Shab-e-Barat is an event that manages to give birth to a lot of debate. Some sects choose to ignore the significance that others associate with it. Some go to great lengths in order to celebrate it with great zeal. One thing, however, remains common: everyone starts asking for forgiveness like there’s no tomorrow.

For cellular service companies, Shab-e-Barat is perhaps a great day for revenue generation. By the number of messages that I am bombarded with each Shab-e-Barat, I can’t help but imagine the revenue that these companies generate each year this day. Everyone seems ever so busy texting everyone they know (and don’t know) to forgive them for anything that they may have done.

A certain unknown number continues to text me every single day. I get a ‘Go0D M0rNinG’ and a ‘Go0d NyT’ message from this particular person every morning and night. Of course, during the day, this person messages me countless times asking me to ‘frandship’ him. His messages are constant harassment that disturb me while working, eating and sleeping. On Shab-e-Barat, however, I wasn’t harassed. Instead, I got a message addressing me as ‘sister’, asking me for forgiveness. Little did I know that this only applied for a 24 hour timespan and that the next morning I’d start getting the usual messages again. The playboy who turns into a pious, religious man goes back to being a playboy right after Shab-e-Barat (Or a day after that if he plans on fasting in the morning too).

It may seem like this has nothing to do with Shab-e-Barat, but it does. Without realizing it, we’ve started mocking our own religious festivals. An apology on Shab-e-Barat is nothing but a formality; it’s something you just have to do since you relaize all of a sudden that you may not live to see another day, yet you go back to being your old self the very next day.

It’s funny how we believe that a year’s worth of hurting people and sinning can be erased in one night only for us to go back to doing everything back again the very next day. For all anyone cares, a murderer could ask for forgiveness on Shab-e-Barat and expect to be forgiven because of the holiness of the night.

The truth is, for many, religion is something you ‘practice’ every Friday (part time), every Eid (Full time), every Shab-e-Miraj, Shab-e-Barat and Shab-e-Qadr. An aura of artificial holiness is radiated on these ‘special’ days. Everyone sees beneath everyone’s holy mask, yet nobody says anything; deep down inside, they’re all the same.

There was a time when Shab-e-Barat used to be about candles and fireworks. I believe that’s just one privilege you can afford as a child. Once you grow up, Shab-e-Barat is all about forward messages, fake apologies and holiness drenched in hypocrisy.