#MiddleGroundPodcast: Rajab And Sha’ban – Utilizing These Two Months

Rajab and Sha’ban are the seventh and eighth months in the Islamic lunar calendar.

  • battles were prohibited in Rajab by the Prophet;
  • no specific way of worship has been prescribed in this month*;

* ‘Uthman b. Hakim al-Ansari said, “I asked Sa’id about fasting in Rajab, and we were already passing through the month of Rajab, whereupon he said: ‘I heard Ibn ‘Abbas say…’.” See hadith below.

فَقَالَ سَمِعْتُ ابْنَ عَبَّاسٍ رضى الله عنهما يَقُولُ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَصُومُ حَتَّى نَقُولَ لاَ يُفْطِرُ‏ وَيُفْطِرُ حَتَّى نَقُولَ لاَ يَصُومُ

“I heard Ibn ‘Abbas as saying ‘the Messenger of Allah used to observe fast so continuously that we used to say that he would not break it and did not observe it so continuously that we were inclined to say that he would not observe fast’.” — Sahih Muslim

عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ قَالَ إِنَّ الزَّمَانَ قَدِ اسْتَدَارَ كَهَيْئَتِهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ السَّنَةُ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا مِنْهَا، أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ، ثَلاَثٌ مُتَوَالِيَاتٌ ذُو الْقَعْدَةِ وَذُو الْحِجَّةِ وَالْمُحَرَّمُ وَرَجَبُ مُضَرَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ جُمَادَى وَشَعْبَانَ

“The Prophet 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’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and al-Muharram, and Rajab Mudar* which stands between Jumada and Sha’ban’.” — Sahih Muslim

* named after the tribe of Mudar as they used to respect this month.

اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا في رَجَبٍ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنا رَمَضَانَ

“O Allah bless us in Rajab and Sha’ban and enable us to reach Ramadan!”al-Bayhaqi

رجب شهر الله وشعبان شهري ورمضان شهر أمتي

“Rajab is the month of Allah, Sha’ban is my month and Ramadan is the month of my Ummah.”Anas bin Malik or Abu Sa’id al-Khudhri

This is a notoriously weak and/or fabricated hadith and should not be accepted. Some say, without proof, that Rajab was the month in which the Prophet’s blessed parents were married, and the month in which the Prophet’s mother, Aminah, became pregnant, implying that because of this, Rajab is the month to either get married or give birth.

“When one of the pious scholars became ill he said: “I have asked Allah to delay my death until the month of Rajab because I have heard that those that die in that month are saved from the Fire.” Allah answered his supplication and he died in Rajab.”unknown source

Islam was sent to confirm the supernatural while dismissing the superstitious.

It is reported, however, that Prophet used to fast most of the month in Sha’ban. These fasts were not mandatory but being that Sha’ban is the month immediately Ramadan, one mightmight infer that he was getting himself/his body ready for the month-long fast.

Anas bin Malik reports that the Prophet was asked, “Which fast has more merit to it after Ramadan?” He replied, “Fasting in Sha’ban in honor of Ramadan”.

Usama ibn Zaid reports that he asked the Prophet “Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha’ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month” to which the Prophet replied: “Sha’ban is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds of human beings is presented before the Lord of the universe, so I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting”.

Celebration of Laylah al-Mi’raj

Many believe that Mi’raj took place in the night of 27th of Rajab. Some people have even taken to calling it “Laylah al-Mi’raj”.

And while the event of Mi’raj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life of the Prophet neither he, nor Allah, ordained any celebration about its occurence. We also find none of the Companions making it into some soft of annual celebration.

What’s the lesson in this for us to learn and benefit from?

#MiddleGroundPodcast – Sha’ban and Bid’ah: Islam Isn’t Sorcery


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Al-Shatibi, the author of a two-volume book entitled al-I’tisam الاعتصام (Holding Fast), has been hailed by many as the best book ever written on the subject of bid’ah: “unsanctioned innovation in religious matters”. In this work, al-Shatibi gives the following definition for bid’ah:

البدعة طريقة مخترعة في الدين تضاهي الشرعية يقصد بالسلوك عليها ما يقصد بالطريقة الشرعية

“A concocted manner of proceeding in religion that mimics the scripturally mandated way, with the aim of achieving through this concocted way that which should only be sought through the scripturally mandated way.”

According to Dr. Sherman Jackson,

bid’ah” is not simply committing an act that the Prophet did not commit or failing to commit an act that the Prophet actually did. Bid’a is, rather, committing or avoiding such actions as a means of making up one’s own way to God. In other words, the real issue is not whether an act is committed or not; the real issue is the religious value that one attributes to the commission or non-commission of an act“.

The reason why innovation becomes an issue is because people will leave off what was legislated for them* in favor of what is not legislated. In doing so they put themselves in the position of being a prophet or a messenger. We now have people who live recklessly and then attempt to turn religion in general, and Islam in particular, into a kind of magic or sorcery. What was magic’s use or intent? To either gain the gods’ favor, overcome them, or the natural world (which was in most mythologies created by the gods or inhabited by them).

Many of these attempts are “practical” in that they wish to supplant that which would require discipline for something else that “fits their schedule”. “Praying every day in impractical”, in this way of thinking. “I prefer to get it out the way or have it done on my time”.

قُل لِلَّهِ الشَّفاعَةُ جَميعًا ۖ لَهُ مُلكُ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَيهِ تُرجَعونَ

“Say to them,’It’s God’s exclusive right to choose someone to be an intercessor, for the control of the heavens and the earth belongs to Him, and then you’re all going to go back to Him’.”Qur’an, 39: 44

So a person will drink, fornicate, cheat, and even murder, and then think all of this can be mitigated on one special night.

Background on the verses 53 through 59 of Surah al-Zumar (#39)

There were some Makkans who wanted to accept Islam, but they had indulged in very wicked behavior in their lives before, having murdered people, committed adultery, theft and other crimes. They felt that their sins were too enormous for God to forgive merely by their accepting Islam. “How can we become Muslims when we did all that?” one of them even asked. Just after the Muslims migrated to Madinah, the concerns of such sympathetic but despairing Makkans were discussed by many. These verses were revealed, and ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, who knew how to write, wrote them on a paper and sent it secretly back to Makkah. The first person who read it was a man named Hisham who said in later days, “I took it and went to a place named Thitawa, and I asked God to make me understand it. When I realized it was for us, I returned to where my mount was tethered and resolved to follow the Prophet.” Many others also joined Islam and made their way to Madinah.

قُل يا عِبادِيَ الَّذينَ أَسرَفوا عَلىٰ أَنفُسِهِم لا تَقنَطوا مِن رَحمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغفِرُ الذُّنوبَ جَميعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفورُ الرَّحيمُ

وَأَنيبوا إِلىٰ رَبِّكُم وَأَسلِموا لَهُ مِن قَبلِ أَن يَأتِيَكُمُ العَذابُ ثُمَّ لا تُنصَرونَ

وَاتَّبِعوا أَحسَنَ ما أُنزِلَ إِلَيكُم مِن رَبِّكُم مِن قَبلِ أَن يَأتِيَكُمُ العَذابُ بَغتَةً وَأَنتُم لا تَشعُرونَ

أَن تَقولَ نَفسٌ يا حَسرَتا عَلىٰ ما فَرَّطتُ في جَنبِ اللَّهِ وَإِن كُنتُ لَمِنَ السّاخِرينَ

أَو تَقولَ لَو أَنَّ اللَّهَ هَداني لَكُنتُ مِنَ المُتَّقينَ

أَو تَقولَ حينَ تَرَى العَذابَ لَو أَنَّ لي كَرَّةً فَأَكونَ مِنَ المُحسِنينَ

بَلىٰ قَد جاءَتكَ آياتي فَكَذَّبتَ بِها وَاستَكبَرتَ وَكُنتَ مِنَ الكافِرينَ

“[Muhammad – Tell the people that I, Myself, have said, ‘All My servants who have acted excessively against their own souls! Don’t lose hope of God’s mercy, for God can forgive all sins. He truly is the Forgiving and the Merciful!’

‘Turn towards your Lord and surrender to Him before the punishment overwhelms you, for then you’ll have no one to help you.’

‘Follow the best of what’s being revealed to you from your Lord before the punishment overwhelms you all of a sudden without your even realizing what’s happening.’

‘For then your soul will cry out, “I’m doomed! I neglected my duty to God, and I scoffed!”

‘Or it might cry out, “If only God had guided me, I would surely have been one of the mindful.”

‘Or it might cry out, the moment it sees the punishment approaching, “If only I had a second chance, I would surely be with those who are good’.

‘“But no! My signs came to you, and you denied them! You were arrogant, and you tried to cover the truth that was all around you’.”Qur’an, 39: 53-59

Notes

*What do we mean by “legislated”? In specific, that which Allah will judge a person by, and that which may forfeit a person’s entrance to the Garden.

#MiddleGroundPodcast: Sha’ban – The Month of Branching Out and Connecting


[Direct download]

One of the linguistic meanings of Sha’ban is “to branch out” and “connect” because it’s the month which literally connects with Ramadan.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ إِذَا تَقَرَّبَ عَبْدِي مِنِّي شِبْرًا تَقَرَّبْتُ مِنْهُ ذِرَاعًا وَإِذَا تَقَرَّبَ مِنِّي ذِرَاعًا تَقَرَّبْتُ مِنْهُ بَاعًا – أَوْ بُوعًا – وَإِذَا أَتَانِي يَمْشِي أَتَيْتُهُ هَرْوَلَةً

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger ﷺ as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, stated,

“When My servant draws close to Me by the span of a palm, I draw close to him by the cubit and when he draws close to Me by the cubit, I draw close to him by the space of two arm spans, and when he comes to Me walking, I go in a hurry towards him.”Sahih Muslim, #2675

Likewise, Allah has made us into shu’uban and qaba’il.

يا أَيُّهَا النّاسُ إِنّا خَلَقناكُم مِن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثىٰ وَجَعَلناكُم شُعوبًا وَقَبائِلَ لِتَعارَفوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكرَمَكُم عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتقاكُم ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَليمٌ خَبيرٌ

“All you people! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into different races and tribes so you can come to know one another. The noblest among you in the sight of God is the one who is the most mindful of his duty to Him. Truly, God knows and is aware.”Qur’an, 49: 13

الشعوب: جمع شعب بفتح الشين، وهو أعظم من القبيلة، وتحته القبيلة ثم البطن ثم الفخذ ثم الفصيلة

Ibn Juzayy says,

Shu’ub is the plural of sha’b, which is greater than a qabilah, which is after the qabilah is a batan, then a fikhdh, then a fasilah. — al-Tas’hil l’Ulum al-Tanzil

What makes a shu’b is that the people are connected. Our connection is not simply to one another because we share the same ancestor but because we share the same core belief: Allah and His Messenger. This is why unity is so difficult in the Muslim community because we’re not connected or connecting on that thing which can truly branch across divides.

قالَتِ الأَعرابُ آمَنّا ۖ قُل لَم تُؤمِنوا وَلٰكِن قولوا أَسلَمنا وَلَمّا يَدخُلِ الإيمانُ في قُلوبِكُم ۖ وَإِن تُطيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسولَهُ لا يَلِتكُم مِن أَعمالِكُم شَيئًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفورٌ رَحيمٌ

Joining Islam is not doing God a Favor

Background: During a year of famine, members of the bedouin tribe of Banu Asad arrived in Medina and professed to be Muslims in order to receive donations to help their tribe. They said they had never fought the Muslims and that they had always donated to the Muslims and helped them in the past, which was only partially true. Their behavior in the city was culturally reprehensible, and they also conducted themselves in obvious ignorance of Islamic manners and values. Finally, they made it seem as if they were doing the Muslims a favor by joining them. While their profession of faith may or may not have been real, they had not let the full effect of faith seep into their hearts in a genuine fashion. This passage was revealed in response. — Asbab al-Nuzul

“The bedouin Arabs are quick to say, “We believe!” Yet, say to them (Muhammad), “You have no faith, for you’re only saying, ‘We’re surrendered to God,’ but sincere faith hasn’t yet entered your hearts. If you obey God and His Messenger, He won’t decrease the value of any of your (good) deeds, for God is forgiving and merciful.”Qur’an, 49: 14

For other khutbahs and podcasts, see the Middle Ground Podcast.