Last updated on January 2nd, 2024 at 10:09 am

Contrary to the Gregorian date system, which is based on the Earth’s movement around the Sun, the Islamic Calendar is based on the movement of the Moon around the Earth. That’s why it is also known as the lunar date system. While the Gregorian calendar comprises a fixed number of 365 days, the lunar calendar consists of around 355 days a year. Another difference between the two calendars is that the day and date change at 12 midnight in Gregorian while they change at sunset in the Islamic calendar.

Just like the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calendar also comprises 12 months. However, the start of each month is subject to the sighting of the moon, which makes this date system flexible; hence, it keeps on revolving around different climates. That’s the beauty of this system, which is very beneficial for Muslims, especially for the performance of different religious activities such as Fasting and Pilgrimage. So, the month of Ramazan keeps on rotating through hot and cold weather instead of being fixed in a particular weather condition such as extreme hot days.

Islamic Calendar

The Islamic calendar is based on the sighting of the moon. Hence, the number of days of a particular month in the Islamic Calendar is not fixed. The Islamic months are, therefore, either 29 or 30 days, depending on the appearance and observance of the moon.

Here are the names of the 12 Islamic months:

  1. Muharram
  2. Safer
  3. Rabi ul Awwal
  4. Rabi us Sani
  5. Jamadi ul Awwal
  6. Jamadi us Sani
  7. Rajab
  8. Sha’aban
  9. Ramazan
  10. Shawwal
  11. Zul Qa’ad
  12. Zul Hajj

Every Islamic month has its own relevance to different religious activities and events, such as fasting in the month of Ramazan, birth and death of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the month of Rabi ul Awwal and Pilgrimage in the month of Zul Hajj. However, four of these months are rated as sacred in the 36th verse of Surah At-Tawba in the Quran.

Translation

Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record1 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. And fight the polytheists together as they fight together against you. And know that Allah is with those mindful ˹of Him˺.

The names and details of these four sacred months is explained in the Hadith number 4662 of Sahih Al-Bukhari as follows:

Translation

Narrated Abu Bakr: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Time has come back to its original state which it had when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth; the year is twelve months, four of which are sacred. Three of them are in succession; Dhul-Qa’da, Dhul-Hijja and Al-Muharram, and (the fourth being) Rajab Mudar (named after the tribe of Mudar as they used to respect this month) which stands between Jumad (ath-thani) and Sha’ban.”

So, the significance of Rajab is very clearly and explicitly mentioned both in Quran and Hadith.

Historical Background of Sacred Islamic Months

The lunar calendar and the names of its months were already practiced by the Arabs, even before Islam. Traditionally, the months of Zul Qa’ad, Zul-Hajj, Muharram, and Rajab were treated as sacred months, and these were referred to as ‘Haram” months, which means that there would be no fighting and wars during these months.

Historically, the reason behind declaring these months as Haram can be explained as follows:

  • The month of Zul-Hajj had been the month of Pilgrimage; hence, the tribes did not fight with each other during this month.
  • The preceding month (Zul-Qa’ad) was also declared as Haram to facilitate the pilgrims to travel to Mecca from different parts of the Arab.
  • The month of Muharram falls after the month of Zul-Hajj; hence it was also declared Haram to facilitate the return of pilgrims from Mecca to their native homelands.
  • The month of Rajab was also ranked sacred, and Haram enabled the people to perform Umrah (a shorter form of Hajj).

Violation of Sanctity of Rajab by Old Arab Tribes

Traditionally and historically, the old Arab Tribes used to observe the sanctity of the three months related to Hajj, but they used to violate the sacredness of the month of Rajab. It was their routine to keep rotating this month at their convenience. They often keep fighting in this month, pretending that Rajab has been shifted from its original place in the calendar to a later part of the year.

However, there was one tribe known as Mudar, who never changed the position of Rajab and always followed its sanctity.  That’s why the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ specifically named this month as Rajab of Mudar.

Violation of the sanctity of Rajab is also specifically mentioned in the Quran in the 37th verse of Surah At-Tawba:

Translation

Reallocating the sanctity of ˹these˺ months1 is an increase in disbelief, by which the disbelievers are led ˹far˺ astray. They adjust the sanctity one year and uphold it in another, only to maintain the number of months sanctified by Allah, violating the very months Allah has made sacred. Their evil deeds have been made appealing to them. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.

Hence, the month of Rajab is very important, not only because it is one of the four sacred months but also because of various other historical and religious events that are associated with it.

Let’s explore the significance of Rajab from a religious and historical perspective.

The Meaning of Rajab

Rajab (رَجَب) is the seventh Islamic month and is also called Rajab al-Murajjab (highly esteemed and magnified). The word Rajab is derived from the Arabic verb ‘Rajaba, meaning “to respect.” It can also be translated as “be in awe” or “be in fear.” By the dictionary, the word Rajab is termed as “respected” or “admired.”

According to religious scholars, the word Rajab can be broken down into three letters, each highlighting a distinct characteristic of Allah:

  • Ra stands for Rah’matullah (mercy of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)
  • Jeem stands for Ju’duAllah (generosity of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)
  • Ba stands for Bir’uAllah (kindness of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)

Since wrongdoings, fighting, and war are prohibited in the month of Rajab, per the Islamic teachings, it can also be said that instead of wrongdoings, one should do more good deeds in this month to get more rewards on the Day of Judgment and in the life-hereafter. That would be the best way to maintain the sacredness of this month.

The Significance of the Month of Rajab

Rajab holds exceptional importance in Islam. Because of its various virtues, it is known by 18 different names, some of which are Al-Mu’ali (the elevator), Al-Mu’tahir (the cleanser), Al-Murajjab (the revered), and Al-Asamm (the deafening).

The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is believed to have said that Rajab is the ‘month of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, Sha’aban belongs to me and the month of Ramazan is the month of the Ummah. Therefore, we should try to abstain from doing anything prohibited or disliked in Islam, devote ample time to prayer, and help the needy during this sacred month.

The most important and historically well-known event in Islam occurred on the 27th of Rajab, when the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was commuted from Meccas to the Masjid Al-Aqsa in Palestine and then ascended to the heavens by the will and command of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. This historical event occurred during the night of the 27th Rajab and is referred to as Al-Isra and Al-Miraj, more popularly known as Miraj-un-Nabi. So, the highlight of this month is the sacred journey of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is also narrated in the Quran in the 1st verse of Surah Al-Isra.

Translation

Glory be to the One Who took His servant ˹Muḥammad˺ by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs. Indeed, He alone is the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.

Hence, for the Muslims, the month of Rajab becomes even more sacred and revered, being associated with Miraj-un-Nabi.

Three Most Relevant Virtues of Rajab

The virtues of the month of Ramazan are many, amongst whom three are the most relevant and important:

· Rajab Belongs to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى

As quoted above, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ termed Rajab as the month of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. Hence, the first and foremost importance of this month is that it belongs to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى That also means Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى showers His blessings and rewards on the mankind, heavily during this month. So, we need to refrain from wrongful deeds during this month. Instead, we should try to spend maximum time in worship to get more and more rewards and benefits.

· The Month of Three Historic Events

By the will of Allah, سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى three most important and religiously significant events happened during the month of Rajab, which are directly associated with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

  1. The noble marriage of the Parents of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is believed to have happened in the month of Rajab.
  2. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was conceived during the month of Rajab.
  3. Al-Isra and Al-Miraj occurred during this month.

Further, Ummah was awarded very special gifts from Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى during the Al-Miraj.

  • The Ummah was given the gift of 5 compulsory daily prayers, which are Fajar, Zuhar, Asr, Maghrib and Isha. With this, the daily routine of the Muslims has been streamlined to remain attentive to the religion and its teachings.
  • Different commentators of the Quran widely believe that the last two verses of Surah Al-Baqra were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ during the Miraj. The virtues and significance of these two verses are huge, as narrated in Hadith 5009 of Sahih Al-Bukhari:

Translation – Narrated Abu Mas’ud: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “If somebody recited the last two Verses of Surat Al-Baqara at night,that will be sufficient for him.”

  • The third gift from Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى given on the night of Al-Isra and Al-Miraj, is the Promise to award Jannah for the believers, as narrated in the Hadith 414 of Riyad as Salihin.

Translation – Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

A bedouin came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and asked him, “O Messenger of Allah, what are the two imperatives which lead to Jannah or Hell”. He (ﷺ) replied, “He who dies without associating anything with Allah will enter Jannah, and he who dies associating partners with Allah will enter the Fire.”

So, these are the virtues of Al-Miraj and Al-Isra and the month of Rajab, wherein this historic event took place.

· Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى Showers His Blessings in Rajab

The month of Rajab is sometimes also referred to as “the pouring Rajab,” Rajab Al-Asabb.  Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى keeps on pouring His blessings throughout the month of Rajab, as it is believed to happen in the month of Ramazan. So, it is yet another good opportunity for the Muslims to pray for the rewards during Rajab as well. There is every probability of the prayers being accepted during this month, apart from being rewarded heavily.

Significant Islamic Events During Rajab

Some historically significant events that took place during the month of Rajab include:

  1. The birth of Hazrat Ali Ibn-e-Abi Talib (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ) took place on the 13th of Rajab.
  2. The Tabuk Battle (also known as Ghazwa-e-Tabuk) took place in the month of Rajab.
  3. The historic Beyat e Aqabah (the second pledge of Aqabah happened in the month of Rajab, where some 75 residents of Medina pledged to stand along with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

Good Deeds During the Sacred Month of Rajab

To earn Allah’s blessings and cleanse ourselves of previous sins, Muslims should perform the following deeds in the sacred Rajab month:

· Cease Fighting

The beginning of Rajab puts all hostility and wars on hold. That is why it is also known as Rajab al-Asamm or silent Rajab since fighting is strictly prohibited during this month.

· Seek Forgiveness

The sacred month of Rajab provides an excellent opportunity to seek forgiveness from Allah. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said that Rajab is the month of absolution and is also called al-Asabb in Islam, pointing to the immense divine mercy it brings to Muslims. Hence, anyone who seeks mercy from the Almighty with pure intentions will be pardoned.

· Observe Fast

Fasting during Rajab holds immense rewards. The doors of hell will close for a person who fasts for one day during Rajab, who will be pardoned from Allah’s wrath while also being rewarded by an angel in heaven. Notable Muslim scholars who fasted in Rajab include Ali Hassan Al-Basri, Abu Ishaak Al-Siba’I, and Sufyan Al Thawree.

Aishah narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) used to fast on Monday and Thursday:

“The Prophet used to try to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.” Jami` at-Tirmidhi 745

Hence, it is also recommended that Muslims fast on Monday and Thursday during Rajab to fulfil the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) and to reap the maximum benefits of this sacred month.

· Give Sadaqah

Giving charity is the best way to thwart evils and gain Allah’s pleasure and reward both in this world and the hereafter. Since Rajab is about seeking Allah’s mercy, charity is highly recommended.

· Performing Umrah

There is no Hadith about any extra rewards for performing Umrah in Rajab. However, devout ad notable Muslims such as Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Umar ibn Al-Khattab, and Uthman Ibn Afaan performed Umrah during Rajab. Therefore, many people go for the sacred pilgrimage in this holy month.

· Prepare for Ramazan

Rajab is also known as the month for getting ready for the upcoming month of Ramazan. Meanings of one of the sayings of a renowned Scholar of the earlier days of Islam, Imam Abu Bakr, is quoted as follows:

“The month of Rajab is the month of planting (your seeds), Sha‘ban is the month of irrigating / watering (them), and Ramadan is the month of harvesting the crop.”

That reflects the significance of preparing for the fasting month of Ramazan, starting from the month of Rajab through the month of Sha’aban and ending with the month of Ramazan. To start with, one needs to make intentions to prepare for the upcoming month of Ramazan. Then, recall what you couldn’t do previously in the months of Ramazan, which you should have done. Pledge with yourself not to miss such things in the coming Ramazan. More importantly, one needs to get prepared for Ramazan, physically as well as mentally and spiritually.

Conclusion

The month of Rajab is the ‘month of Allah.’ It is among the four sacred months during which many significant events took place, most notably the event of Al-Mi’raj. It is also the month during which Allah’s blessing and mercy are maximized.

Hence, it is recommended that Muslims pray for forgiveness and reward throughout this month, especially during the first night, which is believed to be the night when prayers are answered. Moreover, it is Sunnah to prepare for Ramadan during this month, so use your time wisely and conscientiously. May Allah bless us all and forgive our sins, Ameen!

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