THE NIGHT OF BARAAT (ليلة البراءة)
الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
There are many important days in Islamic calendar, like the day of Milad un Nabi (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), the day of A'shoora, the day of Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Azha, etc. Similarly, there are many significant nights in Islamic calendar, like the Night of Me'raj (ليلة المعراج), Night of Baraat (ليلة البراءة), and the Night of Qadr (ليلة القدر).
In this Book we have discussed about the importance of the Night of Baraat (ليلة البراءة).
The are two nights mentioned in the Quran, as follows:
THE BLESSED NIGHT
(1) It is in Quran إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنْذِرِينَ - فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ [ Indeed, We revealed it on a blessed night - Indeed, We are ever warning (to mankind). On that night every wise command is made clear.] (Ad-Dukhan - 3-4).
THE NIGHT OF QADR
(2) It is in Quran - إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ - وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ - لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ [ Surely We revealed it on the Night of Power/Decree. And What will convey to you what the Night of Power is! The Night of Power is better than thousand months. ] (Al-Qadr - 1-3).
We have briefly discussed below about these nights.
(a) There is no clear and categorical evidence in Quran and Ahadith that tells us that both these nights are one and the same.
(b) There are many authentic Ahadith identifying a blessed night falling in the middle of Sha'ban and the other falling in the end of Ramadhan.
(c) When we read the above verses of Quran, it looks that the 'Blessed Night' (لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ) falling in mid-Sha'aban is the night when Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) commands are made clear (in the sublime world - عالمِ عُلوي). Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is warning the mankind that decisions are taken about them for the following year and they need to be careful and supplicate for pardon for the sins committed by them in the previous years.
(d) The Night of Qadr (لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ) is a glad tiding / good news to the human beings that this Night is better than one thousand months (more than 33 years) and it is an opportunity for mankind to make sure that they are benefited from it.
(e) The significance of both these nights is different from each other and both are important nights in Islamic Calendar. The Common feature of both these nights is, the descent of Quran.
It is important to note that Quran's descent was gradual, in stages. To understand this issue, read the following Quranic verse one more time.
Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) says - فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ [ On this night every wise command is made clear.] (Ad-Dukhan - 4).
This verse clarifies that on the night (which falls on mid-Sha'baan), every divine command intended for the following year is made clear (to the Sublime World - عالمِ عُلوي). This shows that on the 'Blessed Night' (ليلة البراءة) the command for the descent of Quran was given and made known to the Sublime World. This fact is described in this verse - إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنْذِرِينَ [ Indeed, We revealed it on a blessed night. Indeed, We are ever warning (to mankind).] (Ad-Dukhan - 3).
Thus, the divine command was the beginning of the descent of Quran. It was the first stage of the descent of Quran.
(f) Then Quran was descended from the Preserved Tablet (لوحِ محفوظ) to the first sky on the 'Night of Power/Decree' (ليلة القدر) in the month of Ramadhan. This was the second stage of the descent of Quran.
(g) Then, from the first sky, Quran was revealed, gradually, in stages, to Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) over a period of 23 years. This was the third and final stage of Quran's descent.
The blessed night' (لَيْلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ) mentioned in the above verses is the night which falls on mid-Sha'aban (لَيْلَةِ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ). This is also known as 'Night of Salvation' (ليلة البراءة) because, on this night every wise command of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is made clear, and he looks upon His servants with mercy; listens to their supplications and forgives them. This night is proved from continuous narrations (احادیثِ متواتر) from many Sahaba and Taba'een in authentic books of Ahadith. We have provided below some of these Ahadith.
(i) Imam Tirmidhi and Imam Ibn Maja established Chapters in their Ahadith books, titled بَاب مَا جَاءَ فِي لَيْلَةِ النِّصْفِ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ [ What was known about the Middle Night of Sha'aban]. Many Ahadith have been mentioned under these chapters.
حدثنا أحمد بن منيع حدثنا يزيد بن هارون أخبرنا الحجاج بن أرطاة عن يحيى بن أبي كثير عن عروة عن عائشة قالت فقدت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ليلة فخرجت فإذا هو بالبقيع فقال أكنت تخافين أن يحيف الله عليك ورسوله قلت يا رسول الله إني ظننت أنك أتيت بعض نسائك فقال إن الله عز وجل ينزل ليلة النصف من شعبان إلى السماء الدنيا فيغفر لأكثر من عدد شعر غنم كلب
Ummul Momineen Aisha (رضئ الله تعالی عنها) said - 'One night, I did not find the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) in his bed, so I went out searching for him and found him at al-Baqi (Muslim Graveyard in Madina) with his head raised towards the sky. (When he realized that I followed him to Baqi), He said : 'O Aisha (رضئ الله تعالی عنها) were you afraid that Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and His Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) would treat you unfairly?' I said, 'No, I thought you had gone to spend the night with one of your (other) wives' He said : 'Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) descends to the lowest heaven on the night of mid-Sha'ban and forgives more people than the number of hairs on the hides of the sheep of Bani Kalb." (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ahmed)
(ii) It is in Hadith - Ummul Momineen Aisha (رضئ الله تعالی عنها) reports, 'the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) stood up in prayer during part of the night and made his prostration so lengthy that I thought his soul had been taken back. When I saw this I got up and went to move his big toe, whereupon he moved, so I drew back. When he raised his head from prostration and finished praying, he said : 'O A'isha (رضئ الله تعالی عنها), O strikingly beautiful (حُميرا)! Did you think that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) had broken his agreement with you?' She replied : 'No, by Allah, O'Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), but I thought that your soul had been taken back because you stayed in prostration for so long.' He said : 'Do you know what night is this?' She said : 'Allah and His Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) know best.' He said : 'This is the night of mid-Sha`ban! Verily Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) looks at His servants on the night of mid-Sha`ban, and forgives those who ask forgiveness, and He bestows mercy on those who ask mercy' (Thirmidhi, Ahmed, Bazzar, Baihaqi)
(iii) عن أبي بكر الصديق عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، قال : « ينزل الله إلى السماء الدنيا ليلة النصف من شعبان فيغفر لكل شيء إلا رجل مشرك أو في قلبه شحناء [ Abu Bakr Siddique (رضئ الله تعالی عنه) reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said, Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) looks upon His creatures on the night of mid-Sha'ban and forgives everyone except the polytheist and the one who is jealous about others in his heart.] (Baihaqi, Bazzar, Daylami, Al-Haitami, Majmua Zawaid, etc. )
(iv) عن أبي هريرة قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا كان ليلة النصف من شعبان يغفر الله لعباده إلا لمشرك أو مشاحن [ Abu Huraira (رضئ الله تعالی عنه) reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said, Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) looks upon His servants on the night of mid-Sha'ban and forgives everyone except the polytheist and the Wrangler.] (Musnad al-Bazzar, Al-Haitami, Majmua Zawaid, etc. )
Celebrating important events/dates in Congregations, in Mosques and religious places is the practice of Sahabah. Muslims can join in praying in Mosques on this auspicious night and supplicate in congregations. If this is not possible, we can arrange small gatherings of our family members at our homes and celebrate these nights. It is important to visit our dead relatives on Shab-e-Baraat as it is Sunnah. It is also important to do Eisaal-e-Thawaab for them and do Fateha and feed people.
The famous historian of early Islam, Mohammad bin Ishaq Al-Makki al-Fakihi, who lived in Makka in the third century (died in 272 AH) reported as follows :
قال أبو عبد الله محمد بن إسحاق بن العباس المكي الفاكهي (المتوفى : 272هـ)
وأهل مكة فيما مضى إلى اليوم إذا كان ليلة النصف من شعبان ، خرج عامة الرجال والنساء إلى المسجد، فصلوا ، وطافوا ، وأحيوا ليلتهم حتى الصباح بالقراءة في المسجد الحرام ، حتى يختموا القرآن كله ، ويصلوا (أخبار مكة للفاكهي: ذكر عمل أهل مكة ليلة النصف من شعبان واجتهادهم فيها لفضلها
The people (men and women) of Makka, in the past and today, come out of their homes and flock to the mosques, particularly to the Grand Mosque of Makka on the night of mid-Sha'ban. They will pray, and repent for their past sins and some of them complete the recital of whole Quran on that night. They will be praying all through the night till Salatul Fajr. (Akhbar Makka lil Fakihi)
Imam Shafii (died 204 AH) stated the following:
قال أبو عبد الله محمد بن إدريس الشافعي (المتوفى : 204هـ) وبلغنا أنه كان يقال: إن الدعاء يستجاب في خمس ليال في ليلة الجمعة وليلة الاضحى وليلة الفطر وأول ليلة من رجب وليلة النصف من شعبان (الأم 1/264)
The supplications done on five nights : (i) Friday night, (ii) the night of Eid ul Fitr, (iii) the night of Eid az-Zuha, (iv) the first night of Rajab, and (v) the night of mid-Sha'aban are answered by Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ). (Al-Umam - 1-264)