|Significance||Salvation; Muhammad al-Mahdi's birthday|
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Bara'at Night (Arabic: ليلة البراءة, translit. Laylat al-Bara’at) or Mid-Sha'ban (Arabic: نصف شعبان, translit. Niṣf Sha‘bān) is a holiday observed by various Muslim communities on the night between 14 and 15 Sha'ban. It is regarded as a night when the fortunes of men for the coming year are decided and when Allah may forgive sinners. In some regions, this is also a night when one's deceased ancestors are honoured. Additionally, Twelver Shia muslims commemorate the birthday of Muhammad al-Mahdi on this date.
The 15th of Sha'ban goes by several names, depending on the country in which it is observed. Most can be categorised into two general meanings:
- Mid-Sha'ban or Half of Sha'ban. Named after the day's chronological position in the eighth month of the Islamic calendar:
- Bara'at Night. Bara'at is an Arabic noun which is roughly translated to English as either innocence, records, assignment, deliverance or salvation.
The base for celebrating Mid-Sha'ban is not without dispute. Whether or not 15 Sha'ban is regarded as a special holiday, has primarily been an issue of interpreting the Quran and classifying the Hadith.
Although not mentioned directly in the Qur'an, two verses are sometimes ascribed to Mid-Sha‘ban:
"We sent it (this Qur'an) down on a blessed night. Verily, We are ever warning [mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of worship]. Therein (that night) is decreed every matter of ordainments"[Quran 44:3–4]
Sunni views and hadiths
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As for the other narrations concerning the 15th of Sha'baan (which are not believed authentic), the Hanafi scholar, Shaikh Mulla 'Ali al-Qaari (d.1014H) records some of these hadiths:
Also on this night the Doors of Mercy and Forgiveness are opened wide,and those who sincerely grieve over and repent for their past sins and seek forgiveness from Allah are pardoned and forgiven by Allah.
Shaykh Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani has mentioned in his book ”Ghunyat li Talibee Tariqil Haqq” (i.e., The Gift for those seeking the path of truth) that the month of Shaban according to some narrations is related to Muhammad. So, it is the duty of Muslims, as the followers of Muhammad to love and respect this month more than any other month (besides Ramadhan). Muslims should also offer abundantly salutations upon Muhammad.
Even when hadiths are used to justify the night, Salafi scholars have labeled such hadiths as weak (da'if). Day of Arafa, Laylat al-Qadr and Day of Ashura on the other hand have much stronger references in Quran and/or hadiths.
Some Salafi streams oppose the recognition of Mid-Sha'ban as exceptional. However, those "neo-"Salafis don't consider quotations from Ibn Khuzaymah's book, Kitab At-Tawhid wa Ithbat Sifat ar-Rabb (which is used extensively by Salafis for 'Aqidah), about Mid-Sha'ban. Ibn Khuzaymah has specifically mentioned the night of Nisf-Sha'ban in his book (in the section on Nuzool, normally meaning Revelation but in the current context Descent (of Allah)) from the hadith of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. He clarified in the same book that, while it has been revealed that Allah does descend to the world every night, the exact method of the descent remains unrevealed.
Twelver Shia view
According to Twelver Shias, Muhammad al-Mahdi, the final Shia Imām, was born on 15 Sha'ban. Shi'as celebrate Muhammad al-Mahdi's birthday on that day and perform religious acts such as prayers, fasting, and worship. Iranian cities are decorated on night of Mid-Sha'ban.
Mid-Sha'ban is celebrated in countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Kirghistan. The Salafi Arabs do not celebrate this holiday. In the Arab world the festival is celebrated by Arabs with Sufi heritage, and Shias. In Iraq, children are given candies as they walk around their neighborhoods. Sunni Muslims in Iraqi Kurdistan and Afghanistan celebrate this holiday 15 days before Ramadan.  Some Muslims in Indonesia do communal zikr in mosques followed by a lecture (ceramah) led by an ustadz 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 South Asia, Muslims make sweets (especially Halwa or Zarda) to be given to the neighbors and the poor on the evening prior to the 15th of Sha'ban. This custom of distributing Halva is also practiced in Bosnia on the 15th night of Sha'ban, as well as on three other holidays: Laylat al-Qadr, Laylat al-Mi'raj and Laylat al-Raghaib.
- Dinesh Bihari Trivedi; A. H. M. Zehadul Karim (1990). Law and order in upper India: a study of Oudh, 1856-1877. Northern Book Centre. ISBN 978-81-85119-83-0.
... The first significant religious occasion shabe-barat (lailat ul-barat or the night of deliverance) is held in the middle of Shaban (eighth month of the Islamic calendar) ...
- Jamal J. Elias (1999). Islam: Religions of the world. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-21165-9.
... Laylat al-bara'a ... fortune for the coming year is popularly believed to be registered in Heaven ... prayer vigils and by feasting and illumination ... oblations are made in the name of deceased ancestors ...
- Quran 97:1–5
- Quran 2:185
- Fatwa by the Permanent Committee
- Said Nursî, Şükran Vahide, Letters, 1928-1932: Volume 2 of Risale-i nur, Nur Publishers, 1994, ISBN 978-975-432-043-5,
... on the well-known holy nights, such as the Prophet's birthday and Ragha`ib, and on the Night of Power in particular ... such supplications will be accepted ...
- Muhammad Umar Memon, Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Ḥalīm Ibn Taymīyah, Ibn Taimīya's struggle against popular religion: with an annotated translation of his Kitāb iqtiḍāʾ aṣ-ṣirāṭ al-mustaquīm mukhālafat aṣḥāb al-jaḥīm, Mouton, 1976, ISBN 978-90-279-7591-1,
... among the Salaf as well as those among the khalaf, however, reject any excellence for the night in question and challenge the authenticity ... Marking mid-Sha'ban by fasting is without foundation, nay marking it is disapproved of. Likewise, celebrating it by preparing ...
- Shah Muhammad Badi Ul Alam, What Is Man and the Universal Religion of Man - Volume 1, Read Books, 2007, ISBN 978-1-4067-7571-6,
... The process of devolution from spiritual to material world is called نزول 'Nuzul' (Descent) ; and the process of evolution from material to spiritual world is called عروج 'Uruj' (Ascent) ...
- Ibn Khuzaimah (223 - 311 Hijri), 30 June 2010,
... On The Attribute of Descent and Its Kayfiyyah (i.e. Reality, Howness): Ibn Khuzaymah, may Allah bestow His mercy upon him said: “The scholars of Hijaz and Iraq reported from the Prophet that the Lord descends to the sky of the dunya every night. We therefore testify and acknowledge on our tongues while our hearts are certain of the information about the descending of Allah without delving into how it happens because our Prophet did not describe to us how our Creator descends to the sky of the dunya but he only informed us that He does descend. And Allah – Most High – and His Prophet did not leave a matter that Muslims are required to know about their religion without mentioning it to them. Therefore, we narrate this information and believe in what it includes about the descending of Allah without delving into how this happens or describing this descending as the Prophet did not describe it to us.” ...
- "Iranians celebrate birth of Imam Mahdi". http://www.presstv.ir. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "A Dazzling Night in Iran Embellished with Spirituality". http://realiran.org. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- "Live Chennai: Shab-E-Barat - Festivals of India - Festivals in India - Muslim Festivals - Ramzan - Id-ul-fitr - Bakrid, Eid Mubarak". livechennai.com.
- "About: Shab-e-barat (شب برات)". Events In Karachi - Latest Event Updates- Articles - About Karachi.
- Shabe-Baraat: Introduction and guidance on special prayers for the night. (Includes Salaatul Tasbih)
- Article on Shab-e-Barat
- Night of Salvation [Shab-e-Barat] and How to Spend it? http://seekerofthesacredknowledge.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/what-is-night-of-salvation-shab-e-barat-and-how-to-spend-it/