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Birth of Imam al-Zaman, Festival of the 15th of Sha’ban


The eighth month of Hijri year, Sha’ban, is very important for the Muslims. The birthday of Imam al-Mahdi or Imam al-Zaman, the twelfth Imam of the Shia Muslims, son of Imam Hasan al-Askari, is one of the most important incidents that happened on this month, and it is unbelievably rooted in the beliefs of the Muslims. There are many narratives and Hadith by Muhammad the prophet and Imams that describe the personality of this great Imam. The belief in birth, live, long occultation, reappearance, and leadership is a fundamental principle of the Shia world that plays a major role in its life and choices. The festival of the 15th of Sha’ban, is one of the greatest festivals of the Muslim world and is the annual celebration of his birthday that took place in 255 AH, when he was born in Samarra, now Iraq. It is mostly held in the Shia regions. It is one of the official holidays of the Iranian calendar and is called the International Day of the oppressed.

The night of the 15th of Sha’ban, also known as the Night of Barat, Kandili Barat, Laylat-ol-Selk, is the second most important night, next to Laylat al-Qadr. It is considered as one of the best opportunities to stay up all night, say prayers such as Komeil, and perform other religious acts. Some of the most important Sunni factions and some of the Sufi also believe his reappearance and the value of this night. The Sunni call it as Barat Night.

Celebrating the 15th of Sha’ban is not limited to Iran. Other countries like Iraq, where the Muslims gather in Karbala, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Tunis, and Morocco, where the Shia form a minority of their population, hold grand celebrations. But the Iranians hold more elaborated festivities. They gather in the Jamkaran Mosque, located six kilometers of the city of Qom to Kashan. They install lights all over the streets, hold celebrations in different places, give sweets and juices, feed the poor, visit their loved ones, etc.

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