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Pixar’s Coco and Shab-e-Barat

Shab-e-Barat occurs on the night of 14th Shabaan. It is celebrated by Muslims around the world differently, however most agree on the importance of prayer throughout the night.

So let me explain my relationship to Shab-e-barat (in a Pakistani culture).

Growing up Shab-e-Barat (Night of 14th Shabaan) meant my mom would pull out a long list of our ancestors who had passed away. She would stay up all night praying, but the part that I saw before bedtime was the part that involved this precious list.

Then they would read Fatiha for the whole list, ticking each one as they went along. As a child I never truly understood the meaning of Shab-e-barat and it’s significance. I knew that the Prophet had marked this night as a pious night of worship and that it was recommended that we visit our loved ones graves and pray for them.

But honestly, the list was sooo long, did my parents even know all the people whose names they were struggling to even remember?? What really is the point?

Then my daadi (paternal grandmother) passed away unexpectedly, right before Shab-e-Barat. As I stayed up at night praying for myself and praying for those who had passed away. I suddenly understood.

Having just a little bit of time dedicated to remembering her, I almost felt connected to her again, memories came rushing back to me. And I prayed to Allah..”Oh Allah…never let me forget…”

Fast forward to a rare date my husband and I had to see Pixar’s Coco.

For those who don’t know, Coco is the latest Disney Pixar’s movie centered around the Mexican tradition of  “Dios De Los Muertos” (The Day of the Dead). According to the tradition, it’s a day to remember your ancestors, to be with their spirits and to help them on their spiritual journey.

In the movie, (don’t worry no spoilers here) there is a kid who, like every kid in any culture, thinks of it as a stupid tradition. As a result he gets sucked into the world of the dead and is able to see the tradition from a completely different perspective.

Though Dios De Los Muertos is NOT the same as Shab-e-Barat, they do have similarities. They have enough similarities to start the conversation with our young children. The idea of the dead and the after life is difficult. Wouldn’t it be great to share this movie with our children and compare traditions and explain how we celebrate our loved ones, and what the after life holds for our children?

3 thoughts on “Pixar’s Coco and Shab-e-Barat

  1. Assalamu aleikum. I like your take on it. I honestly thought the animation was based on Halloween and I avoid that holiday to the best I can ;). That said, I loved watching Coco because it was emotional and inadvertently it reminded me of the place where all non-Muslims souls go after this life. Got to entertain yourself with new material every now and then ya know. Anyway…
    In my culture, Layla-tul Bayrat is also observed but like you say there are many disagreements about the auspiciousness of the day.
    In my opinion and for someone who favors the Hijri calendar over the Gregorian one, I feel like all the Muslim events on the calendar weren’t meant for us to think there are Eid. There were meant to be reference points in time and history.
    My main issue with the Gregorian calendar is that all the hallmark events on it are basically arbitrary, of pagan origin, etc. etc. At the end of the day, it comes down to my faith principles I don’t want to trample over even if it seems innocent. Yes, I use the Gregorian calendar to make my plans but it doesn’t mean I prefer it.
    Now, if we’re going to refer only to Eid as ‘ONLY’ important moments to note in a Muslim’s daily life, we cause ourselves a huge void for the rest of the year. But it’s fine to agree an disagree. It’s a free world, lol! Nice post.

    1. Waleikum Asalam! I’m so glad you liked the post. The way I look at these special night is not as Eid, but time for us to reflect and reevaluate. Almost like reminders to refocus on Allah

      1. Exactly, reflect and reevaluate.

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