By Mufti Taqi Usmani
March 23, 2018
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 (PBUH). It is also a prelude to the month of Ramazan, because Ramazan follows it after the intervening month of Sha’ban. Therefore, when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) 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 Ramazan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramazan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings).”
Yet no specific way of worship has been prescribed by the Shari’ah in this month. However, some people have invented some special rituals or practices in this month, which are not supported by reliable resources of the Shari’ah or are based on some unauthentic traditions. It is generally believed that the great event of Mi’raj (ascension of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to the heavens) took place in the night of 27th of Rajab. Therefore, some people celebrate the night as “Lailatul- Mi’raj” (the night of ascension to heavens).
Indeed, the event of Me’raaj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life of our beloved Holy Prophet (PBUH). He was called by Almighty Allah. He travelled from Makkah to Baitul-Maqdis and from there he ascended the heavens through the miraculous power of Allah. He was honoured with a direct contact with his Creator at a place where even the angels had no access. This was the unique honour conferred by Allah to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) alone. It was the climax of the spiritual progress, which is not attained by anybody except him. No doubt the night in which he was blessed with this unparalleled honour was one of the greatest nights in the history of this world.
But, Islam has its own principles with regard to the historic and religious events. Its approach about observing festivals and celebrating days and nights is totally different from the approach of other religions. The Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did not prescribe any festival or any celebration to commemorate an event from the past, however remarkable it might have been. Instead, Islam has prescribed two annual celebrations only. One is Eid-ul-Fitr and the other is Eid-ul-Azha.
Both of these festivals have been fixed at a date on which the Muslims accomplish a great Ibadat (worship) every year. Eid-ul-Fitr has been prescribed after the fasts of Ramazan, while Eid-ul-Azha has been fixed when the Muslims perform the Hajj annually. None of these two Eids is designed to commemorate a particular event of the past, which has happened in these dates. This approach is indicative of the fact that the real occasion for a happy celebration is the day in which the celebrators themselves have accomplished remarkable work through their own active effort.
As for the accomplishments of our ancestors, their commemoration should not be restricted to a particular day or night. Instead, their accomplishments must be remembered every day in the practical life by observing their teachings and following the great examples they have set for us. If it is assumed that the event of Mi’raj took place in the fifth year of his Prophethood, it will mean that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) remained in this world for eighteen years after this event.
Even if it is presumed that the Me’raaj took place in the twelfth year of his Prophethood, his remaining life-time after this event would be eleven years. Throughout this long period, which may range between eleven years and eighteen years, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) never celebrated the event of Me’raaj, nor did he give any instruction about it. No one can prove that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) ever performed some specific modes of worship in a night calling it the ‘Lailatul-Me’raaj’ or advised his followers to commemorate the event in a particular manner.
After the demise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) also, no one of his companions is reported to celebrate this night as a night of special acts of worship. They were the true devotees of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and had devoted their lives to preserve every minute detail of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and other Islamic teachings. Still, they did not celebrate the event of Me’raaj in a particular night in a particular way. However, all the recognised modes of ‘Ibadat (worship) like Salat, recitation of the Holy Qur’an, zikr, etc. are commendable any time, especially in the late hours of night, and obviously the 27th night of Rajab is not an exception.
Therefore, if someone performs any recognised ‘Ibadat in this night from this point of view nothing can stop him from doing so, and he will be entitled to the Ajar. But it is not permissible to believe that performing ‘Ibadat in this night is more meritorious or carries more Ajar like ‘Lailatul-Qadr’ or ‘Lailatul-Bara’ah’, because this belief is not based on any authentic verse or on a Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Similarly, it is not a correct practice to celebrate this night collectively and to invite people to special ritual congregations. The upshot of the above discussion is that the Shari’ah has not prescribed any specific way to observe the month of Rajab or to perform a specific mode of worship or a ritual in any one of its dates. However, being a prologue to the month of Ramazan, it should be availed of for preparing oneself for Ramazan and one should pray Allah to make him reach the blessed month and to benefit from its unique merits.