The Month of Rajab (Part 2)

(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 upon.
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 رضي الله تعالى عنه 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 five 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 fast¬ing in other normal days. One should not fast in this day with this belief. But if someone fasts therein, be¬lieving 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 begin¬ning of Islam, this custom was retained, but the Mus¬lims modified it by offering the sacrifice of ‘Atirah in the name of Allah instead of the false gods. But final¬ly, this custom was abandoned and the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم. prohibited the offering of ‘Atirah. In a tradition of Sayyidna Abu Hurairah .رضي الله تعالى عنه, reported by both al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم has said:
لا فرع ولا عتيرة
Fara’ is nothing and ‘Atirah is nothing.
Abu Hurairah رضي الله تعالى عنه 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 Ar¬abs used to sacrifice it in the name of their so-called gods, while the ‘Atirah’ was a goat used to be sacri¬ficed in the month of Rajab. Since the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم stopped both these customs, ‘Atirah is no longer a rec¬ognized practice.
‘Umrah in the month of Rajah
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 oth¬er months. Then Ibn ‘Abidin himself has rejected the authenticity of this practice, because no tradition of the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم is found to this effect. Conversely Sayyidah ‘Aishah رضي الله تعالى عنها has expressly negated the presumption by saying that the Holy Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم never performed an ‘umrah in the month of Rajab (Sahih Muslim 1:409)
However, Ibn ‘Abidin has quoted a narration that ‘Abdullah ibn Zubair رضي الله تعالى عنه completed the renova¬tion of Ka’bah shortly before 27th of Rajab, and as a sign of gratefulness he performed ‘umrah and slaugh¬tered 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 رضي الله تعالى عنه 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 per¬formed in the month of Rajab.
The Salah of ‘Ragha’ib’
Another special mode of worship attributed by some people to this month is the Salah of Raghai’b. According to the custom of such people, this Salah is performed in the night of first Friday of the month of Rajab. The Salah 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 Salah 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 Salah of Raghaib is a baseless practice and it is not permissible 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 صلي الله عليه وسلم but almost all the scholars of the science of hadith have held it to be ab¬solutely 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 neighbours. This cus¬tom has two different shapes.
1). In some communities, this custom is celebrated on 17th of Rajab on the assumption that Sayyidna Ali رضي الله تعالى عنه was born on llth of Rajab and the 17th of Rajab is the day on which his ‘Aquiqa (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 Almulk on them, they are distributed among the relatives and friends. These breads are generally called “breads of Tabarak” be¬cause Surah Almulk is usually recited on them.
This practice is baseless because it is never proved that Sayyidna Ali رضي الله تعالى عنه was born on llth of Rajab or that his Aquiqa was performed on 17th of this month and, as explained earlier, even if these events are proved to have happened in those days, their com¬memoration through these specific rituals is not war¬ranted by the Shari’ah.
2). A more common practice of this type is ob¬served 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 usual¬ly 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 Sayyid¬na Jafar Al-Sadiq who himself has directed his follow¬ers to observe this custom and has promised them that whoever observes it, his desires will be fulfilled.
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 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 ministership 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 maid-servant 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 position.
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 Umayyas, their capital was Damascus and in the days of Abbasis, 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 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 Shiites 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 or to Ja`far-al-Sadiq , he can do it any day & by performing any act of worship, like Salah, fast, Sadaqah, dhikr etc. There is no reason why it should be restricted to a special type of meal or bread distributed in 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 salah 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 bidah which is condemned by the Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم 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.