Allah Ta’ãla has presented His bondsmen with some special occasions with the golden opportunity of earning the mercy and forgiveness of Allah. Explicit examples of these occasions are the month of Ramadhãn and Laylatul Qadr. So is the fifteenth of Shabãn. Several Ahãdith extol the merits of this occasion. Amongst them is the fact that countless people are forgiven by Allah Ta’ãla during this blessed night. It is due to this reason that it is called ‘The Night of Barãt’.
However, it should be borne in mind that a vast majority of narration's describing the benefits and virtues of this night are in fact quite weak.
The foundations of the Shar’iah are the Qur’ãn, the Sunnah and the lives of the Sahãbah (R.A.). Non of the narration’s regarding the excellences of this night are free from criticism and comment by the scholars of Hadith.
Shaikh Yusuf Binouri (R) says: “I have not come across any Sahih, Marfoo or Musnad Hadith regarding the excellence of this night.” [Ma’ãrifus Sunnan, Vol. 5 Pg. 419].
The Muhaddith, Ibn Dihya, has also agreed that neither has anything authentic been narrated regarding the fifteenth night of Shabãn nor has any specific Salãh been narrated for this night via reliable narrators. [Faydhul-Qadeer-Sharhul Jãmius Sagheer Vol. 2 Pg. 317].
SOME VIRTUES OF THIS NIGHT:
One on the other hand can not completely reject the virtues of this night. Whilst even Allama Ibn Taymiyyah, a scholar notorious for refuting such things, also accepts the virtue of the night of Barãt, he says: “So many Ahãdith and reports exists regarding the excellence of the fifteenth night of Shabãn that one is compelled to accept that this night possesses some virtue.”
Shaikh Abdur Rahman Mubarakpuri writes in the commentary of Tirmizi: “The sheer number of Ahãdith regarding this night serve as a proof against those who refute the excellence of this night.” [Tuhfatul-Ahwazi Vol. 2 Pg. 53].
The special virtues of the night of Barãt are:
1. Contrary to other nights wherein Allah descends to the lowest Heaven to bestow His special blessings during the last third of the night, on the night of Barãt the special rain of mercy and forgiveness from Allah Ta’ãla begins to shower down right up till dawn.
2. The sins of countless people are pardoned.
[Hãfiz Zayud-deen Iraqi, Faydhul Qadeer, Vol. 2 Pg. 317].
It should be remembered that while the narrations regarding the night of Barãt are weak, the narrations regarding Allah Ta’ãla’s descending to the nearest Heaven during the last third of every night are totally correct.
VISITING THE GRAVESIDE ON THE NIGHT OF BARÃT:
Rasulullah’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) awakening during any night and visiting the graveyards is recorded in some Ahãdith. However, visiting of the graveyard is not a special characteristic of this night in particular. It is proven from another authentic narration that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to visit the graveyard during the last portion of every night. There is no specific reference in the Ahãdith to the night of Barãt or any other night.
NO SPECIFIC PRESCRIBED SALÃH RESERVED FOR THE NIGHT OF BARÃT:
Allama Anwar Shah Kashmiri (R) has written regarding the matter that the significance of the night of Barãt is proven. There is however, no proof for those weak and unacceptable narrations mentioned in certain books. [Al’arfus-Shazi Pg. 156].
Allama Yusuf Binouri (R) writes in Ma’ãrifus Sunan that Abu Talib Makki recorded these narrations in his book Qut-ul-Quloob. Imãm Ghazali, following Abu Talib Makki, did the same and Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani has followed them in his book Ghunyat-ut-Talibeen. They mention a narration of Ali (R.A.) that discusses a Salãt of a hundred Rak’ãts. However, Ibn Jawzi (R) and others declared this narration to be a fabrication (Mawdhu). [Ma’ãrifus Sunan Vol. 5 Pg. 419].
Allama Dhahabi, Ibnu-Arraq, Suyuti, Mulla Ali Qari and other scholars of Hadith have vehemently refuted such Salãh’s.
FASTING ON THE FIFTEENTH OF SHABÃN IS NOT ESTABLISHED FROM HADITH:
Some people believe in the misconception that fasting on the fifteenth of Shabãn is Sunnat. They have been deceived by the Hadith of Ali (R.A.) that appears in Ibn Mãjah which has been fabricated. The Hadith states Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said; “When the 15th of Shabãn comes, then spend this night in Qiyãm (Salãh) and the day in fasting. For verily, Allah descends during this night to the nearest heavens.” [Ibn Mãjah Pg. 99].
This Hadith is however very weak. Some scholars have decided it as Mowdhu (fabricated). One of the narrators of this Hadith in Abnu-Jabrah, who has been accused of fabricating Ahãdith. [Taqrib of Ibn Hajar Pg. 396]. Imãm Bukhãri and others have also proved him to be weak. [Mizanul I’tidal Vol. 5 Pg. 503]. Thus this Hadith cannot be relied upon. Hence the fasting of this day should not be regarded to prove this fast as been Sunnat. Another interesting fact is that fasting on this day is only discussed in this weak Hadith. If it were a Sunnat act, a stronger
Hadith would have been available to prove it.
Fasting in the month of Shabãn, without the stipulation of any day, is proven from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
THE NIGHT OF BARÃT AND QUR’ÃN:
Has the night of Barãt been mentioned in the Qur’ãn? The most correct opinion is that the night of Barãt has not been mentioned in the Qur’ãn. Hafiz Ibn Katheer writes that those like Ikramah who have explained the blessed night in the Qur’ãn as the night of Barãt are very distant from the correct interpretation. [Ma’ãrifus Sunan Vol. 5 Pg. 420].
IS SUSTENANCE, LIFE AND DEATH DECIDED ON THIS NIGHT?
Qãzi Abubakr bin Arabi writes that there is no reliable Hadith regarding the fifteenth of Shabãn from which it may be understood that sustenance, life and death are decided on that night. He has gone so far as to say that there is no reliable narration concerning this night being the blessed one. [Ma’ãriful Qur’ãn Vol. 7 Pg. 757].
Since the significance of the night of Barãt has been mentioned in a number of narrations, and the narrations are not in conflict with any verse in the Qur’ãn or any authentic narration, we do accept its significance. However, the opinion that sustenance, death, etc. are determined on this night is in conflict with the Qur’ãn and is therefore unacceptable.
It has been established from the Qur’ãn that these decisions are passed to the Angels on Laylatul Qadr and not on the night of Barãt.
It is on this account that the scholars of research have always rejected this opinion. The opinion of the lectures would not be considered in this discussion, instead the opinion of the scholars of Tafseer and Hadith will be relied upon. There is a Hadith of Ayesha (R.A.) mentioned in Mishkãt Pg. 115. This Hadith discusses that the decisions are passed on this night regarding those who will be born, those who will die, the actions of men are placed in front of Allah and sustenance is revealed. The condition of this Hadith is unknown and the scholars of Tafseer and Hadith do not consider it reliable.
SOME STRANGE AND INNOVATION PRACTICES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS NIGHT:
1.Burning lights and candles: Nothing has or can be found in any Hadith. The Muslims of India, being in close contact with the Hindus, probably began imitating them in their practices, thus resulting in the introduction of this and various other bid’ats.
2.Preparing of sweetmeats: Some consider this being compulsory. Without it there can be no Shab Barãt. This is absolutely baseless.
3.Souls visit families: Some people firmly believe that the souls of the deceased visit their families homes and see whether any food has been prepared in their honour or not. Some people feel that if a person dies before this night than until his ‘Fãtiha’ is not made on this night, he is not counted amongst the dead. These are baseless ideologies that clearly contradict the Ahãdith.
4.Distribution of food: Some feel that it is compulsory to distribute food on this night with the intention of Isãl-Sawãb. There is no association between this practise and the significance of the night. No special acts of charity etc. have been prescribed for this night. [Fatãwa Imdãdiyyah Vol. 4 Pg. 27].
According to the Ahaadeeth, certain people are deprived of Allah's mercy even on this auspicious night. These unfortunate souls are:
1) Those who ascribe partners unto Allah.
2) Those who harbour enmity against others.
3) Those who habitually consume alcohol.
4) Those who disobey their parents.
5) Those men who wear their trousers etc.below their ankles.
6) Those who commit adultery and murder.
7) Those who sever family ties.
Every Muslim should take stock of oneself and if one is involved in any of the above vices, one should turn to Allah and sincerely implore for forgiveness, lest one be deprived on this night.