Quarterly: Issue No 87
Rajab 1439 – March 2018
RAJAB – A SACRED MONTH
Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) says about Himself:
And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses. (Surah Al-Qasas 18: Verse 68).
Allah (SWT) also commands us:
Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [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 (these 4 months). (Surah at-Tawbah 9: Verse 36)
This attribute of choosing shows the Perfection of Allah’s Wisdom, Knowledge and Power. Allah (SWT) has chosen four months to be sacred. Alhamdu lillah! We are in one of those four months right now. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: O People! Time has gone back to how it was at the time Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. A year has twelve months, four of which are sacred, three consecutive, Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab. (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
What does this mean to us? Let us find out what we can do to benefit in this Sacred Month of Rajab. First, we discover some interesting facts about this time of the year followed by some amazing spiritual tips for us to apply immediately in preparation for Ramadan. Abu'l-Husayn Ahmad Ibn Faris – a great Arabic lexicographer of the 10th century- said: “The letters Raa-jeem-baa form a root which indicates supporting and strengthening something with another thing. It was called Rajab because they used to respect it.”
The month of Rajab is also called Rajab Al-Haram (Arabic for: “the Sacred Rajab”) because it’s one of the four sacred months, during which fighting is prohibited. It’s also called Rajab Al-Fard (Arabic for: “the Solitary Rajab”) because it’s separated from the other three successive sacred months (Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram). Rajab comes five months after them. During the period of Jaahiliyyah, the Arabs used to slaughter a sacrifice during Rajab as an act of worship towards their idols. When Islam came people were taught that sacrifices were to be offered only to Allah.
Rajab (and the other three months) are called sacred mainly for two reasons:
1) because fighting therein is forbidden unless initiated by the enemy, and
2) because transgression and wrong doings therein is worse than at other times of the year.
NOTE: A sacred month, so called because battle and all kinds of fighting are forbidden (haraam) during this month. The Arabic word used is ‘haram’ (forbidden) and not ‘muqaddas’ (sacred). Therefore, the use of the English word “Sacred” does NOT give the 4 month any status higher than the month of Ramadan.
Wronging ourselves refers to committing sins and having wrong beliefs. Allah selected them for a special status and has forbidden us to commit sins out of respect for their sanctity. Sins committed during these months are even worse, even though committing evil deeds is forbidden during the whole year! We honour whatever Allah and His Messenger honour. So, this ayah shows the importance of being an alert and active believer. The only way you can make sure you do not wrong yourself is to be conscious of your deeds. Let us not “relax” and loosen up in our worship. Let us use these sacred months, given to us by the Creator of time, to take account of ourselves. Think about the state of our heart. Reflect on our life and deeds. Are we aware of what we have been saying and doing to others? What is our relationship with the Qur’an? Have we given any priority in our lives to learning and understanding it?
Preparation for Ramadan
Another fact of importance is that the month of Rajab comes at an extremely important time of the year for us. It reminds us that Ramadan is near. While some specific acts of worship in Rajab are disputed (like specific prayers and du’a or singling out this month for visiting graves etc.), you can do many other good deeds to benefit and prepare for your favourite guest: Ramadan.
Some practices of benefit during this month:
CORRECTING OUR INTENTION (NIYYAH)
The Arabic word denotes the ‘pit of a date,’ a ‘fruit kernel’, ‘stone’ or ‘source' from which something proceeds or grows. By extension, it signifies a ‘core,’ ‘centre’ or ‘nucleus’. Hence, ‘niyyah’ resides in our centre, in our hearts. There it germinates into seeds from which our actions emerge. Sincerity has been interpreted as being upright, sincere, truthful, pure, distant from any show and ostentation and being closed to things that cloud one's heart and make it impure. Purity of intention, straightforwardness in thoughts, not pursuing any worldly purposes in relations with Allah, and loyalty in serving Him are also included in the meaning of sincerity. The necessity of having the correct intention for every deed, and the obligation to make the intention proper and sincere, is based on Allah’s Words:
And they were not commanded except to worship Allah (being) sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakaah (poor due). And that is the correct religion. (Surah al-Bayyinah 98: Verse 5)
Say, (O Prophet), ‘Verily, I am commanded to worship Allah alone by obeying Him and doing religious deeds sincerely for His sake only.’ (Surah az-Zumar 39: Verse 11)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
“Verily, all actions are but driven by intention and for everyone is what he intended.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Let us all work on perfecting our intentions. Before we do any good deed, let us correct our intentions (niyyah) so that it can be rewarded fully. All our good deeds should be done solely for the Pleasure of Allah (SAW).
SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND FORGIVING OTHERS
Seeking forgiveness means to request Allah The Almighty to not just pardon one’s sins, but to protect one from their evil and to conceal them. In other words, it is a servant’s plea to Allah The Almighty to not expose him or her in this life or in the Hereafter, and to ward off the punishment that he or she deserves, by His Grace and Mercy. We all are sinners. Let us strive to seek for sincere repentance. Ask Allah (SWT) to forgive us, so that we can start Ramadan with a clean soul that feels light and strong enough to worship Allah without any laziness. Allah (SWT) says:
And seek forgiveness of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Surah Al-Muzzammil 73: Verse 20)
And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful. (Surah an-Nisaa 4: Verse 110)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
The most superior way of seeking forgiveness is to say: “O Allah! You are my Lord, there is none worthy of worship except You. You created me and I am Your slave; and I abide to Your covenant and promise as best as I can. I take refuge in You from the evil that I committed and I am grateful to You for the blessing that You conferred on me. I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sins except You).” (Bukhari)
Forgiving others means not carrying a grudge in your heart against them. Forgiving others means that if you were given the chance to retaliate, you would choose not to do so. Forgiving means not wishing evil, even if secretly, upon those who hurt you. It means you can continue to be kind towards them, and that you can even bring yourself to pray for their well-being and guidance. Let us then try our best to forgive others for the wrong they have done to us, so our hearts will not have grudges or ill-feelings towards them. We will then be free to enjoy the taste of worship in Ramadan.
FASTING SOME EXTRA DAYS
There is no authentic narration from the Prophet (SAW) nor the Sahabas stating that there are special virtues in fasting in the month of Rajab. Similar fasting is prescribed as Sunnah as in the other months, e.g. Mondays and Thursdays; the three days of al-Beedh (the mid three days of the lunar month, 14th/15th/16th) or fasting alternate days. There is no better way to prepare ourselves mentally and physically than to fast some extra days. So, if we have never fasted on Mondays and Thursdays, let us at least start with one fast - one day a week.
BEGIN DEPRIVING THE NAFS TO SOME EXTENT
Start training ourselves to resist certain things that our ‘nafs’ normally desires. Have a simple dinner over the weekend, for example, or avoid biscuits and sweets for a change. This will set the tone for you to controlling our nafs during Ramadan. Some of the foremost worldly desires that weaken or even destroy a Muslim’s Iman (Faith) are described as follows: Allah (SWT) says:
Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire - of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return. (Surah Aal Imraan 3: Verse 14)
O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that - then those are the losers. (Surah al-Munafiqoon 63: Verse 9)
And you will surely find them the greediest of people for life - [even] more than those who associate others with Allah. One of them wishes that he could be granted life a thousand years, but it would not remove him in the least from the [coming] punishment that he should be granted life. And Allah is Seeing of what they do. (Surah al-Baqarah 2: Verse 96)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
“Indeed, what I fear for you most is the erroneous passion of your stomachs and private parts and misleading whims.” (Musnad Ahmad)
START GIVING OUT CHARITY
In this sacred month do charitable deeds consciously and with the intention to please Allah.
Allah (SWT) says:
They ask you, [O Muhammad], what they should spend. Say, "Whatever you spend of good is (firstly) for parents and relatives and orphans and the needy and the traveler. And whatever you do of good - indeed, Allah is Knowing of it. (Surah al-Baqarah 2: Verse 215)
Believe in Allah and His Messenger and spend out of that in which He has made you trustees. For those who have believed among you and spent, there will be a great reward. (Surah al-Hadeed 57: Verse 7)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Allah said: ‘Spend, O son of Adam, and I shall spend on you.’” (Bukhari; Muslim)
Let us also think about other additional good deeds that we can do. Help someone, cook for someone, give a compliment, make your mother smile, and even try to stay away with some bad habits, like watching too much television. Allah (SWT) says:
Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds. That is a reminder for those who remember. (Surah Hood 11: Verse 114)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Have taqwa (fear) of Allah wherever you may be; and follow up a bad deed with a good deed which will wipe it out and behave well towards the people.” (Tirmidhi).
KEEP THE MISSION OF ALLAH GOING (SPREAD THE MESSAGE)
The word Da`wah in Islam generally means “Calling people towards Allah and His instructions”. Let us not forget that our mission if life is to share and convey the message of Islam to others. Allah (SWT) says:
And strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. (It is) the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you “Muslims” before (in former scriptures) and in this (revelation) that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So, establish prayer and give zakaat and hold fast to Allah. He is your protector; and excellent is the protector, and excellent is the helper. (Surah al-Hajj 22: Verse 77)
And let there be from you a nation inviting to (all that is) good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful. (Surah Aal Imraan 3: Verse 104)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Whoever calls others to guidance will have a reward like the rewards of those who follow him, without that detracting from their reward in any way. And whoever calls others to misguidance will have a burden of sin like the burden of those who follow him, without that detracting from their burden in any way.” (Muslim)
Allah (SWT) has given us the privilege to say: LAA ILAAHA ILLALLAH MUHAMMADUR RASOOLULLAH. Allah did not just choose us. There is a reason why He selected us. He saw in us something that could fulfil the mission of this ummah. The majority of those on earth are not chosen, but we are part of the small selection that have willingly submitted ourselves to Him. This is both a great honour and a great responsibility. Shukran! Alhamdu lillah!
Let us then do our best to convey this Message to mankind in whatever lawful form we choose to do so - not only by our words but also shown by our actions.
May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions. Ameen.
O Allah! Your Forgiveness is far greater than my sins and I have more hope in Your Mercy than in my own deeds.
Requesting your duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Kyalami Glen, Gauteng
Johannesburg, South Africa