Commemorating Muhammad’s arrival in Mecca, Shab-e-Barat, or the day of atonement, is an important festival for some Muslims 15 days before Ramadan.
Shab-e-Barat is traditionally observed on the 13th or 14th day of the eighth month of the Muslim calendar, which falls between August and September. This year, it was observed on Aug. 28.
On this day of atonement, some Muslims believe Allah will write the destinies of Muslims for the coming year. In return, Muslims pray for forgiveness of their sins and the sins of their family and friends from the previous year.
It is customary to fast the whole day and before the night’s events, Muslims put on dress clothes. They call or visit family and friends’ homes to ask for forgiveness and pray for them. Then they visit their ancestors’ graves and pray for peace for the deceased souls. After visiting the graves, Muslims go home for a meal and break the fast.
Observers bake sweet treats for friends and perform acts of charity for the poor. Houses and streets are decorated with candles and electric lights for those who stay up late praying through the night.
Shab-e-Barat is observed in countries primarily located in Southeast Asia, including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. In India, for example, no one works and mosques are full. Concerts featuring traditional Indian music, as well as religious poetry reading, also take place.
Not all Muslims observe Shab-e-Barat because it is disputed whether the day has roots in the Quran. Some Muslims believe that by observing Shab-e-Barat they are deviating from Muhammad’s example.
But it’s not a source of conflict, said Ahmed Muraywid, of Columbia. Muraywid does not observe the day.
SOURCES: beliefnet.com; islamabadrawalpindi.com; newstoday-bd.com; pakistantimes.net; Ahmed Muraywid