Rajab is one of the four sacred months. It stands alone, unlike the other three (Dhu’l-Qa`dah, Dhu’l-Hijjah and Muharram) which come one after the other. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ himself would venerate this month. When the month entered he would seek its blessings, saying:
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا في رَجَبٍ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنا رَمَضَانَ
Allahumma barik lana fi Rajabin wa Sha`ban wa ballighna Ramadan
“O Allah bless us in Rajab and Sha`ban and enable us to reach Ramadan!”1
Rajab is the key to the months of goodness which follow it. For that reason Imam Abu Bakr al-Warraq said: “In the month of Rajab you sow the seeds, in Sha`ban you irrigate them and in Ramadan you reap the harvest.” He also said: “Rajab is like a wind, Sha`ban is like a cloud and Ramadan is like rain.”
Rajab was the month in which the Prophet’s blessed parents were married, and the month in which Sayyidah Aminah became pregnant with the Best of Creation ﷺ. Most of the scholars say that the Isra’ (Night Journey) and the Mi`raj (Ascension) took place on the 27th night of Rajab. This was the night on which the Messenger of Allah ﷺ received the greatest ennoblement that a created being ever received from Allah.
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.
The First Night of Rajab
The scholars encourage us to turn to Allah in the first night of Rajab. It has been narrated that: “There are five nights on which du`a is not rejected: the first night of Rajab, the fifteenth night of Sha`ban, Thursday night, the night before Eid al-Fitr and the night before Eid al-Nahr (al-Adha).”2 Sayyiduna `Ali, may Allah be well pleased with him, used to spend four nights in worship: the first night of Rajab, the nights before the two `Eids, and the 15th night of Sha`ban. For this reason the scholars of Tarim hold a special gathering of dhikr on the first night of Rajab and a large mawlid the following morning.
Rajab, the Month of Istighfar
The best way of preparing the heart to receive divine gifts is purification and repentance. It has been narrated: “Seek much forgiveness from Allah in Rajab because in every hour (of the month) Allah frees people from the Fire.”3 For this reason the scholars say that Rajab is the month of seeking forgiveness, Sha`ban is the month of bestowing prayers upon the Prophet, and Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an. Thus it is recommended to seek much forgiveness in Rajab. Some of the scholars compiled special collections of istighfar, among them Habib Hasan, the son of Imam `Abdullah bin `Alawi al-Haddad – download here.
In Tarim the following formula is read 70 times in congregation immediately after the `Isha Prayer every night in Rajab. The one reading it raises his hands while doing so:
رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لي وارْحَمْنِي وَتُبْ عَلَيَّ
“Rabbi ‘ghfir li w’ arhamni wa tub `alayya.”
“O Allah forgive me, have mercy upon me, and grant me repentance.”4
Good Deeds in Rajab
The reward of our good actions is multiplied in the sacred months, so it is recommended to do as many good deeds as possible. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ recommended fasting at least some days in each of the sacred months. Some of the Companions, among them Sayyiduna `Umar and his son `Abdullah and al-Sayyidah Aishah, liked to make `Umrah in Rajab.
At the same time, bad deeds are also more serious in the sacred months so we must do our utmost to avoid any wrongdoings.
A sacred month is similar to a sacred place. It is recommended to bathe and purify oneself before entering the haram of Makkah and while in it one is more conscious of the weight of one’s actions. Likewise with a sacred month – we try to enter it in a state of purity and we try to maintain that purity throughout through doing good and avoiding evil.
O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha`ban and enable us to reach Ramadan. Peace and blessings upon the one who guided us to all good and warned us of all evil, our Master Muhammad and his blessed family and Companions and all those that follow his guidance until the end of time.
Taken from Kanz al-Najah wa’l-Surur by Shaykh `Abd al-Hamid Quds and Lata’if al-Ma`arif by Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali.
1Narrated by Ahmad, al-Bayhaqi and al-Tabarani
2 Narrated by al-Bayhaqi as a statement of Abu Darda
3 Narrated by al-Daylami.
4 Narrated by Wahb bin Munnabih who said that if someone reads this every morning and evening in Rajab the Fire will not touch his skin.