||Rajab, Celebrations, Fasting and Special worship in it|
By Mufti Taqi Usmani
Rajab is the seventh month in the
Islamic lunar calendar. This month was regarded as one of the sacred months (Al-Ashhur-al-hurum)
in which battles were prohibited in the days of the Holy Prophet . It is also a
prelude to the month of Ramadan, because Ramadan follows it after the
intervening month of Sha'ban. Therefore, when the Holy Prophet sighted the moon
of Rajab, he used to pray to Allah in the following words:
"O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha'ban blessed for us, and let us reach
the month of Ramadan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadan, so that we may
benefit from its merits and blessings)."
Yet no specific way of worship has been prescribed by the Shari'ah in this
month. However, some people have invented some special rituals or practices in
this month, which are not supported by reliable resources of the Shari'ah or are
based on some unauthentic traditions. We would like to explain here the correct
position about them.
Celebration of Lailatul Mi'raj:
It is generally believed that the great event of Mi'raj (ascension of the Holy
Prophet to the heavens) took place in the night of 27th of Rajab. Therefore,
some people celebrate the night as "Lailatul- Mi'raj" (the night of ascension to
Indeed, the event of mi'raj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life
of our beloved Holy Prophet . He was called by Almighty Allah. He traveled from
Makkah to Baitul-Maqdis and from there he ascended the heavens through the
miraculous power of Allah. He was honored with a direct contact with his Creator
at a place where even the angels had no access. This was the unique honor
conferred by Allah to the Holy Prophet alone. It was the climax of the spiritual
progress which is not attained by anybody except him. No doubt the night in
which he was blessed with this unparalleled honor was one of the greatest nights
in the history of this world.
But, Islam has its own principles with regard to the historic and religious
events. Its approach about observing festivals and celebrating days and nights
is totally different from the approach of other religions. The Holy Qur'an and
the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet did not prescribe any festival or any celebration
to commemorate an event from the past, however remarkable it might have been.
Instead, Islam has prescribed two annual celebrations only. One is Eid-ul-Fitr
and the other is Eid ul-Adha. Both of these festivals have been fixed at a date
on which the Muslims accomplish a great 'ibadah (worship) every year.
Eid-ul-Fitr has been prescribed after the fasts of Ramadan, while Eid-ul-Adha
has been fixed when the Muslims perform the Hajj annually. None of these two
eids is designed to commemorate a particular event of the past which has
happened in these dates. This approach is indicative of the fact that the real
occasion for a happy celebration is the day in which the celebrators themselves
have accomplished remarkable work through their own active effort. As for the
accomplishments of our ancestors, their commemoration should not be restricted
to a particular day or night. Instead, their accomplishments must be remembered
every day in the practical life by observing their teachings and following the
great examples they have set for us.
Keeping this principle in view, the following points should be remembered with
regard to the "Lailatul-mi'raj":
(1) We cannot say with absolute certainty in which night the great event of
mi'raj took place. Although some traditions relate this event to 27th night of
the month of Rajab, yet there are other traditions that suggest other dates. Al-Zurqani,
the famous biographer of the Holy Prophet has referred to five different views
in this respect: Rabi-ul-Awwal, Rabi-u-Thani, Rajab, Ramadan and Shawwal. Later,
while discussing different traditions, he has added a sixth opinion, that the
mi'raj took place in the month of Zulhijjah.
Allama Abdulhaq Muhaddith Dehlawi, the well-known scholar of the Indian
subcontinent, has written a detailed book on the merits of Islamic months. While
discussing the 'Lailatul-mi'raj' has mentioned that most of the scholars are of
the view that the event of mi'raj took place in the month of Ramadan or in Rabi-ul-awwal.
(2) It is also not known in which year the event of Mi'raj took place. The books
of history suggest a wide range between the fifth-year and the twelfth year
after the Holy Prophet was entrusted with prophethood.
Now, if it is assumed that the event of Mi'raj took place in the fifth year of
his prophethood, it will mean that the Holy Prophet remained in this world for
eighteen years after this event. Even if it is presumed that the mi'raj took
place in the twelfth year of his prophethood, his remaining life-time after this
event would be eleven years. Throughout this long period, which may range
between eleven years and eighteen years, the Holy Prophet never celebrated the
event of mi'raj, nor did he give any instruction about it. No one can prove that
the Holy Prophet ever performed some specific modes of worship in a night
calling it the 'Lailatul-mi'raj' or advised his followers to commemorate the
event in a particular manner.
(3) After the demise of the Holy Prophet also, no one of his companions is
reported to celebrate this night as a night of special acts of worship. They
were the true devotees of the Holy Prophet and had devoted their lives to
preserve every minute detail of the sunnah of the Holy Prophet and other Islamic
teachings. Still, they did not celebrate the event of mi'raj in a particular
night in a particular way.
All these points go a long way to prove that the celebration of the 27th night
of Rajab, being the lailatul-mi'raj has no basis in the Sunnah of the Holy
Prophet or in the practice of his noble companions. Had it been a commendable
practice to celebrate this night, the exact date of this event would have been
preserved accurately by the Ummah and the Holy Prophet and his blessed
companions would have given specific directions for it.
Therefore, it is not a Sunnah to celebrate the Lailatul-mi'raj'. We cannot
declare any practice as a sunnah unless it is established through authentic
sources that the Holy Prophet or is noble Companions have recognized it as such,
otherwise it may become a bid'ah about which the Holy Prophet has observed in
the following words: "Whoever invents something in our religion which is not a
part of it, it is to be rejected."
Being mindful of this serious warning, we should appreciate that the 27th night
of the month of Rajab is not like 'Lailatul-qadr' or 'Lailatul-bara'ah' for
which special merits have been mentioned expressly either y the Holy Qur'an or
by the Holy Prophet .
However, all the recognized modes of 'ibadah (worship) like Salat, recitation of
the Holy Qur'an, dhikr, etc. are commendable any time, especially in the late
hours of night, and obviously the 27th night of Rajab is not an exception.
Therefore, if someone performs any recognized 'ibadah in this night from this
point of view nothing can stop him from doing so, and he will be entitled to the
thawab (reward allocated for that recognized 'ibadah insha-Allah.) But it is not
permissible to believe that performing 'ibadah in this night is more meritorious
or carries more thawab like 'Lailatul-qadr' or 'Lailatul-bara'ah', because this
belief is not based on any authentic verse or on a sunnah of the Holy Prophet .
Similarly, it is not a correct practice to celebrate this night collectively and
to invite people to special ritual congregations.
(4) Some people suggest some special modes of worship to be performed in this
night. Since no special mode of worship is prescribed by the Shari'ah in this
night, these suggestions are devoid of any authority and should not be acted
It is believed by some that the Muslims should keep fast on 27th of Rajab.
Although there are some traditions attributing special merits to the fast of
this day yet the scholars of hadith have held these traditions as very weak and
unauthentic reports which cannot be sufficient to establish a rule of Shari'ah.
On the contrary, there is an authentic report that Sayyidna 'Umar, Radi-Allahu
anhu, used to forbid people from fasting on this day, rather to compel them to
eat if they had started fasting.
It should be borne in mind here that a "nafl" fast can be observed any day
(except the six prohibited days of the year); therefore, fasting on 27th of
Rajab is not prohibited in itself. What is prohibited is the belief that fasting
on this day is more meritorious than fasting in other normal days. One should
not fast in this day with this belief. But if someone fasts therein, believing
it to be a normal nafl fast, there is no bar against it.
Sacrifice (qurbani) in the month of Rajab:
In the days of ignorance (jahiliyyah) the Arabs used to offer the sacrifice of a
goat in the month of Rajab. This sacrifice used to be called "Atirah' or 'Rajabiyyah'.
This sacrifice was offered in the name of different so-called gods and their
icons. In the beginning of Islam, this custom was retained, but the Muslims
modified it by offering the sacrifice of 'Atirah in the name of Allah instead of
the false gods. But finally, this custom was abandoned and the Holy Prophet
prohibited the offering of 'Atirah. In a tradition of Sayyidna Abu Hurairah,
Radi-Allahu anhu, reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Holy Prophet has
said: "Fara' is nothing and 'Atirah is nothing."
Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, has explained in the same tradition that 'Fara"
was the first child of a she-camel. Whenever a she-camel delivered its first
child, the Arabs used to sacrifice it in the name of their so-called gods, while
the 'Atirah' was a goat used to be sacrificed in the month of Rajab. Since the
Holy Prophet stopped both these customs, 'Atirah is no longer a recognized
'Umrah in the month of Rajab:
Ibn 'Abidin, the well-known scholar of the Islamic jurisprudence, has mentioned
that the people of Makkah (in his days) used to perform 'umrah in the month of
Rajab. Perhaps they believed that performing 'umrah in this month is more
meritorious than in other months. Then Ibn Abidin himself has rejected the
authenticity of this practice, because no tradition of the Holy Prophet is found
to this effect. Conversely Sayyidah 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has expressly
negated the presumption by saying that the Holy Prophet never performed an 'umrah
in the month of Rajab (Sahih Muslim 1:409)
However, Ibn 'Aibidin has quoted a narration that 'Abdullah ibn Zubair,
Radi-Allahu anhu, completed the renovation of Ka'bah shortly before 27th of
Rajab, and as a sign of gratefulness he performed 'umrah and slaughtered some
animals. But this report cannot form the basis of a recognized annual practice,
firstly because the report is not very authentic, and secondly because it does
not mention that Abdullah ibn Zubair, Radi-Allahu anhu, had adopted it as a
continuing practice. At the most, he performed 'umrah once as a sign of
gratefulness on the completion of Ka'bah. It does not mean that he performed it
as a characteristic of the month of Rajab. Therefore, performing 'Umrah in this
month is like performing it in any other month and no special merit can be
attached to it merely because it has been performed in the month of Rajab.
The Salat of "Ragha'ib":
Another special mode of worship attributed by some people to this month is the
Salat of Raghai'b. According to the custom of such people, this Salat is
performed in the night of first Friday of the month of Eajab. The Salat of
Raghaib is said to consist of twelve rak'ats to be performed in pairs with six
salams, and in each rak'at the surah al-qadr is recited three times followed by
the Surah-al-ikhlas. This type of Salat is also not based on any sound source of
Shari'ah. Therefore, almost all the jurists and scholars of Shari'ah have held
that the Salat of Raghaib is a baseless practice and it is not permissible to
treat it as a recognized practice of this month. It is true that there is a
tradition, narrated by Razin, the author of a book of hadith, which attributes
the origin of this practice to the Holy Prophet but almost all the scholars of
the science of hadith have held it to be absolutely unauthentic. Therefore, no
importance can be attached to it.
Distribution of Breads:
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. This custom has two different shapes.
1). In some communities, this custom is celebrated on 17th of Rajab on the
assumption that Sayyidna Ali, Radi-Allahu anhu, was born on 11th of Rajab and
the 17th of Rajab is the day on which his 'Aqiqa (Shaving of his head) 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.
This practice is baseless because it is never proved that Sayyidna Ali,
Radi-Allahu anhu, was born on 11th of Rajab or that his Aqiqa was performed on
17th of this month and, as explained earlier, even if these events are proved to
have happened in those days, their commemoration through these specific rituals
is not warranted by the Shari'ah.
2). A more common practice of this type is observed on 22nd of Rajab whereby
some breads and meals of a special type are prepared and distributed among the
people. 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 Sayyidna 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
All these assumptions also have no basis at all, neither historically, nor
according to the principles of Shari'ah. In fact, the date of 22nd of Rajab has
no concern whatsoever with Sayyidna Jafar al-Sadiq, Rahimah-u-Allah. According
to the historians, he was born on 8th of Ramadan 80 A.H. and died in Shawwal 148
A.H. No specific event of the life of Sayyidna Jafar al-Sadiq is proved to have
happened on this date. The people believing in the custom refer to a coined
story mentioned in an unauthentic book named "Dastaan-e-Ajeeb".
Briefly stated, the gist of the story is that a poor woodcutter lived in Madinah
in the days of Jafar Al-Sadiq. He went abroad to earn his livelihood. His wife
was employed in the house of the Prime Minister. Once she was cleaning the
courtyard of the Prime Minister when Sayyidna Jafar al-Sadiq passed by her. It
was 22nd of Rajab. He advised her to bake some breads of a special type and make
'isal-al-sawab to him. According to this story, he promised her that if her
desire is not fulfilled after this practice, she can catch hold of him at the
doom's day. On hearing this, the woman made a vow that if her husband will come
back with a considerable wealth, she will observe the custom of "Koonda". On the
same day her husband, who was in another country, found a valuable treasure in
the earth and came back with it to Madinah where he established himself as a
rich man and started living in a magnificent castle. When his wife told the
story to the wife of the Prime Minister, she disbelieved her and because of this
disbelief, she and her husband, the Prime Minister, were punished by Allah. He
was removed by the king from the prime minister-ship and was imprisoned in a
jail and was ordered to be hanged. While being in the prison, the wife of the
Prime Minister remembered that she had disbelieved the story of Jafar al-Sadiq
told to her by her maidservant and their misery might be the punishment of their
disbelief. On this point, she and her husband repented before Allah and made a
vow to observe the custom of "Koonda", if they are released from the jail. After
they made such a vow, the whole scenario of the events changed suddenly. The
king released the Prime Minister from the jail and reinstated him on his former
As it can be seen by any reasonable person, this story is totally forged on the
face of it. The person who has coined this story did not even know that Madinah
had never a king nor a Prime Minister. All the Muslim rulers were named as
caliphs and had no Prime Minister at all. In the days of Umayyads, their capital
was Damascus and in the days of Abbasids, their permanent seat was in Baghdad.
It is ironical that the story of such a woodcutter is not even known to anybody
in Madinah, nor in any city of the Arab countries. No Arabic book has ever
referred to it. It has no mention except in an Urdu book 'Dastaan-e-Ajeeb', the
author of which is unknown. One can easily see that a custom based on such a
fallacious and mythical story can never be an Islamic custom. Islam has always
been far away from such superstitions.
Therefore, this baseless custom should completely be avoided by the true
Muslims. Some historians have opined that in fact, this custom has been coined
by some Shi'ites because the date of 22nd of Rajab is the date of the demise of
Sayyidna Mu'awiyah whom they take as their biggest enemy. They took that date as
a happy occasion and made the Sunni Muslims also to celebrate it on the pretext
of the above mentioned story.
Be that as it may, it is evident that such customs have crept into the Muslim
society by their long association with Hindus who commemorate different
historical events of their religion in the like manner. The Muslims must be
careful about these customs, because they are not only an invention of ignorance
but also the imitation of non-Muslims in their religious rituals. No doubt the
"'isal-al-thawab' to the soul of a deceased Muslim, and particularly to a pious
person is not only permissible but also a commendable practice but the Shari'ah
has not prescribed a particular date, nor a particular mode to do so. If someone
wants to make "'isal-al-thawab" to Sayyidna 'Ali, Radi-Allahu anhu, or to Ja'far
al-Sadiq, he can do it any day and by performing any act of worship, like Salat,
fast, Sadaqah, dhikr etc. There is no reason why it should be restricted to a
special type of meal or bread distributed on a particular date. What makes this
practice worse is the fact that the people accustomed to this practice deem it
as necessary as a fard (obligation); rather they treat it as more necessary than
fard because they do not care to perform the obligatory Salat or to fulfill the
rights of men obligated on them, but they are very strict and punctual to
perform these activities. Moreover, if a person does not observe this practice,
they reproach him and call him with bad names. Such behavior makes this custom a
bid'ah which is condemned by the Holy Prophet as a misguidance. Therefore, the
Muslims must abandon all such practices and should not cling to it only because
it has been the practice of their society for many years. A Muslim is supposed
to follow the dictates of Shari'ah and not the practice of the society, if it
violates any of its principles.
The upshot of the above discussion is that the Shari'ah has not prescribed any
specific way to observe the month of Rajab or to perform a specific mode of
worship or a ritual in any one of its dates. However, being a prologue to the
month of Ramadan, it should be availed of for preparing oneself for Ramadan and
one should pray Allah to make him reach the blessed month and to benefit from
its unique merits.
Source: Taken (with Thanks) from Albalagh.net