The phrase shab e barat is Persian, used also in the South Asian Urdu and Bengali languages, meaning Mid-Shaban Forgiveness. It specifically refers to the night between the first and second halves of the eighth lunar month of Islam’s 12-month hijri calendar, Shaban.

It derives from the Arabic words bara’ah (freedom) and shab (people), from which the Islamic month ultimately takes its ancient name.

In Arabic, Mid-Shaban Night is variously called Laylat Al-Bara’ah (the Night of Freedom, meaning freeing the believer of sins) and Nisf Shaban, Mid-Shaban or Half Shaban.

Some Muslims believe that on this night, Allah — Majestic and Resplendent — descends to the nearest heaven and looks upon His creation. And from there, He forgives all His servants except idolaters, murderers, and/or those who hold rancor in their hearts toward others. Consequently, they mark the night with special devotions, including offering extra salah, ritual prayer in Islam.

Other Muslims dispute the claim that Mid-Shaban Night holds any singular virtues over any other night in the Islamic calendar — in each of which, as authentically established by Revelation, Allah does descend in the night to the lowest heaven, offering His servants forgiveness.