بِسْم الله الرحمن الرحيم
BY the grace of the Almighty, this week has ushered in a new moon. One that is among four that have been sanctified by Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. This is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar; this is Rajab al-Murajjab.
A beautiful aspect of Allah’s power is that He chooses and selects whatever He wills. Allah ‘azza wajal says about Himself in Surah Qasas,
“And your Lord creates whatsoever He wills and chooses.” (28:68)
Allah azza wajal tells us that He is the only One Who has the power to create and make decisions, and there is no one who can dispute with Him in that or reverse His judgement. The attribute of choice shows the perfection of His wisdom, knowledge and power.
Allah azza wajal says in Surah Tawbah,
“Surely, the number of months according to Allah is twelve (as written) in the Book of Allah on the day He created the heavens and the Earth, of which there are Four Sacred Months. That is the right faith. So, do not wrong yourself therein. ” (9:36)
The month of Rajab is one of four months that have been blessed with superabundant favors, benefits, reverence and sanctity.
These Sacred Months are Dhul-Qa`dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab.
Just as some places are considered more sacred and divine than others, for instance, Makkah, Madina and Baytul Maqdis, so too do some months carry more value and significance than others.
When the month entered the Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam would seek its blessings, saying:
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا في رَجَبٍ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنا رَمَضَانَ
“Allahumma barik lana fi Rajabin wa Sha`bana wa ballighna Ramadhan”
“O Allah bless us in Rajab and Sha`ban and enable us to reach Ramadhan!”
Indeed, even before the advent of Islam, such was the reverence the arabs had for these months that they would not wage war within these months. Allah, glory be to Him, had already sanctified these months prior to Islam so that bloodshed may not be committed in His Sacred months. This sanctity was from the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim alayhis salam.
What does this mean for us?
What can we do to benefit from the Sacred Month of Rajab? First let us discover some interesting facts about this time of the year followed by some spiritual productivity advice that we can apply right now insha’Allah.
The great Kufan grammarian Ibn Faaris (died 1004) said, “The letters Raa-jeem-baa form a root ترجيب (Tarjeeb) which indicates supporting and strengthening something with another thing. It was called Rajab because they used to respect it.”
Hence even in its lexical meaning the sanctity of this month is inherent. The month Rajab actually has eighteen different names. The following are the most famous ones.
Al-Asabb (“the Poured-in Month”), because it was believed that mercy pours down on everyone during it. It was also called al-Aśam, which means “the deaf”, due to the pacific nature of this month preventing the sounding of war drums.
It is also called Rajab Al-Haram (“the Sacred Rajab”) and Rajab Al-Fard (“the Solitary Rajab” – because of its separation from the other three successive sacred months; Dhul-Qa`dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram).
During the period of Jahiliyyah (pre-islamic arabia), the Arabs venerated Rajab by performing various acts of worship such as Tawaaf around a pile of stones, as well as sacrifices which were called ‘Atirah’ or ‘Rajabiyyah’.
Al-Israa’ and al-Mi’raaj
Rajab also witnessed Al-Israa’ and al-Mi’raaj; the miraculous night journey with which Allah ‘azza wajal honoured the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam.
The Israa’ and Mi’raaj refer to two parts of a miraculous journey that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam took in one night from Makkah to Jerusalem – specifically, to the site of al-Aqsa – as referred to in Surah Al-Israa in the Quran, and then an ascension to the heavens, respectively, on the 27th of Rajab, 621 AD.
The journey was considered as the symbol of the first victory for Muslims, as the heir to the Masjid al-Aqsa.
Special victories within Rajab without bloodshed
The Battle of Tabuk took place within this month, in the year 630 (8AH), in which the muslim army of 30,000 with the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam as their Prophet and General, waged war upon the mighty force of the Roman Byzantine army who had declared intentions to “wipe off the Arabs from the northern Arabian Peninsula”. However, seeing the General (the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) at the head of the army for the first time, the Romans even with their greater numbers and superior weaponry, were terrified and fled the scene going back into their fortresses in Greater Syria.
An interesting and amazing fact is that the very first ever victory for the very first group of Muslims under persecution at the hands of the powerful Quraysh, were the Isra’ and Mi’raaj. Following the deaths of his beloved uncle and then his wife, both pillars of support for him, he had to endure a further trial in the form of a rejection by the people of Ta’if who hurled stones at him that caused even his sandals to be covered in blood.
Allah honoured him by blessing him with a unique honour that elevated him above all other prophets; the Messenger sallallahu alaihi wasallam lead all the prophets that had ever come between him and his forefather Adam alaihis salam in a congressional prayer within the blessed mosque of Al-Aqsa.
This took place on the 27th of Rajab, a year before Hijrah.
Eighteen years later, in the same month of Rajab in 637, the Great Caliph Sayyidina Umar radhiyallahu anhu embarked from Madinah with a single servant and a donkey. Clothed in a simple robe indistinguishable from his servant, the Caliph of the Muslims, being the single most powerful man in the whole world at the time, walked towards the gates of Jerusalem while his servant rode the donkey. A shocked Patriarch Sophronius, the representative of the Byzantine Government and the Christian Church at the time, handed him the keys to the city, and the Furthest Mosque Al-Aqsa came under muslim control without any bloodshed.
Fast forward 500 years and on the very anniversary of the Israa and Mi’raaj, the 27th of Rajab 583AH (1187 AD), the Masjidul Aqsa is once again liberated by none other than Yusuf ibn Ayyub Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi. As before with Sayyidina Umar’s capture of Jerusalem, there was no bloodshed here either.
Salahuddin’s mission was far from easy. The 12th century Muslim empire was divided amidst tribulations resulting from the tyranny and injustice of the Fatimid Dynasty that governed the Muslim lands. His success and the success of his predecessor depended on the faith of the combined Muslims that the former was able to change around, before finally embarking on what has become one of the most famous victories of human history.
This is a lesson for us living in an age where Islam’s third holiest site is not only under occupation, but is denied access to the very Muslims that have built the mosques and buildings with their very hands upon the Blessed Land that is Baytul Maqdis. (Visit http://scatteredpearls.com/aqsa for a comprehensive overview of what really forms the “Baytul Maqdis.”)
Allah says in Surah Muhammad,
“If you support Allah, He will support you and plant firmly your feet.“
And again in Surah Rum,
“And incumbent upon Us was support of the believers.”
Until we reform ourselves and become true believers, the help of Allah will not come. Therefore, we must seek to better ourselves and rid from us spiritual diseases such as greed, malice, hatred, and arrogance, in order to be a blessed ummah that will receive the rahmah of Allah azza wajal, enabling us to be free of the trials and tribulations that have befallen us globally.
Ahadeeth regarding worship in Rajab
As with the month of Sha’ban, one must know that there are very few, if any, sound Hadith related to these two months. instead, almost all of the hadiths regarding Rajab are problematic with regards to their chains of transmission. As such, there are no acts of worship recommended specifically for Rajab including fasts, optional prayers, or sacrifices. There are a handful of weak and fabricated hadith that mention fasts and prayers on this month. Hadith scholars have unanimously disregarded these.
However, that being said, there is evidence that the month of Rajab during the time of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam has enjoyed far more superiority with regards to acts of worship being performed, than Sha’baan. The following hadith illustrates this;
Usamah ibn Zaid reported: I said, “O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as you fast during Sha’ban.” The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said,
“It is a month people neglect between Rajab and Ramadhan. It is a month in which the deeds are raised to the Lord of the worlds and I like for my deeds to be raised while I am fasting.” (Sunan An-Nasa’i)
In our times, this is the total opposite; we assume Sha’ban has far greater merit than Rajab, and have therefore neglected it more than Sha’ban whereas historically, Rajab had enjoyed far more spiritual consciousness from the Muslims.
Being conscious of our actions
In the same way that the reward for good deeds observed during the month of Ramadan, or while in the sanctity of the Haramayn; al-Makkah wal-Madinah, carry a higher reward than outside of Ramadan or outside the boundaries of the Haramayn, so too does punishment for sins during these holy months carry a greater punishment. This is established by the verse of the Qur’an cited above wherein Allah says,
“So, do not wrong yourself therein.”
The mufassireen tell us that “therein” refers to the four Sacred Months, and not the twelve months, meaning “sin in them is worse than sin in other months. Likewise, sins in the Sacred City are written multiplied” (Ibn Kathir). Sayyidina Qatadah ibn Nu’man radhiyallahu anhu says regarding this ayah,
“Sins during the Sacred Months are worse and graver than sins in other months. Verily, sinning is always wrong, but Allah makes things graver than others as He wills. Allah has chosen some of His creation above others. He chose Messengers from angels and from men. He also chose His Speech above all speech, the Masajid above other areas of the earth, Ramadhan and the Sacred Months above all months, Friday above the other days and Laylatul-Qadr (The Night of Decree) above all nights. Therefore, sanctify what Allah Has sanctified, for doing so is the practice of people of understanding and comprehension.”
This ayah shows us the importance of being an alert and active believer. The only way we can make sure we do not wrong ourselves is to be conscious of our deeds.
The Creator of the Worlds and all that is within it, including you, me, and our biological and psychological makeup, Has fashioned us in a way that He saw fit for our purpose, in His Great and All-Encompassing Wisdom. It therefore is no surprise that the Shari’ah which He blessed us with, is designed to draw us towards Him through its various practices. One such practice, is to make us reflect on our actions; the good and the bad. But what happens when we become complacent with regards to our not-so-praiseworthy actions? We are told that, in some months, not all of them but only in four of them, the punishment for our wrongdoings will be more severe than normal, thereby pulling us out of our complacency and making us reflect on our actions. With practice, we will always reflect on our actions whether it is Rajab or Safar! Subhaanallah.
Let us use these sacred months, given to us by the Creator of time, to take account of ourselves. Think about the state of your heart. Reflect on your life and deeds. Have I been aware of what I’ve been saying and doing to others? What is my relationship with the Qur’an? Have I given any priority in my life to learning and understanding it?
The month of Rajab comes at an extremely important time of the year for us. It means that Ramadan is less than ninety days away.
The Companions of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam used to prepare for Ramadan six months in advance. So, if we really want to make the best of this Ramadan, then we need to prepare for it now. As we know, fasting is more than just abstaining from food but from indecent speech and lustful desires as well. Fasting pushes us to be cognizant of our actions, to be patient and to be moral individuals, thereby increasing our taqwa (God-consciousness). Here are some ways we can improve on different aspects of our life so we can fully benefit from Ramadhan; a time when deeds are multiplied.
The best way to prepare for the long fast ahead is to start fasting often, in order to gain control over your actions, stomach and desires.
Fast Mondays and Thursdays
Sayyidina Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam would fast, would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said:
“The deeds of people are presented to Allah on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other.” (Hasan)
Fast the White Days – Ayyamul Beedh
Sayyidina Abu Tharr Al-Ghifari said: “The Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said,
‘Oh Abu Dharr! If you fast three days of every month, then fast the 13th, 14th and 15th (Sahih)
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said,
“(Allah said), ‘Every good deed of Adam’s son is for him except fasting; it is for Me, and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.’ Verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk.” (Bukhari)
Recite and Reflect Upon the Qur’an
Start now to reflect on portions of the Qur’an to get closer to Allah and understand your responsibilities. Every single time you read the Qur’an, you will uncover more depths of meaning and benefit in this world and the hereafter.
Our Mother Aishah radhiyallahu anha related that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said:
“Indeed the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly and precisely, will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. As for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.” (Muslim)
Follow the Sunnah and Pray Extra Prayers
Learn more about the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam and follow him by emulating his actions.
“Say, [Oh Muhammad], If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 3:31)
Repent and Make Dua’a
We all make mistakes, but Alhamdulillah we can always repent.
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said:
“All the children of Adam constantly err, but the best of those who constantly err are those who constantly repent.” (Tirmidhi)
This world can only be a better place if we help each other. In return, Allah rewards us in both worlds.
The Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said,
“Allah is in the aid of His servant as long as His aide is in the assistance of others.” (Muslim)
Allah says in Surah Hadeed,
“Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He will multiply it for him and he will have a noble reward?” (57:11)
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam also said:
“Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Tirmidhi)
Improve Your Character
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam used to say:
“The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.” (Bukhari)
Eat Healthy and Moderately
With less time to eat in Ramadhan, we really need to pay attention to what we eat. Now is the best time to research the nutritious value of the food we eat. While we fast, the food we eat before we start our fast or to break our fast needs to provide the optimal energy so we can accomplish our daily tasks and increase our worship. On the other hand, overeating can lead to various spiritual and physical illnesses.
Imam Ash-Shafi’i said: “I have not eaten to my fill in 16 years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clean understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship.”
In order to take full advantage of this holy month, we need to prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. Insha’Allah if we constantly try to improve ourselves, then when we reach Ramadhan, we will be able to easily move to the next level of spirituality.
The famous Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions in Lata’if al-Ma’arif:
“The month of Rajab is the key to the months of goodness and blessings that follow it. Abu Bakr b. al-Warraq al-Balkhi said: “Rajab is the month to sow the seeds; Sha’ban is the month to irrigate the crop; and Ramadan is the month to reap the harvest.” It has similarly been related from him: “Rajab is like the wind; Sha’ban is like the water-laden clouds; and Ramadan is like the rain.” Someone else mentioned: “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.”
We end this article with a poem:
So cleanse your darkened hearts within Rajab;
with deeds that spare the soul Hellfire’s wrath.
One of the sacred months has come along;
no one who calls on God will be forlorn.
Heaven is for the one’s who cleanse their hearts
with lewd indecent deeds they’ll have no part.