Rajab is the seventh month in the Islamic lunar calendar. This month was regarded as one of the sacred months (AI-Ashhur-al-hurum) in which battles were prohibited in the days of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhiwasallam).lt is also a prelude to the month of Ramadan, because Ramadan follows it after the intervening month of Sha'ban. Therefore, when the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) sighted the moon of Rajab, he used to pray to Allah in the following words:
"0 Allaah, 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 Shari'ah 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 Shari'ah or are based on some unauthentic traditions. We would like to explain here the correct position about them.
Celebration of Lailatul Mi'raj
It is generally believed that the great event of Mi'raj (ascension of the Prophet (sallallahualayhiwasaIlam) 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 mi'raj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life of our beloved Prophet (sallallahualayhiwasallam). 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 Allaah. 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 Prophet (sallallahu alayhiwasallam) 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 honour 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 Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasailam) 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-ul-Fitr and the other is Eidul-Adha. Both of these festivals have' been fixed at a date on which the Muslims accomplish a great 'ibadah (worship) every year. Eid-ul-Fitr has been prescribed after the fasts of Ramadan, while Eid-ul-Adha has been fixed when the Muslims perform the Hajj 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.
Keeping this principle in view, the following points should be remembered with regard to the "Lailatul-mi'raj":
( I) We cannot say with absolute certainty in which night the great event of mi'raj took place. Although some traditions relate this event to 27th night of the month of Rajab; yet there are other traditions that suggest other dates. AI-Zurqani, the famous biographer of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhiwa sallam) has referred to five different views in this respect: Rabi-ul-Awwal, Rabi-u-Thani, Rajab, Ramadan and Shawwal. Later, while discussing different traditions, he has added a sixth opinion, that the mi'raj took place in the month of Dhulhijjah.
Allamah Abdulhaq Muhaddith Dehlawi, the well-known scholar of the Indian subcontinent, has written a detailed book on the merits of Islamic months. While discussing the 'Lailatul-mi'raj' has mentioned that most of the scholars are of the view that the event of mi'raj took place in the month of Ramadan or in Rabi-ul-awwal.
(2) It is also not known in which year the event of Mi'raj took place. The books of history suggest a wide range between the fifth-year and the twelfth year after the Prophet (sallallahu alayhiwasallam) was entrusted with prophethood. Now, if it is assumed that the event of mi'raj took place in the fifth year of his prophethood, it will mean that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) remained in this world for eighteen years after this event.
Even if it is presumed that the mi'raj took place in the twelfth year of his prophethood, his remaining life-time after this event -would be eleven years. Throughout this long period, which may range between eleven years and eighteen years, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) never celebrated the event of mi'raj, nor did he give any instruction about it. No one can prove that the Prophet (salalahu aayhi wasalam) ever performed some specific modes of worship in a night calling it the 'Lailatul-mi'raj' or advised his followers to commemorate the event in a particular manner.
(3) After the demise of the Prophet (salalahu ayhi wasalam) also, no one of his companions is reported to celebrate this night as a night of special acts of worship. They were the true devotees of the Prophet (salalahu alayhi wasalam) and had devoted their lives to preserve every minute detail of the sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and other Islamic teachings. Still, they did not celebrate the event of mi'raj in a particular night in a particular way.
All these points go a long way to prove that the celebration of the 27th night of Rajab, being the lailatul-mi'raj has no basis in the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or in the practice of his noble companions. Had it been a commendable practice to celebrate this night, the exact date of this event would have been preserved accurately by the Ummah and the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and his blessed companions would have given specific directions for it.
Therefore, it is not a Sunnah to celebrate the Lailatu-mi'raj'. We cannot declare any practice as a sunnah unless it is established through authentic sources that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or is noble Companions have recognized it as such, otherwise it may become a bid'ah about which the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) 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 'Laiatul qadr' for which special merits have been mentioned expressly either by the Qur'an or by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) .
However, all the recognized modes of 'ibadah (worship) like Soloot, recitation of the 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 thawab (reward). But it is not permissible to believe that performing 'ibadah in this night is more meritorious or carries 'Lailatul-qadr' or 'Lailatul-baro'ah', because this belief is not based on any authentic verse or on a sunnah perspectives of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) . Similarly, it is not a correct practice to celebrate this night collectively and to invite people to special ritual congregations.
(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.
Fasting In Rajab
It is believed by some that the Muslims should keep fast in Rajab and particularly on 27th of the month. There is no authentic report from the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or from the Sahaabah to indicate that there is any particular virtue in fasting during Rajab. The fasting that is prescribed in Rajab is the same a that prescribed in other months, namely fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, and the three days of al-Beedh (the mid three days of the lunar month), fasting alternate days, and fasting Sitar al-Shahr. Some of the scholars said that Sirar al-Shahr refers to the beginning of the month; others said that it refers to the middle or end of the month.
'Umar (RA) used to forbid fasting in Rajab because it involved resemblance to the Jaahiliyyah. It was reported that KharashahIbn AI-Harr said: 'I saw 'Umar smacking the hands of those who fasted in Rajab until they reached out for food, and he was saying, 'This is a month which was venerated in the Jaahiliyyah'. Imaam Ibn al-Qayyirn said:
'the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not fast for three consecutive months (i.e., Rajab, Sha'baan and Ramadan)as some people do, and he never fasted Raja bat all, nor did he encourage people to fast this month'.
AI-Haafiz ibn Hajar said:
'No Saheeh hadeeth that may be used as evidence has been narrated concerning the virtues of the month of Rajab or fasting this month or fasting in any specific part of it, or observing Qiyaam al-Layl (night prayer) specifically during this month. Imam Abu Ismaa'eel al-Harawi al-Haafiz has already stated this before me, and we have narrated this from others also'.
Although there are some traditions attributing special merits to the fast of this day yet the scholars of hadeeth 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 'Umar (RA) 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 six 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 fasting in other normal days. One should not fast in this day with this belief. But if someone fasts therein, believing it to be a normal nafl fast, there is no bar against it.
The Salaat of "Ragha'ib"
Another special mode of worship attributed by some people to this month is the Salaat of Raghai'b. According to the custom of such people, this Salaat is performed in the night of first Friday of the month of Rajab. The Salaat 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 Salaat 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 Salaat of Raghaib is a baseless practice and it is not permissible to treat it 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 Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) but almost all the scholars of the science of hadeeth have held it to be absolutely unauthentic. Therefore, no importance can be attached to it.
The summary 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 anyone 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 Allaah to make him reach the blessed month and to benefit from its unique merits.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited