Lailat al Bara’ah: Muslims pray through the Night of Forgiveness

Muslim man on his knees, facing a lit window with intricate laced design

Many Muslims pray the night through on Lailat al-Bara’ah. Photo by Ariff Ahmad Tajuddin, courtesy of Flickr

SUNSET THURSDAY, JUNE 12: A festive day replete with sweets, treats and works of charity gives way to a night of solemn, focused prayer, on Barat Night —also known as Lailat al Bara’ah, the Night of Records and the Night of Forgiveness.

On the 15th of the month of Sha’ban, Muslims believe that Allah writes the destiny of men and women for the coming year: whether an individual will live or die, find hardship or fortune, and whether he will be eligible to make the pilgrimage to Hajj. Many Muslims try to staying awake the entire night in prayer and worship. In some regions, Muslims also commemorate their deceased ancestors on this night.

While the faithful pray, worship and sometimes fast for Mid-Sha’ban, forgiveness is not promised to everyone: specifically, those with hatred in their hearts are not granted the favor. Many are freed from their sins tonight, Muslim tradition teaches, but those who commit wrongdoings—for example, by creating disunity among Muslims—are also looked upon with disfavor.

For the majority of Muslims worldwide, Lailat al Bara’ah is a cause for celebration. Strings of lights and candles illuminate the night, and fireworks brighten the dark sky. Families that have lost a member in the past year are showered with sweet treats by friends. Laylat is a popular time for performing acts of charity for the less fortunate. (Wikipedia has details.)

Shia Muslims also recall the birth date of Imam al Mahdi, the 12th Imam, on Mid-Shaban.

IN THE NEWS:
ISLAMIC REPRESENTATIVES
JOIN POPE FRANCIS IN PRAYER

In an unprecedented act, Pope Francis recently invited Islamic and Jewish representatives to pray with him at the Vatican, marking the first time that Islamic prayer would be held at the worldwide Catholic headquarters. (Read more in the Times of Israel and Reuters.) The gathering was held at a neutral, unadorned garden at the Vatican; the representatives read from their respective holy books ; then each recited a prayer for forgiveness and a prayer for peace.

Pope Francis said that he hopes that praying together can help the world “in some way.” The event was described by the Vatican an “invocation for peace,” and was broadcasted via the Vatican’s website.

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