Previous night of the Mid-Sha’ban (15th day of 8th month means Shabaan, according to Islamic lunar calendar) is called as the Shab-e-Barat in many countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iran. It is also known as the Laylatun Nisfe min Sha’ban or Laylatul Bara’ah in the Arab world. The meanings of this festival are night of records, night of Absolution, night of deliverance, night of assignment and night of salvation.
It is celebrated in cultural and traditional ways by getting involved in nightlong prayers of the Allah. In some areas of celebration, people commemorate their deceased ancestors during whole night prayer. The meaning of the Shab e Baraat in many other countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and etc is the ‘Night of Innocence’.
Shab E Barat 2019
Shab E Barat 2019 was commenced from the evening of Saturday, 20th April 2019 and concluded on Sunday, 21st April 2019.
The festival was celebrated with religious fervour across the country. People offered prayers to the almighty and sought the forgiveness for their sins. Mosques around the country also witnessed a huge gathering of people to offer prayers.
Various cuisines were also prepared for the occasion like rice bread and ‘halwa’ which were also shared and distributed to neighbours and friends as a gesture of spreading harmony and affection.
People also visited the graves of their loved ones and prayed to the almighty to grant them eternal peace. They also chanted the holy verses of Quran and paid homage to the deceased ones.
When is Shab E Barat Celebrated?
Shab E Barat is a holiday observed by the Muslim community on the night between 14th and 15th day of Sha’ban, the eighth month of Islamic calendar. The festival commences on a full moon night and the dates of observance may vary from place to place, depending on sighting of the moon. The festival falls in the months of April-May as per the Gregorian calendar.
Nomenclature – Same Festival Many Names
The festival of Shab e Barat is known by various names, depending on the country of celebration. It is also called Mid Sha’ban, given to its position in the mid of Islamic month of Sha’ban. In Arab world the festival is called Nisf (u) Sha’ban, Laylat al-Bara’at.
In India the festival is popularly known as Shab E Barat. Shab means night, while Bara’at is an Arabic word meaning record, deliverance or salvation.
Shab E Barat – History
Shab E Barat is observed on the night when Prophet Muhammad into the city of Mecca. Though Prophet Mohammad was born and brought up in Mecca, he was forced out of Mecca by the polytheistic regime, as he preached monotheistic Islam and promoted conversions. His teachings inspired the unification of whole of Arabian Peninsula under one religion –Islam; which was obviously considered as a threat by then present polytheistic rulers of Mecca.
Despite of the opposition from the merchants of Mecca, Mohammad was successful in gaining sufficient followers from neighboring Medina. Silently Muhammad started developing an army by aligning with different communities from Medina. When the authorities at Mecca came to know about Muhammad’s intentions they planned to execute him. Sensing the threat to his life, Muhammad silently slipped to Medina in 622 century.
While in Medina, he raided trading parties from Mecca and built an Islamic state. Efforts by the Meccan army to subdue the dacoits failed and many leading Meccans converted to Islam and shifted to Medina. In January 630, Muhammad marched to Mecca with his allies and conquered it with far less resilience.
Muslims believe that during the expedition Muhammad avoided bloodshed and spare many giving them forgiveness. This particular night of Muhammad’s return to Mecca is celebrated by the Muslims as Shab E Barat and is considered as the night of forgiveness.
Customs and Traditions of Shab-E-Barat
Muslim people celebrate this festival with great joy and happiness by enjoying with each other and offer religious prayers and read the holy Quran. They also prepare delicious sweets, Halwa, Zarda and other things to enjoy and distribute among their neighbors, relatives, family members and poor people.
They distribute sweets on previous evening of the 15th of Sha’ban. The custom of Halva distribution also followed in the Bosnia at 15th night of Sha’ban as well as on the festivals of Laylatul Mi’raj, Laylatul Qadr and Laylatul Raghaib.
Muslim people worship to their Almighty Allah to get lots of blessings and rewards for living peaceful and prosperous life. During this special occasion their heart becomes more softened and inclined to their Almighty. This occasion starts at the sunset of 14th and ends at sunrise of 15th. Some people enjoy very much spiritually and spend their whole night in praying; however, some of them worship for only half of night.
They recite the following rhymes: “Surely, We have sent it down on a blessed night. Surely, we are the Warner. In this (night) judgment is given on all matters of wisdom (separately) by Our Command.” Though, the verses are not as exactly mentioned in the holy Quran; nevertheless, they are attributed to Shab E Barat.
Some people keep fast for whole day and worship for whole night. According to the Hazrat Ali, the Holy Prophet said “When the middle night of Shaban arrives, spend it in worship and fast during the day.
On this night, at sunset, Allah descends to the nearest heaven and announces: ‘Is there no one asking forgiveness that I may forgive him? Is there no one asking provision that I may grant him provision? Is there no one afflicted that I may relieve them? Is there no such and such?’ (He keeps announcing) till the dawn arrived.”
Muslims belonging to the Imamiyyah branch of Shia Islam, also celebrate Shab E Barat as the birthday of the last Shia Imam – Muhammad al Mahdi. They too, observe the festival by fasting, praying and performing religious acts.
Significance of Shab-E-Baraat
The previous night of 15th of Shabaan is celebrated as Shab-e-Baraat means Lailatul Baraat which is considered as the Night of Absolution. According to the Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), the meritorious fasting is “Fasting in Shabaan in honour of Ramadan” who kept fast for whole Shabaan month and called it his month.
The significance of Shab E Barat could be derived from the fact that Prophet Muhammad strictly observed fast himself, in the Shabaan month. Prophet Muhammad himself said that on the night of mid Sha’ban Allah descends from the heaven to revoke more sins than the total hairs of a goat.
Shab-e-Baraat is a festival which is considered as the “Vessel for Mercy” when Muslim people are blessed, benefited, pardoned and forgave from their Almighty Allah. At this day Allah Taala descends to earth from the heaven, opens doors of the Mercy and forgives his people. According to their Holy Qur’an, Allah Ta’ala states that “Therein all matters of wisdom are sorted out for Decree.”
It is a festival when people from Muslim community, remember their ancestors and visit their graves. They light candles and incense sticks and ask for forgiveness on behalf of their ancestors or the deceased.