of Shaban is the eighth Islamic month, which precedes Ramzan, the month of
fasting. Prophet Muhammad stated, “Rajab is the month of Allah, Shaban is my
month and Ramzan is that of my Ummah, community.” The sanctity of Shaban comes
from its proximity to Ramzan. Other than Ramzan, the Prophet is known to have
observed more fasts in Shaban than any other month. He said fasting in Shaban
cleanses the soul and prepares it to receive blessings in the sacred month of
believe the night of 15th Shaban to be a very special night, one in which God
opens his doors of forgiveness and mercy. According to Islamic traditions, the
destinies of all souls are sealed for the coming year. It is held that on this
night the souls that are to be born and those who will depart from this world
are identified. In Arabic this night is called Laylatul Bara’ah (night
of deliverance), while in Urdu and Persian-speaking countries, it is known as Shab-e-Baraat.
subcontinent, this night of pardon assumes a festive flavour with fireworks and
lighting of homes. Halwa is prepared, Nazar and Niaz offered over it. Food is
distributed to the poor and the pious stay awake praying until Fajr, the
reported Prophet Muhammad saying: “Let all of you spend the night of mid-Shaban
in worship and its day in fasting. Allah descends to the nearest heaven during
this night, beginning with sunset, and says: Is there no one asking forgiveness
that I may forgive them? Is there anyone asking for sustenance that I may grant
them sustenance? Is there anyone in difficulty that I may relieve them?”
encourage Muslims to spend the entire night of 15th Shaban in prayer. Most of
the devout keep the recommended fast on the following day. Prophet Muhammad
said that all of us err to varying degree, but the best are those who
contemplate and then ask Allah for forgiveness for their wrong actions.
recorded narrations of prophetic sayings regarding this sacred night reiterate
the idea of God’s mercy descending to all of creation. The Prophet said that
all those who repented sincerely would be forgiven except for those who remain
unjust. Others who would be excluded from God’s forgiveness are those who keep
grudges against others and those who severe relationships with close family and
historical documentation, we know that on the night of forgiveness, the Prophet
visited Jannat ul Baqi, a graveyard in Medina. He offered supplications
for the departed souls of his family and companions. Following in his
footsteps, Muslims visit graveyards and Dargahs, seeking forgiveness for
themselves and for the souls of loved ones.
graveyards remind of the transitory nature of the world. Death is the only
reality of which there is universally no doubt. Reflecting on death reveals the
urgency of living a sincere, honest and fruitful life.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author
of Sufism: The Heart of Islam.