There are several difference of opinions in recent times regarding the importance of Shab-e-Baraat (Laylatul Bara'ah) causing confusion in some people on what is to be done on this night. Some are of the opinion that no importance should be given to this night. Though certain practices like glorification, illumination and giving sermons on the night can be avoided, praying to Allah in solutitude and seeking forgiveness and praying for a fulfulling life now and the hereafter cannot be wrong. We know the importance of Tahajjud prayers and also the traditions that Allah hears his creations in the later portions of the night. Also there are Hadeeths which point to the fact that the list of people who will die in the coming year is made by the Almighty and forgiveness is given to the people who seek it from him on the special night.
Check the reference from 'Ibne Majaa' highlighting the importance of the Shab-e-Baraat :
I came across a good article by Dr Mufti Taqi Usmani on http://www.albalagh.net/general/shaban.shtml, which highlights the merits of the month of Shabaan and Shab-e-Baraat and also asks us to refrain from the wrong practices of the night.
Sharing the excerpts of the article with all. Inshallah, this article will be of help to many and help us to take advantage of the benefits of the month of Shabaan and also the special night which comes between 14th and 15th of Shabaan.
Importance of Fasting in Shabaan
The blessed companion Anas, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was asked, "Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?" He replied, "Fasts of Shaban in honor of Ramadan."
Ummul Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast the whole of Sha'ban. I said to him, 'Messenger of Allah, is Sha'ban your most favorite month for fasting?' He said, 'In this month Allah prescribes the list of the persons dying this year. Therefore, I like that my death comes when I am in a state of fasting."
These reports indicate that fasting in the month of Sha'ban, though not obligatory, is so meritorious that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, did not like to miss it.
But it should be kept in mind that the fasts of Sha'ban are for those persons only who are capable of keeping them without causing deficiency in the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. The fasts of Ramadan, being obligatory, are more important than the optional fasts of Sha'ban. That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself has forbidden the Muslims from fasting one or two days immediately before the commencement of Ramadan. The blessed Companion Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, "Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha'ban is gone."
The Night of Bara'ah
Another significant feature of the month of Sha'ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as "Laylatul-bara'ah" (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha'ban. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy.
2. In another Tradition Sayyidah' Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has reported that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, "Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha'ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibers on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb."
In order to observe the Night of Bara'ah, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he should spend the whole night in worship and prayer. However, if one cannot do so for one reason or another, he can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably of the second half of it for this purpose, and should perform the following acts of worship:
d) Dua - The best benefit one can draw from the blessings of this night is prayers and supplications. It is hoped that all the prayers in this night will be accepted by our Lord, insha-Allah. Prayer itself is an 'Ibadah, and Allah Almighty gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator's need.
e) Those who are unable to perform long prayers or do Tilawat, for reasons like illness, sickness or being engaged in other activities. They should at least try to do the following :
(ii) They should keep reciting the dhikr (and/or darood shareef), in whatever condition they are until they sleep.
(iii) They should pray to Allah for their forgiveness and for their other objectives. One can do so even when he is in his bed
1) In this night some people indulge in some activities which they regard as necessary for the celebration of the Night of Bara'ah, like cooking some special type of meal, or illuminating houses or mosques, or improvised structures. All such activities are not only baseless and innovated in the later days by ignorant people.
2) Some people spend this night in holding religious meetings and delivering long speeches. Such activities are also not advisable, because these acts can easily be performed in other nights. This night requires one to devote himself for the pure acts of worship only.