Jamaatul-Muslimin, Today is the 17th of Rajab, the seventh month in the Muslim lunar calendar.
In this khutbah I would like to briefly reflect on the significance of the blessed lunar month of Rajab.
The lunar month of Rajab derives its importance from the Glorious Qur’an which refers as one of the four sacred months of the lunar year (al-ash-hurul hurum).
In Surah al-Taubah, Chapter 9, verse 36, Allah, the Sublime, 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 upright ever-true religion. So do not
wrong your souls by fighting during these (months), but only fight against the
idolaters collectively if they first fight against you collectively. But know that
Allah is with those who restrain themselves and remain conscious and
mindful of Him.
The Prophet (saw) identified the four sacred months referred to in the above verse to be: the 11th month of Dhu al-Qa’ida, the 12th month of Dhu al-Hijja, the 1st month of Muharram and the 7th month of Rajab.
In one prophet tradition (hadith) narrated by the companion, Abu Bakra (may Allah be pleased with him) and recorded in the hadith collection of Imams Bukhari and Muslim the Prophet (saw) 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’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth 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 pre-Islamic Arabs all fighting and warfare was considered disrespectful towards their religious believe during the four lunar months of Muharram, Rajab, Dhul Qaida and Dhul Hijja.
In other words the Prophet (saw) did not institute it but it was already in practice before his time.
In fact some scholars speculate that these four months may have been made sanctified at the time of the establishment of the hajj (pilgrimage) by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail (peace be upon both of them) to allow for a peaceful passage for pilgrims to the kãbah the ancient house of worship in Makkah.
According to this view by recognizing these four months as sacred the pre-Islamic Arabs were thus merely following an ancient Abrahamic tradition.
This argument clearly makes sense with respect to the three consecutive months of Dhul Qaida, Dhul Hijja and Muharram since they coincide with the hajj season.
In fact one of the Shuroots (pre-requisites) of hajj is that the passage and route to Makkah should be safe.
This line of reasoning, however, does not hold for the seventh lunar month of Raj ab, which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself described as standing alone (i.e. outside of the months of hajj) and being a distinctive custom and tradition of the tribe of madar.
In our view one logical explanation as to why the pre-Islamic tribal tradition of regarding the lunar month of Rajab as sacred was adopted by the Qur’an is because Islam is a culturally friendly Deen that affirms cultural norms and traditions which resonates with its spirit and ethos.
In this case the objective was to promote and spread peace — the essence of Islam.
Having shed some light of the historical background of Rajab let us for a moment reflect on some virtues of Rajab.
In his book Al-Ghunya li-Taalibi Tareeq al Haqq by Sheigh Abdul Qadir Jilani (ra-gie maku-mul-laa) refers to Rajab as a month of forsaking one’s sins, Sha’baan is the month for action and fulfillment of one’s oath, and Ramadan is for truth and purification.
He further writes that Rajab is for sanctity (hurmat), Sha’baan is for service (Khidmat), and Ramadan is for blessing (ni’mat).
The mystical scholar Abu Bakr Warraq, use to say:
Rajab is a month of cultivation,
Sha’ban is a month of irrigating the fields,
and the month of Ramadan is a month of reaping and harvesting.
The month of Rajab is also a gateway to the blessed month of Ramadan, because Ramadan follows it after the intervening month of Sha’ban.
The month of Rajab thus comes as a timely reminder of the imminence of the blessed month of Ramadan.
Therefore, 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.
I advise myself first and then you to dedicate a few of the remaining days of this blessed month of Rajab in fasting.
If there are some of our women who still have some lost days of the fast of Ramadan to make up, I encourage their male relatives to join them in fasting so that they do not feel isolated.
This, insha-Allah will help in strengthening our family bonds and ties.
The companion Anas ibn Malik informs us that the Prophet (pbuh) who used to make the following (du ‘a) supplication, during the month of Rajab:
“Allahuma Barik lana fi Rajab
wa Sha’ban wa ballighna Ramadan”
‘0 Allah bless us in months of Rajab
and Sha ‘ban and let us reach the month of Ramada,?
(i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadan, so that we may benefit from its great merits and spiritual blessings).
Last but not least, the month of Rajab is also significant in that most historians concur that the Prophet (saw) night journey and ascension known as al-isra’ wal m‘iraj took place on the 27th night of the month of Rajab.
It is a well established part of the customs and traditions (‘adah) of Muslims residing in the Western Cape and in many other parts of the world to commemorate the 27’ night of Rajab by gathering together in our masjid and recalling the miraculous occurrence of al-isra wal mi’araj in the life of our leader and guide Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and reflecting on its significance and meaning for our lives today.
Insha-Allah, this year we shall be commemorating Laylatul M’iraj on Sunday evening the 17 June, 2012.
Insha-Allah, 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.