History & Civilization

Rajab in Quran, Sunna, History, and Popular Culture

Image Credit: davejdoe
Rajab in the Quran

Translation of what Allah said in the Quran:

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثۡنَا عَشَرَ شَهۡرٗا فِي كِتَٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوۡمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ مِنۡهَآ أَرۡبَعَةٌ حُرُمٞۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمُۚ فَلَا تَظۡلِمُواْ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمۡۚ

“Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar). That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein.” (Tawbah 9:36)

Rajab in Authentic Hadith

The sacred months are: Rajab, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram as explained by Prophet:

“The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred: three consecutive months, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab Mudar which comes between Jumaada and Sha’baan.”
(Bukhari, Muslim)

Rajab In Unconfirmed Hadith

Two commonly quoted hadith are:

1. ‘O Allah, bless our Rajab and Shaban and make us reach Ramadan’

a. Scholars of hadith consider it to be a da’eef (weak) report.

b. Where and by whom is this hadith reported?

  • Ibn us-Sunni in ‘Amal ul-Yawm wal-Layla
  • Baihaqi in Shu’ab ul-Imaan
  • Abu Nu’am in al-Hilya
  • Bazzar in Musnad

c. Which hadith-masters declared this report to be weak?

  • Baihaqi (Shu’ab ul-Imaan vol. 3, p. 375)
  • Nawawi (al-Adhkaar vol. 274)
  • Dhahabi (Meezan ul-I’tidaal vol. 3, p.96)
  • Ibn Rajab (Lata’if ul-Ma’arif p.233)
  • Haithami (Majma uz-Zawaid vol.2 p.165)
  • Ibn Hajr (Tabyeen ul-Ajb p.19)
  • Ibn Allan (al-Fatuhat ar-Rabbaniyya vol4. p. 335)
  • Ahmad Shakir (Musnad vol.4 p.100)
  • Shuaib ar-Arna’out (Musnad vol4. p. 180)
  • Albani (Da’eef ul-Jami’ #4395 & Miskkaat vol1 p. 432)

2. ‘Rajab is the month of Allah, Shaban is my month, and Ramadan is the month of my Umma.’

Scholars who declared it to be fabricated:

  • Ibn al-Jawzi in Maudu’aat (vol. 2 p. 576)
  • Ibn al-Iraq in Tanzeeh (vol. 2 p. 151)
  • Ibn Hajr in Tabyeen al-Ajb (p.23)
  • al-Lakhnawi in al-Aathar al-Marfu’a
Rajab in History

1. The Nabi led the Battle of Tabuk against the Byzantines in 9 AH.

2. The Muslims made migration to Abyssinia in this month five years after the Prophet Muhammad was appointed.

3. In 9AH Negus (Ar. Najashi), the king of Abyssinia, passed away and the Prophet offered his funeral prayer.

4. Under the leadership of Abu Ubaida ibn al-Jarrah and Khalid ibn al-Walid Damascus was conquered in 14 AH.

5. Muslims won a victory over the Crusaders in Syria in 583 AH and entered Jerusalem under the command of Salahuddin al-Ayyubi.

Cultural Practices in Rajab

Common practices spread among Arabs and non-Arabs in the month of Rajab are:

1. Salat ur-Raghaib (Raghaib prayer)

2. Salat of Middle of Rajab

3. Celebration of Layla tul Mi’raj (Night of Mi’raj)

4. Special fasting in Rajab

5. ‘Umra in Rajab

6. Distributing food / “kondas” of Rajab

7. Sacrificing Animals in Rajab

1. Salat ur-Raghaib:

It is done by some people on the night of the first Friday in Rajab, between Maghrib and `Isha, and is preceded by fasting on the first Thursday of Rajab.

It is performed as twelve rak’ah, in every rak’ah Surah al-Qadr is recited 3 times after Fatiha, followed by Surah al-Ikhlas twelve times. After the prayer salah is send on the Prophet seventy times.

Salat ur-Raghaib was first introduced in Jerusalem in 480 AH. There is no report that the Prophet did it, or any of his companions, or any of the early generations or imams.

2. Prayer of Middle of Rajab:

There is a hadith reported in some books about how to offer this salah, but it is fabricated according to scholars of hadith (Ibn al-Jawzi, Suyuti, and Lakhnawi).

3. Celebrations of Layla tul-Mi’raj:

Celebrating the Layla tul-Mi’raj on the 27th of Rajab is common among Indian Muslims and Pakistanis.

People think the Prophet went on the Night Journey and Heavenly Ascent on this night, so some mosques hold special programs and prayers even though there is no hadith or report on it.

Scholars like Abu Shama called Mi’raj in Rajab to be a lie.

In any case, the Prophet or the sahaba did not celebrate this day or offer any special prayers.

4. Fasting:

With regard to fasting the month of Rajab, there is no authentic hadith telling us of any special virtue in fasting all or part of this month.

What some people fast the 27th of other days of Rajab believing that they are better than others, seems to have no basis.

Consequently, one can fast any day of Rajab if he so desires like any other month without believing there is special virtue or added reward for that day.

5. Umra:

Umra can be performed in Rajab.

Like fasting, that much is not a problem.

Some people perform Umra in Rajab thinking it’s Sunna to do so and believe in it’s special merit.

That is baseless.

Rather, Aisha, the Mother of the Believers, said: The Messenger of Allah never performed `Umra in Rajab (Bukhari, Muslim).

6. Kondas:

It is another baseless practice in the month of Rajab is that the people bake special types of breads and, after reciting some verses and prayers on them, distribute them among their friends and neighbors:

a) in some communities, this custom is celebrated on 17th of Rajab on the assumption that Ali was born on 11th of Rajab and the 17th of Rajab is the day on which his aqiqa was performed.

In order to celebrate this happy event, the breads of some special type are prepared and after reciting Surah Al-Mulk on them, they are distributed among the relatives and friends. These breads are generally called “breads of Tabarak” because Surah Al-Mulk is usually recited on them.

To the best of my knowledge, it is not proven that Ali was born on 11th of Rajab or that his aqiqa was performed on 17th of this month.

b) more common practice of this type is observed on 22nd of Rajab.

Since these special meals are usually placed in some bowls made of clay, the custom is usually known as “Koonda“, an Urdu equivalent of such bowls. It is usually believed that the custom is designed to make ‘isal-al-thawab to the soul of Jafar Al-Sadiq who himself has directed his followers to observe this custom and has promised them that whoever observes it, his desires will be fulfilled.

These assumptions have no historical or religious basis.

7. Animal sacrifice: this is actually not so much an issue of bid’a, but more of fiqh.

Before Islam, a sacrifice was offered by non-Muslims during the month of Rajab.

They made that a tradition among themselves, like the offering of the udhiyah sacrifice on Eid al-Adha.

Imam Shafi considers it to be Sunna, but other imams say the practice was cancelled.

And Allah knows best.


Image Credit: davejdoe