The Night of Absolution
Lailat al-Bara`a

On why the Night of Absolution [Lailat al-Bara`a] is so called:

Some say it is called the Night of Absolution [Lailat al-Bara`a] because it contains two absolutions: an absolution for wretched sinners from the All-Merciful, and an absolution from disappointment for the Friends [of Allah].

Allah's Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said:

When the night of mid-Sha`ban arrives, Allah makes careful scrutiny of His creatures, then He forgives the true believers, gives respite to the unbelievers, and leaves the resentful to their resentment until they call for Him.

It is said that the angels have two Nights of Festival in heaven, just as the Muslims have two Days of Festival on earth. The angels celebrate the Night of Absolution and the Night of Power, while the Muslims celebrate the Day of Breakfast and the Day of Sacrifice. The angels have their festivals at night, because they never sleep, while the believers have theirs by day because they do sleep.

Concerning the wisdom in the decision of Allah (Exalted is He) to make known [the date of] the Night of Absolution, while concealing [that of] the Night of Power, it has been said to lie in the fact that the Night of Power is the night of mercy and forgiveness and emancipation from the fires of Hell, which Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) has kept hidden so that there can be no discussion about it. He has made known the Night of Absolution, however, because it is the night of regulation and decree, the night of displeasure and approval, the night of acceptance and rejection, of attainment and obstruction, the night of bliss and woe, of grace and cleansing.

Thus one is favored while another is put off; one is requited while another is abased; one is treated generously while another is deprived; one is rewarded while another is shunned. Many a shroud is washed, while its owner is still busy in the bazaar. Many a grave is dug, while its owner is deluded with pleasure. Many a mouth is laughing, though it will soon be perishing. Many a house is under construction for an owner close to destruction. Many a servant expects a reward, while punishment awaits him. Many a servant hopes for good news, while disappointment lies in store. Many a servant looks forward to Paradise, while the fires of Hell are ready for him. Many a servant hopes for union, while separation lies ahead. Many a servant hopes for a gift, while agony awaits him. Many a servant is expecting wealth, while death is expecting him.

It is said of al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) that he came out of his house on the day of mid-Sha`ban, looking as if he had been buried in the grave and then disinterred. When asked about this, he said: "By Allah, what is the plight of a shipwrecked sailor, when compared to my own?" "Why is that?" "Because I am certain of my sins, but I tremble over my good deeds, for I know not whether they will be accepted of me or rejected."

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