‘Shab-e-Baraat’ is the night between the 14th and the 15th day of Sha’ban, the eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Also known as the ‘Laylatul-bara'ah’, a large number of Muslims consider the night to be blessed as Allah forgives those who seek His forgiveness and showers mercy upon those who seek it.
According to Hadeeth (recorded traditions or sayings of Prophet Muhammad), Shab-e-Baraat is also the night when Allah decides fortunes of human beings for the year ahead.
Although there is no direct mention of the night in the Holy Qur'an, the following verse is ascribed by some Islamic scholars to ‘Laylatul-bara'ah’ or ‘Shab-e-Baraat’:
"Indeed, we sent it down during a blessed night. Indeed, we were to warn [mankind]. On that night is made distinct every precise matter."
They also quote various Hadeeths to support their argument of ‘Shab-e-Baraat’ being the blessed night.
How is the Shab-e-Baraat celebrated
Muslims in the sub-continent and Central Asia offer nightlong special prayers at mosques to mark Shab-e-Barat. They also visit graveyards to offer ‘fateha’ or special prayers for the deceased and shower flower petals and light candles at the graves of their near and dear ones.
Islamic scholars urge people to spend the whole night in worship and prayer or select a considerable portion of the night, preferably the second half, for this purpose by reciting Quran, offering Salah prayers and performing dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah).
Shab-e-Baraat is also an occasion for vendors to set up their stalls of prayer caps, mats and Islamic books.