Months in the Muslim calendar
The Muslim calendar follows the lunar month. There are twelve months in the year, having 28, 29 or 30 days each, depending upon moon-phases. The months from beginning to end of the Muslim year are:
1. Muharram 4. Rabia 2 7. Rajab 10. Shawwal
2. Safar 5. Jumada 1 8. Shaaban 11. Dhul Qada
3. Rabia 1 6. Jumada 2 9. Ramadan 12. Dhul Hijja
Two major Muslim festivals are the Id ul Fitr and the Id ul Adha. Id ul Fitr falls on the first day after the end of Ramadan. It lasts for one day and celebrates the completion of the fast. Id ul Adha falls between, and including, the 10th and 13th day of the month of Dhul hijjah, the month of the Hajj pilgrimage. It commemorates the day on which Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son at the behest of God and was traditionally accompanied by the ritual slaughter of animals to provide food for family, friends and the poor.
Other festivals include, Lailatul Miraj (the Ascension), and Lailatul Qadr (an odd numbered night in the last ten days in Ramadan
Month of RajabThere are momentous times in the history of all peoples. Momentous days, weeks and months. The Muslims are no exception. To the contrary, Islamic history overflows with events and occurrences worthy of the mention, and indeed worthy of remembrance. Such comes with no surprise given the fact that the Islamic civilisation brought a new dawn to the world of the 7th century, as it established itself in the Middle East before moving forth to conquer land after land, bringing with it knowledge, civilisation and real progress.
It is well-known that the holiest of months in the Islamic lunar calendar is Ramadan. A month with unrivalled historic significance, both at the time of the Prophet (saw) and after him. A significance which shadows a heavy burden on the other eleven months, sometimes rendering their magnitude miniscule in its grandeur. In any absolute analysis nevertheless, all the Islamic months have their unique significance. Here we look at one such month, (RAJAB, , the 1429) year after hijra. That month is Rajab, and it is indeed a month which carries a momentous history. In particular, Rajab saw four events in Islamic History which belong in the category of those which changed the course of history.
It was in Rajab of the 10th year of Prophethood (620 CE) that al-Isra wa ‘l-Mi’raj occurred. In one night the Prophet (saw) went from Makkah to Jerusalem, then to the heavens and beyond. The spiritual significance of Prophetic journey is only matched by the importance of its timing with regard to the Prophetic mission. Having lost his uncle Abu Talib who had protected him from the beginning of his call, as well as his beloved wife Khadija (ra), the Prophet (saw) was in a difficult situation. The Makkans openly declared their campaign of torture and persecution. It was in this dire situation, at the height of the struggle between Islam and Kufr, that Allah decided to show his chosen servant some of His greatest signs, taking him in one night, nay a part thereof, to the sacred mosque in the sacred lands of Jerusalem and from there to the highest heavens.
Rajab also saw one of the glorious military victories of the Messenger (saw); the Battle of Tabuk, which occurred in the 9 AH, and marked the completion of Islamic authority over the whole Arabian Peninsula. Notwithstanding the intense heat and the long journey to al-Sham from Madinah, an army of 30,000, Muslim moved relentlessly towards al-Sham. The Roman armies were encamped at Tabuk ready to raid the Muslims, but when they heard of the size and strength of the Muslim army coming towards them, and that they were led by the Messenger of Allah himself, they were terrified and rushed back into the interior of al-Sham to the safety of their fortresses. This left the Messenger (saw) with an easy task of occupying Tabuk without a fight. He stayed there for a month dealing with other minor resisting forces and also sent letters to the leaders and governors under Roman control in the area, who made peace with him and agreed to pay the Jizyah.
It was also in Rajab, of the year 583 AH (1187 CE), that Salah al-Din marched into Jerusalem, liberating it from the clutches of the European crusaders who had taken it and ruled it for close to a century. This conquest was not only significant because of the inalienable importance of Jerusalem in Islam, but also because of its role as being one of the crucial stabs in crusader efforts to conquer Muslim lands. A few months earlier Salah al-Din annihilated the Crusader army of Guy of Lusignan and Raymond III of Tripoli in the Battle of Hittin. This was a major disaster for the Crusaders and a turning point in the history of the Crusades to the favour of the Muslims.
Rajab is the seventh month in the Islamic lunar calendar. This month was regarded as one of the sacred months (Al-Ashhur-al-hurum) in which battles were prohibited in the days of the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is also a prelude to the month of Ramadan, because Ramadan follows it after the intervening month of Sha'ban. Therefore, when the Holy Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam sighted the moon of Rajab, he used to pray to Allah in the following words:
"O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha'ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings)."
In order to enter Ramadan in the best possible manner, one has to prepare himself in the months of Rajab and Shabaan. It has been said that Rajab is the month to sow seeds (good actions), Shabaan is the month in which we should water those seeds (with tears of sorrow) and Ramadan is the month in which we reap the harvest.
"Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein." [al-Tawbah 9:36]
These months are calculated according to the movements of the moon, not the movements of the sun.