MUFTI TAQI USMANI
Published — Friday 22 April 2016
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 Shariah 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 Shariah or are based on some unauthentic traditions. We would like to explain here the correct position about them.
It is generally believed that the great event of Miraj (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 heavens).
Indeed, the event of miraj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life of our beloved Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). 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 Al-Fitr and the other is Eid Al-Adha. Both of these festivals have been fixed at a date on which the Muslims accomplish a great ibadah (worship) every year. Eid Al-Fitr has been prescribed after the fasts of Ramadan, while Eid Al-Adha has been fixed when the Muslims perform the Haj 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.
We cannot therefore declare any practice as a sunnah unless it is established through authentic sources that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) or his noble Companions (may Allah bless them all) have recognized it as such, otherwise it may become a bidah (innovation) about which the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him).
However, all the recognized modes of ibadah (worship) like salah, 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 rewards by Almighty. But it is not permissible to believe that performing ibadah in this night is more meritorious or carries more rewards like those in ‘Lailatul-Qadr’ or ‘Lailatul-bara’ah,’ because this belief is not based on any authentic verse or on a sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Similarly, it is not a correct practice to celebrate this night collectively and to invite people to special ritual congregations.
Shariah 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.