The Month of Rajab - Part I
Praise be to Allaah, the One, the Subduer, and blessings and peace be upon the Chosen Prophet and upon his good and pure family and companions.
Praise be to Allaah Who says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And your Lord creates whatsoever He wills and chooses” [al-Qasas 28:68].
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 choosing and preferring 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 (interpretation of the meaning):
“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…” [al-Tawbah 9:36]
These months are calculated according to the movements of the moon, not the movements of the sun, as the kuffaar do.
The Sacred Months are mentioned by implication in the Qur’aan, but their names are not given. Their names are mentioned in the Sunnah:
It was reported from Abu Bakrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) 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.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 1741, in [Kitaab] al-Hajj, al-Khutbah Ayaam Mina; and by Muslim, no. 1679, in [Kitaab] al-Qisaamah, Baab Tahreem al-Dimaa’).
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 tamper with the months and change their order depending on whether they were in a state of war or not. This was the postponing referred to in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
“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.” [al-Tawbah 9:37]
It was also said that the reason why it was attributed to Mudar was because they venerated it and respected it so much, so it was attributed to them.
The reason why it is so called.
Ibn Faaris said in Mu’jam Maqaayees al-Lughah (p. 445):
The letters Ra’, jeem and ba’ form a root which indicates supporting and strengtheningsomething 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 venerated in Sharee’ah.
The people of the Jaahiliyyah used to call Rajab Munassil 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 want a rock, then if we found a better rock we would throw the first one aside and adopt 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. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari)
Al-Bayhaqi said: the people of the jaahiliyyah used to venerate 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 because it is one of these sacred months. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Oh you who believe! Violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of Allaah, nor of the Sacred Month…” [al-Maa’idah 5:2]
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 vile beliefs.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“so wrong not yourselves therein…” [al-Tawbah 9:36] 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).
*Mufassireen: the scholars or imams specialized on tafseer [explanation of the Holy Qur’an]
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 sanctity, for sins committed at this time are even worse, because of the sanctity of the time which Allaah has made sacred. Hence in the aayah quoted above, Allaah has forbidden us to wrong ourselves even though this – i.e., wronging ourselves, which includes committing sins – is forbidden during all the months of the year.
Fighting during the sacred months
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months. Say: fighting therein is a great (transgression)…” [al-Baqarah 2:217]
The majority of scholars state that (the prohibition of) fighting in the sacred months is abrogated by the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
“Then when the sacred months have passed, then kill the Mushrikeen wherever you find them…”[al-Tawbah 9:5] And other aayat and reports which are general in application and which include commands to fight them.
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 SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) against the people of al-Taa’if is interpreted in this way, because the fighting had begun at Hunayn during the month of Shawwaal.
The above does not apply to fighting in self-defence. If the enemy attacks the Muslim lands, it is obligatory for the inhabitants to defend themselves, whether that happens during a sacred month or not.