The Islamic calendar is based upon the year our beloved Prophet Muhammed SWS and his companions emigrated to the city of Medina from their home town of Mecca.
This took place in 622 according to the western calendar and so there is a difference between the western calendar and the Islamic calendar in terms of years passed.
The emigration that took place was as a result of 13 years of persecutions from the disbelievers residing in Mecca.
This event marked the second phase of the Islamic movement and it is the phase when Medinah became centre of an Islamic state.
Besides the year difference, there is also a fundamental difference in the calculation of the Islamic calendar. Unlike the western calendar, it is lunar.
Each month in the calendar begins when the new moon is sightable by the unaided naked eye. As Muslims, we are obligated to sight the new moon in every country.
Allah SWT mentions this in the Glorious Quran in Sura At-Tawbah, ayat 36:
Indeed the number of months with Allah is twelve lunar months in the register of Allah 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.
My brothers, from this ayat, it is clear to see that the Islamic calendar is more than just a form of timekeeping. Allah SWT clearly outlines the objectives He places upon each and every one of us during certain times of the year.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammed SWS, mentioned the four sacred months in his farewell pilgrimage as narrated in the following Bukhari hadith:
“O People, Time has gone back to how it was at the time Allah created the heavens and the earth. A year has twelve months, four of which are sacred, three consecutive: Dhul-Qi’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab.
As we look through the Quran and Teachings of Prophet Muhammed SWS, we are taught to respect and honour what Allah SWT and his messenger SWS honoured. These sacred months are a time for us to reflect on our lives, exert ourselves in extra worship and ask Allah SWT for His forgiveness.
Allah SWT mentions this specifically in Sura Al-Maidah, ayat 2:
“O you who have believed, do not violate the rights of Allah or the sanctity of the sacred month.”
And again in Sura At-Tawbah, ayat 36:
“So do not wrong yourselves during them (i.e. the sacred months)”
My brothers, Rajab is especially important for us as it reminds us that we are ever closer to the month of Ramadan. We can best prepare for it and respect the sacred months by performing prayers other than the mandatory prayers, fasting other than the mandatory fasts and giving above and beyond the mandatory charity of Zakat. If nothing else, then use these months to reflect upon oneself more and to increase in ones dialogue with Allah SWT.
May Allah SWT make us remember the sacred months. May Allah SWT make us better slaves in the sacred months. And may Allah SWT reward us for our efforts during these months.
Ameen wal hamdullilahi rabilalameen.