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Month of Rajab and Sacred Months

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At the beginning of Islam, Allaah The Almighty prescribed prohibiting fighting in the sacred months.

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Imam Al-Bukhaari and Muslim reported in their Saheehs from the Hadeeth of Abi Bakarah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, gave a speech in Al-Wadaa‘ (i.e. Farewell) Hajj in which he said: «Time has come back to its original state which it had when Allaah The Almighty created the Heavens and the Earth; the year is twelve months, four of which are sacred. Three of them are in succession; Thul-Qa‘dah, Thul-Hijjah and Al-Muharram, and (the fourth being) Rajab Mudar (named after the tribe of Mudar as they used to respect this month) which stands between Jumad (ath-thaani) and Sha‘ban».

 

Furthermore, Allaah The Almighty said:

{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}

‘Translation’ {Indeed, the number of months with Allaah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allaah [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 Allaah is with the righteous [who fear Him].} [At-Tawba:36].

 

1. The verse and the Hadeeth indicate that since Allaah The Almighty created heavens and earth, He The Exalted made the year twelve months according to the appearance of the moon. Accordingly, year in Islam is estimated by the move of the moon and its appearance not by the move of the sun as the people of the Scripture do. Allaah The Almighty made of such months four months sacred and the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, explained them in this Hadeeth and stated that they are three in succession; Thul-Qa‘dah, Thul-Hijjah and Al-Muharram, and one alone; the month of Rajab.

 

2. Muslim scholars held different opinions regarding which of such months are best? It was said: “It is the month of Rajab. This was expressed by some Shaafi‘i scholars; however, An-Nawawi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, and others deemed this opinion weak. It was also said: “It is the month of Al-Muharram.” This opinion was expressed by Al-Hasan and An-Nawawi, may Allaah have mercy upon him, adopted it. Then it was said: “It is the month of Thul-Hijjah.” This was reported from Sa‘eed ibn Jubayr and others. Ibn Rajab, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “It is the most preponderant and Allaah Knows best.”

 

3. The statement of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him: «Time has come back to its original state which it had when Allaah The Almighty created the Heavens and the Earth; the year is twelve months,…» refers to refuting what the people during the Pre-Islamic era used to do of postponing sacred months as Allaah The Almighty says:

{إِنَّمَا النَّسِيءُ زِيَادَةٌ فِي الْكُفْرِ‌ ۖ يُضَلُّ بِهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُ‌وا يُحِلُّونَهُ عَامًا وَيُحَرِّ‌مُونَهُ عَامًا لِّيُوَاطِئُوا عِدَّةَ مَا حَرَّ‌مَ اللَّـهُ فَيُحِلُّوا مَا حَرَّ‌مَ اللَّـهُ ۚ زُيِّنَ لَهُمْ سُوءُ أَعْمَالِهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِ‌ينَ}

‘Translation’ {Indeed, the postponing [of restriction within sacred months] is an increase in disbelief by which those who have disbelieved are led [further] astray. They make it lawful one year and unlawful another year to correspond to the number made unlawful by Allaah and [thus] make lawful what Allaah has made unlawful. Made pleasing to them is the evil of their deeds; and Allaah does not guide the disbelieving people.} [At-Tawba:37].

 

Muslim scholars held different opinions regarding such postponing. Some said: “They used to exchange some of the sacred months with some other months and made them sacred instead of them. They even used to make lawful whatever they wish of the sacred months if they want that; however, they used not to increase the number of the lunar months. Some of those who adopted this opinion said: “They used to make Al-Muharram lawful and thus make fighting in it lawful for the long period of prohibiting fighting due to the succession of three sacred months and then make the month of Safar sacred instead of it as if they borrow a long and then pay it off. Some of them said: “They used to make Muharram along with Safar lawful and call them Safarayn (i.e. two months of Safar) and then make them sacred in the next year and call them Muharramayn (i.e. two months of Muharram).” This was expressed by Ibn Zayd ibn Aslam. A third group of them said: “Rather, they may also need Safar and thus made it lawful and make Rabee‘ unlawful instead and so on until Islam came and coincides with the Farewell pilgrimage of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, the sacredness returned to the real month of Muharram. This is what Abu ‘Ubydah adopted. Accordingly, change was made in the sacred months in particular.

 

Another group said: “They used to increase the number of the months of the year and actually the apparent meaning of the verse refers to this. Allaah The Almighty says:

{إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ‌ عِندَ اللَّـهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ‌ شَهْرً‌ا}

‘Translation’ {Indeed, the number of months with Allaah is twelve [lunar] months…} [At-Tawba:36].

 

He The Exalted mentioned this as a kind of paving the way before destroying and refuting the idea of postponing sacred months. Some of this group said: “They used to make year thirteen months as said by Mujaahid, may Allaah have mercy upon him.” It was also said: “They used to make the year thirteen months and postpone every month to what comes after it.” Some of this group also said: “People during the Pre-Islamic era used to make the year twelve months and five days as expressed by Iyaas Ibn Mu‘aawiyah.”  

 

4. Scholar held different opinions regarding in which year Hajj was returned to the month of Thul-Hijjah and time has come back to its original state. Some scholars said: “It returned to its proper time during the Farewell Hajj.” As for the pilgrimage of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, may Allaah be pleased with him, it was occurred in Thul-Qa‘dah. This is the opinion of Mujaahid, ‘Ikrimah ibn Khaalid and others. Another group said: “The pilgrimage of Abu Bakr, may Allaah be pleased with him, was occurred in Thul-Hijjah.” This is the opinion of Ahmad and rejected the opinion of Mujaahid and substantiated his opinion with what the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, told ‘Ali, may Allaah be pleased with him, to proclaim on the Day of Sacrifice, “After this year no Mushrik (i.e. non-Muslim) is allowed to perform Hajj.” and in another narration: “This is the day of the greater Hajj.” and that Allaah The Almighty:

{وَأَذَانٌ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ وَرَ‌سُولِهِ إِلَى النَّاسِ يَوْمَ الْحَجِّ الْأَكْبَرِ‌ أَنَّ اللَّـهَ بَرِ‌يءٌ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِ‌كِينَ ۙ وَرَ‌سُولُهُ }

‘Translation’ {And [it is] an announcement from Allaah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allaah is disassociated from the disbelievers, and [so is] His Messenger…} [At-Tawba:3], he called it the day of greater pilgrimage and this indicates that the call occurs in Thul-Hijjah. ‘Amr ibn Shu‘ayb reported from his father from his grandfather that the Arabs used to made lawful one month in one year and two months in another year and did not perform Hajj except once in every twenty-six years. It is the postponing that Allaah The Almighty has stated in His Book. The year in which Abu Bakr, may Allaah be pleased with him, performed Hajj coincides with the proper time of Hijjah, Allaah The Almighty called it the Day of the greater Hajj and then the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, performed Hajj in the next year and people began to know well the orders of lunar months and thus the Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, said:  «Time has come back to its original state which it had when Allaah The Almighty created the Heavens and the Earth;…» (At-Tabaraani in Al-Mu‘jam Al-Waseed (2909)).

 

5. Scholars differed regarding why such four months called sacred? It was said, because of their sacredness or the prohibition of committing sins in them. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with them, that Allaah The Almighty single out four months, made them sacred, and made committing sins in them is of severe punishment and made the righteous act and reward in them great. Ka‘b, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “Allaah The Almighty chose the time and the most beloved of them for Him are the sacred months. It was narrated in a Marfoo‘ (i.e. traceable) Hadeeth but it is not authentic. It was said regarding the saying of Allaah The Almighty: “…so do not wrong yourselves during them…”, it refers to the sacred months and it was said: “This is in the whole months of the year.” It was also said: “They are called sacred for prohibiting fighting in them and this was well known in the pre-Islamic era. A fourth opinion said: “This was from the time of Ibraaheem (Abraham), may Allaah exalt his mention.”

 

At the beginning of Islam, Allaah The Almighty prescribed prohibiting fighting in the sacred months. Allaah The Almighty says:

{لَا تُحِلُّوا شَعَائِرَ‌ اللَّـهِ وَلَا الشَّهْرَ‌ الْحَرَ‌امَ}

‘Translation’ {…Violate not the sanctity of the Symbols of Allaah, nor of the Sacred Month,…} [Al-Ma'ida:2].

{يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ‌ الْحَرَ‌امِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ‌ ۖ وَصَدٌّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَكُفْرٌ‌ بِهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَ‌امِ وَإِخْرَ‌اجُ أَهْلِهِ مِنْهُ أَكْبَرُ‌ عِندَ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ‌ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ }

‘Translation’ {They ask you about the sacred month - about fighting therein. Say, "Fighting therein is great [sin], but averting [people] from the way of Allaah and disbelief in Him and [preventing access to] Al-Masjid Al-Haraam and the expulsion of its people therefrom are greater [evil] in the sight of Allaah. And Fitnah is greater than killing."...} [Al-Baqara:217].

 

Ibn Abu Hatim reported with his Isnaad that Jundub ibn ‘Abdullaah,may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, assembled a group of men under the command of ‘Abdullaah ibn Jahsh, may Allaah be pleased with him. They found Ibn Hadrami (one of the disbelievers of Quraysh) and killed him not knowing that that day was in Rajab or Jumadi (where Rajab is the Sacred Month). The polytheists said to the Muslims, "You have committed murder in the Sacred Month.'' Allaah The Almighty then revealed:

{يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ‌ الْحَرَ‌امِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ‌}

‘Translation’ {They ask you about the sacred month - about fighting therein. Say, "Fighting therein is great [sin],…} [Al-Baqara:217].

Such story was reported in much detail from Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allaah be pleased with them. The polytheists said:

‘Muhammad claims that he adheres to the commands of Allaah while he is the first one violated the sanctity of the sacred months?’ Muslims answered: ‘We have killed him in Jumaada and it was said in the first day of Rajab and the last night of Jumaada and then Muslim stopped fighting when the sacred month of Rajab started and thus Allaah The Almighty revealed the following verse, rebuking the people of Makkah:

{يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ‌ الْحَرَ‌امِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ‌}

{They ask you about the sacred month - about fighting therein. Say, "Fighting therein is great [sin],…} [Al-Baqara:217].

It is prohibited but what you have done, O polytheists, is greater than killing during the sacred months i.e. when you disbelieved in Allaah The Almighty and averted people away from Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him, and his Companions and expelled the people of the Majsid Al-Haraam (when they expelled Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him), is greater [evil] than killing in the Sight of Allaah The Almighty.

 

Ibn Ishaaq stated that this was in the last day of the sacred month of Rajab and Muslims fear that if they let them (polytheists) pass, they will soon enter the Sacred Area and take refuge in it from them. When the Sariyah came back to Allaah's Messenger, peace and blessing be upon him, he said to them: «I have not commanded you to conduct warfare during the Sacred Month».

He took nothing of their booties. The Quraysh said that Muhammad and his Companions violated the sanctity of the Sacred Month and shed blood, confiscated property and took prisoners during it. Those who refuted them among the Muslims who remained in Makkah replied that the Muslims had done that during the month of Sha‘baan (which is not a sacred month).The people continued talking about this matter, then Allaah The Almighty revealed to His Messenger:

{يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ‌ الْحَرَ‌امِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ‌}

‘Translation’ {They ask you about the sacred month - about fighting therein. Say, "Fighting therein is great [sin],…} [Al-Baqara:217].

The same story was reported from ‘Urwah, Az-Zuhri and others and said that it is the first booty Muslim got.

 

6. As for the reason behind making such four months sacred among Arabs, it was said that it is to give people chance to perform Hajj and ‘Umrah. Accordingly, Allaah The Almighty made the month of Thul-Hijjah for performing Hajj in it, and the month of Thul-Qi‘dah due to walking to Hajj in it and the month of Al-Muharram due to returning from Hajj. In this way, the pilgrim will feel safe on himself when gets out from his house until he returns. Again, Allaah The Almighty made the month of Rajab sacred so that people may perform ‘Umrah during the middle of the year and thus the one who is near Makkah can do ‘Umrah in it.

 

7. Scholars held different opinions regarding the ruling of fighting in the sacred months whether its prohibition still valid or abrogated. Majority of scholars view that its prohibition was abrogated. Imam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy upon him, and some other scholars stated its abrogation. A group of our Salaf (i.e. righteous predecessors) such as ‘Ataa’ view that its prohibition still valid. This is opinion was also adopted by some latter scholars and substantiated their opinion by the verse of Soorat Al-Maa’idah which it is one of the last chapters revealed from Quran. It was said that it has no abrogation. ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “It was the last revealed Soorah. So, follow what you find in it concerning Halaal (i.e. permissible) and avoid what you find in it concerning Haraam (i.e. impermissible).” (Reported by Ahmad in his Musnad (6/188); and Al-Haakim (2/311) and deemed it authentic according to the conditions of the two Sheykhs Al-Bukhaari and Muslim).

 

Imam Ahmad also recorded that Jabir ibn ‘Abdullaah said, "The Messenger of Allaah, peace and blessing be upon him, would not engage in warfare during the Sacred Month unless he was first attacked, then he would march forth. He would otherwise remain idle until the end of the Sacred Months.” (Reported in Al-Musnad 3/334-345 with an authentic chain of narrators).

 

Some others mentioned that the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, laid siege to At-Taa’if in Shawwaal and when the (sacred) month of Thul-Qa‘adah started, he, peace and blessing be upon him, did not fight them; rather, he ended the siege and went back to Medina, and so did the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, while performing the ‘Umrah of Al-Hudaybiyyah. He, peace and blessing be upon him, did not fight until he was told that ‘Uthmaan was killed (in Makkah). He, peace and blessing be upon him, accepted the pledge from his Companions under the tree to fight the polytheists. However, when the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, was informed that ‘Uthmaan was not killed, he abandoned the fight and reverted to peace.

 

Majority of scholars substantiated their opinion by the idea that the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, went on fighting after the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him, conquering countries and striving in the Cause of Allaah The Almighty. It was not reported from anyone of them that he stopped fighting while it needs him during the sacred months. This actually indicates that they all agree on abrogating this. Allaah The Almighty knows best.

 

8. The statement of the Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him: «Rajab Mudar», Rajab was called so because it used to be Urjab i.e. honored as it was expressed by Al-Asma‘i, Al-Mufadhil and the Faraa’.

 

As for annexing it to Mudhar, it was said: because the tribe of Mudhar used to honor it greater than any other tribe and thus attributed to them for this reason. It was also said, the tribe of Rabee‘ah used to deem Ramadhaan sacred while Mudhar used to deem Rajab sacred and thus named after them. He, peace and blessing be upon him, confirmed this by saying: «…which stands between Jumad (ath-thaani) and Sha‘ban».

 

9. Some scholars have stated that the month of Rajab has fourteen names; month of Allaah, Rajab Mudhar, Mansal Al-Asinah, Al-Asam, Al-Asabb, Manafis, Mudahhir, Ma‘ali, Muqeem, Hiram, Muqashqish, Mubri’, and Fard. Some others said: It has seventeen names and thus added: Rajm, Manasil Al-Aalah referring to the spear and Munzi‘ Al-Asinnah.

 


Source: Alssunnah Net

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