Holidays and Regular Observances

What are some of the other religious days Muslims observe?

On the 15th of Sha’ban many Muslims, especially in South Asia, observe the Night of Forgiveness (Laylat al-Bara’a, pronounced baRAA’ah). Popular belief says that the names of all persons are written on the leaves of a great cosmic tree. On the evening of the 14th, the tree shakes and loses some of its leaves. Those whose leaves fall are destined to die during the coming year. According to a Hadith, God comes down to the lowest Heaven that night and asks if anyone seeks forgiveness. That is the moment for all to wipe the slate clean, since no one knows whether his or her leaf has fallen. Celebrations of many holy persons, often centering around the individual’s tomb, vary according to region. In addition to birthday (mawlid) and death anniversary (’urs) celebrations, Muslims in various places observe seasonal times (mawsim) with festivities connected to agricultural or other natural cycles. One such celebration is that of Nabi Musa (Prophet Moses), observed around his alleged tomb-shrine near Jericho. Its timing coincides roughly with the Orthodox Christian Holy Week, featuring elaborate processions that begin in Jerusalem.


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