The Sacred Month of Rajab and Its Virtue
Arabs before Islam used to play with the months (calendar) to suit their whims and desires. The Prophet ﷺ was informed by Allah that the months have returned to their original time as before the corruption. The Prophet ﷺ legislated and taught us that a year has 12 months.
Out of these 12 months, 4 months are considered as the sacred months which Allah has given preference to. The 3 consecutive months of Dhul Qa'dah, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram. The fourth one is that which is between Jumada al-Akhar and Sha'ban meaning Rajab to remove all doubt as to which month he was referring to. Along with the Gregorain calendar we as Muslims should know what our calendar is as well. We should revive and make it come back to life again by using it often in our dealings.
Allah Almighty says:
إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَقَاتِلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَافَّةً كَمَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ كَافَّةً وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ
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. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous (who fear Him). [Surah At-Tawbah, 36]
Ibn Abbas said that this phrase - "so do not wrong yourselves during them…" referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.
Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali رحمه الله records: Abu Bakr bin al-Warraaq al-Balkhi said, “Rajab is the month to sow the seeds; Sha’ban is the month to irrigate the crops; and Ramadan is the month to reap the harvest.”
It has also been transmitted from him, “Rajab is like the wind; Sha’ban is like the water-laden clouds; and Ramadan is like the rain.”
Others have said, “The year in its entirety is like a tree: during Rajab its buds sprout; during Sha’ban it sends forth its branches; during Ramadan its fruit ripens; and the believers are the farmhands who harvest that fruit.”
It is opportune for whoever has darkened the scroll of their deeds with sins to cleanse it with repentance during this month. And anyone who has squandered his lifetime in vain should take advantage of the abundant and available treasures in this month of what remains of his lifespan.
بَيِّض صَحِيفَتَــكَ السَّـودَاءَ في رَجَبٍ * بصالحِ العَمَلِ المُنْجِي من اللَّهبِ
شَهْــرٌ حَـرَامٌ أتَـى مِنْ أَشْهُــرٍ حُــرُمٍ * إذا دَعَــا الله داعٍ فـيـهِ لَــمْ يَـخِبِ
طُــوبَـى لِعَبْــدٍ زَكَى فيــهِ لَــهُ عَمَــلٌ * فكَفَّ فيـهِ عَن الفَـحْشَاءِ والرِّيَبِ
Cleanse your black scroll in Rajab
with righteous good deeds, saving from the fire.
A sacred month of the sacred months
in which the one who supplicates to Allah is not disappointed.
Glad tidings for the slave who has purified his deeds therein,
for they will suffice him against immorality and doubts.
انتهاز الفرصة بالعمل في هذا الشهر غنيمة ، واغتنام أوقاته بالطاعات له فضيلة عظيمة.
Seize the opportunity to perform good deeds in this month of abundant and available treasure (ghaneemah), and capitalize on its time with acts of obedience to Allah which are of great virtue.
يــا عَبدُ أقبِــلْ مُنِيبــاً واغْتَنِمْ رَجَبــاً * فإنَّ عَفْـوِيَ عَمَّنْ تَـابَ قَدْ وَجَبـاً
في هـذِهِ الأشهُرِ الأبـوابُ قَدْ فُتِحَتْ * لـلتَّـائِبِـينَ فَكُـلٌّ نَـحْـوَنـا هَــرَبَــا
حَطُّوا الـرَّكائِبَ في أبـوابِ رَحْمَتِنا * بِحُسْــنِ ظَنٍّ فَكُـلٌّ نَـالَ مـا طَلَبَـا
وقَـدْ نَثَــرْنــا عليهم مِـنْ تَعــطُّفِـنــا * نِثـارَ حُسنِ قَبـولٍ فَــازَ مَنْ نَهَبَـا
O Slave! Turn, repentant, and seize on Rajab!
For verily pardon to those who repent is incumbent.
In this sacred month the gates have opened
to the repentant; for all who turns towards Our direction!
So dismount your stead at the gate of Our Mercy
with good expectations, for all will achieve what they seek.
And We have sprinkled upon them Our kind compassion,
a sprinkling of excellent acceptance. He has succeeded who seizes the opportunity! [Lataif al-Ma’arif]
Special Acts of Worship?
Imam Ibn Hajar رحمه الله said: "There has not been narrated concerning the virtue of the month of Rajab nor fasting the entire month nor fasting some specific days in this month nor performing any salah in any specific night an authentic hadith that is worthy to support (these claims)." He also said: "As for the ahadith that mention the virtue of (the month of) Rajab or the virtue of fasting this entire month or fasting some days in this month, then they are clearly divided into two categories: weak and fabricated."
Imam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said: "As for singling out (the month of) Rajab for fasting, then all of the ahadith are weak. Rather, they are fabricated and the People of Knowledge do not rely on any of them. However it has been authentically narrated that 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab used to strike the hands of the people so as to force them to eat in Rajab and he used to say: 'Do not liken it to Ramadan'."
Similar has been recorded by Imam Ibn Abi Shaybah رحمه الله that Umar رضى الله عنه used to beat the hands of people to put them in bowls and say, "Eat! It is a month that was honoured before Islam.” [al-Musannaf]
Imam Ibn Abi Shaybah رحمه الله also records that Zayd Ibn Aslam said, "Allah's Messenger ﷺ was asked about the fasting of Rajab and he said, “Why don't you fast in Sha'ban?.” Another narration from Ibn Umar رضى الله عنه indicates that it is disliked to fast (the entire month of) Rajab.
Sheikhul Hanabilah Ibn Qudamah رحمه الله said, “It is disliked to single out Rajab with fasting.” [al-Mughni]
Imam Ibn Rajab رحمه الله said, "As for fasting, than nothing has been authentically narrated from the Prophet ﷺ regarding the virtue of fasting Rajab particularly, nor has it been narrated from his companions." [Lataif al-Ma'arif]
If a person wants to fast, they can fast what is recommended to fast as in any other normal month like the white days of the month (13,14,15), Mondays and Thursdays etc. Singling out Rajab or specific days in Rajab for fasting is incorrect.
Imam Ibn Rajab رحمه الله said: "As for Zakah, the people of this country made it a custom to pay it in the month of Rajab, which has no basis in the Sunnah nor was it known to be done by any of the Salaf. In any case, Zakah becomes compulsory after a year of possessing the nisab. Everyone has his period/time frame that is specific to him based one when he possessed the nisab. So when his year passes over, it becomes compulsory upon him to pay the Zakāh in whichever month that may occur."
In the days of ignorance, the Arabs used to offer the sacrifice of a goat in the month of Rajab. This sacrifice used to be called 'Atirah’ or ‘Rajabiyyah’. This sacrifice was offered in the name of different gods and idols. The early Muslims continued this practice but in the Name of Allah. This went on till the Prophet ﷺ explicitly prohibited the offering of ‘Atirah. He ﷺ said, “Fara’ is nothing and ‘Atirah is nothing.” Explaining this, Abu Hurairah said that Fara' was the first child of a she-camel. Whenever a she-camel delivered its first child, the Arabs used to sacrifice it in the name of their so-called gods, while the ‘Atirah’ was a goat used to be sacrificed in the month of Rajab.
Narrated Urwah bin Az-Zubair رضي الله عنه, "I asked Aishah رضي الله عنها (whether the Prophet (ﷺ) had performed Umrah in Rajab). She replied, "Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) never performed any Umrah in Rajab." [Bukhari]
A famous dua also makes the round during this month. It is reported from Anas ibn Malik who said: When Rajab began, the Messenger of Allah said:
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي رَجَبٍ وَشَعْبَانَ، وَبَلِّغْنَا شَهْرَ رَمَضَانَ
“O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha‘ban, and let us reach Ramadan.” [al-Awsat]
Its chain of narration is very weak and a major group of scholars have classified it as weak. The hadith was classed as da‘if by Imam an-Nawawi in al-Adhkar and Imam Ibn Rajab in Lataif al-Ma‘arif among many others. That being said, can we make this dua?
Imam Ibn Rajab رحمه الله reported, “Ma‘alla ibn al-Fadl said: They used to pray to Allah for six months, may He be exalted, asking Him to cause them to reach Ramadan, and they used to call upon Him for six months asking Him to accept it from them. Yahya ibn Abi Kathir said: One of their duas was: “O Allah, keep me safe until Ramadan, keep Ramadan safe for me, and accept it from me.”” [Lataif al-Ma‘arif]
This shows us that without a doubt, we can make this dua. It is a dua with very good meaning and is calling upon Allah for His Blessings. The key difference here is that we should not think that making this dua is taught to us from the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as it cannot be authentically narrated from him. Other than that, it is like any other general dua that we make for goodness.
End of the day - without a doubt Rajab is a sacred month wherein we should exert ourselves to get closer to Allah and seek His Forgiveness. But that does not mean that we make up new forms of worship to do so. Allah and His Messenger did not legislate any specific form of worship in Rajab; no special fasting, no Umrah, no animal sacrifice, and no specific standing in salah on specific night and no fasting in any specific day. The blessed month of Rajab is tainted especially in the sub-continent by many innovated practices. Let's explore a few of them.
The Misconceptions Regarding al-Isra wa al-Mi'raj
People take the 27th Rajab as a day of celebration and claim that al-Isra' wa al-Mi'raj occurred on this date. There are mutawatir reports from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ that he was taken up into the heavens, and their gates were opened for him, until he passed beyond the seventh heaven, where his Lord spoke to him as He willed, and enjoined the five daily prayers upon him. There is absolutely nothing authentically narrated to indicate that it is in Rajab or in any other month.
Many problematic practices happen on this day. The most apparent opinion is that al-Isra' and al-Mi'raj was in Rabi' al-Awwal. It is also not known in which year the event took place. If we look at books of seerah and history, there is a wide range between the fifth year and the twelfth year after Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was given the office of Prophethood. If one assumes that the event took place in the fifth year of his prophethood, it will mean that the Prophet ﷺ lived for another eighteen years after this event. If it is assumed that the event took place in the twelfth year of his prophethood, it will mean that the Prophet ﷺ lived for eleven years after this event . If we look at this spectrum of time between eleven years and eighteen years, the Prophet ﷺ never celebrated the event even once and, nor did he give a single instruction to any of his companions to do anything special about it.
Moreover, having celebrations on the 27th night of Rajab is an innovation which has no basis from the blessed first three generations of Islam. When we don't even have a proper date documented for it, then how can we claim celebrations are legislated for it? If those that lived, loved, supported, and died for the Sunnah didn't celebrate it, then how can we?
If celebrating it was something that is prescribed in Islam, the Messenger would have told his ummah about that, either in word or in deed. If any such thing had happened, it would have been well known, and his companions would have transmitted the information to us just as they transmitted the rest of the religion. The Prophet ﷺ warned us, “Whoever does any action that is not part of this matter of ours will have it rejected.” [Muslim]
The Innovation of Salat al-Raghaib
Salat al-Raghaib is an innovation that is done on the night of the first Friday in Rajab, between Maghrib and Isha, and is preceded by fasting on the first Thursday of Rajab. It was first introduced in Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) in 480 AH. This means that not a single person from the first three golden generations ever practised or even heard of such an innovation.
Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali رحمه الله writes, "There is no specific salah to be prayed specifically for the month of Rajab. The ahadith that are related with regards to the merit of Salat al-Raghaib on the first Friday night of Rajab are false and baseless. This salah is an innovation according to all the scholars." He further added, "The early scholars did not make mention of this salah because it was only innovated after them. The first mention of this salah was after 400AH. The early scholars did not know about it and did not practice it."
Imam An-Nawawi رحمه الله said in al-Majmu, “The prayer which is known as Salat al-Raghaib, which is twelve rakat that are offered between Maghrib and Isha on the night of the first Friday in Rajab, and praying one hundred rakahs on the night of Shaban 15th are both reprehensible innovations. No one should be deceived by the fact that they are mentioned in Qut al-Qulub and Ihya Ulum al-Deen, or by the hadith which is quoted in these two books, because all of that is false. No one should be deceived by some of those imams who were confused about the ruling on these prayers and wrote essays stating that they are recommended, for they are mistaken in that. Imam Abu Muhammad Abd al-Rahman ibn Ismail al-Maqdisi wrote a valuable book showing that they are false, and he did well in that, may Allah have mercy on him.”
Imam al-Nawawi رحمه الله also said in his Sharh of Sahih Muslim, "May Allah curse the one who fabricated and introduced that, for it is a reprehensible innovation, one of the innovations which constitute misguidance and ignorance, and it involves obvious evils. A number of imams have written valuable works explaining that those who offer this prayer and the one who invented it are misguided, and they quoted a great deal of evidence to show that it is wrong and false, and that those who do it are misguided."
Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said, "As for innovating a prayer which is done regularly with a certain number of rakat, with a certain recitation and at a certain time in congregation, like these prayers that are being asked about here – such as Salat al-Raghaib on the first Friday of Rajab, and halfway through Sha’ban, and the night of the twenty-seventh of Rajab, and so on – these are not prescribed in Islam, according to the consensus of the imams of Islam, as was stated by the reliable scholars. No one established such a thing but those who are ignorant and innovators. Things like this open the door to changing the laws and rituals of Islam and becoming like those who instituted things which Allaah has not ordained.
He also said, "This prayer was not offered by the Messenger of Allah ﷺ or by any of the sahabah or the tabi’een or the imams of the Muslims. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not enjoin it and neither did any of the salaf or imams. They did not suggest that this night has any virtue for which it should be singled out. The hadith which is narrated concerning that from the Prophet is false and fabricated, according to scholarly consensus. Hence the scholars said that it is forbidden and not mustahab." [Al-Fatawa al-Kubra]
Imam Ibn Hajr Al-Haytami رحمه الله was asked: Is it permissible to offer Salat al-Raghaib in congregation or not? He replied, "Salat al-Raghaib is like the prayer that is known as laylat al-nisf min Sha'ban (half way through Sha'ban). These are two reprehensible innovations and the hadith which speaks of them is mawdu (fabricated). It is forbidden to offer these prayers either individually or in congregation.”
Imam Ibn al-Jawzi رحمه الله said, "Salat al-Raghaib is a fabrication that is falsely attributed to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. They stated that these payers are a bid’ah and are forbidden for a number of reasons. There is no report from the sahabah, tabi’een or imams about these two prayers. If they were prescribed in Islam then the salaf would not have been unaware of them. Rather they were introduced in the 400s (fifth century AH).
Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani رحمه الله was asked: “Is it permissible to pray Salat ar-Raghaib in congregation or not?” He said, “.. It is an innovation which is disliked and condemned, the ahadith regarding it is fabricated and it is not permissible to act upon it (i.e pray it) be it individually or in congregation.”
The Poisoned Dagger of The Shia
Another major innovation is that of "Rajab ke Kunde". This is something completely unheard of in any other part of the world other than the Desi subcontinent. On the 22nd Rajab, celebrations are done in the name of Jafar as-Saadiq, sweets and food is given out, and many pagan rituals are carried out under his name. People sacrifice like pagans and call upon other than Allah to fulfil their needs. As kufr-tastic as it gets.
This practice of Kunde was started by the Shia in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh and then further propagated via emotional stories and poems among the masses in India. Pick up our history from the time of the Prophet ﷺ till now and you will not find any such event to be celebrated on the 22nd Rajab. There is no mention of it in any books of history or fiqh. So where is this coming from? The only noteworthy incident that occurred on this date was the death of Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan. He was a senior companion, a Scribe of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and holds the title of 'Uncle of the Ummah'.
This is where the Shia Rafidha come in. One doesn't even need to mention the hatred and venom that the Shia spew against the Prophet's ﷺ blessed companions. They curse major sahaba like Abu Bakr and Umar with an unmatched passion and excommunicate the rest save a handful from the fold of Islam itself. They curse our mother Aisha with accusations such that it is a wonder the skies haven't fallen upon them. Maybe this is why, every year Allah gets them to whip themselves with their own hands for the slander they propagate. The Shia saw an opportunity and took this day as a day of celebration. When they couldn't back this celebration with anything concrete, they did what they do best and attributed false stories towards the elevated and blessed Ahl Bayt - specifically Jafar as-Saadiq in this case. They didn't mention any of their other Imams as this would raise suspicion in the eyes of the general Muslim masses. They chose an Imam who was loved and adored by the Muslims, someone who was even the Imam of Imam Abu Hanifa as well and fabricated in his name so that they could gain acceptance and spread their nonsense. Unfortunately, many gullible and ignorant Muslims fell into this trap and we see this practice become widespread across the subcontinent even today.
The story they narrate is that a wood cutter’s wife heard Jafar As-Saadiq in Madinah allegedly say that whoever prepares food in his name on the 22nd Rajab, their prayers or Dua will be fulfilled by Allah and if their prayers are still not fulfilled, then they can grab his shawl on the Day of Judgment. So basically, if a person going through a problem and prays to Imam Jafar as-Saadiq by making him the waseela (medium), they will have all their issues sorted. Ajeeb. This is the biggest insult possible upon the blessed household of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.
Funny thing is they don't even stay true to their own fabrication. They call upon members from the Ahl Bayt to fulfil their needs. We can't even call upon our Prophet ﷺ himself for help, then what about Fatima and the rest of the family members. Can Jafar As-Saadiq help get rid of our problems and or improve our situation? Allah says,
وَلَا تَدْعُ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُكَ وَلَا يَضُرُّكَ ۖ فَإِن فَعَلْتَ فَإِنَّكَ إِذًۭا مِّنَ ٱلظَّلِمِينَ
”And call not upon other than Allah, who can neither benefit nor harm you, for if you did so, you would indeed be one of the wrong-doers.” [Surah Yunus, 106]
How can we be so blind when we recite multiple times everyday in our five daily prayers:
إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
“It is You we worship and You we ask for help.” [Surah al-Fatiha, 5]
This calls for us to wake up, take even more interest, and exert more effort in learning and safeguarding ourselves from such filth that is rampant in our communities. These innovated practices in the subcontinent are doors leading us and our families to the hell-fire and we aren't even realising it. One of the most widely narrated narrations from the companions is what? The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Whoever tells a lie against me intentionally, then (surely) let him occupy his seat in Hell-fire." [Bukhari]
Our Sheikh Ibrahim Nuhu حفظه الله said, "India used to be a Muslim country with many contributions and major scholars. The colonizers and others like them started spreading doubts and giving support to corrupt beliefs so that the people can be divided. That's why you see that Ahmedis, Bohras, Bareilwis all came up there. These beliefs didn't rise up in Arabia because they wouldn't have been able to last there. There is a lot of work to be done in such places. May Allah raise Islam again in India."