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1) The sacred months.
2) The pre-Islamic An-Nasee’ (postponement of the sacred months).
3) The importance of the lunar months in Islamic legislation.
4) The warning against cursing time.
5) The warning against oppressing oneself during the sacred months.
Slaves of Allaah! Allaah says that which means: “Indeed, the number of months with Allaah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allaah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them…” (At-Tawbah: 36). The sacred months are Thul-Qi’dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab, the first three are consecutive while Rajab is isolated.
The pre-Islamic polytheists used to play around with the timings of these sacred months and postpone the sanctity of Muharram up until the month of Safar whenever they wished to go to war or take part in hostilities; they would call this postponement An-Nasee’ but Allaah forbade this action and stated that it was indeed a form of steeping into misguidance and disbelief; in this regard He says that which means: “Indeed, the postponing [of restriction within sacred months] is an increase in disbelief by which those who have disbelieved are led [further] astray. They make it [i.e., fighting during a sacred month] lawful one year and unlawful another year to correspond to the number made unlawful by Allaah…” (At-Tawbah: 37). This verse means that the polytheists would maintain four sacred months but postpone the sanctity of the month of Muharram up until the month of Safar; they would replace the sanctity of a sacred month with one that was not sacred and would view the month of Muharram as sacred one year but void its sanctity for the next year and so on. Allaah says that which means: “..and [thus] make lawful what Allaah has made unlawful. Made pleasing to them is the evil of their deeds; and Allaah does not guide the disbelieving people.” (At-Tawbah: 37).
Among the worst deeds that a person can do is to render lawful that which what Allaah has forbidden; Allaah says that which means: “Say: 'Have you seen what Allaah has sent you of provision of which you have made [some] lawful and [some] unlawful?' Say: 'Has Allaah permitted you [to do so], or do you invent [something] about Allaah?" (Yoonus: 59) and also: "And do not say about what your tongues assert of untruth, 'this is lawful and this is unlawful,' to invent falsehood about Allaah. Indeed those who invent falsehood about Allaah will not succeed.” (An-Nahl: 116).
The polytheists messed around with the sequence of the sacred months to such an extent that their original sequence were changed; and their original sequence had until then lasted from when Allaah created the Heavens and earth. Had the polytheists been allowed to play around with the sequence further, then nobody would have been certain as to the correct time of Hajj and Ramadhaan; but due to the mercy and grace of Allaah, He made the pilgrimage of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on the tenth Hijri year as a reference point to fix the timings and sequence of the sacred months; therefore, he stood sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on ‘Arafah on the ninth day of the month of Thul-Hijjah; ‘Eed was on the tenth of Thul-Hijjah and the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam announced this establishment of the correct sequence of months by saying: “Time (i.e., the sequence of the months) has returned to the order it was in when Allaah created the Heavens and the earth.” This announcement of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam removed the possibility of anyone postponing the sanctity of the sacred months, as the polytheists used to do due to his fixing the date by his standing on ‘Arafah. Also, the new crescent controls the days on which months start and end; and a lunar month lasts for either twenty-nine or thirty days as the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam informed us.
Vows (i.e., the number of days of expiation for a violation of one), and the amount of time which women must wait before they are able to marry after divorcing or after being widowed, as well as all other Islamic rulings which must be carried out according to a fixed time, are calculated according to the lunar months and not anything else; Allaah says that which means: “They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the new moons. Say: 'They are measurements of time for the people and for Hajj (pilgrimage)'...” (Al-Baqarah: 189).
It is from the mercy of Allaah, His immense grace and the completion of his favours upon us that the sequences of the months went back to the order they were in when He created the Heavens and earth; and the Muslims formally adopted this calendar during the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allaah be pleased with him, so let the Muslims rejoice for the certainty they have regarding their timings of Hajj, Ramadhaan, when to finish fasting and when to offer their sacrifice; let us thank Allaah for guiding us after we were misguided.
Finally, I need to highlight an issue which has unfortunately become widespread; and this is the phenomenon of cursing time. Cursing time in general or any specific part of it, such as a year, month, day or hour is akin to believing that time in itself causes whatever harm afflicts a person during it, and this is why the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade us from cursing time saying: “Do not curse time, because it is the same as cursing Allaah, since it is He who makes it flow between the days and nights.” (Muslim). This means that a person may curse time due to the evil that one was afflicted with during it, while Allaah is the One who decreed that evil to occur; and therefore the one who curses time due to his afflictions has in reality cursed Allaah because it is He who caused the affliction as well as alternating the days and nights. If you become angry with someone, it is not permissible to curse the hour you met him; likewise, it is not permissible to curse the moment you met your wife if you ever become upset with her because in reality that is cursing Allaah.
Slaves of Allaah! The One who made sacred four months of the year also forbade us to oppress ourselves during these months, Allaah says that which means: “…of these [months], four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not oppress yourselves during them…” (At-Tawbah: 36).
If oppressing oneself is forbidden at all times, then it is especially so during the sacred months; and even though the oppression mentioned in the above verse refers to the practice of Nasee’ which the polytheists would do or the fighting they used to take part in during the sacred months, we must realise that oppressing oneself has a far more comprehensive definition; and one example of this oppression is when one does not enquire about the rulings of Islaam which one is unaware of, Allaah says that which means: “So ask the people of knowledge if you do not know.” (An-Nahl: 43) and also: “…But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it...” (An-Nisaa’: 83) and the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Inquiring is the cure for ignorance.”
Slaves of Allaah! It is oppression against yourselves to head towards what results in your destruction in this life and the Hereafter by shunning the commandments of your Lord; you know His prohibitions yet you commit them and you know His obligations yet you abandon them.
Slaves of Allaah! We are oppressing ourselves if we are living without having the least concern about our religion, calling people to it or propagating it.
Slaves of Allaah! It is oppression against ourselves when seasons of virtue come and go and we do not utilise them due to being busy gaining and increasing our wealth and by doing so, being heedless of the real gains on the Day of Resurrection.
Slaves of Allaah! It is oppression against ourselves to receive bounties from Allaah and still be ungrateful; we utilise the gift of vision by looking at that which is forbidden, the gift of hearing by listening to that which is unlawful and the gift of speech by saying that which is forbidden such as lying, backbiting and tale-bearing.
Slaves of Allaah! Think of the favours that Allaah has bestowed upon you and then look to see whether or not you have utilised them in a way which would please Him; if have done so then you are grateful, otherwise you have used the favours from Allaah to disobey Him, Allaah says that which means: “And whatever you have of favour – it is from Allaah..” (An-Nahl: 53) and also, “Is the reward for good (anything) but good?” (Ar-Rahmaan: 60) and also, “ …And if you should count the favour (i.e., blessing) of Allaah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is (generally) most unjust and ungrateful.” (Ibraaheem: 34).