Posted: 26 August 2007 at 11:13pm | IP Logged
Lailat-ul-Bara'h (15 Shabaan - Night of Forgiveness
Find this year's date in the multifaith calendar
Lailat-ul-Bara'h (Night of Forgiveness) is the 15th night of Shabaan and takes place two weeks before Ramadan. It is the time when Muslims seek forgiveness for their sins and believe that on this night one's destiny is fixed for the year ahead.
On this night, Muslims pray and ask God for forgiveness either at the mosque or at home. Muslims may visit the graves of relatives and the giving to charity is also traditional. Although not a religious requirement, in some parts of the world there are firework displays that mark this night.
The wording 'Lailat-ul-Bara'h' is Arabic; layltun meaning night and baraat meaning forgiveness. In Persian and Urdu it is called Shabbe Baraat.
Birth of Imam al-Mahdi
Shias believe that on the 15th of Sha'ban, 255 AH (868 CE), Muhammad al-Mahdi was born. Shias believe him to be the twelfth, final and current Shia Imam and also the Mahdi, a very important Islamic figure who is believed by all Muslims to bring absolute justice to the world by establishing Islam as the global religion.
Some Sunni groups observe Mid-Sha'ban as a night of worship and salvation, commenorating when Allah (SWT) saved prophet Nuh(AS) followers from the deluge. In their belief, during this night, Allah prepares the destiny for all people on Earth for the coming year. For this reason it is sometimes called the Night of Emancipation (Lailat ul Bara'at).
There are some hadiths that speak about this night and the middle of Sha'aban. According to Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqi ( pakistanlink.com on Shab-e-Baraat), Imam Al-Mundhiri in his famous book At-Targhib wat-Tarhib (vol. 2, pp. 116-120) reported fourteen hadiths on the subject of this night. However, some more recent scholars of hadith say that most of the hadiths concerning this night are not authentic, citing their weak chain of transmission. There is no mention about this night in Mishkat Al-Masabih, in Sahih Muslim or in Sahih Bukhari.
The following practices are derived from traditions concerning the Prophet Muhammad(SAWS). Fasting during the month of Sha'baan is desirable; however, fasting during Sha'baan should not interfere with fasting during Ramadan.
Other support for fasting during Sha'baan includes:
a) The fasts of the first half of Sha'baan have special merits as can be seen from the practice of the Prophet Muhammad(SAWS);
b) The virtues of the fasts of Ayyaamul Beedh (i.e. 13th, 14th and 15th of the Islamic month) have been mentioned in the hadiths;
c) A large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha'baan.
Although everyday salah should be performed in Jamaa'ah (congregation), on this auspicious night, one must participate with deep and solemn care in the Maghrib, 'Ishaa and Fajr Salaah.
Spend as much time of the night as possible in worship individually. No specific du'aa or method of worship has been prescribed. One may engage in dhikr, recitation of the Qur'aan, salaah, learning and teaching or any other form of 'ibaadah. However, one must refrain from worldly talk and wasting of time. If 'ibaadah is not possible then at least avoid all sinful and useless acts and go to bed as soon as possible.
One hadith from Sahih Muslim mentions that Muhammad(SAWS) visited the graveyard of Baqi. However, the practice has not been considered to be Sunnah ("the way of the prophet") as there is no mention of Muhammad(SAWS) making it a general practice for this night. Hence, if one visits a graveyard once in a while it will be adequate.
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi in his Urdu book Bahishti Zewar (Heavenly Ornaments), part 6, pp 61-62, summarizes the significance of this night as follows:
"Its significance is this that 15th night and 15th day of this month are very blessed ones. Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), urged Muslims to stay up during the night and fast during the day. At this night the prophet used to go to the graveyard of Madinah and prayed for the dead. Therefore, it is desirable that the Muslims should pray during that night and fast during the following day. They should also seek the forgiveness of their dead either by reciting the Qur'an or by feeding the hungry or by giving the money in charity or by just praying for them. Shab-e-Baraat.
It is claimed that on the night of the Mid-Sha'ban that God shakes the heavenly tree Sidrat al-Muntaha, mentioned in the Qur'an in verse 53:14, to decide who shall die in the following year.
But according to the tradition, people prepare sweet dishes and set fireworks with great pomp and show. Sweet dishes are prepared to benefit the souls of the dead and the fireworks are used to express joy over God's taking account of the fate of His creation. These things are just social customs and there is no reference to them in the hadiths.