Rajab is one of the four sacred (حَرَام) months designated by Allah the Almighty. It is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar that comes between Jumada al-Thani and Sha’ban. The month of Rajab is important as it marks the start of Ramadan preparation.
This month holds many significant historical events and virtues. This blog will cover the importance of Rajab and things we should and shouldn’t do during this holy month. Let’s dive in!
The Meaning of Rajab in Islam
The word Rajab (رَجَب) comes from the root letters, ر ج ب which means “to strengthen or support something with something else”. It also means “to respect and honour something”.
Rajab is a sacred month in Islam, so warfare and conflict are strictly prohibited at this time to maintain its holiness.
When is Rajab 2024?
The next Rajab (1445H) will likely start on the 13th of January 2024. But, the date may vary in different regions, as Islamic months are based on moon sightings.
Why is Rajab Special?
Rajab is one of the sacred months and is special. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
الزَّمَانُ قَدِ اسْتَدَارَ كَهَيْئَتِهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ، السَّنَةُ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا، مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ، ثَلاَثَةٌ مُتَوَالِيَاتٌ ذُو الْقَعْدَةِ وَذُو الْحِجَّةِ وَالْمُحَرَّمُ، وَرَجَبُ مُضَرَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ جُمَادَى وَشَعْبَانَ
“The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qa’ da, Dhul-Hijjah, and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadi-ath-Thaniyah and Sha’ban.” [Sahih Bukhari: 3197]
Rasulullah ﷺ referred to it as ‘Rajab of Mudar’. The reason is, [the tribe of] Mudar did not tamper with its timing. The rest of the Arabs used to tamper with the months and change their order depending on whether they were in a state of war or not.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says:
إِنَّمَا ٱلنَّسِىٓءُ زِيَادَةٌ فِى ٱلْكُفْرِۖ يُضَلُّ بِهِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ يُحِلُّونَهُۥ عَامً وَيُحَرِّمُونَهُۥ عَامًا لِّيُوَاطِـُٔوا۟ عِدَّةَ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ فَيُحِلُّوا۟ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُۚ زُيِّنَ لَهُمْ سُوٓءُ أَعْمَٰلِهِمْۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِى ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلْكَٰفِرِينَ
“Indeed, the postponing [of restriction within sacred months] is an increase in disbelief by which those who have disbelieved are led [further] astray. They make it lawful one year and unlawful another year to correspond to the number made unlawful by Allāh and make lawful what Allāh has made unlawful. Made pleasing to them is the evil of their deeds; and Allāh does not guide the disbelieving people.” [Sura At-Taubah: 37]
Thus, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ specifically mentioned ‘Rajab of Mudar’ so that the people would have no confusion as to which month he was talking about. And that is the 7th month of the Arabic calendar.
Rajab Month Importance
Rajab has great significance in Islam. Some of these are:
- Engaging in warfare is prohibited. Allah says:
يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلشَّهْرِ ٱلْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍۢ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌۭ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌۭ
“They ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about fighting in the sacred months. Say, “Fighting during these months is a great sin.” [Sura Al-Baqarah: 217]
- Committing sins is more severe than committing in other months. Allah says:
إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًۭا فِى كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌۭ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا۟ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ
“Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record since the day He created the heavens and the earth—of which four are sacred. That is the Right Way. So do not wrong one another during these months.” [Sura At-Taubah: 36]
- Allah ordered us not to violate its sanctity. Allah says:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تُحِلُّوا۟ شَعَـٰٓئِرَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا ٱلشَّهْرَ ٱلْحَرَامَ وَلَا ٱلْهَدْىَ وَلَا ٱلْقَلَـٰٓئِدَ وَلَآ ءَآمِّينَ ٱلْبَيْتَ ٱلْحَرَامَ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًۭا مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرِضْوَٰنًۭا ۚ
“O believers! Do not violate Allah’s rituals of pilgrimage˺, the sacred months, the sacrificial animals, the ˹offerings decorated with garlands, nor those ˹pilgrims˺ on their way to the Sacred House seeking their Lord’s bounty and pleasure.” [Sura Al-Maidah: 2]
- Various significant historic events occurred during Rajab. They are discussed below.
Important Historical Events of Rajab
From Seerah, we find two major events that occurred during the month of Rajab. Those are:
- Isra wal Mi’raj
- Conquest of Tabuk
1. Isra wal Mi’raj
Isra wal Mi’raj is the culmination of two great journeys that our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ undertook during his time in Makkah. Isra is the night journey from Masjid al-Haram in Makkah to Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. The event took place in Rajab, although scholars have differing opinions about the exact timing.
Allah says about it:
سُبۡحٰنَ الَّذِىۡۤ اَسۡرٰى بِعَبۡدِهٖ لَيۡلًا مِّنَ الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡحَـرَامِ اِلَى الۡمَسۡجِدِ الۡاَقۡصَا الَّذِىۡ بٰرَكۡنَا حَوۡلَهٗ لِنُرِيَهٗ مِنۡ اٰيٰتِنَا ؕ اِنَّهٗ هُوَ السَّمِيۡعُ الۡبَصِيۡرُ
“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to
al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of
Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [Sura al-Isra, 17: 1]
From there, he ﷺ ascended to the 7th heaven by the decree of Allah, witnessing His magnificent and manifest signs. Allah gifted him 5 daily prayers, the last 3 verses of Surah Al- Baqarah and general forgiveness for his Ummah.
2. Conquest of Tabuk
After the conquest of Makkah and victory in Hunain, the people of the Arabian Peninsula were forced to recognise the newly emerging Muslim power.
The Byzantine Empire was considered the greatest military power at that time. They saw this newly emerging nation as a threat to their empire. So, Caesar decided to destroy them immediately before they had become too powerful. To fulfil this matter, he gathered a huge army that comprised the Byzantines and Pro-Roman Ghassanid tribes.
When Rasulullah ﷺ heard the news, he wasted no time in gathering an army. He intended to meet the Roman Byzantines in their own territory of Tabuk rather than letting them invade the Muslim borders. He made a public announcement among his companions to prepare for battle.
Everyone joined with Allah’s Messenger ﷺ on this journey. Only a few were left behind. The army left Madina for Tabuk in the month of Rajab.
Although it is strictly prohibited to engage in battles during this month, it was a self-defensive tactic and a necessary one. Otherwise, the Byzantines would have eventually invaded Madinah. Thus it became necessary.
It was the hardest conquest that the Muslim army had ever embarked on. It was a year of drought and the weather was scorching hot. Moreover, the distance was the furthest they had ever travelled to fight an army.
Allah rewarded them with a great bounty for their perseverance. They returned to Madina without even having to fight a battle. The Romans couldn’t muster the courage to show up.
Allah says in the Quran:
لَّقَد تَّابَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَى ٱلنَّبِىِّ وَٱلْمُهَٰجِرِينَ وَٱلْأَنصَارِ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّبَعُوهُ فِى سَاعَةِ ٱلْعُسْرَةِ مِنۢ بَعْدِ مَا كَادَ يَزِيغُ قُلُوبُ فَرِيقٍ مِّنْهُمْ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْۚ إِنَّهُۥ بِهِمْ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Allah has already forgiven the Prophet and the Muhājireen and the Anṣār who followed him in the hour of difficulty after the hearts of a party of them had almost inclined [to doubt], and then He forgave them. Indeed, He was to them Kind and Merciful.” [Sura At-Taubah, 9: 117]
Two significant later events that occurred during Rajab are:
- Salahuddin Ayyubi (Rh) liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders on 27 Rajab 584 AH (2 October 1187).
- The Muslim Caliphate in Turkey came to its demise on 8 Rajab 1342 AH (3 March 1924).
Do’s and Don’ts During Rajab
There are many hadiths regarding the virtues of Rajab and prescriptions of particular a’mals (good deeds) are mentioned in many of those. But all of them are either fabricated or weak according to Shaykhul Islam Imam Ibn Taymiyyah (RA), Imam Ibnul Qayyim (RA) and other scholars.
Now, we’ll learn from the Quran and authentic Sunnah what we should do in this sacred month, and the things we need to avoid:
- Do: Fasting some days of the sacred month without specifying particular dates.
As mentioned in the hadith:
“Fast some days of the sacred month and not others.” [Sunan Abu-Daud: 2428; classified as weak].
- Don’t: Any form of transgression.
As Allah mentioned in the Quran:
فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا۟ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْۚ
“…So do not wrong yourselves during them.” [Sura At- Taubah: 36]
It is forbidden to transgress throughout the year. But it is even more severe to do so during the sacred months in the sight of Allah.
- Do: Study Seerah of Rasulullah ﷺ to know what happened during this month over 1400 years ago.
- Don’t: Specifically fasting on the 27th of Rajab. Sheikh Uthaymin(RA) stated: “Fasting on the twenty-seventh of Rajab and spending that night in prayer is a bid’ah (innovation), and every bid’ah is a going astray.”
But casual/ usual Ibadah (night prayers, fasting etc.) are permissible.
- Do: Preparing for Ramadan.
Islamic scholars have mentioned Rajab as the month of preparation for Ramadan.
As Dhu’n-Noon al-Masri (RA) said: “Rajab is the month for giving up sins, Sha‘baan is the month for doing acts of obedience, and Ramadan is the month for waiting for gifts and honours.”
Ibn Rajab (RA) said: “The month of Rajab is the key to the months of goodness and blessing.”
Abu Bakr al-Warraaq al-Balkhi (RA) said: The month of Rajab is a month for sowing, the month of Sha‘baan is a month for irrigating the crop, and Ramadan is a month for harvesting the crop.
- Do: Asking Allah to make us reach Ramadan.
The following dua has been mentioned in several books of hadith:
اَللّٰهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَناَ فِيْ رَجَبٍ وَشَعْبانَ وَبَلّغْنَا رَمَضَانْ
“O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Shaban and let us reach Ramadan.” [Tabarani al Awsat: 3939].
This Hadith is classified as weak. But there is nothing wrong with a person asking Allah to make him/her reach Ramadan.
Q. Is Rajab a sacred month?
Ans: Yes. Rasulullah ﷺ has mentioned in hadith that Rajab is one of the four sacred months.
Q. Should I fast on the 27th Rajab?
Ans: There is no authentic hadith recommending fasting specifically on the 27th of Rajab. Rather than specifying the day, we can fast in Rajab as much as we can.
Q. Should I go to Umrah in Rajab?
Ans: There is no special virtue for singling out Rajab to perform Umrah. But if a person performs Umrah in that month because it is convenient; without believing that there is any special virtue, there’s nothing wrong with it.
Q. What preparations are to take in Rajab for Ramadan?
Ans: If one wants to gain the highest rewards in Ramadan, he/she should start preparing from Rajab. It’s recommended to do more good deeds during this month including repentance, fasting, voluntary prayers, etc.
Rajab has great significance in Islam. We should respect its sanctity and avoid any sort of sin. Also, we need to start preparing for Ramadan from Rajab. May Allah bless our efforts and purify our intentions.