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Shab-e-Barat : A blessing

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The festival of Shab-e-Barat is celebrated with enthusiasm all over the world. It is  believed that in the night of Shab-e-Barat the destinies of all are written for the coming year. It is considered one of the holiest nights on the Islamic calendar.
The night of mid-Sha'ban is known as Laylatul Bara'ah or Laylatun Nisfe min Sha'ban' in the Arab world, and as Shab-e-Barat in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Afghanistan and Nepal. These names are translated as 'the night of records', 'the night of assignment' and 'the night of deliverance'. The observance involves a festive nightlong vigil with prayers;  this is also a night when one's deceased ancestors are commemorated.
Shab-e-Barat means the night of forgiveness or of atonement. Sunnis observe Mid-Sha'ban as a night of worship and salvation.
Various Hadiths have been in this regard, some weak and others graded Hassan or Sahih. Scholars including Imam Shafii, Imam Nabawi, Imam Ghazzali and Imam Suyuti have declared praying on the night of mid Shaban as acceptable.
In his Majmu`, Imam Nawawi quoted Imam al-Shafi's 'Kitab al-Umm' that there are 5 nights when dua (prayer) is answered, one of them being the night of the 15th of Sha`ban.
Imam Ibn Hajr Haythmi states : Narrated by Muaz bin Jabal (RA) from Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wa sallam) who said: Allah turns towards his creation in the Night of Mid-Shaban and He forgives all of them except for a Mushrik and one who hates other people [Az Zawaid #12860]. Classed as Sahih by scholar Nasiruddin Albani in his silsilah Al-Sahihah.
Another Hadith in Musnad Ahmad Hambal: Allah looks at His creation during the night of the 15th of Sha'ban and He forgives His servants except two-one intent on hatred (mushanin) and a murderer (qatilu nafs). Classed Hassan by Albani in his silsilah Al-Sahihah.
Hadith classed sahih by Ibn Hibban : Allah looks at His creation in the night of mid-Sha`ban and He forgives all His creation except for a mushrik (idolater) or a mushahin (one bent on hatred)." [Sahih Ibn Hibban 7/470]. Also reported by Tabrani [Al Muajamul Kabir 20/108-9] and Al Bayhaqi [Shuabul Iman 2/288]
Ayesha (RA) is reported to have said that Muhammad (Sm) said,"This is the middle night of Sha'ban. Allah frees in it a large number of the people from the Hellfire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of the tribe, Bonu Kalb. But He does not even look at a person who associates partners with Allah, or at a person who nourishes malice in his heart (against another Muslim), or at a person who cuts off the ties of womb-relations, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending beyond his ankles (as a sign of pride), or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine." (Baihaqi, At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb)
This occasion is celebrated with great reverence, pomp and gaiety all over South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Central Asia including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Kirghzstan. In Iraq, people give children candies as they walk around their neighbourhoods.
Sunni Muslims in Iraqi Kurdistan and Afghanistan celebrate this day. In Iran and Azerbaijan also the Laylat al-Barat festival is celebrated additionally.
Some Muslims in Indonesia do zikr in mosques followed by a lecture (ceramah) lead by an ustad or otherwise known in Java and Madura as a kyai. This tradition is rarely followed in Indonesia, but it is widely followed in Aceh, West Sumatra and South Kalimantan. In the South Asia, Muslims make sweets (especially halwa or zarda) to be given to the neighbours and the poor on the evening prior to the 15th of Sha'ban.
According to tradition, in this night Allah frees His sinful servants who were destined for Hell. It is believed that in the coming year, sustenance, forgiveness shall be decided on this night. The names of the souls of those who are born and of those who are to depart from this world are determined.
Some see Shab-e-Barat as the night of good fortune. According to some sources it is said that in this night the Doors of Mercy and Forgiveness are opened wide. There is some special 'Not Dos' for this night. For example One who creates disunity among two Muslims and the person who unjustly takes away the right and property of another Muslim and has not yet rectified himself, these persons are not shown Mercy by Allah on this auspicious Night

--Wikipedia and The Free Encyclopedia

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