The Night of Absolution

Lailat al-Bara`a part 2

The following account, which I also received from Abu Nasr, tells how `Aisha (may Allah be well pleased with her) related that Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said to her:

"O `Aisha, what night is this?" She replied, "Allah and His Messenger know best." Then he said: "The night of the middle of Sha`ban, during which worldly actions and the deeds of mankind are carried aloft. As numerous as the wool on the flocks of the tribe of Kalb, are Allah's slaves emancipated this night from the Fire of Hell. So will you excuse me tonight?"

She said: "I said yes, so he performed his prayer like this: He held the upright position only briefly, and recited al-Hamd and a short Sura; then he stayed in prostration till the middle of the night; then he stood up to begin the second cycle with a recitation similar to the first, and then his prostration lasted until dawn."

`Aisha (may Allah be well pleased with her) went on to say: "I watched him till I thought that Allah (Exalted is He) had taken His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), then, after a long time had elapsed, I got close enough to touch the soles of his feet. He stirred, and I heard him say in his prostration: 'I take refuge with Your pardon from Your punishment. I take refuge with Your approval from Your displeasure. I take refuge with You from You. Glorious be Your praise! I do not spell out praises upon You, for You are as You have extolled Yourself.'

"I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, tonight I have heard you utter something, during your prostration, that I never heard you mention before?' 'And have you learned it?' he asked (Allah bless him and give him peace). When I said yes, he (Allah bless him and give him peace) told me: 'Study those words and teach them, for Gabriel (peace be upon him) instructed me to repeat them during the prostration.'"

According to another report, of which Abu Nasr informed me, `Aisha (may Allah be well pleased with her) once said:

"I could not find Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) one night, so I went outside and there he was in the grove, his head turned up toward the sky. Then he said to me: 'Were you afraid that Allah and His Messenger would treat you unfairly?' I replied:

'O Messenger of Allah, I thought you had gone to one of your [other] wives.' He said (Allah bless him and give him peace): 'On the night of mid-Sha`ban, Allah (Exalted is He) descends to the lowest heaven and forgives more than the number of woolly hairs on the flocks and herds of [the tribe of] Kalb.'"

`Ikrima (may Allah bestow his mercy upon him), the client of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be well pleased with him and with his father), is reported as having said, about the words of Allah (Exalted is He):

"[A night] in which every firm decree is made distinct." (44:4)

"That is the night of mid-Sha`ban, when Allah (Exalted is He) arranges the affairs of the year. He transfers [some of] the living to the list of the dead, and records those who will make pilgrimage to the House of Allah, neither adding one too many nor leaving a single one of them out."

Hakim ibn Kaysan said: "Allah (Exalted is He) surveys His creatures on the night of mid-Sha`ban, and when He purifies someone then, He keeps that person clean until the next such night comes around."

According to `Ataaibn Yasar: "The activity of the year is mapped out on the night of mid-Sha`ban, so a man may embark on a journey, or get married, when he has already been transferred from the list of the living to that of the dead."

Abu Nasr informed me that `Aisha (may Allah be well pleased with her) once said: "I heard the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) say:

Allah showers down benefits on four nights: the Night of Sacrifice; the Night of Breakfast; the Night of mid-Sha`ban, when Allah records times of death and allots provisions, and lists the pilgrims; and the Night of `Arafa till the call to prayer."

According to Sa`id, it was Ibrahim ibn Abi Najih who said:

"[The number of those nights is] five, including the Night of Friday Congregation."

Abu Huraira (may Allah be well pleased with him) reported the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) as saying:

Gabriel (peace be upon him) came to me on the night of mid-Sha`ban and said to me: "O Muhammad, raise your head heavenwards!" I asked him: "What night is this?" and he replied: "This is the night when Allah (Glorified is He) opens three hundred of the gates of mercy, forgiving all who do not make anything His partner. The only exceptions are those who practice sorcery or divination, are addicted to wine, or persist in usury and illicit sex; these He does not forgive until they repent."

At a quarter of the night, Gabriel (peace be upon him) came down and said: "O Muhammad, raise your head!" So I looked up, to behold the gates of Paradise wide open. At the first gate an angel was calling: "Good news for those who bow in worship this night!" At the second gate an angel was calling: "Good news for those who prostrate themselves in worship this night!" At the third gate an angel was calling: "Good news for those who offer supplication this night!" At the fourth gate an angel was calling: "Good news for those who make remembrance this night!" At the fifth gate an angel was calling: "Good news for those who weep this night from fear of Allah!" At the sixth gate an angel was calling: "Good news for those who submit this night!" At the seventh gate an angel was calling: "Will anyone ask, that his request may be granted?" At the eighth gate an angel was calling: "Will anyone seek forgiveness, that he may be forgiven?"

I said: "O Gabriel, how long will these gates remain open?" He replied: "From the beginning of the night until the break of dawn." Then he said: "O Muhammad, tonight Allah has as many slaves emancipated from the Fire as the number of woolly hairs on the flocks and herds of Kalb."

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