Praise be to Allaah, Who says which means: “And your Lord creates whatsoever He wills and chooses” (Al-Qasas: 68). The attribute of choosing or selecting is indicative of His Lordship and Oneness, and of the perfection of His Wisdom, Knowledge and Power.
One aspect of His doing this is the fact that He has chosen some days and months and given them preference over others. Among the months, Allaah has chosen four which He has made sacred, as He says, which means: “Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allaah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…” (At-Tawbah: 36). These months are calculated according to the movements of the moon, not the movements of the sun, as done by the kuffaar.
The Sacred Months are mentioned by implication in the Qur’aan, but their names are not given. Their names are mentioned in the Sunnah, though. It was reported from Abu Bakrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam gave his Farewell Sermon and said: “Time has completed its cycle and is as it was on the Day when Allaah created the heavens and the earth. The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred, three consecutive months – Dhoo’l-Qa’dah, Dhoo’l-Hijjah and Muharram – and the Rajab of Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
It was called Rajab of Mudar because (the tribe of) Mudar did not tamper with its timing, unlike the rest of the Arabs, who used to change their order depending on whether they were in a state of war or not. This was the postponing referred to in the verse, which means:
“The postponing (of a Sacred Month) is indeed an addition to disbelief: thereby the disbelievers are led astray, for they make it lawful one year and forbid it another year in order to adjust the number of months forbidden by Allaah, and make such forbidden ones lawful.” (At-Tawbah: 37)
It was also said that the reason why it was attributed to Mudar was because they venerated it and respected it so much.
The reason why it is so called:
Ibn Faaris said, ‘The letters Ra’, jeem and ba’ form a root which indicates supporting and strengthening something with another thing. Hence the phrase “Rajabtu’l-shay’” means I venerated it. It was called Rajab because they used to venerate it, and it is also established in Sharee’ah’.
The people of the Jaahiliyyah used to call Rajab Munssil al-Asinnah (the one that causes the sharp heads of weapons to be taken off), as it was reported that Abu Rajaa’ al-‘Ataaridi said: ‘We would worship a rock, then if we found a better rock we would throw the first one aside and take up the other. If we could not find a rock, we would make a pile of dirt, then we would bring a ewe and milk it over the pile of dirt, then we would do tawaaf around it. When the month of Rajab came, we would say Munassil al-Asinnah (the one that causes the sharp heads of weapons to be taken off), and we would not leave any spear or arrow that had an iron piece in it but we would take the metal head off and put it aside during the month of Rajab. (Bukhaari).
Al-Bayhaqi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: ‘the people of the jaahiliyyah used to revere these sacred months, especially the month of Rajab, and they would not fight during this month’.
Rajab is a sacred month
The Sacred months have a special status, which applies also to Rajab. Allaah says, which means:“O you who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of Allaah, nor of the Sacred Month…” (Al-Maa’idah: 2).
This means: do not violate their sanctity which Allaah has commanded you to respect and forbidden you to violate, for this prohibition includes both vile deeds and beliefs.
Allaah says which means: “so wrong not yourselves therein…” (At-Tawbah: 36), meaning, in the Sacred Months. The pronoun here (translated here as “therein”) refers to these four sacred months, as stated by the Imaam of the Mufassireen, Ibn Jareer al-Tabari, may Allaah have mercy on him.
So we should pay attention to the sanctity of these four months, because Allaah has singled them out for a special status and has forbidden us to commit sins out of respect for their holiness. Sins committed at this time are even worse, because Allaah has made this time sacred. Hence in the verse quoted above, Allaah has specified this time and forbidden us to wrong ourselves – which includes committing sins – even though this is forbidden during all the months of the year.
Fighting during the sacred months
Allaah says, which means: “They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months. Say: fighting therein is a great (transgression)…” (Al-Baqarah: 217).
The majority of scholars state that (the prohibition of) fighting in the sacred months is abrogated by the verse, which means: “Then when the sacred months have passed, then kill the Mushrikeen wherever you find them…” (At-Tawbah: 5), and other verses and reports, which are general in application and which include commands to fight the disbelievers.
Others say: it is not permissible to initiate fighting during the sacred months, but it is permissible to continue and conclude fighting, if it started at a different time. The fighting of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam against the people of Taa’if is interpreted in this way, because the fighting had begun at Hunayn in Shawwaal.
The above does not apply to fighting in self-defense. If the enemy attacks the Muslim lands, it is obligatory for the inhabitants to defend themselves, whether it happens during a sacred month or not.
Al-‘Ateerah (a kind of sacrifice)
During the Jaahiliyyah, the Arabs used to slaughter a sacrifice during Rajab as an act of worship towards their idols. When Islam came teaching that sacrifices were to be offered only to Allaah, this deed of the Jaahiliyyah was abolished. The fuqaha’ differed as to the rulings on offering sacrifices during Rajab. The majority of Hanafis, Maalikis and Hanbalis stated that the sacrifice of Al-‘Ateerah was abrogated. Their evidence was the hadeeth narrated Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam, said, “There is no Fir’ and no ‘Ateerah”,(Bukhaari & Muslim)
The Shaafa’is said that al-‘Ateerah had not been abrogated, and they regarded it as mustahabb (recommended). This was also the view of Ibn Seereen.
Ibn Hajar said: ‘this is supported by the hadeeth narrated by Nubayshah, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: ‘A man called out to the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam saying: We used to offer the sacrifice of al-‘Ateerah during the Jaahiliyyah in the month of Rajab. What do you command us to do?’ He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said, “Offer sacrifices, no matter which month is it…” (Abu Daawood, Nisaa’i and others)
Ibn Hajar said: ‘the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam did not abolish it in principle, but he abolished the idea of making this sacrifice especially in Rajab’.
Fasting in Rajab
There is no authentic report from the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam or from the Sahaabah to indicate that there is any particular virtue in fasting during Rajab. The fasting that is prescribed in Rajab is the same as that prescribed in other months, namely fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, and the three days of al-Beedh (the mid three days of the lunar month), fasting alternate days, and fasting Sirar al-Shahr. Some of the scholars said that Sirar al-Shahr refers to the beginning of the month; others said that it refers to the middle or end of the month. ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, used to forbid fasting in Rajab because it involved resemblance to the Jaahiliyyah. It was reported that Kharashah Ibn Al-Harr said: ‘I saw ‘Umar smacking the hands of those who fasted in Rajab until they reached out for food, and he was saying, ‘This is a month which was venerated in the Jaahiliyyah’.
Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim said: ‘the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam did not fast for three consecutive months (i.e., Rajab, Sha’baan and Ramadaan) as some people do, and he never fasted Rajab at all, nor did he encourage people to fast this month’.
Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said: ‘No saheeh hadeeth that may be used as evidence has been narrated concerning the virtues of the month of Rajab or fasting this month or fasting in any specific part of it, or observing Qiyaam al-Layl (night prayer) specifically during this month. Imaam Abu Ismaa’eel al-Harawi al-Haafiz has already stated this before me, and we have narrated this from others also’.
‘Umrah in Rajab
The ahaadeeth indicate that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam did not do ‘Umrah during Rajab, as it was narrated that Mujaahid said: ‘‘Urwah ibn al-Zubayr and I entered the mosque, and there was ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar sitting near the room of ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her. He was asked, “How many times did the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam do ‘Umrah?” He said, “Four times, and one of them was in Rajab.” We did not want to argue with him. We could hear ‘Aa’ishah brushing her teeth (i.e., the sound of the miswaak) in her room. ‘Urwah said, “O Mother of the Believers, did you not hear what Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan is saying?” She said, “What is he saying?” He said, “He is saying that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam did ‘Umrah four times, one of them in Rajab.” She said, “May Allaah have mercy on Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, (the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) never did ‘Umrah but he witnessed it (i.e., he was present with him), and he never did ‘Umrah during Rajab.” (Bukhaari & Muslim)
It was reported by Muslim that Ibn ‘Umar heard this and did not say yes or no. Al-Nawawi said: ‘the fact that Ibn ‘Umar remained silent when ‘Aa’ishah denied what he said indicates that he was confused, or had forgotten, or was uncertain. Hence it is an innovated bid’ah to single out Rajab for making ‘Umrah and to believe that doing ‘Umrah in Rajab has a specific virtue. Nothing to that effect has been narrated, besides the fact that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam is not reported to have made ‘Umrah during Rajab at all’.
Shaykh ‘Ali Ibn Ibraaheem al-‘Attaar said: One of the things that I have heard about the people of Makkah – may Allaah increase it in honor – is that they do ‘Umrah frequently during Rajab. This is something for which I know of no basis, all I know is that it was reported in the hadeeth that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said: “’Umrah in Ramadaan is equivalent to Hajj.”
Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: ‘As for singling out some of the days of Rajab for any kind of good deed, ziyaarah (visiting the House of Allaah, the Ka’bah) or anything else, there is no basis for this, because Imaam Abu Shaamah stated in his book al-Bida’ wa’l-Hawaadith: Specifying acts of worship at times that were not specified by sharee’ah is wrong; no time is to be regarded as better than any other except in cases where the sharee’ah gave preference to a certain act of worship at a certain time, or stated that any good deed done at this time is better than good deeds done at other times. Hence the scholars denounced the practice of singling out the month of Rajab for doing ‘Umrah frequently’.
But if a person goes for ‘Umrah during Rajab without believing that this has any particular virtue and because it is just a coincidence that it is easier for him to go at this time, then there is nothing wrong with that.
Bid’ah and innovations in the month of Rajab
Innovation in religion is one of the serious matters which go against the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam did not die until after the religion had been perfected. Allaah says which means: “…This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…” (al-Maa’idah: 3)
It was reported that ‘Aa’isha, may Allaah be pleased with her, narrated that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours which is not a part of it, will have it rejected.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
According to a report by Muslim: “Whoever does an action which is not a part of this matter of ours, will have it rejected.”
Some people have innovated a number of practices in Rajab, including the following:
1. Salaat al-Raghaa’ib. This prayer became widespread after the first and best centuries after the death of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam, especially in the fourth century AH. Some liars fabricated this prayer, which is done on the first night of Rajab. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: ‘Salaat al-Raghaa’ib is bid’ah according to the consensus of the scholars of religion, such as Maalik, al-Shaafa’i, Abu Haneefah, al-Thawri, al-‘Oozaa’i, al-Layth and others. The hadeeth that is narrated concerning it is a lie according to the consensus of the scholars who have knowledge of hadeeth’.
2. It is said to have been reported that major events happened in the month of Rajab, but none of these reports are true. It was reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam was born on the first night of Rajab, and that he received his Mission on the twenty-seventh, or twenty-fifth of this month. None of this is correct. It was reported with a chain of narrators that is not authentic from Al-Qaasim Ibn Muhammad that the Prophet’s Night Journey (al-Israa’) took place on the twenty-seventh of Rajab. This was denied by Ibraaheem Al-Harbi and others. One of the innovations that take place during this month is the recitation of the story of the Mi’raaj, and celebrations to commemorate it on the twenty-seventh of Rajab, or singling out this night to perform extra acts of worship such as prayer during the night or fasting during the day, or rejoicing and celebrating. Some celebrations are accompanied by haraam activities such as mixing of men and women, singing and music, etc. all of which are not permitted even on the two ‘Eeds which are prescribed in Islam, let alone innovated celebrations. Added to that is the fact that there is no proof that the Israa’ and Mi’raaj happened on this date. Even if it were proven, that is no excuse for holding celebrations on this date, because nothing of the kind has been reported from the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam or from his companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, or from any of the Salaf (early generations) of this nation. If it were a good thing, they would surely have done it before us. May Allaah help us.
3. Salaat Umm Dawood halfway through Rajab.
4. The du’aa’s which are recited specifically during Rajab are all fabrications and innovations.
5. Specifying the visiting of graves to the month of Rajab is bid’ah, because graves are to be visited at any time of the year with no exceptions.