The Origin of Naming Month Rajab
This particular month was named as “Rajab”, which comes from the word “Rajjaba -yurajjibu”, means “to glorify”. It was named so, because it is a month that was glorified by the ancient Arabs. (An explanation of Al Ashma’i, cited from the book “Lathaif Al Ma’arif”, page 210)
The Virtue of Month Rajab
Rajab is one of the four sacred months
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
“Surely the reckoning of months, in the sight of Allah, is twelve months, laid down in Allah’s decree on the day when He created the heavens and the earth; and out of these months four are sacred. That is the true ordainment. Do not, therefore, wrong yourselves, with respect to these months. And fight all together against those who associate others with Allah in His Divinity in the manner that they fight against you all together, and know well that Allah is with the God-fearing.” (The Repentance: 36)
The Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said:
إِنَّ الزَّمَانَ قَدِ اسْتَدَارَ كَهَيْئَتِهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ السَّنَةُ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ
ثَلاَثَةٌ مُتَوَالِيَاتٌ ذُو الْقَعْدَةِ وَذُو الْحِجَّةِ وَالْمُحَرَّمُ وَرَجَبٌ شَهْرُ مُضَرَ الَّذِى بَيْنَ جُمَادَى وَشَعْبَانَ
“Time has come back to its original state which it had when Allâh created the heavens and the earth,(1) the year is of twelve months, of which four are sacred; (and out of these four) three are in succession, namely, Dhul-Qa’da, Dhul-Hijja and Muharram, and (the fourth one) Rajab Mudar which is between Jumâd (Ath-Thâni) and Sha’bân.” (Narrated by Al Bukhari and Muslim)
Rajab was termed as “Rajab Mudar” due to the highest devotion of the Mudar tribe to uphold the sacrality of this month compared to the other tribes. After that, The Prophet- may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- gave a limitation: “between Jumad Ath Thani and Sha’ban”, to strengthen what he meant. (Taken from “Umdatul Qori”, 26/305)
Other sources mentioned that it was called “Rajab Mudhar” to distinguish it from the month that was honored by the tribe of Rabi’a. Rabi’a tribe honored the Ramadan, while Mudar tribe glorified the Rajab. That is why, this month was referred to Mudar tribe.
The Weak Hadiths Regarding Month Rajab
1. “Indeed, in Paradise. there is a river called Rajab river. It’s water is whiter than milk, sweeter than honey, whoever fasts a day in the month of Rajab, Allah will give him drinks from that river.” (Narrated by Abu Al Qasim At Taimi in “At Targhib wa At Tarhib”, Al Hafidz Al Ashbahani in a book titled “Fadhlu Ash shiyam”, and Al Baihaqi in “Fadhail Auqat”. Ibn Al Jauzi said, in “Al Ilal Al Mutanahiya”: There are some unknown narrators in it’s chain, (thus) the status is weak in general, but cannot be classified as false hadith.)
2. “Allahumma baarik lana fii rajabin wa sya’banaa wa ballighna Ramadhaana.” (Narrated by Ahmad, and among it’s narrators was Zaidah Ibn Abi Raqqad. who took narration from Ziyadah An Numairi. Regarding these narrators, Imam Bukhari said: Their hadith are false. While Ibn Hibban said: their hadith could not be used as argumentation.)
3. “Indeed the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- never fast after Ramadan, but in the month Rajab and Sha’ban.” (Narrated by Al Baihaqi. Ibn Hajar said, “This is a false hadith, due to a narrator named Yusuf Ibn Athiya, he is a very weak narrator.” [Taken from ‘Tabyin Al Ajbi, page 12])
4. “Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha’ban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my followers.” (Narrated by Abu Bakr N Naqash. Al Hafidz Abu al Fadhl Muhammad Ibn Nashir said: An Naqashi is a falsifier of hadith, a liar. Ibn Al Jauzi, As Shaghani, and As Suyuthi termed this hadith as a false hadith.)
5. Hadith: “The excellence of Ramadan compared to other months, is like the excellence of the Qur’an compared to the other remembrances.” (Ibn Hajar said, Among the narrators of this hadith is As Saqathi, he is a source of fallacies and notorious as a falsifier of hadith.)
6. “Rajab is the month of Allah Al Asham. Whoever fasts for a whole day in the month of Rajab, due to his faith and strong wishes to get rewards, he deserves to get a big rewards from Allah” (A false hadith. Ash Shaukani explained this in the book titled “Al Fawaid Al Majmu’ah)
7. “Whoever performs three days fasts in month Rajab, Allah will write down for him a full-month of fasts. Whoever performs seven days fasts, Allah will close seven doors of Hell.” (A False hadith, as explained by Ibn Al Jauzi in ‘Al Maudhu’at, 2:206)
8. “Whoever performs maghrib prayer at the first night of month Rajab, after that he performs 20 rak’ahs prayer, in every rak’ah he recite chapter Al Fatihah and al ikhlas once, and he performs 10 times salaam, do you know what are his rewards? ……” (the continued part of hadith: Allah will safeguard him, his family, his wealth, and his children. He is protected from the tortures of the grave….) (A false hadith, as explained by Ibn Al Jauzi in ‘Al Maudhu’at’, 2:123)
9. Whoever fasts in the month of Rajab, and he performs 4 rak’ahs prayer, ……he will not die until he sees his place in Heaven or he is being showed of that place. (A false hadith, as explained by Ibn Al Jauzi in ‘Al Maudhu’at’, 2:124; ‘Al Fawa’id Al Majmu’ah’, page 47)
10. Hadith about the Raghaib prayer: “Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha’ban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my followers…. but you shall not forget about the first friday night at the month of Rajab, since that night is the night referred by the angels as ‘The Raghaib’. Where, when one-third of the night time has passed, none of the angels on every layers of the skies and the earths, but will gather around the Ka’bah and it’s surrounding. Then Allah will look upon them and say, “O my angels, ask whatever you want. They reply, ‘O our Lord, our wish is that You forgive those who loves to perform fast on the month of Rajab. Allah say, “I’ve already done that”. The The Prophet – may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said’ “Whoever fasts on the first thursday of the month Rajab, after that he performs 12 rak’ahs prayer between maghrib and isha’ – at the friday night- ….” (A False hadith, as explained by Ibn Al Jauzi in ‘Al Maudhu’at’, 2:124-126, Ibn Hajar in “Tabyin al ‘Ujbi” , page 22-24, and Ash Shaukani in ‘Al Fawa’id Al Majmu’ah, page 47-50)
11. “Whoever performs 14 rak’ahs prayer at the night of the middle of month Rajab, in every rak’ah he recite chapter Al Fatihah once and chapter Al Ikhlas 20 times…” (A false hadith, as explained by Ibn Al Jauzi in ‘Al Maudhu’at’, 2:126, Ibn Hajar in “Tabyin al ‘Ujbi”, page 25, and Ash Shaukani in ‘Al Fawa’id Al Majmu’ah, page 50)
12. “Verily, month Rajab is a great month, whoever performs one day fasts, Allah will write down for him 1000 years of fasting…” (A false hadith, as explained by Ibn Al Jauzi in ‘Al Maudhu’at’, 2:206-207, Ibn Hajar in “Tabyin al ‘Ujbi”, page 26, Ash Shaukani in ‘Al Fawa’id Al Majmu’ah, page 101, As Suyuthi in “Al Lali’ Al Mashnu’ah, 2/115)
Month Rajab, on The Eyes of The Pagans
The pagans truly respected the month Rajab, implied by the vast amounts of worshipping practices they performed in this month. Amongst their worship rituals were animals slaughtering, which was termed “atirah” or “Rajabiyah”. They presented the slaughtered animals to their deities. The also performed fasts on this month, ended by the slaughtering procession of ‘atirah. The pagans also prohibited any battles or wars during the month Rajab.
Aside from that, they gave names to that month. Some people said, that this month possesses 14 names. Amongst them were: Syahrullah (the month of Allah), Rajab, Rajab Mudar, Munshilul Asinnah, Al Asham, etc. Some even mentioned that this month has 17 names. Whereas the people of that time held a principle that something that has numerous names means that it is a noble thing.
At the past, the pagans chose the month Rajab to invoke calamity upon those who had oppressed them, and usually the invocation was granted, This fact once was told to Umar Ibn Khattab, and he said, “Indeed Allah did so to distance between a tribe and the others tribes. And Allah created the Day of Resurrection as the day of responsibility.”
It was mentioned in a narration from Kharshah Ibn Al Har, that he saw Umar Ibn Khattab hit the palms of several people, until they placed their hands inside a container, then he ordered them, “Eat! (do not fast). Because previously, this month was glorified by the pagans.” (Narrated by Ibn Abi Syaiba, classed sahih by Al Albani)
The Voluntary Deeds at The Month Rajab
There are no particular deeds regarding the month Rajab, either in prayers, fasting, charity, or minor pilgrimage (Umra’). Majority of the scholars had explained that the hadith about particular deeds in the month of Rajab are false and rejected hadith.
Ibn Hajar said: “There are no valid narrations to be used as a basis to acknowledge the virtue of the month Rajab, either in the form of a whole month fasting, or fast at specific date of the month, or the night prayer at particular night of it. This explanation has been preceded by the explanation of Imam Abu Isma’il Al Harawi (Taken from, “Tabyinul Ujub bimaa warada fii Fadli Rajab, page 6)
Imam Ibn Rajab said: “There are no valid indications that mention about the particular suggested form of worship during the month Rajab. As for the hadith about the virtue of of Raghaib prayer performed on the first friday night of the month Rajab, it is a false hadith, bad, and invalid one. The raghaib prayer itself is an innovation, according to the majority of the scholars.” (Taken from “Lathaif Al Ma’arif”, page 213)
Regarding the issue of fasting in the month of Rajab, Imam Ibn Rajab also commented, that there are no valid hadith narrated from the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- about the specific virtue of the month Rajab. But there is a narration from Abu Qilaba, where he said: “There is a castle in heaven for those who keenly performs fasts in the month Rajab.” But this narration is not hadith. Imam Al Baihaqi commented upon Abu Qilaba’s saying: “Abu Qilaba is one of the senior of the tabi’in (students of the companions of the Prophet), he did not convey the narration but merely a news without valid chain of narration.” (Taken from “Lathaif al Ma’arif”, page 213)
First: Voluntary fast at the haram months
Despite the previous fact, if someone performs fast during the month of Rajab with an intention to perform voluntary fast at the haram months, it is allowed, even advisable, for him to do so. This is due to a hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Al Baihaqi, and the others, which mentions that once a man from the tribe of Bahili came to the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said. He asked the Prophet to be taught to fast. The Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- advised him, “Perform one day fast in every month.” He said, “I am still able (to do more, -editor), add it for me!” “Two days in a month”. He said, “I am still able to do it, add it for me!” “Three days in a month.” The man still asked for more. Then the Prophet-may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said: “Perform fast during the haram months and take a break from it (after the haram months).” (This hadith is classed sahih by some of the scholars, but classed weak by the others,) But it was narrated that some of the scholars of the predecessors fast at the whole haram months. Among them are: Ibn Umar, Hasan Al Bashri, and Abu Ishaq As Suba’i.
Second: Performing minor pilgrimage specifically due to the month Rajab
It is narrated that Ibn Umar once said, “The Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- performed minor pilgrimage at the month of Rajab. His saying was denied by ‘Aisha and he kept silent.” (Narrated by Al Bukhari and Muslim).
Umar Ibn Khattab and several companions suggested to perform minor pilgrimage during the month Rajab. ‘Aisha and Ibn Umar also performed minor pilgrimage at the month Rajab.
Ibn Sirin said, that the companions performed it. Because the best way of performing hajj and the minor pilgrimage is to perform the hajj in a discrete journey, and the minor pilgrimage in a discrete journey too, outside the months of hajj. (Taken from “Al Bida’ Al Hauliya”, page 119)
From the explanation of Ibn Rajab, it is implicated that the law of performing the minor pilgrimage during the month Rajab is that it is suggested. He argued using the suggestion of Umar Ibn Khattab to perform the minor pilgrimage at the month of Rajab. And it was practiced by ‘Aisha and Ibn Umar.
It was narrated from Al Baihaqi, from Sa’id Ibn Al Musayyib, that ‘Aisha -may Allah be pleased with her- performed the minor pilgrimage at the end of the month Dzul Hijja, she departed from Juhfa, she performed the minor pilgrimage at the month Rajab from Medina, and she started from Medina, but she proclaimed her intention (ihram) from the Dzul Hulaifa. (Narrated by Al Baihaqi, and it’s status is good)
But there were some scholars who considered performing the minor pilgrimage at the month Rajab is not advised, due to the lack of specific indication regarding such act. Ibn Athhar said: Among the news that reached me from the dwellers of Mecca, was the numerous visits (to the city) at the month Rajab. This occurrence is one of the issue which (it’s) indication is yet unknown to us. Even, there is a valid hadith that mentions that the Prophet – may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said, “(Performing) the minor pilgrimage at the month Ramadan equals the value of performing hajj.” (Narrated by Al Bukhari)
Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim Alu Sheikh said that the scholars denied the practice of making the month Rajab as a specific month to increase the implementation of the minor pilgrimage. (Taken from “Majmu’ Fatawa Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim”, 6/131)
The stronger opinion regarding this issue is that making the month of Rajab as a particular month to perform the minor pilgrimage does not have a basis in shari’a, due to the lack of indications about the suggestion to specify the month Rajab to perform the minor pilgrimage. Besides that, the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- himself never performed minor pilgrimage at the month Rajab, as what mentioned in the previous hadith.
If only there is a virtue in specifying the minor pilgrimage at the month Rajab, the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- must have told it to his followers, as he told them about the virtue of performing minor pilgrimage at the month Ramadan. Whereas the narration from Umar that he advised people to perform the minor pilgrimage at the month Rajab, the truth is that the chain of narrations of this hadith is still debated among the scholars.
Third: Slaughtering the animals (Atirah)
“Atirah” means “a slaughtered animal at the month Rajab, in order to worship.” The scholars held different opinions regarding the ruling for atirah.
The first opinion stated that, “atirah” is suggested. The indication is a hadith from Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn Ash, which mentions that the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- was asked about “atirah”, and he replied, “Atirah is right. “(Narrated by Ahmad, An Nasa’i, and As Suyuthi, in his work “Jami’us Shaghir”)
The second opinion mentioned that “atirah” is not advised in shari’a, but also is not something detested (makrooh). The indication is a hadith from Abu Razin, Laqirh Ibn Amir Al Uqaili, he asked the Prophet- may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- by saying, “We slaughtered animals at the month Rajab during the era of pagan ignorance. We ate it and we feed the visiting guests”. The Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said, “No problem with that.” (Narrated by An Nasa’i, Ad Darimi, and Ibn Hibban).
The third opinion stated that the ruling for “atirah” is makrooh, based on a hadith which mentions that the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- said, “There is no Fara’a and there is no atirah.”(Narrated by Al Bukhari and Muslim)
Fara’a is the first offspring of the animal that is slaughtered for the sake of the idols.
The fourth opinion is that the law of “atirah” is forbidden. This is the opinion of Ibn Al Qoyyim and Ibn Al Mundzir. Ibn Al Qoyyim stated, “Previously the arabs performed atirah during the era of ignorance, and keep performing it, and the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- supported them. Then, the Prophet- may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- prohibited it, by his saying: “There is no fara’a and there is no atirah.” finally, the companions abandoned that practice, due to his prohibition. And it is understood that the prohibition will only emerge if there were people who perform such act before it. While we do not find any scholar who said that, “Previously, the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allan be upon him- prohibited atirah, but then he allowed it again…” (Taken from “Tahdzib Sunan Abu Dawud, 4:92-93). And this is a much closer opinion to the truth, insha Allah.
The Innovations at the month Rajab
The innovations usually occurred during the month Rajab are making this month as specific month to perform certain type of worship, such as fasting, performing the night prayer, the raghaib prayer, and the like. Those who perform such practices usually use the weak or false hadith as their basis. Sheikh Al Islam, Ibn Taimiya said, “Making the month Rajab as specific month to perform fasting and i’tikaf, have no narration from the Prophet -may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- , nor from his companions, nor from the scholars of the believers in the past. Even contradicting to that practice, it is mentioned in a valid hadith that the Prophet-may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him- performing fast at the month Sha’ban. And he did not fast, during the whole year, more that his fast at the month Sha’ban. (Narrated by Al Bukhari and Muslim). “(Taken from “Majmu’ Fatawa, 25:290-291)
Sheikh Al Islam also said, “Indeed, glorifying the month Rajab (by increasing the pious deeds) is a form of innovation that must be avoided. Also, making the month Rajab as a specific moment to perform fasting, is a detested practice, according to Imam Ahmad and several other scholars. “(Taken from “Iqtidha’ Shirathal Mustaqim”, 2:624-625)
Below are several kinds of innovations that often being practiced during the month Rajab.
First: The Raghaib prayer
This innovation is based on a long but false hadith, narrating the process of raghaib prayer, invocations inside it, and the promised rewards for those who perform it perfectly. The scholars have agreed that the hadith regarding raghaib prayer is a false hadith.” (Taken from “Fawa’id Al Majmu’ah”, page 47-48). The similar explanation also given by Al Fairuz Abadi Ash Shafi’i.
Imam Ibn Al Jauzi said, “The maker of this hadith has set the rules that one who wants to perform the raghaib prayer must first fast on that day. He must not break his fast until he performs the maghrib prayer and then the voluntary raghaib prayer. In this prayer, he must recite a very long tasbih and lengthy supplication during prostration. Hence the one who performs it will feel an extreme tiredness. Indeed, I envy the Ramadan and tarawih prayer. How come one prefers this kind of prayer to Ramadan fast and tarawih. But in contrary, people prefer this prayer and pay more attention to it, even those who never perform the congregational prayer join it. “(Al Maudhu’at, 2/125-126)
Second, Commemoration of Isra’ and Mi’raj
The 27th of Rajab has became an important agenda for the believers, as some of them believe that such date was the time of the Isra’ and Mi’raj. Whereas the scholars differ upon the exact date of the isra’ and mi’raj itself. Sheikh Shafiyurrahman Al Mubarakfuri mentioned that there are about 6 different opinions of the scholars regarding the date of isra’ and mi’raj. One of it is the 27th of Rajab, at the 10th year after his assignment as a prophet.
But this opinion is invalid, because the experts in history confirmed that Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet died at the month Ramadan, ten year after the beginning of the prophecy. And until her death, there were no obligation to perform the five compulsory prayers.
The scholars agreed that the commemoration of Isra’ and Mi’raj is an innovation. Ibn Al Qoyyim cited the explanation of Sheikh Al Islam Ibn Taimiyya, who said, “It is not known that there is a believer who make the night of Isra’ and Mi’raj as a more virtuous night than the other nights. Moreover to consider that the night of Isra’ is more noble than the night of Qadr (Lailatul Qadr). None of the companions, or the tabi’in, who specifying the night of Isra’ by performing certain activities, and they did not commemorate this night. Thus, it is not known when is the exact date of the isra’ and mi’raj.”(Taken from “Zaadul Ma’ad”, 1:58-59)
Ibn Nuhas said, “Commemorating the night of Isra’ – Mi’raj is a large scale innovation in religion matters. It is a new matter that was made up by the companions of the satan.” (Taken from “Tanbihul Ghafilin”, page 379-380. Cited from “Al Bida’ Al Hauliyah, page 138)
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