1) The lunar months, and the reason behind their names.
2) The meaning of the saying of Allaah (which means), “The number of months with Allaah is twelve”.
3) Why were these four months called sacred?
4) Prohibition of and condemnation of oppression.
Respected brothers! We will live today with the saying of Allaah 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. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous (who fear Him)” (At-Tawbah: 36).
Honorable brothers! It is with the wisdom of Allaah that He favored some months over others, like favoring the month of Ramadhaan over all other months, because it is the month of mercy, the month of Qur’aan, the month of forgiveness and freeing of people from the Fire. It is a month which people glorified during the pre-Islamic period as well, and after Islam it became even more glorified.
Moreover, the month of Muharram (which means forbidden in Arabic) was called that because the Arabs used to forbid fighting during it. Safar (which means zero in Arabic) was given this name because the Arabs used to loot all the property of the enemy after defeating them in battle (i.e. they left nothing behind). Rabee’ Al-Awwal (which means graze in Arabic) because they used to graze their cattle during this month. Jumadaa (which means solid in Arabic) was given this name because water used to freeze during this month. Rajab (which means remove in Arabic) was given this name because the Arabs used to remove the heads of their spears and refrain from fighting. Sha’baan (which is anything positioned between two things in Arabic) was given this name because it comes between Ramadhaan and Rajab. Ramadhaan (which means heat in Arabic) was given this name because of the hot temperature and excessive heat of the son during this month. Shawwaal (which means raise in Arabic) was given this name because she camels would raise their tails when they became pregnant. Thul-Qi’dah (which means sitting in Arabic) was given this name because it was the month during which they would sit and stop fighting. Thul-Hijjah (which refers to Hajj in Arabic) was given this name because it was the month during which they performed Hajj.
Allaah says, which means, “The number of months with Allaah is twelve (lunar) months in the register of Allaah” (At-Tawbah: 36) in this great verse Allaah informs us that since He created the Heavens and earth, and created days and nights, and made the son and the moon each float in an orbit, as a result of which the darkness of nights and the light of days occur. It was from that time that Allaah had set the months to be twelve, and He informed us that He designated four of them to be sacred.
We must respect the sanctity of these sacred months, by adhering to the commandments of Allaah, and rejecting that which the people of the pre-Islamic period were upon, like delaying the restrictions of these months or changing their sequence. It is for this reason that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said in his farewell pilgrimage, “O People! Time has gone back to how it was at the time Allaah created the Heavens and the Earth. A year has twelve months, four of which are sacred, three consecutive, Thul-Qi’dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab, which comes between Jumaadaa and Sha’baan”
The words “when He created the Heavens and earth” (At-Tawbah: 36) are to clarify that the decree of Allaah took place very early on, and that He set the months, named them and sequenced them when He created the Heavens and the earth, then He revealed this upon His Prophets within the divined Books. This clarifies the saying of Allaah which means, “The number of months are twelve months (per year)” (At-Tawbah: 36).
This verse is informing us that the ruling of these months will remain (names, sequence and sacredness), and the changes made by the disbelievers to the sequence would have no effect. Moreover, whatever the disbelievers had changed could not change what Allaah had decreed.
This verse also indicates that it is compulsory to base acts of worship and Islamic rulings on these months, and not the ones the Christians use. Therefore, it is not fit for a Muslim to prefer using these Roman or Christian months over these Arabic (named) months.
Allaah says which means, “Four of which are sacred” (At-Tawbah: 36) and they are Thul-Qi’dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab which is between Jumaadaa Al-Aakhirah and Sah’baan. It was also called Rajab of Mudhar, because the tribe of Mudhar used to adhere to its sacredness, while another tribe by the name of Rabee’ah Ibn Nizaar used to change sacredness of Rajab to Ramadhaan. In order to lift this confusion the Prophet said, “Rajab, which comes between Jumaadaa and Sah’baan”.
Allaah says which means, “that is the right religion” (At-Tawbah: 36) meaning, this Sharee’ah and obedience therein, is the right and straight path. Then Allaah continues saying that which means, “Do not wrong (oppress) yourselves therein” (At-Tawbah: 36) which is referring to all months of the year but the sacred months hold a special position which makes oppressing oneself greater, just as Allaah says which means, “no sexual relation (with spouse), no sinning, nor unjust dispute” (At-Tawbah: 36) and this certainly does not indicate that one can sin other than the time of Hajj but it is to reflect the greatness of sinning during its rituals.
Do not wrong (oppress) yourselves by fighting and committing sins, because when Allaah honors something for one reason, it becomes that much honored, but when He honors for two or more reasons, then sacredness becomes more, and punishment for disobedience is multiplied accordingly. For example, one who obeys Allaah during the sacred months in the sacred area will receive more reward than obeying Allaah during other months, and the one who obeys Allaah during months other than the sacred months outside the sacred area will receive less reward than he who obeys Allaah inside the sacred area. Allaah gave an indication to this in His saying, which means, “Oh wives of the Prophet, whoever of you should commit a clear immorality – for her the punishment will be doubled two fold, and ever is that for Allaah, easy” (Al-Ahzaab: 30).
These four months were called sacred for the gravity of committing a sin during them and for the position Allaah gave them. Ibn Abu Talhah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, said, ‘Allaah distinguished these four months and made them sacred, and glorified them; He made sinning during them more evil than during others; and the reward for righteous deeds is greater’.
Allaah specially mentioned these four sacred months and forbade oppression as a way of honoring them, even though transgression is forbidden during all times, as Allaah says that which means, “Hajj is (during) well known months, so whoever has made hajj obligatory upon himself therein (by entering the state of ihram), there is (to be for him) no sexual relations and no disobedience and no disputing during hajj. And whatever good you do – Allaah knows it. And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allaah. And fear Me, Oh you of understanding” (Al-Baqarah: 197). This is the opinion which the majority of interpreters are upon, which is do not wrong yourselves during these four sacred months, but according to another narration Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allaah be pleased with him, said, ‘During the full twelve months’
Honorable brothers! Allaah favored some months over others in accordance with His complete wisdom, like favoring these four sacred months over the remaining months of the year, and He made these four as sacred, because Allaah does as He wills, and favors what He wishes, and He does that in accordance with His complete wisdom, which might appear to people (and be comprehended) or might remain concealed.
The greatest transgression is associating with Allaah, as Allaah says, which means, “Do not wrong (oppress) yourselves therein” (At-Tawbah: 36). Beware of oppression because it will be darkness, as Ibn ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said, “Oppression will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection” (Bukhaari). Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullaah, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam said, “Be on your guard against committing oppression, for oppression will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection. Be on your guard against stinginess because it doomed those who were before you, too. It incited them to shed blood and treat the unlawful as lawful” (Muslim).
Slaves of Allaah! Beware of oppression, for Allaah made it more forbidden during these months, and know that Allaah forbade oppression for Himself as He forbade it for us. He is free of all defects. Allaah says which means, “Indeed, Allaah does not wrong the people at all, but it is the people who are wronging themselves” (Yoonus: 44) and also, “And the record (of deeds) will be placed (open), and you will see the criminals fearful of that within it, and they will say, 'Oh woe to us! What is this book that leaves nothing small or great except that it has enumerated it?' And they will find what they did present (before them). And your Lord does injustice to no one” (Al-Kahf: 49). Not only that, but He has also denounced having the will to oppress, Allaah says which means, “These are the verses of Allaah. We recite them to you, (Oh Muhammed), in truth; and Allaah wants no injustice to the world (i.e. his creatures).” (Aal ‘Imraan: 108)
Abu Tharr Al-Ghifaari, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam, said that among the sayings he relates from his Lord is that He said: “O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those whom I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you, O My servants, all of you are hungry except for those whom I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you. O My servants, all of you are naked except for those whom I have clothed, so seek clothing of Me and I shall clothe you. O My servants, you sin by night and by day, and I forgive all sins, so seek forgiveness of Me and I shall forgive you. O My servants, you will not attain harming Me so as to harm Me, and will not attain benefiting Me so as to benefit Me. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you, to be as pious as the most pious heart of any one man of you, that would not increase My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you, to be as wicked as the most wicked heart of any one man of you, that would not decrease My kingdom in anything. O My servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request of Me, and were I to give everyone what he requested, that would not decrease what I have, any more that a needle decreases the sea if put into it. O My servants, it is but your deeds that I reckon up for you and then recompense you for, so let him who finds good praise Allah and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself”. (Muslim, Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah).
Allaah says that which means, “Do not wrong yourselves therein” (Hood: 88).