The Sacred Months
Praise be to Allaah.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allaah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar). That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein”
These four sacred months were mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) during his farewell pilgrimage:
“O People! Time has gone back to how it was at the time Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. A year has twelve months, four of which are sacred, three consecutive, Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab.” (Bukhari)
As we look through the Qur’an and Sunnah (Prophetic tradition), we are taught to respect and honor what God and His Prophet ﷺ have honored. These sacred months are a time for us to reflect on our lives, exert ourselves in extra worship and ask Allah (swt) for His forgiveness.
These months are called sacred for two reasons:
1- Because fighting therein is forbidden unless initiated by the enemy
2- Because transgression of the sacred limits therein is worse than at other times.
Hence Allaah has forbidden us to commit sins during these months, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): “[…] so do not wrong yourselves during them (i.e., the sacred months) […]” (Qur’an, 9:36)
Al-Sa’di (may Allaah have mercy on him) said (p. 373):
In the phrase “wrong not yourselves therein”, the pronoun may be understood as referring to twelve months. Allaah states that He has made them a measure of time for His slaves, which they may use for worshipping Him, and thank Allaah for His blessings, and they serve the interests of His slaves, so beware of wronging yourselves therein.
The pronoun may also be understood as referring to the four sacred months, and this forbids them to wrong themselves in those months in particular, as well as it being forbidden to do wrong at all times, because it is more forbidden at this time, but it is worse at this time than at others.
He (swt) reminds us not once but twice to be careful of what we do during a sacred month:
Reflect on your Life and Deeds. Take some alone time and ask yourself the hard questions we normally don’t like to think about: If I died today, where would I stand with Allah? Have I prepared for Ramadan? Have I been conscious of what I am saying and doing to those around me? Am I stagnant in my worship?
Deprive your Nafs (lower self). I was with my brother one day and I mentioned that I was hungry and wanted to get something to eat. He told me: “Teach your nafs a lesson. We shouldn’t always give it what it wants.” This does not mean that we starve ourselves or do not take care of our bodies. One of the goals of Ramadan is to increase in our God-consciousness by not indulging ourselves with what our soul desires. Eat a simple meal for a few days instead of an expensive or huge meal. Wake up early and go for a walk. Pray extra prayers. Go to the mosque for fajr if you normally do not do so. Exert yourself and do something to “teach your nafs a lesson.”
With regard to fasting the month of Rajab, there is no saheeh hadeeth to indicate that there is any special virtue in fasting all or part of this month.
What some people do, singling out some days of Rajab for fasting, believing that they are better than others, has no basis in sharee’ah.
But there is a report from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) which indicates that it is mustahabb to fast during the sacred months (and Rajab is one of the sacred months). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Fast some days of the sacred months and not others.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2428; classed as da’eef by al-Albaani in Da’eef Abi Dawood.
Even if this hadeeth were saheeh, it indicates that it is mustahabb to fast during the sacred months. So if a person fasts during Rajab because of this, and he also fasts in the other sacred months, there is nothing wrong with that. But singling out Rajab for fasting is not right.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said inMajmoo’ al-Fataawa (25/290)
As for fasting in Rajab in particular, the ahaadeeth concerning that are all da’eef (weak), and in fact mawdoo’ (fabricated). The scholars do not rely on any of them. They are not among the da’eef ahaadeeth which have been narrated concerning virtues, rather most of them are fabricated and false. Inal-Musnad and elsewhere there is a hadeeth which says that the Prophet(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) enjoined fasting the sacred months, namely Rajab, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, but this has to do with fasting during all of them, not just Rajab.End quote.
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Every hadeeth which mentions fasting in Rajab and praying during some of its nights is false and fabricated.” End quote from al-Manaar al-Muneef, p. 96
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said in Tabyeen al-‘Ajab (p. 11)
There is no saheeh hadeeth that would count as evidence which speaks of the virtue of the month of Rajab, or that speaks of fasting this month or part of it, or of spending any particular night of it in prayer.
Shaykh Sayyid Saabiq (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Fiqh al-Sunnah (1/282):
Fasting in Rajab is no better than fasting in any other month, except that it is one of the sacred months. There is no report in the saheeh Sunnah to suggest that there is anything special about fasting in this month. Whatever has been narrated concerning that is not fit to be quoted as evidence. End quote.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about fasting on the twenty-seventh of Rajab and spending that night in prayer. He replied:
Fasting on the twenty-seventh of Rajab and spending that night in prayer is a bid’ah (innovation), and every bid’ah is a going astray. End quote.
Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 20/440.
Remember the Hereafter. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Hell complained to its Lord saying: O Lord! My parts are eating (destroying) one another. So Allah allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in the summer. The breath in the summer is at the time when you feel the severest heat and the breath in the winter is at the time when you feel the severest cold.” (Bukhari)
Charity. Most of us do some act of charity every day without realizing it. In this sacred month, be charitable with the intention of pleasing God. Being courteous, helping someone, feeding another, saying a good word, sharing a reminder and even abstaining from doing a bad deed are all non-monetary forms of charity taught to us by the Messenger.
Supplicate (make du`a’) to Allah. Ask for His forgiveness and guidance. Ask Allah (swt) to bless us to reach Ramadan and to make the month of Rajab, and the following month of Sha’ban, a means for us to prepare for Ramadan. It is reported that the Prophet of God used to supplicate when Rajab came, “O Allah! Bless us during Rajab and Sha’ban, and let us reach Ramadan.”
Take Care of Your Tree. Ibn Rajab used to say: “The year is like a tree. The days of Rajab are its foliation. The days of Sha’ban are its branching and the days of Ramadan are wherein its fruits are reaped. The reapers are the believers. It is befitting for the one who has blackened his pages with sins to whiten them with repentance in this month, and for the one who has squandered his life in idleness to profit in it from what remains of his life.”