Each year as we approach the holy month of Ramadan we travel through two other months designated as sacred months in the Qur’an and Hadith. First we come to the seventh month of the Hijri year – Rajab, and then the eighth month – Sha’aban. Both of these months offer opportunities for preparing for Ramadan in both the exoteric and esoteric ways.
Here we will concentrate on the esoteric, sometimes exploring inner meanings and sometimes just offering ways of inspiring a deep connection with the inner life. This is such a wonderful time of the year to be in that deep connection – we are enjoined for the fast of Ramadan. At the same time we can use all three of these months for deeping our commitment for the entire year.
During this time I will be drawing from the works of several historically important people, especially from Hazrat Shaikh ‘Abd Al-Qadir Al-Jilani. His teachings in the Al-Ghunya li-Talib Tariq al Haqq (Sufficient Provision for Seekers of the Path of Truth) has discourses on these months and draws from other teachers, from Hadith and from Qur’an. Perhaps there will be something in these that will touch your heart and point the way for you to view your own inner love connection to Allah (swt) and to all your fellow human beings and with creation.
As we approach Ramadan there will be an exploration of the deeper meanings of the month itself and some “advise” from Hadith and from historical teachers.
إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ وَقَاتِلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَافَّةً كَمَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ كَافَّةً ۚ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ – 9:36
Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct deen (computation), so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the mushrikun collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous (who keep conscious of him). Sura 9 ayah 36
So in this verse we are reminded of three things, first is the status of sacred months, that they were appointed from the beginning by Allah (swt), second that we are not to wrong ourselves during these months and lastly that we should struggle against the forces that deny Allah (swt).
So, quoting from Abdul Qadir Jilani – “As for the sentence “So do not wrong yourselves in them,” the meaning is: “…in the sacred months.” Allah (swt) has applied this prohibition to these four months specifically, in orde to make us clearly understand that they deserve particular respect because of the magnitude of their holiness. In other words, it is in order to emphasize their special importance that He mentions them explicitly rather than any of the other months, in connection with the prohibition of wrongdoing, although wrongdoing is actually forbidden during all the months of the year”
And so we now come to the month of Rajab for the year 1440AH. First let us recite a du’a for this time that is so poignant in bringing Allah (swt) into our lives right away.
And it is also said this of the next three months, that first Rajab is the month for Allah (swt), Sha’aban is for Rasul Allah (saw), and lastly that Ramadan is for the Ummah, may peace be upon all of us. Over the time between now and the beginning of Ramadan we will explore this further.
In conclusion, it is also recommended to fast on the first Thursday of Rajab. In consultation with others I have concluded that this Thursday (March 7 CE) is the first Thursday of Rajab 1440 because Rajab actually begins at sundown on this day. So fasting is recommended on that day for those who can fast. In his work, Jilani quotes Shaikh Imam Hibatu’llah (ra) as telling the prophet (saw) is reported to have said:
If someone has fasted in the first day of Rajab, his fast will be counted as the equivalent of a month long fast.
If someone has fasted for seven days in Rajab, the seven gates of Hell will all be locked to keep him shut out.
If someone has fasted for eight days in Rajab, the eight gates of the Garden of Paradise will all be held open for him
If someone has fasted for ten days in Rajab, Allah will replace his bad deeds with good deeds.
If someone has fasted for eighteen days in Rajab, a crier will call out from heaven above: “Allah has already forgiven you, so make a fresh start and do good work!”
And further that vigil is recommended on this first night.
Remember that making the niyya for any of this is sufficient. Then do what is most comfortable for you.
And Allah (swt) knows best.