This year, the auspicious and holy Shab-e-Barat comes at a testing time not only in this country's history but perhaps in the history of mankind. That, if anything, only enhances the inner appeal and significance of the day. In an unreserved supplication to the Almighty, the devotees will seek divine blessings and guidance to navigate the troubled waters on to the shores of relative normalcy, calm and wellbeing. The looming threat of coronavirus demands a degree of health consciousness and abidance by do's and don'ts such as we have never been tasked before in order to contain the spread of the virus - the obligations that must be kept upper most in our list of priorities. A press release of the Islamic Foundation puts things in the perspective thus: In the interest of public health safety and based on the directives of the prime minister and instructions of the World Health Organisation for containment of coronovirus, the devotees are especially requested to perform their prayers with due dignity and fervour by staying in their respective homes rather than congregating in the mosque. In this context, the compulsion for seeking the Almighty's divine grace now is greater than at any other time.
When the prayer comes from the innermost soul, and hearts in every house beat in unison in prayers for personal and collective welfare and salvation, the size of a congregation which has had to be curtailed for the cause of humanity cannot be the measure of devotion to the day.
The night of Shab-e-Barat is also a night of enlightenment. Why is it so? Because the Muslims believe that the gracious Allah is most generous on this occasion to shower His kindness. Symbolically the well-to-do devotees share the good fortune they enjoy through distribution of roti and halwa (a kind of sweetmeat). This time sharing of the fortune is needed most as the poor, the toiling masses who live from hand to mouth and a section of people earning a modest income barely enough for their living are in distress now on account of home confinement. Shab-e-Barat has given the well-to-do and the privileged an opportunity to prove their duty to the distressed humanity and in doing so living up to the divine spirit of magnanimity.
Observed on the 15th day of month Shaban, Shab-e-Barat is believed to be marked for arranging affairs or destinies of every individual for the next year. In this most unusually trying time for almost one-third of the population on this planet, a new reality should unfold and a realisation dawn before all, particularly the devotees who will seek divine blessings on this night. Salvation of the human race is possible on the recognition of an inalienable bond between and among human beings and all living creatures Allah has created. Prayer for strengthening the bond is essential.
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