The holy night of mid-Sha`ban
Tonima Mahmud Antora :
Sha'ban is the eighth, and most importantly, the last lunar month before holy Ramzanul Mubarak. The Lailatul Baraat comes at the mid-Sha'ban, which is the night between the 14th and the 15th of this month. Among the holy nights Lailatul Baraat or Shab-e-Baraat is one of the prominent nights. This is a night of forgiveness. One can get in touch with the Mercy of Almighty Allah in the form of Prayer and fasting during the day long and observing other rituals, as Tilawat-e-Quran, Tasbih, Sadaqa- helping the needy, have no'ts. In this subcontinent, particularly in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, we know this night by the name of 'Shab-e-Barat'
According to a Hadith narrated by Hazrat Ali (Ra) : "When the night of the fifteenth of Sha'ban comes, then worship at night and fast during the day. Because in this night, after sunset, Allah descends on the first heaven and says : Is there any seeker of forgiveness, whom I may forgive? Is there any seeker of safety and protection, whom I may protect? Is there anyone in misery, as I may dispel his hardships?.....this search of Allah for his obedient followers, continues till Fajr!" (Ibn Majah)
According to Minhaj-ul-Quran International, one night, Hazrat Ayesha (Ra) missed the Prophet (Pbuh). When she went out in search of him, she found him in Jannatul Baqi. He said, " Were you afraid that Allah would wrong you and that his Prophet would do the same as well ?". Ayesha (Ra) said: " O Messenger of Allah, I thought that you might have gone to visit one of your wives". He said, " Allah, the Glorious and Exalted, descends on the nearest heaven on the night of mid-Sha'ban and He forgives more people than the number of hairs on the hides of the sheep of the tribes of Kalb."
Shab-e-Baraat is believed as the night of emancipation or the night of freedom from the Fire of the Hell. There is a popular belief that destiny is re-written on this night. On the other hand, there is a Hadith which says that our destiny has been written by Allah before our birth, such as-
"Abu Huraira (Ra) narrated : Allah's Apostle said, " Adam and Musa argued with each other sitting in Heaven. Musa said to Adam, "You are that Adam whose mistake expelled you from the Heaven." Adam said to him, " You are Musa whom Allah selected as of his Messenger and as the one to whom he spoke directly; though you blame me for a thing which had already been written in my fate before my creation?' Allah's Apostle said twice, " So, Adam over powered Musa." (Bukhai Sharif 4. 621)
Although there is a belief among many Muslims that they can change their fate by supplication there is reference in the holy Quran that we can change our condition such as-
"Allah does not change the condition of people until they change it by themselves". (viii. 53; xiii. 11)
There is a freedom of choice for people to choose their path in their own and face the consequences. As a result, we follow the rituals of Shab-e-Barat to have a blissful future life, and mainly, with the ultimate goal to be blessed with forgiveness of Allah Rabbul 'Alameen.
In Bangladesh, there is a tradition in the Laila-tul-Baraat. We celebrate it as a festival. From my childhood, I am watching my mother preparing lots of 'halua' and 'roti' for the whole day long, and at night she as well as the neighbouring women get quite tired and some of them skip the most important night prayer. Even in the village, the imageries are similar.
We should bear in mind that 'halua' and 'roti' specially for the poor distressed people is good as a social responsibility. But, it should not overcome the night prayer 'Isha' and other prayers, which should not be missed.
And this helping the needy poors should be a religious responsibility for not only this night, but it should also be a continuous process until the state takes the responsibility to ensure feeding of the helpless people.
Apart from Shab-e-Baraat, the month Sha'ban has great importance. According to Hadith, Ayesha (Ra) said that Prophet (Pbuh) used to fast the most in the month of Sha'ban than other months except holy Ramzan. He visited the graveyards and recited dua for them.
In Hadith we find some descriptions about Bid'at. There are two types of Bida't : One is good for humans with support by Sunnah and other is bad and can not be accepted. Bid'at means the rituals which were introduced after the death of the Prophet (Pbuh). It's certain that there are some rituals which are sinful activities like lighting up the graves with candles, throwing fireworks on the sky, playing loud music to celebrate the Shab-e-Baraat. These are Bid'at in the bad sense. These are deviation from the normalcy of social lives and thus sinful- bringing misfortune in the society.
Saying prayer in a quiet place where the light is also dimmed, is the best way to show gratitude towards Almighty Allah. Offering Salat, Tilawat-e-Kalame Pak, praying for the Salvation of the departed people, supplication for ourselves and for the Ummah and helping the needy, destitute - may help us to reach the goal of having the mercy of Allah in this occasion. Lailalul Baraat should be observed in the right way avoiding all 'Bid'at' leading to social disturbance.
If we follow the right Path, we can hope that the Almighty Allah will make our journey smooth in future and we will be fortunate to have a life of Nazat in the world hereafter.
(Adjunct Lecturer, English Department, Northern University, Dhaka)