Shab-e-barat or Barat Night, is a Muslim holiday celebrated on the 14th night of the month of Sha’aban, the eighth month of the Islamic calendar. It commemorates the entry of Muhammad into the city of Mecca.
The Arabic name “Laylat al Barat” (ليلة البراءة) means Barat Night where “البراءة” meaning in English is “the quality of being guileless”, “without guile or deception”. 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 until fajr. The festival of Shab-E-Barat is celebrated with pomp and enthusiasm by Muslims all over the world. For, Muslims believe that on the night of Shab-E-Barat God 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 on the Islamic Calendar.
The night of mid-Sha’aban is known as Laylatul Bara’ah or Laylatun Nisfe min Sha’ban in the Arab world, and as Shab-e-barat (شب برات) in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Afghanistan and Nepal. These names are translated 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 Laylat al Bara’at, “Night of Innocence”; Berat Kandili in Turkish; and Lejletul Berat in Bosnian.
Shab-E-Barat means the night of forgiveness or Day of Atonement.
Muslims observe Mid-Sha’ban as a night of worship and salvation. Various hadiths have been in this regard, some weak and others graded hassan or sahih. Scholars including Imam Shafii, Imam Nawawi, Imam Ghazzali and Imam Suyuti have declared praying on the night of mid shaban as acceptable.
In his Majmu`, Imam Nawawi quoted Imam al-Shafi`i’s Kitab al-Umm that there are 5 nights when Dua (prayer) is answered, one of them being the night of the 15th of Sha`ban.
‘Aisha is reported to have said that Muhammad said,“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(swt) 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.” [Baihaqi, At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb]
Main article: Muhammad
Doubtlessly, 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 of 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. at-Targhib wa’t-Tarhib, 2:118.
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. Hadith: Ibn Majah, Iqama, 191.
The hadith by Imam Ibn Hajr Haythmi, states:Narrated by Muadh bin Jabal (RA) from Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasalam) who said:
Allah turns towards his creation in the Night of Mid-Shabaan and He forgives all of them except for a Mushrik and one who hates other people [Az Zawaid #12860]. Classed as Sahih by Salafi scholar Nasiruddin Albani in his silsilah Al-Sahihah.
Another hadith in Musnad Ahmed hanbal
“Allah looks at His creation during the night of the 15th of Sha’ban and He forgives His servants except two- one intent on hatred (mushanin) and a murderer (qatilu nafs).” Classed Hassan by Albani in his silsilah Al-Sahihah.
Hadith classed sahih by Ibn Hibban
“Allah looks at His creation in the night of mid-Sha`ban and He forgives all His creation except for a mushrik (idolater) or a mushahin (one bent on hatred).” [sahih Ibn Hibban 7/470].
Also reported by Tabrani [Al muajamul Kabir 20/108-9] and Al Bayhaqi [Shubul Iman 2/288]
Customs in different countries
This occasion is celebrated with great reverence, pomp and gaiety all over South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan and Turkey and Central Asia including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan & Kirghistan. The Salafi Arabs do not celebrate this holiday. In the Arab world the festival is celebrated with enthusiasm by Arabs with Sufi heritage, and Shias. In Iraq, people give children candies as they walk around their neighborhoods. Sunni Muslims in Iraqi Kurdistan and Afghanistan celebrate this holiday 15 days before Ramadan. In Iran also the Laylat al Barat festival is celebrated additionally, because it is also the birth date of Imam Al Mahdi, the last Imam. Some Muslims in Indonesia do communal zikr in mosques followed by a lecture (ceramah) led by an ustadz or otherwise known in Java and Madura as a kyai. This tradition is rarely followed in Indonesia, but it is widely followed in Aceh, West Sumatra and South Kalimantan. In the South Asia, Muslims make sweets (especially Halwa or Zarda) to be given to the neighbors and the poor on the evening prior to the 15th of Sha’ban.
Significance and traditions
According to Muslim tradition, this night is called Shab-e-Baraat (“the 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 whether or not they will have the opportunity to perform Hajj (pilgrimage) shall be 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 According to sources, there is some special “Not Dos” for this night; For example, One who creates disunity among two Muslims & The person who unjustly takes away the right and property of another Muslim and has not yet rectified himself, these persons are not shown Mercy on this auspicious Night.