The Police and administration across the country are appealing to Muslims across the country to adhere to the nationwide lockdown enforced to combat the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic ahead of the Shab-e-Barat, an Islamic festival. Authorities are going the extra mile to remind Muslims that the lockdown is in force even during the festival. This year, it will be celebrated between the 8th and 9th of April.
The Delhi Police announced that “Meetings were held with the religious leaders/Imams to persuade people not to come out of their homes on Shab-e-Barat and observe this ocassion solemnly.” An appeal was made to people to not come out of their homes on the said occasion.
Meetings were held with the religious leaders/Imams to persuade people not to come out of their homes on Shab-e-Barat and observe this ocassion solemnly.@CPDelhi @LtGovDelhi @HMOIndia @DelhiPolice @IPS_Association pic.twitter.com/RGW9R2kt4R— DCP New Delhi (@DCPNewDelhi) April 7, 2020
Similarly, Srinagar District Magistrate Shahid Iqbal Choudhary on Tuesday barred all religious gatherings on the occasion of the upcoming Shab-e-Barat in view of the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic. Karnataka State Board of Auqaf has suspended the annual Shab-e-Barat as well. As per the directives, there will be no Islamic rituals in Qabriathans (graveyards) and dargas and the gates of all these places will remain closed.
Shab-e-Barat is an Islamic festival which is celebrated as a day of forgiveness or atonement. It is believed that on the night of the festival, Allah forgives sinners if they pray. It is observed on the intervening night between the 14th and 15th day of the eighth month of the Islamic calendar. On the day, Muslims gather in Mosques and visit the graves of their departed family and loved ones. Mosques and graveyards see large crowds on the occasion of this festival.
Shab-e-Barat is also widely known as Bara’a Night and Mid-Sha’ban. In the Arab world, it’s referred to as Laylat al-Bara’at. Muslims believe that on Shab-e-Barat, Allah writes their destinies for the next year, taking into account their past deeds. Thus, the night is spent begging for mercy for past sins. It is also a common practice to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the deceased. Some fast on the occasion while others offer food and gifts to their neighbours and the poor. Shab-e-Barat is also celebrated as the birthday of Muhammad al-Mahdi, the twelfth imam of Shia Muslims. Shia consider him to be the saviour of mankind. Shias burst firecrackers to celebrate his birthday.
Celebrations will have to be muted this year due to the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak. Significant sections of the Muslim community have demonstrated remarkable callousness towards the pandemic, as evidenced by the conduct of the Tablighi Jamaat and the statements by Muslims on TikTok, the video sharing app. The predominant sentiment appears to be that Allah will protect them from the virus or it is a conspiracy against Islam. Some have even dubbed it Allah’s NRC. Under such circumstances, it remains to be seen the extent to which Muslims adhere to the lockdown norms on the occasion of their festival.