Shab-e-Baraat 2020: Date, history and significance of Shab-e-Baraat
Shab-E-Baraat or Laylat al-Baraat is an Islamic festival that is celebrated by Muslims all around the world. Translating to the ‘The Night of Fortune and Forgiveness’, Shab-e-Barat means night of forgiveness or atonement and commemorates the day Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) entered the city of Makkah. The Arabic term Laylat al-Barat means the quality of being guileless and without guile or deception. Shab-e-Baraat is observed between the 14th and 15th night of the month of Sha’aban, the eighth month of the Islamic Calendar, and will fall between April 8 and April 9 this year. Shab-e-Barat is considered to be the holiest night of the Islamic calendar. According to the Quran, on this night Allah said, “Who wants forgiveness, I will forgive you. Who wants food, I will provide food.” It is believed that Allah said this throughout the night until it was Fajr, the time when Muslims pray at dawn. It is believed that on this day the destinies of all people are written by Allah taking into account their past deeds and when he also forgives sinners.
On this night the names of the souls who will be born and those who will leave the world are also determined and sustenance sent down. It is believed that the Doors of Mercy and Forgiveness are wide open on this night however some qualities are unacceptable and will not be shown any mercy, for example a person who creates conflicts between two Muslims or a person who wrongfully takes away the right and property of another Muslim and has not yet rectified himself.
This occasion is celebrated with great fervour all over South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan and Turkey and Central Asia including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. The festival is celebrated with people staying up for most of the night, usually taking short breaks and praying to Allah and reciting from the Quran until dawn. Sometimes nighttime vigils along with prayers are also organised, but generally people mostly pray at home with their own families. Charity is done with money and food being distributed among the poor.
According to a hadith, “Doubtlessly, Allah surrounds everything on the fifteenth night of Sha’aban with his mercy. He forgives all of His creatures except mushriks (polytheists) and those whose hearts are full of hatred or enmity of others...” (Al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib, 2:118.)
Another hadith classed Hassan by Albani in his silsilah Al-Sahihah says, “Allah looks at His creation during the night of the 15th of Sha’aban and He forgives His servants except two- one intent on hatred (mushanin) and a murderer (qatilu nafs).”