The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, had a mercifully sharp memory and a keen sense of time, as Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said reminds us.

Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Raheem.

Allah, Most High, wanted good for His creation so He said in Surah Al-Baqarah (185):  “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…”  Allah, Most High, did not say He wanted to make things easy for us, but rather He wanted “ease” for us and all the good!

Allah, Most High, has given us one such good in the form of the four sacred months, as He said in Surah At-Tawbah (36):  “Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred.”

In a Hadith, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, 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, of which four are sacred; three are in succession, namely, Dhul-Qa’da, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth one) Rajab which is between Juma and Sha’ban.” (Bukhari)

In these sacred months, Allah, Most High, mentions that no one should be oppressed, including ourselves; Syedina Qatada , May Allah be pleased with him, said that a sin committed in these sacred months is worse than those committed in the rest of year.  Although a sin should be avoided in all months, Syedina Qatada, May Allah be pleased with him, is emphasizing the importance of these sacred months.

Allah, Most High, chose from people, chose from angels, chose from places, chose from days, chose from nights and chose from months; and from those months, the sacred months.  We say this in a time when people may say why is it important to place emphasize on a given time, place or thing.

Fasting in the Sacred Months

In a hadith, a man from the tribe of Bahela met the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, along with his tribe, and returned back to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, a year later. Upon his return, the man asked the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, if he had recognized him, to which the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, responded, “Should I recognize you?”  

The man explained that he was from the tribe of Bahela, who had visited a year ago. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, then inquired about his physical appearance, as the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, stated that the man’s appearance was much better last year; the man replied that since their last meeting he had been fasting constantly. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:

Fast Ramadan and one day a month

The man: I want more!

Fast Ramadan and two days a month

The man: I want more!

Fast Ramadan and three days a month

The man: I want more!

Fast Ramadan and much from the sacred months – and take leave.

(Abu Dawud, ibn Majah, Bayhaqi, Ahmad)

In recalling this Hadith, we learn a number of things:

  1. We see the mercy of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, in how he interacted with the man and his explanation and prescription to fast, in particular highlighting fasting in the sacred months.
  2. From the man’s initial introduction, we see how great and dear the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, makes people feel about themselves, such that each person who comes upon his presence feels as if they are the most important and ought to be remembered!
  3. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, even remembered what this one man from this particular tribe looked like a year ago!
  4. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, is also teaching us that worship is a joy and good, and that there are days where it is worship to fast and there are days where it is worship to eat (i.e. Eid).

Preserving The Good Is Paramount

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, in relation to the sacred months, continually opens our eyes to all that is good, even that good that was done by previous people, and he encourages us to preserve them.

An example of this is the narration regarding the people of the virtuous alliance.  This was a group of people who met during jahiliyya (time of ignorance) in the house of Abdullahi ibn Jadaal. During this meeting, they agreed not to allow anyone to be oppressed in Makkah and to uphold the rights of those who were oppressed. The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was present at this meeting as a young child.

After all the good the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, witnessed, including Isra wal Miraj, the Hijrah and the opening of Makkah, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, still remembered the day of the virtuous alliance and said that one of the greatest things that he remembered from jahaliyya was the people of the virtuous alliance.  The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, continued by saying if someone were to do something similar, he would support it.

In this, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, is telling us the preservation of all that is good is paramount.

As such, the Arabs used to stop fighting during the sacred four months, and the sanctity of these sacred months was confirmed by Allah, Most High, and the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, and included as part of Shar’iah.  The observation of the Arabs during these may have been related or influenced by the people and practice related to Syedina Ibrahim peace be upon him, or, as some historians suggest, the sacredness of these months could also be partially explained by the proximity of Hajj to three of the sacred months.

In another example, the Sahaba asked the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, regarding the Arab practice of respecting the station of Ibrahim peace be upon him, which was the place Ibrahim ,peace be upon him, stood while observing the building progress of the Ka’ba. The Sahaba, who were expecting a response from the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, we responded to directly by Allah, Most High, when He said in Surah Al-Baqarah (125):  “…And take, [O believers], from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer…”

The Sahaba also asked about the observations of the Arabs with regards to the mounts of Safa and Marwa, (in between which Syeda Hajr, May Allah be pleased with her, ran in prayer) asking if it was permissible to continue such practices, to which Allah, Most High, responded in Surah Al-Baqarah (158):

“Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah. So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs ‘umrah – there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good – then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.”

The Sahaba, in asking about the previous practices of the Arabs, may have thought that anything observed before thedeen may need to be expunged, however, to the contrary, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, taught them that anything that has good and does not contradict our deen, can and should be preserved, supported and honored.

Preparing for Ramadan

Syedina Anas ibn Malik , May Allah be pleased with him, narrated that when Rajab came, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, would say:  “Oh Allah, put blessing for us in Rajab and Shaban, and bless for us Ramadan.”  (Shu’ab al Iman – Al Bayhaqi, Al Hilya tul Awliya – Abu Naym, Musnad – Al Bazaar)

From this we understand that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, wanted us to prepare for Ramadan from the beginning of Rajab and that is why the Saliheen used to say:

Remove all sin and transgression in Rajab, as it is the month of istighfar.  

Do much by way of worship in Shaban as it is the month of hard work (Syeda Aisha, May Allah be pleased with her, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, used to fast more in this month than any other month outside of Ramadan).

And reap the blessings in Ramadan, as it is the month of good and baraka.

If we prepare, then, inshAllah, we will be ready to receive the blessing.

Ya Allah!  Make this a month, a month of forgiveness, sabr, increase in good and bless us with the greatness of adab in the months to come.

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"Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a similar reward"-- The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him)