The Mi’raaj (ascension to the heavens), Expedition of Tabook (9AH) and the capture of al-Quds (Jerusalem) by Salahuddin Ayyoobi comes to mind when one thinks of the month of Rajab. It is the seventh month in the Islamic (lunar) calendar and one of the ‘Arba’atul Hurum (one of the four sacred months). It is also a prelude to the month of Ramadhaan, because Ramadhaan follows it after the intervening month of Sha’baan. Thus being one of the sacred months and the month wherein Mi’raaj occurred, many baseless acts of worship (bid’ah) have been introduced into Islam. Sacrifices, fasting on Mi’raaj, observing special prayers and special feasts, are among the baseless innovation that is widespread today.
The lexical definition of “Rajaba” is “to respect” or “revere”. During the days of ignorance (Jaahiliyyah), the pre-Islamic Arabs would sanctify this month by not waging war and by offering sacrifices to their false dieties. This sacrifice were called “Atirah’ or ‘Rajabiyyah’. This sacrifice was offered in the name of different idols and dieties. During the early days of Islam, this custom was changed by offering the sacrifice of ‘Atirah in the name of Allah instead of the false gods. Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) prohibited the offering of ‘Atirah and so it became an abandoned practice. In a hadeeth of Sayyidnaa Abu Hurairah, (radiAllahu ‘anhu) reported by both Bukhari and Muslim, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) has said: “Fara’ is nothing and ‘Atirah is nothing.”
(Fara was the first child of a she-camel. Whenever a she-camel delivered its first child, the pre-Islamic Arabs would sacrifice it in the name of their false dieties, while the ‘Atirah’ was a goat, sacrificed in the month of Rajab).
Rasoolullah (Sallalllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) put an end to the above acts of innovation but today it still continues amongst many Muslims. The most common one is the celebration of Miraaj and fasting on 27 Rajab. Nowhere in the hadeeth of Nabi (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) has fasting in the month of Rajab or rather on the day of Mi’raaj been sanctioned in Shari’ah. As with any other event, be it the the Ghazwah (Battle) of Badr or the demise of Nabi Muhammad (Sallalllahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) or Mi’raaj for that matter, Qur-aan and the Sunnah did not prescribe any festival or any celebration to commemorate an event from the past, however remarkable it might have been. Instead, The only two annual celebrations Shari’ah has sanctioned according to Qur-aan and Sunnah are the Eidayn. One is Eid-ul-Fitr and the other is Eid ul-Adha. Both of these festivals are ones of worship rather than just merrily feasting and enjoyment. None of these two eids is designed to commemorate a particular event of the past which has happened in these dates which is why the celebration of Mi’raaj or any other event in Islam of the past is innovation (bid’ah) and not sanctioned by Shari’ah. We believe all events of the past to be great and true but we do not add or delete from what Qur-aan and Sunnah has prescribed. We also are not sure of the exact and precise date of Mi’raaj as we are not one hundred percent certain that the demise of Nabi was 12 Rabiul Awwal. We know that with dates, there may have been a difference in a day or so. With regards to Mi’raaj without going into much detail, many books of history suggest a wide range between the fifth and the twelfth year after Nabuwwah (Rasoolullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) became a Prophet). And Allah knows best. My point is why celebrate something when 1) has not been prescribed in Islam and 2) we are not even certain of the exact date of Mi’raaj.
“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 Sayyidnaa ‘Umar, (radiAllahu ‘anhu) used to forbid people from fasting on this day, rather to compel them to eat if they had started fasting”. – Mufti Taqi Usmani
Another baseless practice is a “special mode of worship” according to some people- the Salaat-ur-Raghai’b. This prayer is performed on the night of first Friday of the month of Rajab. The Salaah of Raghaib is said to consist of twelve rak’ats to be performed in pairs with six salaams, and in each rak’ah Surah al-Qadr is recited three times followed by the Surah-al-Ikhlaas. This type of prayer is also not based on any sound source of Shari’ah. Therefore, almost all ‘Ulamaa (jurists and scholars of Shari’ah) have held that the Salaat-ur-Ragha’ib is not permissible. “It is true that there is a hadeeth narrated by Razin, the author of a book of hadith, which attributes the origin of this practice to the Holy Prophet but almost all the scholars of the science of hadith have held it to be absolutely unauthentic. Therefore, no importance can be attached to it.” – Mufti Taqi Usmani
Performing ‘Umrah specifically with the intention of being more meritorious in Rajab than in any other month is another baseless belief. Doing so would be emulating the ways of the Jaahiliyyah Arabs. Should one happen to perform ‘Umrah during this month, it will be as ‘Umrah in any other month and no special merit can be attached to it merely because it has been performed in the month of Rajab.
Among the Shi’ee (Shi’a / Shi’ite) doctrine, “Koonday” or “Koonda” celebrated on 22 Rajab, is a special time where people get together and share breads and special meals are usually placed in clay bowls, hence the name “koonda”. This celebration is also quiet rife in India and Pakistan among some Sunni communities where they even partake in the bid’ah act of the mourning of Karbala. It is believed that the custom is designed to make ‘isal-uth-thawaab to the soul of Sayyidnaa Jafar as-Sadiq who himself has directed his followers to observe this custom and has promised them that whoever observes it, his desires will be fulfilled. ASTAGHFIRULLAH. Also termed “nadhr” or “niaz” meaning offerings in the name of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq of the Ahlul Bait. Many people who hold “mannats / nadhr” (urdu word for vows to Allah made if a certain problem is resolved) will hold koonday where many “special acts of worship” are carried out.
Some shi’ee celebrate this because of the death of Sayyidunaa Mu’aawiyah (radhiyAllahu ‘anhu) on 22 Rajab. NA’OODHUBILLAH! Others don’t even know what it is or why it is celebrated but do it anyway as part of tradition. 22 Rajab has no concern whatsoever with Sayyidnaa Ja’far as-Sadiq (rahimahulla) either. According to historians, this member of the Ahl-ul Bait was born on 8th of Ramadhaan 80 A.H. and died in Shawwaal 148 A.H. No specific event of the life of Sayyidna Ja’far as-Sadiq (rahimahulla) is proved to have happened on this date. There is a forged story however in an Urdu book ‘Dastaan-e-Ajeeb’too lengthy and riduculous for me to even mention.
I know that this has been a lengthy post and if you have read the entire post, I appreciate it as it is our duty to inform others of the harms of innovation out there. According to my experience, many South Africans and people I know fast and exert in worship on 27 Rajab or the “Mi’raaj” night / day. Most South Africans have never even heard of the offering of Koonday. Let us make it our duty to stick to Qur-aan and Sunnah even though we may be labelled “Wahhabbis”. I am so tired of hearing that just because we do not add or delete to what the Shari’ah has prescribed. May Allah make the months of Rajab and Sha’baan blessed for us and let us gain benefit from Shahr-ul Qur-aan, Ramadhaan.