Shab-e-Barat : Not only fate or Divinity

The mosques in the country were overflowing with people on Sunday night as they prayed long into the night in huge number in keeping with the Islamic religious tradition and the expectation that the ones who truly made a plea for forgiveness of their sins and for good luck in their activities in the following year, may have their wishes Divinely approved. This night of significance in the Islamic calendar called Shab-e-Barat meaning the night when a person’s destiny is written for the year is every year an occasion of fervent religious observance in Bangladesh where some 90 per cent of its over 160 million people adhere to the faith of Islam.
There are things beyond the control of humans that affect their daily life. Birth, growth, death and all other phases of human existence are, no doubt, controlled and influenced by the concepts of fate or destiny and the same are then understood to be in line with the wishes of the Almighty Creator. Incidents that profoundly affect the lives of individuals and nations are believed to be the works of the All Poweful; the same is described as ‘fate’ or predetermined events or developments that may determine considerably the present and future of individuals and states. Thus, orthodox religious thinking stresses the significance of the powerlessness of humans in the scheme of Divinity.
But the Holy Koran also emphasised that humans are also responsible in large measure for the shaping of their lives whether they would be successful or not, what they would accomplish for themselves and their families and the country. A verse in the Holy Koran underlines that a people cannot be assured of Allah’s help notwithstanding that they are believers in Islam. They must toil hard to change their life for the better and, in that case only, they may hope to be blessed also by Divine assistance in their efforts.
The scientific outlook is that nothing happens without some form of initiative. This scientific outlook is also an integral part of Islam though some traditional Islamists are prone to overemphasizing the inevitability or supremacy of a predetermined destiny. But the reality is that just like the individual person, a community or nation will collectively transform their material existence for the better only if they are spirited enough and not pathetically resigned to a concept of fate over which they have seemingly no control. Clearly, such a mentality of humans shaping their own fate and destiny by dint of their enterprising abilities is fully consistent with the relevant Koranic verses.
Shab-e-Barat is an occasion for Bangladeshis to remind them about the inalienable duty to turn to Almighty Allah most humbly and seek His forgiveness for their lapses and His assistance for all their strivings. But the same also need to be backed up by hard work and good planning at the individual and the national level from the realization that a better future is an outcome that depends so much on their own endeavours.


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