Rajab and Fasting

Rajab: A Month of Sacredness, Not Special Fasting

The month of Rajab holds a special place in the Islamic calendar, designated as one of the four sacred months alongside Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah, and Muharram.

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.” Sahih al-Bukhari 4662

Its sacred nature is emphasized in Quran verse 9:36, reminding us of the importance of respecting its sanctity and avoiding wrongdoing.

Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record 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˺.

Sacredness, not special fasting:

While Rajab deserves respect and increased awareness of our actions, it’s crucial to understand that there’s no specific religious obligation or special virtue in fasting solely during this month. Contrary to popular belief, there are no authentic hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) that endorse exclusive fasting in Rajab.

Misconceptions and fabricated hadiths:

Several weak or fabricated hadiths exist regarding Rajab which prompt practices like fasting on specific days or nights. Scholars like Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn al-Qayyim have explicitly warned against relying on such hadiths.

But there is a report from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) which indicates that it is mustahabb to fast during the sacred months (and Rajab is one of the sacred months).

Narrated Abdullah ibn al-Harith ; or Uncle of Mujibah al-Bahiliyyah:

The father or Uncle of Mujibah al-Bahiliyyah visited the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). He then went away and came to him (again) after one year when his condition and appearance had changed.

He said: Messenger of Allah, do you not recognize me? He asked: Who are you? He replied: I am al-Bahili who came to you last year. He said: What has changed you? You were looking well, then you were good in appearance? He said: I have only food at night since I departed from you.

Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Why did you torment yourself? Fast during Ramadan (the month of patience) and fast for one day every month. He said: Increase it for me, for I have (more) strength. He said: Fast two days. He again said: Increase it for me. He said: Fast three days. He again said: Increase it for me. He said: Fast during the inviolable months and then stop; fast during the inviolable months and then stop; fast during the inviolable months and then stop. He indicated by his three fingers, and joined them and then opened them. Sunan Abi Dawud 2428

Even if this hadith were sahih, it indicates that it is mustahabb to fast during the sacred months. So if a person fasts during Rajab because of this, and he also fasts in the other sacred months, there is nothing wrong with that. But singling out Rajab for fasting is not right.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Majmu’ al-Fatawa (25/290):

“As for fasting in Rajab in particular, the ahadith concerning that are all da’if (weak), and in fact mawdu’ (fabricated). The scholars do not rely on any of them. They are not among the da’if ahadith which have been narrated concerning virtues, rather most of them are fabricated and false. In al-Musnad and elsewhere there is a hadith which says that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) enjoined fasting the sacred months, namely Rajab, Dhu’l-Qa’dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram, but this has to do with fasting during all of them, not just Rajab.”

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“Every hadith which mentions fasting in Rajab and praying during some of its nights is false and fabricated.” (Al-Manar al-Munif, p. 96)

Al-Hafiz ibn Hajar said in Tabyin al-‘Ajab (p. 11)

“There is no sahih hadith that would count as evidence which speaks of the virtue of the month of Rajab, or that speaks of fasting this month or part of it, or of spending any particular night of it in prayer.”

Shaykh Sayyid Sabiq (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Fiqh al-Sunnah (1/282):

“Fasting in Rajab is no better than fasting in any other month, except that it is one of the sacred months. There is no report in the sahih Sunnah to suggest that there is anything special about fasting in this month. Whatever has been narrated concerning that is not fit to be quoted as evidence.”

Fasting on 27th Rajab: Any merits?

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about fasting on the twenty-seventh of Rajab and spending that night in prayer. He replied:

“Fasting on the twenty-seventh of Rajab and spending that night in prayer is a bid’ah (innovation), and every bid’ah is a going astray.” (Majmu’ Fatawa Ibn ‘Uthaymin, 20/440)

Respecting the sacred:

Instead of focusing on specific fasting practices, the emphasis in Rajab should be on upholding its general sanctity. This includes:

  • Increased awareness of our actions: We should be mindful of our words, deeds, and intentions, striving for righteousness and avoiding sin.
  • Heightened worship: This is a time to dedicate ourselves more diligently to prayer, Quran recitation, and other acts of devotion.
  • Kindness and generosity: We can use this opportunity to increase our acts of charity and kindness towards others.

Remembering the spirit of Islam:

Rajab serves as a reminder of the overall Islamic values of respect, piety, and good conduct. It’s a time to reflect on our spiritual journey and strive for self-improvement throughout the year, not just during specific months. Thousands of hand-picked Quran Tutors are waiting to help you improve your Tajweed, Hifz and Arabic to make the most of this month in sha Allah.

By understanding the true significance of Rajab and avoiding unsubstantiated claims, we can deepen our appreciation for this sacred month and strengthen our overall connection to Islam.

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