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Four Sacred Months and Related Issues

Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, said, “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. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them.” [Quran 9:36]

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We are now in the month of Dhul-Qa’dah which its name in Arabic means “sitting”. This month was given this name because it was the month during which pre-Islamic Arabs would sit and stop fighting. Why did they stop fighting each other? It was because this month was one of those four sacred months which they considered too due to the Abarahamic teachings.

In the abovementioned verse, Allah informs us that since He created the universe Allah had set the months to be twelve, and He, Almighty, informed us that He, Almighty, designated four of them to be sacred. Moreover, there are other three months beside Dhul-Qa’dah which belong to the group of sacred months: Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab, as mentioned in Sahih of Al-Bukhari & Muslim.

Dhul-Hijjah which refers to “Hajj” in Arabic was given this name because they performed Hajj (pilgrimage) in this month. Muharram means “forbidden” in Arabic. It was called that because they forbade fighting during it. Rajab which in Arabic means “remove” was labeled with this name because the Arabs used to remove the heads of their spears and refrain from fighting.

Moreover, we should be aware to the following related issues around these four Sacred Months.

  1. It is recommended to fast in these Sacred Months. The Prophet said, “Fast during Sacred Months and omit.” [narrated by Abu Dawud]. Ibn Ruslan (d. 1440) explained that this hadith urges us to fast several days in these months not all days.
  1. Punishment of sins in this period of time is greater as Qatadah (d. 735) and many salafs opined. When a period of time has sacredness more, punishment for disobedience during that period is multiplied accordingly. For example, punishment of the Prophet’s wives if thay commit a sin is heftier since they are more sacred than any other women. Allah said, “O wives of the Prophet, whoever of you should commit a clear immorality, for her the punishment would be doubled two fold, and ever is that, for Allah, easy.” [Quran 33:30] Therefore, Allah said in the verse above, “… so do not wrong yourselves during them.”
  1. Vice versa, the reward of noble deeds in these months will be more enormous as well. Al-Qurtubi (d. 1273) explained this concept clearly in his tafsir. Related to the last example, Allah said, “And whoever of you devoutly obeys Allah and His Messenger and does righteousness, We will give her her reward twice, and We have prepared for her a noble provision.” [Quran 33:31]
  1. It is not allowed to make an offensive jihad in these months according to the stronger opinion as Ibn Qayyim (d. 1350) declared. Some scholars explained that the secret is to help Hajj and ‘Umrah performed comfortably. Dhul-Qa’dah, the month before the Hajj month, was made sacred because they refrained from fighting during that month in order to make Hajj preparation and its journey safe. Dhul-Hijjah, the next month, was made sacred because it is the month of Hajj, during which they performed Hajj rituals. Muharram, which comes immediately next, was made sacred so that they are able to go back to their areas in safety after performing Hajj. Rajab, in the middle of the lunar Hijri year, was made sacred so that those coming from the farthest areas are able to perform ‘Umrah and visit the Kaaba and then go back to their areas safely.

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written by Nur Fajri Romadhon

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