At The Approach of Rajab & Sha’ban
With the sighting of the crescent of Rajab, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would anticipate and begin preparations for the month of Ramadhan. This is two months in advance! People “live to see” various accomplishments in their lives, but a Believer “lives for” and yearns to witness sacred days like these.
Sayyiduna Anas Ibn Malik (radiyallahu’anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would recite the following supplication when the Month of Rajab would commence:
اَللّٰهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَناَ فِيْ رَجَبٍ وَشَعْبانَ وَبَلّغْنَا رَمَضَانْ
Allahumma baarik lanaa fee Rajaba wa Sha’bana wa balligh-naa Ramadhan
Translation: Oh Allah! Grant us Barakah (Blessing) during (the months of) Rajab and Sha’ban, and allow us to reach Ramadhan.
(Shu’abul-Iman #3534, Ibnu Sunni #660, Mukhtasar Zawaid Bazzar #662, also see Al-Azhkar #549. Hafidh Ibn Rajab rahimahullah says this narration is suitable to prove the merit of reciting this du’a -”istihbab. Lataif, pg.172)
Rajab is the second of the “four sacred months” in the Islamic Calendar which are referred to as: “Al-Ash-hurul hurum“ (Surah Tawbah, verse: 36)
The others are: Zhul-Qa’dah, Zhul-Hijjah and Al-Muharram.
Explaining their significance the ‘Ulama mention that during these months, good deeds are more virtuous and evil deeds are more detestable to Almighty Allah. (Lataiful-Ma’arif, pg.163)
A pious person once fell ill before Rajab. He made du’a to Allah that He allow him to live till Rajab (at least) because he had heard that Allah frees people from punishment in Rajab. Allah Ta’ala had accepted his du’a. (Latiful Ma’arif, pg.173)
As for Sha’ban, authentic Ahadith describe special significance for the 15th night. (see detailed article here)
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is reported to have said: “Certainly Almighty Allah forgives everyone on this night besides those who ascribe partners to Him and those who harbor enmity for others”.
(Sahih Ibn Hibban #5665, Al-Targheeb,vol.3 pg.459, Majma’uz-zawaid,vol.8 pg.65 & Lataaiful-Ma’arif, pg.194)
Imam ‘Ataa Ibn Yasar (rahimahullah)- a distinguished Tabi’e- said:
“ After Laylatul Qadr, there is no other night more virtuous than the middle (15th) night ofSha’ban .”
(Ibid, pg. 197)
Du’as are accepted
Imam Shafi’e (rahimahullah) has stated: “I have heard that du’as are accepted by Almighty Allah on five nights:
1) The night of Jumu’ah,
2 & 3) The nights of the two ‘Eids,
4) The first night of Rajab,
5) The middle (15th) night of Sha’ban,
(Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 196)
In fact, the experience of people prior to Islam even, shows that Allah Ta’ala would accept their du’as during the month of Rajab. Imam Ibn Abi Dunya (rahimahullah) has cited several examples of this in his book: “Mujabu Da’wah”. (ibid)
Specific forms of worship
There are no specific types of Salah etc. that are prescribed for the Month of Rajab or the 15th night of Sha’ban. One may engage in whatever form of ‘ibadah one is comfortable with. (Lataiful Ma’arif, pg.168, Islamic Months by Mufti Taqi Uthmani, pgs.63 & 79)
The Sahabah (radiyallahu ‘anum) and the Tab’un (rahimahumullah) would increase their Quranic recital during these months (especially in Sha’ban), i.e. in preparation for Ramadhan. (Lataiful Ma’arif, pg. 192)
The beginning of a new season
The crescent of Rajab actually signals the start of a “New Season”. One of hope, mercy and forgiveness for a believer. This “season” only finishes three months later; on the day of Eid!
Shaykh Abu Bakr Balkhy (rahimahullah) says:
“Rajab is a month in which we plant the seeds of good. i.e, by increasing our ‘ibadah. In Sha’ban we water them, to cultivate (and reap the rewards) in Ramadhan”
(Lataif, pg. 173)
Opportunities like these only come once a year. Fortunate are those who maximise their benefit there from.
Dua for Rajab
Rajab, being the seventh month of the Islamic calendar is a stepping stone to the auspicious months of Sha’baan and Ramadhaan. Rajab is from the Ashurul Hurum (Sacred Months), where the rewards of virtuous deeds are increased. When the moon of Rajab was sighted Rasulullah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would recite the dua given above..
This du’a should be recited regularly in the month of Rajab and Sha’baan. In preparation for Ramadhaan, the relevance of Rajab maybe understood as the month to sow seeds (good actions), Sha’baan is the month in which we should water those seeds (with tears of remorse) and Ramadhaan is the month in which we real the harvest.
Whilst the arrival of Ramadhaan is certain, no person is guaranteed reaching Ramadhaan.
Rasulullah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would express his eagerness to be blessed with the month of Ramadhaan from Rajab.
We should therefore become more inclined towards virtuous deeds and ibaadat in these months.
May Allah Ta’ala privilege us with witnessing Ramadhaan and grant us the ability to spend it in a manner that is most pleasing to Him,
The month of Rajab is the key to the months of goodness and blessings that follow it. Abu Bakr R. al-Warraq al-Balkhi said:
“Rajab is the month to sow the seeds; Sha’ban is the month to irrigate the crop; and Ramadan is the month to reap the harvest.” It has similarly been related from him: “Rajab is like the wind; Sha’ban is like the water-laden clouds; and Ramadan is like the rain.”
Someone else mentioned: “The year in its entirety is like a tree: during Rajab its buds sprout; during Sha’ban it sends forth its branches; during Ramadan its fruit ripens; and the believers are the farmhands who harvest that fruit.”
It is opportune for anyone who has darkened the scroll of their deeds with sins to cleanse it with repentance during this month. Likewise, anyone who has squandered his lifetime without taking advantage of the opportunities to benefit his soul should take advantage of what remains of his life – starting with this month.
A poet said:
So cleanse your darkened hearts within Rajab; with deeds that spare the soul Hellfire’s wrath.
One of the sacred months has come along; no one who calls on God will be forlorn.
Heaven is for the one’s who cleanse their hearts with lewd indecent deeds they’ll have no part.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to do righteous deeds during this month is a source of great gain. While filling each moment of the month worshiping God is a bounteous virtue. End quote from Ibn Rajab.
Let us all take advantage of the weeks that come before the blessed month of Ramadan.
If we begin to fast voluntarily now, the fatigue and discomfort that sometimes accompanies the beginning of our obligatory fast will be behind us and we will enter the month with great spiritual momentum.
Similarly, if we begin increasing our reading of the Qur’an now we will find it easy to read an even greater amount during the month of Ramadan, a month when we celebrate the revelation of our blessed scripture. An athlete who enters a race with a running start achieves a far faster time than one who starts the race from a stationary position.
Let us take advantage of these days to get a running start into Ramadan
There are momentous times in the history of all peoples. Momentous days, weeks and months. The Muslims are no exception. To the contrary, Islamic history overflows with events and occurrences worthy of the mention, and indeed worthy of remembrance. Such comes with no surprise given the fact that the Islamic civilization brought a new dawn to the world of the 7th century, as it established itself in the Middle East before moving forth to conquer land after land, bringing with it knowledge, civilization and real progress.
It is well-known that the holiest of months in the Islamic lunar calendar is Ramadan. A month with unrivalled historic significance, both at the time of the Prophet (saw) and after him. A significance which shadows a heavy burden on the other eleven months, sometimes rendering their magnitude miniscule in its grandeur. In any absolute analysis nevertheless, all the Islamic months have their unique significance. Here we look at one such month, which races towards us, in this, the 1429th year after hijra. That month is Rajab, and it is indeed a month which carries a momentous history. In particular, Rajab saw four events in Islamic History which belong in the category of those which changed the course of history.
It was in Rajab of the 10th year of Prophet hood (620 CE) that al-Isra wa ‘l-Mi’raj occurred. In one night the Prophet (saw) went from Makkah to Jerusalem, then to the heavens and beyond. The spiritual significance of Prophetic journey is only matched by the importance of its timing with regard to the Prophetic mission. Having lost his uncle Abu Talib who had protected him from the beginning of his call, as well as his beloved wife Khadija (ra), the Prophet (saw) was in a difficult situation. The Makkans openly declared their campaign of torture and persecution. It was in this dire situation, at the height of the struggle between Islam and Kufr, that Allah decided to show his chosen servant some of His greatest signs, taking him in one night, nay a part thereof, to the sacred mosque in the sacred lands of Jerusalem and from there to the highest heavens.
Rajab also saw one of the glorious military victories of the Messenger (saw); the Battle of Tabuk, which occurred in the 9 AH, and marked the completion of Islamic authority over the whole Arabian Peninsula. Notwithstanding the intense heat and the long journey to al-Sham from Madinah, an army of 30,000, Muslim moved relentlessly towards al-Sham. The Roman armies were encamped at Tabuk ready to raid the Muslims, but when they heard of the size and strength of the Muslim army coming towards them, and that they were led by the Messenger of Allah himself, they were terrified and rushed back into the interior of al-Sham to the safety of their fortresses. This left the Messenger (saw) with an easy task of occupying Tabuk without a fight. He stayed there for a month dealing with other minor resisting forces and also sent letters to the leaders and governors under Roman control in the area, who made peace with him and agreed to pay the Jizyah.
It was also in Rajab, of the year 583 AH (1187 CE), that Salah al-Din marched into Jerusalem, liberating it from the clutches of the European crusaders who had taken it and ruled it for close to a century. This conquest was not only significant because of the inalienable importance of Jerusalem in Islam, but also because of its role as being one of the crucial stabs in crusader efforts to conquer Muslim lands. A few months earlier Salah al-Din annihilated the Crusader army of Guy of Lasagna and Raymond III of Tripoli in the Battle of Hittin. This was a major disaster for the Crusaders and a turning point in the history of the Crusades to the favor of the Muslims.
Centuries later, in 1342 AH (1924 CE), the month of Rajab again brought a history-setting event upon the Muslim Ummah. This time, unlike the previous two, it was not an occurrence worthy of praise, though certainly worthy of remembrance. On the 28 of Rajab, corresponding to the 3rd of March, the Khilafah was officially abolished at the hands of Mustafa Kemal Pasha. That institution which united the Muslims and implemented the Shari’ah was abolished. That institution which for centuries had played out its role of being a shield for the Muslims was removed. What happened afterwards was to be expected. Without a shield, the Muslims, their resources and their lands were no more than war booty to the disbelieving colonialists, who had been pulling the strings to make sure that the Khilafah was eradicated and replaced by secular rule.
These four events in Islamic History are indeed momentous events. They are events which set the course of history in a specific direction. They are events worthy of our remembrance and commemoration. Not a Western commemoration, but an Islamic one. We commemorate not by partying the night away, nor by extravagant marches and trumpet-blowing, nor by building statues and monuments of men. Rather our commemoration is in turning to Allah in worship and contemplation: praising Him for his great favors, and seeking forgiveness for our shortcomings. Our commemoration is in praying extra prayers, reciting more Qur’an and making extra dhikr. Our commemoration is in reflecting upon our situation today, as individuals and as an Ummah, and assessing it in light of our Islamic obligations. Our commemoration is in resolving our will to fulfill our obligations towards our Creator to the best of our ability.
As we enter another Rajab, we should familiarize ourselves with our great history, and take the opportunity to do the above things with pure sincerity to Allah (swt) and with the sole motivation of seeking His pleasure. We should reflect upon al-Isra wa ‘l-Mi’raj and ask: as we find ourselves in the midst of an intense struggle between Islam and kufr, this time in the form of Western secular liberalism, are we resolving our will and engaging with the aim of making Islam dominant? We should reflect upon Salah al-Din’s liberation of Jerusalem and ask: what are we doing knowing well that the holy city is occupied yet again and has been so for over fifty years? Where is the Salah al-Din of today? We should reflect upon the destruction of the Khilafah and ask: what is our contribution to the Islamic revival and efforts to re-establish the Khilafah? What are we doing to fulfill our collective obligation to Allah of ruling by Islam and being the role model of humanity, leading her towards progress and success in both worlds?
We must ask these questions in taking lessons from our history, as we venture into our future.
Rajab is the month of cultivation, shabaan is the month of feeding our crops and ramadhaan is the month of harvesting.
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