Thursday, June 25, 2009

Welcoming the Month of Rajab

And race to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden wide as the heavens and earth which has been made ready for the heedful. (3:133)

The Special Blessings of the Month of Rajab

Certain days are most special because on them the mercy of the Lord abounds, His grace and bounty overflow like the ocean, He bestows pardon and forgiveness upon His servants, and He brings joy to those who repent to Him by honoring them with Paradise and His Beauty. It is of His loving mercy that He grants us such days, such nights, such hours.

These special times include the first night of the month of Rajab, and the first Friday night of that same month. The following noble Tradition was reported by the venerable Hasan, beloved grandson of the blessed Prophet: "There are four nights in the year when Allah's mercy, forgiveness, generosity, bounty and grace fall like rain upon the world. Blessed are they who know or will come to know the value of these nights, namely: 1) The first night of the noble month of Rajab; 2) The night called Bara'a (Absolution), the fifteenth night of the noble month of Sha'ban; 3) The night of the feast of Ramadan; 4) The night of the feast of Sacrifice."

Since Islam follows a lunar calendar, the beginning of each day is reckoned from sunset. Thus the fifteenth night of the noble month of Sha'ban is the night of the fourteenth to fifteenth. The night of festival marking the end of the month of fasting is the night between the last day of the noble month of Ramadan and the first day of the festival. The first night of the feast of Sacrifice is the night between the eve of that festival and its first day. Friday night is the night between Thursday and Friday.

Those who appreciate the worth and value of such nights spend these blessed times not in disobedience but in worship and obedience, charity and good works, prayer and supplication. On such nights they earn the good pleasure of their Lord.

Thawban, one of the noble Companions, relates: "I was with the blessed Prophet when we came upon a cemetery. Our Master stopped there and began to weep. His breast became moist with the tears that flowed from his eyes. I went up to him and asked: "O Messenger of Allah, my mother, my father and I myself be your ransom, why are you weeping? Has a revelation come down to you?" He replied: "O Thawban, those who lie here, the dead who occupy this cemetery, are suffering the Torment of the Tomb. It is on account of their condition that I weep." He then continued: "If they had spent any of the days of the month of Rajab fasting and had worshipped Allah at night, they would have been spared this torment.""

The blessed Messenger is also reported as saying: "If someone keeps vigil on the first night of the month of Rajab in worship and obedience, when other hearts die his heart will not die. The All-Glorious One immerses that servant in His mercy and makes him as clean of sin as on the day his mother gave birth. Through the mercy of that night, he receives permission to intercede for seventy people otherwise doomed to Hell."

What grace and generosity we see here... Not only is he himself pardoned, he also receives authority to intercede for seventy other people. What grace, what generosity, what a blessed night this is. What can we say to those who cannot appreciate the worth and value of this night, who disobey Allah and follow other ways, who do not appreciate this precious life of theirs but throw it to the winds?

If a man were to throw his gold and his diamonds into the sea, destroy the house in which he lives and set fire to his property, we would pity him and say: "The poor man must have lost his reason." And we would be right to feel sorry for him. At least he would have the possibility of working and earning so as to recover these goods. But neither money nor labor can bring back life that is gone. Is it possible for those who waste their lives, even spending them in sin, to return to life when death has come? Of course not. This means that your precious life is more valuable than gold, emeralds or anything else.

The blessed Messenger is reported as saying: "My Community, be careful to take advantage of Allah's Month (that is, the month of Rajab). The month of Rajab is certainly Allah's Month. If someone who hopes for reward from Allah will fast for one day in that month, Paradise will be his of right. He will definitely go to Paradise. If he keeps fast for two days he will attain a position in the sight of Allah such as no one in heaven or earth can describe. If he fasts for three days he becomes immune to the sorrows of this world and the torments of the Hereafter, to madness, elephantiasis and leprosy, and to the mischief of other people. For anyone who fasts for seven days in the month of Rajab, the seven Gates of Hell will be shut. If he fasts for eight days to earn the pleasure of Allah, the eight Gates of Paradise will be opened for him. If he fasts for ten days Allah will grant whatever he wishes. If he fasts for fifteen days, his former sins are not only forgiven, but transformed into good deeds. If anyone fasts for more than fifteen days, Allah will increase his reward accordingly."

According to another noble Tradition, recorded in a book called Rawdatu-l 'Ulama', fasting to please Allah on the first day of the noble month of Rajab is expiation for three years of sins past, fasting on the second day is atonement for two years of sins past, fasting on the third day for one year of past sins, while fasting on each of the fourth and subsequent days gives expiation for one month of previous sin. Only those sins are pardoned, however, which are matters between man and Allah; the rights of other people are not affected. The fulfillment of human rights is an absolute obligation, that is to say it is our bounden duty to satisfy anyone who has a right over us.

Our noble Master said that on the night of his Ascension he saw a river in Paradise the water of which was sweeter than honey colder than snow and sweeter smelling than musk. He asked Gabriel, on him be peace: "Who drinks from this river?" The blessed Gabriel replied: "The name of this river is Rajab. If any member of your Community fasts in the month of Rajab and pronounces blessings upon you, the Exalted Lord will grant that he drink of this river."

Those who would drink of that river must fast in Rajab, 'Allah's Month', and give blessings to the Messenger of the Almighty, the Intercessor on the Day of Judgment.

In its Arabic spelling the word "Rajab" consists only of the three consonants 'R', 'J' and 'B'. The letter 'R' is the initial of Rahma, God's Mercy; 'J' stands for jurm, meaning crime, while the letter 'B' is the first in the word bari', meaning innocent. The All-Glorious One says: "My servant, you are guilty of crime and sin. Of My mercy I have absolved you of these and made you innocent. For the sake of your disobedience and sin I have granted you this month." Learned scholars have stated that these letters have this symbolic value. When the month of Rajab is over it enters the Divine Presence and the All-Glorious and Exalted One says to it: "O My Month! I wonder if they loved you? Did My servants treat you with respect?" The month of Rajab will say nothing in reply, though the Lord will ask the same question over and over again until Rajab finally says: "O Lord, You are the Veiler of Faults! You have commanded Your servants to hide the faults of others. Your Messenger named me the 'Deaf Month'. I heard what Your servants did in obedience but I was deaf to their disobedience and sin." This explains why the month of Rajab is known as the 'Deaf Month'.

The All-Glorious One says: "You are My month, you hear no sin. Since you accepted My servants along with their sins and disobedience, I have done likewise and forgiven them for your sake. Provided they once show remorse, I shall forgive them any sin and disobedience they commit during you."

Another reason why the month of Rajab is called the 'Deaf Month' is this: Two Recording Angels are always at our side writing down the good and bad things that we do, but it is a peculiarity of Rajab that during that month they record only our worthy actions and not the evil ones. Since in this month of Rajab the bad deeds of those who display penitence and remorse are kept from the sight and hearing of the angels, they cannot record them.

Our noble Master said: "Certainly Rajab is Allah's Month. The month of Sha'ban is my month and Ramadan is the month of my Community."

According to Imam al-Suyuti in his book called al-Jami' al-Saghir, the venerable Abu Hurayra said: "Apart from Ramadan itself, the blessed Messenger fasted most often in the months of Rajab and Sha'ban."

The literal meaning of Rajab is: "To revere, to regard as great." The custodians of the Ka'ba keep it open from the first of Rajab to the last, out of reverence and respect for this month. In other months, they keep the Ka'ba shut except on Mondays and Thursdays. They say: "This month is God's Month and this house is God's House. Since man is God's servant how can we keep him out of God's House in God's Month?"

-Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak al-Jerrahi, ( from: Wisdom of a Sufi Master)