The Month of Greatness and Honor – The Significance of the Month of Rajab
Mufti Waliullah Majid Qasmi, Anwar Al-Uloom, Fathpur Tal Narja, District Mau
Allah Almighty is the Creator and Owner of the entire universe. Days and months are also created by Him. Thus, inherently, no day or month possesses any virtue. If the Lord of the Universe has deemed a particular day or month as superior, it does not inherently ascribe any specific virtue to a particular act of worship, unless it is specified through Divine revelation that a particular act of worship in it has a specific reward. Humans cannot determine the reward for an act of worship based on their desires and thoughts.
The books and traditions (Kitab wa Sunnat) have designated the months of Muharram, Rajab, Dhu al-Qi’dah, and Dhu al-Hijjah as months of reverence and respect. In these months, warfare and plunder are prohibited, and the rewards for worship and the sins for disobedience increase. As Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbas states: Allah Almighty has specially honored four months and increased the respect and sanctity of these months. In these, the punishment for sins and the reward for good deeds are greatly amplified (Lataif al-Maarif, p. 225).
Among the months of greatness and honor, the second month is Rajab, which means to honor. It is also called Rajab Mudar, as the tribe of Mudar especially revered this month more than others. Hence, it came to be associated with them as Rajab Mudar (Lisan al-Arab, Vol. 1, p. 411).
Regarding the revered months, the Quran states:
“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them.” (Surah At-Tawbah: 36)
This indicates that in these sacred months, one should particularly avoid sins as the severity of disobedience increases (Asir al-Tafasir, Vol. 2, p. 74). Imam Jassas Razi wrote that these blessed months are such that whoever worships in them, it becomes easy for them to worship in the remaining months. Similarly, whoever refrains from sins in these months, it becomes easier to abstain from evil in other months. Thus, not benefiting from these months is a great loss (Maarif al-Quran, Vol. 4, p. 373).
The three consecutive sacred months were difficult for the Arabs to abstain from warfare and plunder for so long. Hence, they used to adjust the months of Muharram and Safar. This kept the number of months the same, but violated the sanctity designated by Allah. The Quran states: “Postponing [of a sacred month] is only an excess in disbelief by which those who have disbelieved are led [further] astray. They allow it one year and forbid it [another] year to correspond to the number that Allah has made sacred, thereby making lawful what Allah has forbidden.” (37)
Since the lunar months rotate through different seasons, Hajj would sometimes fall in an unfavorable season for trade. Therefore, they devised the intercalary system to ensure Hajj always falls in a moderate season. This resulted in Hajj not being performed on its actual date for 33 years, occurring correctly only in the 34th year. Hajj was performed on its correct date in 9 Hijri and remained on schedule in 10 Hijri due to the conquest of Mecca, preventing further adjustments. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated this reality: “Time has completed its cycle and is as it was on the day when Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred: three consecutive ones – Dhu al-Qa’dah, Dhu al-Hijjah, and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which falls between Jumada and Sha’ban.” (Sahih Bukhari: 3197, Sahih Muslim: 1679)
Before Islam, animals were slaughtered in the month of Rajab, a practice known as ‘Atirah’. Is this practice still valid? There is a difference of opinion among scholars. Most believe this practice has been abolished. As narrated by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “There is no Fara’ and no ‘Atirah.” (Sahih Bukhari 5474, Sahih Muslim 1976), indicating the practice holds no significance. Conversely, some argue that these practices are still commendable, prohibited only if done in the name of anyone other than Allah, as was the case with the polytheists of Arabia, or that it’s the obligation that has been negated. This view is also held by the famous Taba’i Muhammad bin Sirin and is one interpretation attributed to Imam Shafi’i and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (see Lataif al-Maarif, p. 231, Fath al-Bari). The arguments for this view are as follows:
- Narrated by Makhnaf bin Suleiman: “We were with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in the plains of Arafat when he said, ‘O people, every family must offer a sacrifice and an ‘Atirah annually. Do you know what ‘Atirah is? It is what people call Rajabiyyah.’ (Abu Dawood: 2788, Tirmidhi 1518, Ibn Majah 3125 – Sahih)
- Narrated by Nabishah: “A man asked the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) about the practice of slaughtering animals in Jahiliyyah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Slaughter for Allah in any month, obey Allah the Almighty and feed others.’ (Abu Dawood 2830, Nasai 4228, Ibn Majah 3167 – Sahih)
- Narrated through the chain of Umar bin Shu’aib: “People asked, ‘What do you say about ‘Atirah, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, ‘The ‘Atirah is a truth, the ‘Atirah is a truth.’ (Nasai 4225-Hasan)”
- Hazrat Abu Ruzayn reports that he asked the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about the practice during the pre-Islamic period of slaughtering animals in Rajab for consumption and for feeding guests. The Prophet replied, “There is no harm in it, no problem.” (Nasai 4233)
Upon examining all the hadiths related to this subject, it appears that the command to shed blood in Rajab as a special act of worship, like the Eid al-Adha, no longer remains. The phrase “لا فرع ولا عتيره” )no) Fara and no ‘Atirah( indicates its abolishment. However, slaughtering animals and distributing their meat to the needy remains a meritorious act, not specific to Rajab, but permissible in any month. The reward for bloodshed as a special act of worship is confined to sacrifices and ‘Aqiqah..
In the pre-Islamic era, Rajab was celebrated like Eid, and animals were slaughtered on that day, a practice refuted in the hadith. Hazrat Hasan Basri says that ‘Atirah is not part of Islam; it was a practice of the pre-Islamic era where people used to fast in Rajab and then slaughter animals (Musnad Ali bin Al-Ja’d 3237). Hazrat Abdullah bin Abbas considered celebrating Rajab as Eid reprehensible. The renowned Taba’i Hazrat Ata’ said the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited fasting throughout Rajab to prevent it from being considered Eid, and Hazrat Tawus advised against making any month or day into an Eid (Musannaf Abdur Razzaq 7853, 7854, 7855).
Allama Ibn Rajab Hanbali, after narrating these reports, writes that it is not permissible for Muslims to make any day into an Eid of their own accord. Shariah has designated only Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, the days of Tashriq, and Friday as Eid; Friday is the weekly Eid, and the rest are annual. Any other day declared as Eid is an innovation without any basis in Shariah (Lataif al-Ma’arif/232).
Hazrat Anas bin Malik reported that when Rajab arrived, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray: “O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha’ban and let us reach Ramadan.” Though this hadith is weak, its numerous chains of transmission lend it some strength. In matters of virtue, even weak hadiths can be referenced (see Tadhkirat al- Mawdu’at by Muhammad Tahir al-Fatni/117, Al-Fath al-Rabbani by Al-Sa’ati, Vol. 9/p.23). Ibn Rajab writes that this hadith indicates that it is commendable to pray for life until a virtuous time to perform good deeds (Lataif al-Ma’arif 238).
No specific prayer in Rajab is established by hadith. The practice of a special prayer on the first Friday of Rajab, known as Salat al-Raghaib, mentioned in some books, is entirely fabricated and false. Ibn Rajab states that this prayer and its related narrations emerged after the fourth century Hijri, unknown to the early generations, who thus did not discuss it (Lataif al-Ma’arif 233).
Imam Nawawi labels this fabricated prayer as reprehensible, disliked, and void, warning not to be deceived by its mention in “Qut al-Qulub” and “Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din” (Al-Ittihaf, Vol. 3, p. 703). Similarly, there is no authentic hadith. regarding fasting in Rajab. Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) used to discourage fasting in Rajab, fearing it might be regarded as a Sunnah practice (Lataif al-Ma’arif 234).
Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani states that there is no authentic and reliable hadith about the virtues of the month of Rajab, fasting in it, fasting on a specific day in it, or the virtues of a specific night in it (Tabayyin al-‘Ajab, p. 11). The narrations regarding fasting on the 27th of Rajab being equivalent to the reward of a thousand fasts are fabricated and false. Similarly, celebrating the night of the 27th of Rajab as the night of Isra and Mi’raj and performing special prayers and acts of worship is incorrect and an innovation. There is no authentic narration confirming the specific night of Isra and Mi’raj, with differing opinions suggesting various months including Rabi’ al-Awwal, Rabi’ al-Thani,
Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhu al-Hijjah, and Rajab. Since no specific night is established by authentic narrations, designating a particular month for its observance is not appropriate.
Furthermore, there is no evidence from the Quran or Sunnah about any special virtue of the night of Mi’raj or any specific worship to be performed during it. Allama Ibn Qayyim writes that neither the companions nor the early generations regarded the night of Mi’raj as superior to other nights, including Laylat al-Qadr, nor did they perform any special worship on this night. It is also unknown which exact night it was. Although the night of Mi’raj holds a significant place among the Prophet’s noble virtues, no specific worship has been prescribed for this night or place (Bayt al-Maqdis, where Mi’raj occurred), similar to the Cave of Hira, where the first revelation was received but was not designated for specific worship after Prophethood (Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. 1, p. 144).
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his dedicated companions are our examples in worship and good deeds, eagerly pursuing virtuous acts as we pursue worldly gains. The event of Mi’raj occurred in the fifth year after Prophethood, meaning it recurred 18 times during the Prophet’s life, yet there is no evidence, even from weak or fabricated hadiths, suggesting the Prophet commemorated this night. Furthermore, the companions lived for nearly a century after the Prophet’s passing, but there is no report of them giving any special significance to this night. Anything not established by the Quran, Sunnah, or the companions is an innovation, as stated by Allama Ibn Kathir: “As for the people of Sunnah and Jama’ah, they say any act or saying not proven from the companions is an innovation because if it were good, they would have preceded us to it. They did not leave any aspect of good without hastening to it” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah Al-Ahqaf).
The practice of making “Koondas” on the 22nd of Rajab, also referred to as Hazrat Jafar Sadiq’s Fatihah, and the associated stories are fabrications. Hazrat Jafar Sadiq’s noble character is free from such falsehoods. Neither his birth nor death occurred on the 22nd of Rajab; his birth was in Ramadan, year 83 Hijri, and death in Shawwal, year 148 Hijri. The practice of distributing sweets on this day originated with the Shi’as, as it coincides with the death anniversary of Hazrat Muawiyah (may Allah be pleased with him), towards whom they harbor animosity. To promote this practice among Sunnis, a story was fabricated in the name of Hazrat Jafar Sadiq.
In conclusion, the month of Rajab is among the sacred and honorable months, and it holds a special status. Therefore, one should especially avoid sins and be diligent in worship during this month. However, there is no specific supererogatory prayer or fasting proven to be part of Rajab. Any practice or belief not established in the Quran, Sunnah, or by the companions is considered an innovation. It is essential to follow the teachings and examples set by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions, who were eager in pursuing acts of righteousness and guiding others towards good. They are our models in worship and devotion, and we should aspire to emulate their commitment to virtue and piety.
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