Humans worship Allah Almighty and He rewards the efforts of the worshippers but there are some special occasions when one’s heart gets softened and one naturally feels more inclined to His obedience. The softness of hearts deepens as well. On such occasions, the very environment seems emitting spiritual enjoyment. Laylat Al Bara’at is one such occasion.
Literally, Laylat Al Bara’at means the night of salvation or the night of freedom from the Fire of Hell. It falls in mid-Shabaan – between the 14th and 15th day. This night, known as Shab-e-Bara’at or Laylat-al-Bara’at, is called Laylatun Nisf min Shabaan in Arabic. The blessed night starts at sunset on the 14th and ends at dawn on the 15th.
Muslims observe mid-Shabaan as a night of worship and salvation. Some spend the whole night awake and some worship through half of it. We should not be negligent on this occasion, because people are shown grace on this auspicious night. During this night, traditions of the Messenger tell us, Allah determines the destiny of all people, including whether a person is to live or die in the coming year.
For the proof of the merit of Laylat Al Bara’at, the following verses of the Holy Qur’an are cited:
“We revealed it on a blessed night and have been warning humanity. In it every matter is decided wisely; all the commands come from Ourselves, We send message and messengers” (The Majestic Quran, 44:3-5)
Imam Qurtubi and Imam Jalal-ud-Din Suyuti hold that the verses refer to Laylatun Nisf min Shaban or Laylat Al Bara’at.
The whole month of Shabaan is meritorious. Its excellent merit is evident from a tradition narrated by Aisha (RA), the mother of the faithful: “The Prophet (PBUH) did not fast in any month more than Shaban.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Though fasts were not obligatory on him, the Prophet, yet he observed them most of the month.
The special merit is attached to Laylat Al Bara’at. Aisha (RA), the mother of the faithful, also reported: “The Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘On the middle night of Shabaan, Allah most high descends to the lowest heaven and remits more sins than the hair of the goats of Banu Kalb.’” (Jami Tirmidhi)
A third tradition of Hazrat Aisha (RA), the truthful, states that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked: “Do you know what happens this night?” meaning the middle night of Shabaan (that is, Laylat Al Bara’at). She submitted: “O Allah’s Messenger, what happens in it?” He replied: “In it record is made of every human being who will be born, and of every human being who will pass away this year. In it their deeds are taken up to heaven and in it their provisions are sent down.” (Baihaqi)
The pious predecessors of the Muslim nation have always observed this night as a night of special blessings and have spent it in divine service. According to Imam Nawawi, there are five sacred nights when supplication is answered, one of them being the night of the 15th of Shabaan.
Apart from worshipping on this night, fasting the following day is also recommended. It is reported from Hazrat Ali (RA) that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “When the middle night of Shabaan 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 not such and such?’ (He keeps announcing) till the dawn comes.”
The special blessings of Almighty descend during the night. According to Muadh ibn Jabal, Allah’s Messenger said: “Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle night of Shabaan and forgives all those created by Him. Excepted is the one who associates partners with Him, or the one who has malice in his heart.”
This night should be spent in worshipping Allah from the depth of heart. It is the time to focus one’s attention to Him alone. It is the time to enjoy the direct contact with Allah, Most Compassionate, Ever-Merciful. Most of all, it is the time for reforming one’s life to come.