Ramadan is so special for Muslims that we should avail of every opportunity to make the most of it.
Having such a love of Ramadan and recognizing its blessings, it is said that the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to spend six months preparing for Ramadan and the rest of the year thanking Allah for its blessings.
Ramadan is the special month in which Muslims fast for Allah’s sake and try to renew and deepen their own faith, trying to become better Muslims as a result.
One of the effects of their fasting is that they think of all the blessings they receive from Allah during the year and also they spare a thought for those less fortunate than themselves.
Ramadan is a month of prayer and it is a month devoted to the Quran. Ramadan is also very much a month of unity and brotherhood between Muslims.
In the months leading up to Ramadan and the Hajj pilgrimage beyond it, we should seize every chance to help us make its observance better and to become better brothers and sisters to one another.
Rajab is the penultimate month before Ramadan, so it presents us with a chance to make our celebration of Ramadan even more special.
The Four Sacred Months
In Islam, there are four out of the twelve months of the Islamic year considered “sacred.” In the Quran we read:
Verily, 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. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein. (9:36)
Sacred months are considered sacred for two reasons: Allah has declared that fighting is forbidden in these months, unless initiated by the enemy; and transgression of the sacred limits during these months is worse than at other times.
The Sacred Months are Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) tells us:
Time has come back to its original state, which it had when Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year is twelve months, of which four are sacred: three are in succession, namely, Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth one) Rajab (of the tribe of) Mudar, which is between Jumada (Thani) and Sha’ban. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Why They’re Special?
In having these four sacred months, we see once again how Islam provides sensible and practical solutions to the world’s problems, actually banning fighting, rather than just talking about efforts to do so. Those who follow the principles of Islam are forbidden to fight during these sacred months.
The pre-Islamic Arabs recognized four months as sacred. These months were agreed times when fighting did not take place so the Arabs would be safe to visit their idols in Makkah. However, the pre-Islamic Arabs did not always follow the correct sacred months, sometimes altering their order for their own convenience. The Quran tells us how they had strayed:
They alternate the Sacred months and the regular months, whilst preserving the number of months consecrated by Allah. They thus violate what Allah has consecrated. (9:37)
Islam here, as in everything else, restored things to the way they should be and gave these months their proper significance.
Fighting was therefore forbidden so that pilgrims could go on pilgrimage to Makkah. So we see that one of the sacred months precedes Hajj, one is for Hajj itself and one succeeds it, whilst the other sacred month, Rajab, calls for a complete cessation of fighting so that people can make the lesser pilgrimage, Umrah, to the Ka’bah in Makkah.
In Rajab, also, we remember the occasion when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was taken from the Ka’bah in Makkah to Al-Aqsa mosque in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and from there was taken through the heavens close to the throne of Allah.
This event of Al Isra’ wal Mi’raaj (the Night Journey and Ascension) reminds us of the love Muslims have for Al-Aqsa, built just forty years after the Ka’bah, and how we should do our utmost to preserve it and the lands around it blessed by Allah.
Preparing for Ramadan
Special days of fasting during the month of Rajab, for example, or the observance of special nights of prayer have no basis in either the Quran or Sunnah. Muslims may, of course, do extra fasting or prayer in this month, but the reward for doing so is no greater than in any other month. The special feature of Rajab is not more rituals, but peaceful behavior.
In preparing for Ramadan, Rajab can help.
People might reasonably ask why we need sacred months nowadays, when most of us are not involved in fighting in this or any month?
An Opportunity for Peace
Our world today is torn apart by violence of all kinds. In thinking of the world’s conflicts, we see how ceasefires here and there are attempted as a way to bring a more lasting peace.
Non-Muslims are clearly puzzled when they hear that Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace, but see something altogether different on their television screens.
What could be clearer, though, than to explain to them that in this sacred month of Rajab, fighting and haram behavior is forbidden? It will be obvious, then, that those who persist in this behavior are transgressing the bounds of Islam.
Peace among Muslims in the month of Rajab would be a great gift not only to the worldwide Ummah, but to the world itself. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned Muslims repeatedly about fighting one another, calling it one of the greatest sins, so grave it can lead to disbelief.
Allah has prescribed sacred months not just for the Arabs fourteen centuries ago, but for all of us and for all time.
A sacred month, devoid of fighting, is just one more of Allah’s innumerable gifts and we should ponder deeply on its meaning in our own lives. Being peaceful does not mean being weak. It takes great inner strength to approach your enemies or those with whom you disagree with a message of peace.
During the month of Rajab, month of peace, let us all try to follow his example, Insha’Allah.
(This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.)