Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Rahim
Of Religious Duties
During The Month Of Rajab
Rajab, one of the four
sacrosanct months in the Islamic year, began only a matter of days ago. We tend
to use Rajab and Sha`ban after it to prepare for
the holy month of Ramadan. For those who have prayers or make up fasts from
the previous year, now is an excellent time to being fulfilling those duties;
in sha Allah, husbands will be especially considerate
when it comes to wives making up missed days. And for everyone, it’s an
excellent time to return to Allah, and ask Him for an increase in obedience
and acts of worship.
Given that this is the
beginning of the month of Rajab and that this group is for Hanbali fiqh, is seems appropriate to give a small
summary from a book by the great Hanbali scholar
and hadith master Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy upon him). The book is Lata’if al-ma`arif fi ma limausim al-`am min
al-watha’if, and its subject is informing what sorts of good acts are
recommended for the various months and seasons of the Islamic year.
What follows is a very brief
summary of the chapter’s contents. People familiar with the works of Ibn
Rajab (may Allah have mercy upon him) in general, or this one in particular,
will quickly realize how much of an injustice I have done. Whereas the works
of Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy upon him) are full of citations from the
Qur’an, hadith, poetry, accounts on the righteous Salaf and Khalaf; criticism
and explanations of the various citations; and many other gems from the
knowledge and wisdom that Allah bestowed him with—what I have done is simply
summarize the things that would not be readily available to someone with a
copy of Riyad al-salihin
or the major canon of hadith literature. So, with the exception of a few
explicit quotations from Lata’if al-ma`arif, these are my words and not Ibn Rajab’s (may Allah be merciful upon him). I ask that
anyone who reads this makes a short supplication for Ibn Rajab, the early
Muslims, all other scholars, and finally for the Muslim umma—past,
present, and future; this is the least we can do for our predecessors and for
Of Religious Duties
During The Month Of Rajab
Ibn Rajab (Allah have mercy
with him) opens the chapter concerning Rajab with the following:
al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, the two [Imams] have related from the
hadith of Abu Bakrata (Allah be well pleased with
him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) gave a speech
during the Farewell Pilgrimage; during it he said:
Verily! Truly time has revolved like the day on
which Allah created the heavens and the earth: the year is twelve months,
including four [that are] sacrosanct; three consecutive [months]: Dhu al-qa`da, Dhu al-hijja, and al-Muharram;
and Mudhar’s Rajab which is between Jumada and Shu`ban.
mentioned the [rest of the] hadith.
and Majestic says:
Lo! the number of months with Allah is twelve months
by Allah’s ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth.
Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves
in them. (Qur’an, Al-Tauba, 9:36).
So, He Most
Sublime declared that ever since He created the heavens and the earth, [and
ever since] He created the night and day revolving in the horizon, [and ever
since] He created the things in the heaven, including the sun, moon, and
stars; [and ever since] He made the sun and the moon in orbit in the cosmos
and the dark of night and white of day were produced from [the day and the
night]—ever since then He made the year twelve months in accordance to the
And so the
year, with respect to the Legislation, is portioned by the traveling of the
moon and its rising,
not by the traveling of the sun and its moving from place to place as is the
practice of Ahl al-kitab.
Ibn Rajab (Allah have mercy on
him) then begins his explanation of the verse from the Qur’an and the hadith,
the important points being:
- Allah Most High has made four of these months
- There is some difference of opinion between the
scholars regarding which of those first months comes first
- The scholars differ over which of the sacrosanct
months is superior. Ibn Rajab writes: “One opinion is that it is Rajab,
and it is the opinion of some Shafi`is; Imam
al-Nawawi and others considered this opinion weak. Another opinion is
that it is al-Muharram; it is the opinion of Hasan al-Basri, and Imam
al-Nawawi considered it preponderant. Another opinion is that it is Dhu al-Hijja; it is related from Sa`id bin Jubayr
and others, and it is the most obvious. And Allah knows best.”
- The meaning of the statement of the Prophet (Allah
bless him and give him peace): “Verily, truly time has revolved like the
day on which Allah created the heavens and the earth! The year is twelve
months”, is declaring void the nasi’
that the pre-Islamic Arabs used to do. There is a difference of
opinion regarding the meaning of nasi’.
An opinion is that the pre-Islamic Arabic would exchange one sacrosanct
month with a non-sacrosanct month; and there are many examples of how
they would do this. Another opinion is that they would change the length
of the year, such as making it thirteen months, or twelve months and
fifteen days. And another opinion is that the month for pilgrimage
cycled through the months, and that during the year of the Farewell
Pilgrimage the designated month agreed with the month decreed by Allah
Might and Majestic: Dhu al-Hijja.
- In the beginning of Islam, it was unconditionally
unlawful to kill during the sacrosanct months. The scholar differ
whether it is still unlawful or was abrogated. The majority of scholars
are of the opinion that it is abrogated; Imam Ahmad and other imams held
this opinion. A group of the Salaf, among them `Ata, were of the opinion
that it is still unlawful; a group of later scholars considered this
opinion preponderant, citing the second verse of al-Ma`ida (5:2) as
evidence, since al-Ma`ida is among the last of the revelation.
- The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
said “Mudar’s Rajab”: Rajab is named Rajab
because they would glorify it. As for adjoining it to the tribe Mudar, it is because they were excessive in
glorifying and honoring it; or: because the tribe of Rabi` considered
Ramadan sacrosanct and Mudar considered Rajab
- Some of the scholars mentioned that Rajab has
fourteen names: sharh Allah, rajab, rajab mudar, munsil al-asinna, al-asamm, al-asabb, munaffis, mutahhir, mu’alla, muqim, harim, muqashqish, mubarri`, and fard.
Others said that it has seventeen names, adding: rajam,
and munzil al-asinna.
And then Ibn Rajab began
discussing the rulings associated with the month of Rajab itself. Some of those
rulings are from the times of the pre-Islamic Arabs, and there is a
difference of opinion whether they continue. These rulings include:
- The unconditional unlawfulness of killing during
this sacrosanct month.
- During the pre-Islamic times they would slaughter
during Rajab, calling it al-‘atira. The
majority of scholars are of the opinion that Islam has voided al-‘atira. Others are of the opinion that it is
recommended, among them Ibn Sirin (Allah be well pleased with him); Imam
Ahmad related it from the people of Basra,
and a later group of Ahl al-Hadith considered it preponderant.
The rulings associated with
Rajab include: praying, giving charity, fasting, and making `Umra:
- Prayer: There is nothing rigorously
authenticated concerning a prayer specific to the month of Rajab. The
hadiths related concerning Salat al-ragha’ib during the night before the first
Friday of Rajab are lies; according to the majority of scholars this
prayer is an innovation. Some later scholars mentioned it; the early
scholars did not because it was innovated after them.
- Fasting: There is nothing rigorously
authenticated from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)
pertaining to fasting the month of Rajab specifically. However, there
are hadiths regarding fasting the sacrosanct months. Some of the
Companions and imams (Allah be well pleased with them) considered it
offensive to fast Rajab in its entirety, that instead one should omit
fasting one or two days of Rajab. The Hanbalis
are of the opinion that the offensiveness of fasting Rajab in its
entirety is removed by voluntarily fasting a month in addition to Rajab.
Imam Ahmad’s opinion is that Rajab is not fasted in its entirety except
by someone who fasts every day that is legal to fast; there is something
related from `Abd Allah bin `Omar (Allah be well pleased with them both)
that indicates this.
- Charity: It is the custom of peoples in
various lands to pay their obligatory charity [zakat]
during Rajab, but this is something that has no basis in the sunna, and
is not known from one of the Salaf (may Allah be pleased with them).
Instead, obligatory charity is paid when its particular duration is
fulfilled, regardless of the month. According to the majority of
scholars, it suffices if someone to pays his obligatory charity before
it comes due, regardless of the reason for paying it in advance. Imam
Ahmad (may Allah have mercy upon him) is of the opinion that it is valid
to delay paying obligatory charity if there is no one else in need like
- Making ‘Umra during
Rajab: There is difference over whether or not the Prophet (Allah
bless him and give him peace) made `Umra
during Rajab, however several of the Companions and Salaf (Allah be well
pleased with them) would do so. The majority of Companions (Allah be
well pleased with them one and all) are of the opinion that the most
complete Hajj and `Umra is to initiate each
one as part of a journey: that one journeys to make Hajj and one makes
another journey to make `Umra.
Many amazing things are related
to have occurred during the month of Rajab—but not a single one of them is
rigorously authentic. These things include
- the birth of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give
him peace) on the night of the 1st [meaning the night before
the day of the 1st]
- prophethood being assigned
to him (Allah bless him and give him peace) on the 27th or
- the Night Journey and Ascension being on the night
of the 27th [meaning: the night before the day of the 27th]
or the 10th
Also, the pre-Islamic Arabs used
to make supplications against oppressors and tyrants during Rajab, and their
supplications were answered. There are many well known accounts of this.
[end of summary from Lata’if al-ma`arif]
In closing: even though there
is nothing specific to the month of Rajab that has reached us that is rigorously
or well authenticated, there are other accounts indicating the merits of
fasting and other acts of obedience during the sacrosanct months. In sha Allah, we will all take advantage of Rajab and Sha`ban to prepare for the coming of the holy month of
Ramadan with an increase in obedience and acts of worship. And success is
only through Allah.
Summarized from Ibn Rajab’s Lata’if al-ma`arif fi ma limausim al-`am min al-watha’if (Dar Ibn Kathir, Damascus, 1420 AH / 1999 CE), pages 217-235.
Originally posted to the Hanbali group on Yahoo!
Translation © copyright Musa Furber, 2002. All
rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to reprint for non-profit
purposes, provided the text and this notice remain in their original form.