a person who cuts off the ties of womb-relations, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending beyond his ankles (as a sign of pride), or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine.”
According to Imam Al-Shafi’ee (RA): “There are five nights when the supplications (Duas) are accepted by Allah. These are (1) Friday night,(2) Night before Eid-ul-Fitr (3) Night before Eid-ul-Adha (4) First night of Rajab (5) Night of Nisf Shaban.”
According to Imam Malik (RA): “There are four nights in which gates of righteousness are opened: (1) Night before Eid-ul-Fitr (2) Night before Eid-ul-Adha (3) Night of Arafat (9th Dhul Hijjah during Hajj) and (5) Night of Nisf Shaban.”
Doubtless, Allah surrounds everything on the fifteenth night of Shaban with his mercy. He forgives all of His creatures except mushriks (polytheists) and those whose hearts are full of hatred or enmity for others. Allah, the Exalted, forgives all Muslims on that night except soothsayers, magicians, people who are full of hatred, alcoholics, people who harm their parents and those who insist on committing fornication.
“Is there no one asking forgiveness that I may forgive them? Is there no one asking sustenance that I may grant them sustenance? Is there no one under trial that I may relieve them?” It goes on like that until dawn rises. Allah wants every Muslim to come to His door so that He will forgive all sins committed by them.
Muslims all over the world do communal Zikr in mosques followed by a lecture led by an Imam or Khateeb. The faithful make duas to Almighty Allah seeking forgiveness and atonement for their sins. This night is called as “night of freedom” because Allah frees His sinful servants who were destined for Hell. A person’s life in the coming year, his sustenance, and his life activities are decided on this night. The names of the souls of all those who are born and of all those who are to depart from this world are determined. One’s actions are raised and sustenance sent down.
According to sources, it is said that on this night the Doors of Mercy and Forgiveness are opened wide, but not for those who create disunity among Muslims and those who unjustly take away the right and property of another Muslim. These persons are not shown mercy on this auspicious night.
The essence of celebrating Shab-e-Bar’at can be summed up in that people aim to do righteousness. On this night Muslims stay awake all night and spend it in various forms of worship, giving charity, sending sweets to friends and relatives, inviting others to feasts and such acts. This is an effective way to connect with neighbours and kin. These are the clear objectives of observing Shab-e-Bar’at as intended by millions of Muslims.
Unfortunately, due to the deadly Covid-19, the administration has issued an advisory to the Muslim community not to venture out of their houses on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat. The lockdown is in force even for congregation prayers in mosques and for visiting graves of departed loved ones.
Muslims should follow the advisories of the administration and should stay inside their homes and observe Shab-e-Baraat without attending any congregational prayers. This is the best time to repent before Almighty Allah and seek relief from this deadly disease.
You may spend this night by doing good deeds such as asking Duas for yourself and for all the Muslims around the world. Recitation of Al-Quran and any other act to get Allah’s attention and blessings will shower upon you His mercy and blessings.