Muslims across Turkey will observe the night of Barat (Laylat al-Barat), Islam’s night of forgiveness and salvation, in their homes with heavy hearts this year, instead of congregating together in mosques due to the coronavirus. However, despite all the hardships posed by the public health threat, thousands seem to hang on to their faith, praying for the good of all humanity.
Laylat al-Barat is the night of the 15th day of Shaban (also called Mid-Shaban) in the Islamic lunar (Hijri) calendar.
Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs, issued a message marking the occasion.
In his message, Erbaş prayed for all humanity to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. "Let's follow all the measures announced by the authorities. Let us all continue to strive with hope, devotion and determination to eliminate this nuisance."
Underlining that Barat is considered auspicious in the Islamic tradition, Erbaş urged everyone to consider this holy night an opportunity to "beg forgiveness with the determination and consciousness of not repeating the same mistakes, by repenting to all mistakes we have done knowingly or unknowingly, and the sins we have committed, with sincere regret."
He also called on everyone to join a common prayer, set to be broadcast on state-run TRT 1 and Diyanet TV channels on Tuesday night, after Isha'a or the night-time prayer, for those risking their lives on the frontlines, notably health care personnel, fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The night of Barat is one of the five holy nights in Islam. Although these nights aren’t marked by public holidays in Turkey, the minarets of mosques across the country are illuminated and special prayers are recited for the occasion. These nights are usually known as “kandil geceleri” in Turkish because Muslims used to light oil lamps called “kandils” in mosques on these days. And although most people weren’t out on the streets this year, waiting in line in front of bakeries and pastry shops for the traditional kandil bagels, due to the coronavirus pandemic, some households baked their own.