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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Innovations - Shab e Baraat

Islam is a religion which if understood makes one's life very easy and rewarding. But if try to turn our lives from simplicity and of s straight path to innovations and rituals of the post Islamic era, the life will not only become difficult but also take us away from the life that is intended for us as Muslims. And when one is not clear about what he should believe in, innovations start to creep in, which though seemingly appear to be in line with the teachings of Islam, are in fact make one's light difficult and take away a believer from the essence of Islamic way of life. 

One of such innovations, which is widely observed by the Muslims in areas which now constitute Pakistan and India, is Shab e Baraat. It is widely believed that on this night, the 15th of Shaban, the future or the fate of a person is decided. Thus on this night, special arrangements for prayers are made, special dishes are prepared and food is distributed among relatives and the needy. People visit the graveyards and offer special prayers for those relatives and fiends who are buried there. 

But the truth is that this is absolutely man-made festival. Neither Our'an nor Hadith and the era of companions of Prophet Muhammad indicate the existence of this festival, then. Even there is no such tradition is attributed to the very early post Islamic scholars have called such a feast non Islamic. In fact such night was never exited in those day. It is thus an innovation that has slowly crept into our way of life and almost become a ritual which is celebrated with 'religious zeal and fervor.'

It may be understood that Islam is not a religion of customs, festivities and traditions. It in fact is  a simple and straightforward religion  which strongly restrains man from the shackles of rituals or futile and time consuming festivals. It is thus highly uncharacteristic of Islam to mark one day in a year for fire-cracking and distributing foods and allow people to keep on wasting valuable time and hard-earned money every year.  Thus, there is absolutely no evidence in the authentic Sunnah whereby the Prophet  or his noble companions or family ever celebrated or commemorated the night of Shab e-Baraat, nor did Prophet  ever offered any special prayers on this night, nor ever command the believers to do anything special on this night!

It is the absolute unanimous opinion of all the good jurists and scholars in Islam that there is to be no special commemoration or celebration of the so-called Shab e-Baraat night; and if anyone offers or ordains any special prayer or rite of worship especially for the commemoration of this night, it would be against the guidance and Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ; and thus a bid'ah or innovation in the perfect Deen of Islam.

At the most, Islamic literature reveals only an event : once, on the night of Shaban the 15th, Hazrat Ayesha did not find Prophet Mohammad ﷺ on his bed, so she left in his search and found him in Jannat~ul Baquee. On querying, he replied: "On this night, Allah turns His attention from the sky to this world and forgives as many sins of people as the total number of hair of all the sheep put-together of the clan, called Ka'b." But a prominent writer of Hadiths, Imam Tirmizi has declared this tradition a fragile and has claimed, through his research, that it can not be believed with certainty that Hazrat Ayesha was its source. !

Many misinterpreters of the Holy Qur'an refer the night as Lailatul Mubaraka which is mentioned in Surah al-Dukhan (44: 2-4) “The Book (Holy Quran) that makes things clear, We sent it down during a blessed night, In fact ! We want to Warn (Mankind)" Whereon every affair of wisdom is made clear ". Now it is very clear from the referred verses of the Holy Qur'an that Lailatul Mubaraka is the night when Allah sent down the Holy Qur'an and it is the same night as Lailatul Qadr mentioned in Surah Qadr [97]: " Verily, We have revealed this (Qur'ân) in the night of Al-Qadr "!



Even if their authenticity is recognized, then also, the only inference could be that praying and asking for His forgiveness for the sins, during this night, is an appreciable act. If this is done individually, then they will be rewarded. Other than this, the perusal of these narrations does nor prove that either 14th or 1 5th night of Shaban is proclaimed to be Eid or some collective prayers are pronounced for this occasion. 

The more reliable books on Hadiths acknowledge that Prophet Mohammad   used to be in a peculiar state, in the month of Shaban, prior to the commencement of Ramadan. It is in the month of Ramadan that the stupendous honour of Prophet hood was bestowed upon him and the revelation of immortal Book, the Our'an, commenced. Due to these reasons, he not only used to keep unusually regular fasts and perform longer prayers during Ramadan, but even in advance, Prophet Mohammad   would inch closer to Allah. Hazrat Ayesha and Umme Salma state that besides Ramadan, Shaban was the only month during which Prophet Mohammad   fasted most, rather the entire month was spent in fasting. But this practice of his was specifically for his own sake. However, the common Muslims were instructed by him to stay away from fasting during the second fortnight of Shaban, for it may weaken them to fast during the following month of Ramadan. 

Islam has taken necessary care of the fact that its followers do not adopt rituals and rites which Allah has not asked them to. Thus none of the self-created customs, artificial ceremonies or any collective practices should take the shape of Farz (Obligation). By exceeding the limits prescribed by Him, if people establish certain customs and rituals of their own, and practice them like Faraiz (Obligations), then they will make the life unnecessarily burdened and would in fact had committed the same blunder of pioneering rituals and customs and made them essential and part of their religion.  

Qur'an has declared customs as synonymous to "shackles" and the chief objective of the life of Prophet Mohammad ﷺ  is said to be setting free the mankind from such chains and shackles. And the Prophet Mohammad  therefore proposed a lean and mean stream of faraiz and eliminated all other customs and traditions. There is no third festival in Islam other than Eid-ui-Fitr  and and Eid-ui-Azha. There is no pilgrimage other than Hajj and besides Zakah there is no charity or donation which is declared as Farz. Thereafter, a simple rule is laid forever that man is not authorized to cut down on any of the faraiz. Similarly, he is not mandated to make any additions either. 

Now one last argument in disfavour of Shab e Baraat: The absolutely biggest evidence of the non-importance or existence of the Shab-e-Baraat in Islam is the term itself! The very term "shab" is not an Arabic word but rather a farsi (Persian language) term which means night; and baraat in Arabic means to boycott or destiny. The fact that the term itself is half-Farsi half-Arabic signifies that this term was not used by the Messenger of Allah  or his early companions, but rather was invented and innovated long after their deaths in the Indo-Pak region where Farsi was the court or official language of the rulers for a long period of time!

Our'an and Hadiths were never scrutinized with the objective of learning the principles and guidelines, rather the ignorance resulted into finding excuses for continuing their old customs and inventing new conventions. When they managed to find a minor clue, they converted it into a mammoth and perpetual custom. People felt proud on filling the gap by inventing festivities, which were originally not there, without realizing that they have worn the same shackles which were destroyed by Allah, through His Prophet Mohammad , and they have again fallen into the trap from which no nation has ever managed to come out. 

References: | 1 ( pp 7-12) | 2 | 3 |
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2 comments:

Very well written! It clears all the doubts. Very thankful for this informative piece :)

Thank you for appreciating our endeavors to present Islam in as simple language as possible and highlight inventions and misconceptions

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