By Imam A. Rashied Omar
By the Grace of Allah, we have once again been blessed to witness the seventh lunar month of Rajab. Every year we draw attention to the onset of the lunar month of Rajab for three main reasons, which I will once again reflect on in this khutbah.
The first reason, is to remind us that, according to most historians, it was on the 27th night of Rajab that the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) night journey and ascension known as Al-Isra’ Wal M`iraj occurred.
The second reason we always draw attention to the onset of Rajab, is because the month of Rajab comes as a timely reminder of the imminence of the blessed month of Ramadan. Hence it is an opportune time to prepare for welcoming the blessed month of Ramadan, which will commence in less than twomonths’ time, at the beginning of April 2022, Insha-Allah.
The mystical scholar Abu Bakr Warraq, used to say:
Rajab is a month of cultivation,
Shaban is a month of irrigating the fields, and the month of Ramadan is a month of reaping and harvesting.
The twentieth century Egyptian jurist, Shaykh `Abd al-Rahman al-Juzayri in his Kitabal-fiqh `ala al-madhahib al-arba`a (Islamic law according to the Four Schools), informs us that according to the Shafi`is, the Hanafis and the Malikis it is recommended (mandub) to fast during the month of Rajab as a nafila or extra act of worship.
Moreover, fasting or the performance of any other extra acts of worship with the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah and improving oneself is virtuous in and of itself. Fasting during Rajab and Sha`ban is also a useful way of preparing oneself for the onset of the blessed month of Ramadan and benefitting more fully from its unique merits.
I advise myself first and then you, to dedicate a few of the days of this blessed month of Rajab in fasting. In these challenging times of the pandemic, fasting and performing other optional acts of worship can also provide us with solace and comfort in putting our trust in Allah.
The third and final reason we draw attention to the onset of Rajab, is that it is included as one of the four sacred months mentioned in Surah al-Taubah, Chapter 9, verse 36, in which Allah, the Most High, proclaims the following:
The number of months with Allah is twelve (in a year), so ordained and decreed by Allah the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these (twelve months) four of them are sacred; that is the way of the upright ever-true religion. So do not wrong your souls by fighting during these (months), but only fight in a united front against those who ascribe divinity to others besides God if they first fight against you collectively. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves and always remain conscious and mindful of Him.
In one prophetic tradition (hadith) narrated by the companion, Abu Bakrah (may Allah be pleased with him) and recorded in the hadith compilations of Imams Bukhari and Muslim the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said the following during a sermon he delivered while performing his farewell pilgrimage:
Three (of the sacred months) are in succession;
Dhul-Qa`idah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram,
and (the fourth month is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar
which comes between Jumada (Al-Thani) and Sha`ban.
According to the ancient customs and traditions of the Arabs prior to the advent of Islam, all fighting was deemed utterly wrong and warfare was considered blasphemous during the four lunar months of Muharram, Rajab, Dhu al-Qaìda and Dhu al-Hijja. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) identified these same four months as the sacred months referred to in the Qur’an, since it re-affirmed a pre-Islamic tradition that resonated with the peaceful spirit and ethos of Islam.
This hadith is thus a testimony to Islam as a faith tradition that seeks to lift up and celebrate the good and morally sublime aspects of any society, more especially if these resonate with that of its own teachings and values. In this case, the identification of the four sacred lunar months by the Prophet (pbuh), endorsed a pre-Islamic tradition that eschewed warfare and promoted peace and harmony. The month of Rajab is therefore a reminder to us once again about this ideal state of Islam – a religion in which we strive for peace, justice and harmony.
In conclusion, the companion Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) informs us that the Prophet (pbuh) used to make the following (du`a) supplication, during the month of Rajab:
“Allahuma Barik lana fi Rajab wa Sha`ban wa ballighna
‘O Allah bless us in months of Rajab and Sha`ban and let us reach the month of Ramadan‘
(i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadan, so that we may benefit from its great merits and spiritual blessings).”
We pray that Allah, the Sublime, will once again afford us with the wonderful opportunity of this year witnessing the great spiritual blessings of the blessed month of Ramadan. Allahumma Amin.