(Innovations) in the month of Rajab
Thursday, July 3, 2008
The Month of
By Mufti Taqi Usmani
Rajab is the seventh month in the Islamic lunar calendar. This month was
regarded as one of the sacred months (Al-Ashhur-al-hurum) in which battles were
prohibited in the days of the Holy Prophet . It is also a prelude to the month
of Ramadan, because Ramadan follows it after the intervening month of Sha’ban.
Therefore, when the Holy Prophet sighted the moon of Rajab, he used to pray to
Allah in the following words:
“O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach
the month of Ramadan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadan, so that we may
benefit from its merits and blessings).”
Yet no specific way of worship has been prescribed by the Shari’ah in this
month. However, some people have invented some special rituals or practices in
this month, which are not supported by reliable resources of the Shari’ah or
are based on some unauthentic traditions. We would like to explain here the
correct position about them.
1. Celebration of Lailatul Mi’raj
It is generally believed that the great event of Isra’ Mi’raj (ascension of the
Holy Prophet to the heavens) took place in the night of 27th of Rajab.
Therefore, some people celebrate the night as “Lailatul- Mi’raj” (the night of
ascension to heavens).
Indeed, the event of Mi'raj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life
of our beloved Holy Prophet . He was called by Almighty Allah. He traveled from
Makkah to Baitul-Maqdis and from there he ascended the heavens through the
miraculous power of Allah. He was honored with a direct contact with his Creator
at a place where even the angels had no access. This was the unique honor
conferred by Allah to the Holy Prophet alone. It was the climax of the
spiritual progress which is not attained by anybody except him. No doubt the
night in which he was blessed with this unparalleled honor was one of the
greatest nights in the history of this world.
But, Islam has its own principles with regard to the historic and religious
events. Its approach about observing festivals and celebrating days and nights
is totally different from the approach of other religions. The Holy Qur’an and
the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet did not prescribe any festival or any
celebration to commemorate an event from the past, however remarkable it might
have been. Instead, Islam has prescribed two annual celebrations only. One is
Eid-ul-Fitr and the other is Eid ul-Adha. Both of these festivals have been
fixed at a date on which the Muslims accomplish a great ‘ibadah (worship) every
year. Eid-ul-Fitr has been prescribed after the fasts of Ramadan, while
Eid-ul-Adha has been fixed when the Muslims perform the Hajj annually. None of
these two Eids is designed to commemorate a particular event of the past which
has happened in these dates. This approach is indicative of the fact that the
real occasion for a happy celebration is the day in which the celebrators
themselves have accomplished remarkable work through their own active effort.
As for the accomplishments of our ancestors, their commemoration should not be
restricted to a particular day or night. Instead, their accomplishments must be
remembered every day in the practical life by observing their teachings and
following the great examples they have set for us.
Keeping this principle in view, the following points should be remembered with
regard to the “Lailatul-Mi'raj”:
(1) We cannot say with absolute certainty in which night the great event of
Mi'raj took place. Although some traditions relate this event to 27th night of
the month of Rajab, yet there are other traditions that suggest other dates.
(2) After the demise of the Holy Prophet also, no one of his companions is
reported to celebrate this night as a night of special acts of worship. They
were the true devotees of the Holy Prophet and had devoted their lives to
preserve every minute detail of the sunnah of the Holy Prophet and other
Islamic teachings. Still, they did not celebrate the event of Mi'raj in a
particular night in a particular way.
All these points go a long way to prove that the celebration of the 27th night
of Rajab, being the Lailatul Mi'raj has no basis in the Sunnah of the Holy
Prophet or in the practice of his noble companions. Had it been a commendable
practice to celebrate this night, the exact date of this event would have been
preserved accurately by the Ummah and the Holy Prophet and his blessed
companions would have given specific directions for it. Therefore, it is not a
Sunnah to celebrate the Lailatul-Mi'raj’.
We cannot declare any practice as a sunnah unless it is established through
authentic sources that the Holy Prophet or is noble Companions have recognized
it as such, otherwise it may become a Bid'ah about which the Holy Prophet has
observed in the following words: “Whoever invents something in our religion
which is not a part of it, it is to be rejected.”
However, all the recognised modes of ‘ibadah (worship) like Salat, recitation
of the Holy Qur’an, Dhikr, etc. are commendable any time, especially in the
late hours of night, and obviously the 27th night of Rajab is not an exception.
Therefore, if someone performs any recognised ‘ibadah in this night from this
point of view nothing can stop him from doing so, and he will be entitled to
the thawab (reward allocated for that recognized ‘ibadah Insha'Allah.) But it
is not permissible to believe that performing ‘ibadah in this night is more
meritorious or carries more thawab like ‘Lailatul-Qadr’ or ‘Lailatul-bara’ah’,
because this belief is not based on any authentic verse or on a sunnah of the
Holy Prophet . Similarly, it is not a correct practice to celebrate this night
collectively and to invite people to special ritual congregations.
2. Fasting in the month of Rajab
It is believed by some that the Muslims should keep fast on 27th of Rajab.
Although there are some traditions attributing special merits to the fast of
this day yet the scholars of hadith have held these traditions as very weak and
unauthentic reports which cannot be sufficient to establish a rule of Shari’ah.
On the contrary, there is an authentic report that Sayyidina ‘Umar, Radi-Allahu
anhu, used to forbid people from fasting on this day, rather to compel them to
eat if they had started fasting. It should be borne in mind here that a “Nafl”
fast can be observed any day (except the six prohibited days of the year);
therefore, fasting on 27th of Rajab is not prohibited in itself. What is
prohibited is the belief that fasting on this day is more meritorious than
fasting in other normal days. One should not fast in this day with this belief.
But if someone fasts therein, believing it to be a normal nafl fast, there is
no bar against it.
3. Sacrifice (qurbaani) in the month of Rajab
In the days of ignorance (Jahiliyyah) 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 so-called
gods and their icons. In the beginning of Islam, this custom was retained, but
the Muslims modified it by offering the sacrifice of ‘Atirah in the name of
Allah instead of the false gods. But finally, this custom was abandoned and the
Holy Prophet prohibited the offering of ‘Atirah. In a tradition of Sayyidna Abu
Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Holy
Prophet has said: “Fara’ is nothing and ‘Atirah is nothing.”
Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, has explained in the same tradition 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.
Since the Holy Prophet stopped both these customs, ‘Atirah is no longer a
4. ‘Umrah in the month of Rajab
Ibn ‘Abidin, the well-known scholar of the Islamic jurisprudence, has mentioned
that the people of Makkah (in his days) used to perform ‘umrah in the month of
Rajab. Perhaps they believed that performing ‘umrah in this month is more
meritorious than in other months. Then Ibn Abidin himself has rejected the
authenticity of this practice, because no tradition of the Holy Prophet is
found to this effect. Conversely Sayyidah ‘Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has
expressly negated the presumption by saying that the Holy Prophet never
performed an ‘umrah in the month of Rajab (Sahih Muslim 1:409). Therefore,
performing ‘Umrah in this month is like performing it in any other month and no
special merit can be attached to it merely because it has been performed in the
month of Rajab.
5. The Salat of “Ragha’ib”
Another special mode of worship attributed by some people to this month is the
Salat of Raghai’b. According to the custom of such people, this Salat is
performed in the night of first Friday of the month of Rajab. This type of
Salat is also not based on any sound source of Shari’ah. Therefore, almost all
the jurists and scholars of Shari’ah have held that the Salat of Raghaib is a
baseless practice and it is not permissible to treat it as a recognised
practice of this month. It is true that there is a tradition, narrated by
Razin, the author of a book of hadith, which attributes the origin of this
practice to the Holy Prophet but almost all the scholars of the science of
hadith have held it to be absolutely unauthentic. Therefore, no importance can
be attached to it.
Be that as it may, it is evident that such customs have crept into the Muslim
society by their long association with Hindus who commemorate different
historical events of their religion in the like manner. The Muslims must be
careful about these customs, because they are not only an invention of
ignorance but also the imitation of non-Muslims in their religious rituals. No
doubt the “‘isal-al-thawab’ to the soul of a deceased Muslim, and particularly
to a pious person is not only permissible but also a commendable practice but
the Shari’ah has not prescribed a particular date, nor a particular mode to do
so. If someone wants to make “‘isal-al-thawab” to Sayyidna ‘Ali, Radi-Allahu
anhu, or to Ja’far al-Sadiq, he can do it any day and by performing any act of
worship, like Solat, fast, Sadaqah, dhikr etc. There is no reason why it should
be restricted to a special type of meal or bread distributed on a particular
date. What makes this practice worse is the fact that the people accustomed to
this practice deem it as necessary as a fardh (obligation); rather they treat
it as more necessary than fardh because they do not care to perform the
obligatory Salat or to fulfill the rights of men obligated on them, but they
are very strict and punctual to perform these activities. Moreover, if a person
does not observe this practice, they reproach him and call him with bad names.
Such behavior makes this custom a Bid'ah which is condemned by the Holy Prophet
as a misguidance. Therefore, the Muslims must abandon all such practices and should
not cling to it only because it has been the practice of their society for many
years. A Muslim is supposed to follow the dictates of Shari’ah and not the
practice of the society, if it violates any of its principles.
The upshot of the above discussion is that the Shari’ah has not prescribed any
specific way to observe the month of Rajab or to perform a specific mode of
worship or a ritual in any one of its dates. However, being a prologue to the
month of Ramadan, it should be availed of for preparing oneself for Ramadan and
one should pray Allah to make him reach the blessed month and to benefit from
its unique merits.
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