The Prophet Muhammed SAWS spoke of the Sacred months in Islam. The following hadith is translated as:
“Verily, the number of months with Allaah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allaah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar). That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein”
Dear brothers and sisters, it is a shame that for many born in this country, we can’t recall the Islamic months of the calendar. This is an unfortunate by-product of our learning here.
However, for the sake of this khutba, we are going to expand upon the four mentioned in the hadith above. These are the first, 7th, 11th and 12th months which are Muharram, Rajab, Dhul-Qa’dah and Dhul Hijjah.
Firstly, a quick summary of the Islamic Calendar for those of us wishing to refresh our knowledge.
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. We see that in the dates that are printed on things like our monthly prayer timetable.
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 the importance of these months 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.
Dear brothers and sisters, 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.
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 refrain from sin and ask Allah SWT for His forgiveness.
As mentioned in the khutba from last week, this month of Rajab that we are now in, is also synonymous with innovations that are placed on actions during this month.
For example, extra fasts, prayers or Umrah’s are considered innovations if done specifically for the month of Rajab are considered innovations by the scholars and should therefore be avoided.
So what does one do when presented with the knowledge of a sacred month such as this? Well, the answer lies not so much in what one does extra on top for the sake of the month, but what one does less when presented with the knowledge of the month.
For example, one should use the month as an opportunity to quit bad habits or sins. We are now approaching the month of Ramadhan so what better way to prepare for such a blessed month than by removing bad habits or sins from our lives?
The month being sacred also presents ourselves with an opportunity to perform a self-audit and seek forgiveness from Allah SWT for the mistakes we have made.
Dear brothers and sisters, the sacred months are an opportunity for us all to refresh our characters and manners, let’s utilise it in the correct way so that we can be of those who are successful in these sacred months.
May Allah SWT make us remember the sacred months. May Allah SWT make us better slaves of His in the sacred months. And may Allah SWT reward us for our efforts during these months.
Allah SWT says in Sura Al-Imran ayat 31&32:
Say, O Muhammed, “If you should love Allah, the follow me, so Allah will love you and forgive your sins. And Allah is forgiving and merciful.
Say “Obey Allah and the Messenger”. But if they turn away –then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers.
Dear brothers and sisters, in this ayat, Allah SWT is requesting our Prophet SAWS to tell us how to attain Allah SWT’s love and forgiveness. As this is essentially the aim of every Muslim, we should start here.
And it continues to state that this achieved by following Muhammed SAWS, his commandments and his actions.
Therefore, anything that is not part of this is considered an innovation in Islam and it leads to misguidance away from the straight path.
With the month of Rajab approaching in the Islamic calendar, this leads us onto the topic of innovations that are found in this month.
The Prophet SWS mentions innovation in the following hadith:
Verily Allah has blocked repentance from every innovator.
My brothers, it is evident from the above hadith that a lot of importance is given to the sin of misleading people through innovations in our faith. Even with the best of intentions, one can find themselves causing great sin by practicing acts which are not from the Quran or Sunnah of the Prophet SAWS.
In the current times it has become ever more difficult to deal with innovation. We don’t all have access to the scholars of yesteryear and nor do we have a single source of information on worldly matters than we haven’t heard bad things about.
These days the internet is full of people with opinion on everybody else. No scholar or sheikh is without critics nor is any practice without an alternative opinion.
One must be acutely aware that Shaytaan is attacking us from all fronts. It is not just enough to declare oneself a Muslim and be happy with such a feat. No, it is an on-going battle to remain on the right path because Shaytaan has paved many paths that deviate from the right and true path.
It is our test to look for this and remain on the straight path and away from deviations from the Quran and Sunna.
The main innovation during this month is one of celebration of the 27th night of Rajab. This was the night when the Prophet SWS ascended to the heavens. This is regarded as an innovation because the night is not unanimously thought of as the 27th night of the month and because there is no documentation of the companions of the Prophet SWS celebrating this night in the years after the event.
Other innovations being warned of this month are fasting for the sake of this month, praying extra prayers on Fridays for the sake of this month, sacrifice for the sake of this month and performing Umrah for the sake of this month.
My dear brothers, it is at this point that one must take a step back from the warnings being provided here on these innovations.
Just in Manchester alone, there is a good size of the community that engage in some or all of the practices above. And alongside them is a good size of the community that agrees that the above practices are innovations.
Such division on matters of faith are common these days and so it is only befitting of a khutba relating to the topic of innovation that we best equip ourselves with guarding against the punishment of such a thing.
First and foremost is intention. The aim of every Muslim is to please their Lord with their worship – whatever form it should be. And so if we begin each act in his name then we can safeguard ourselves with the knowledge that our intention was correct even when we are being led astray in matters of faith.
Those who wish to arm themselves further in this regard should aim to recite Dua Istkihara which is the guidance dua for matters that require council with Allah SWT. This again serves to safeguard us as we are seeking his guidance in matters that we are unsure of thus ensuring that our sincerity in worship remains intact.
Finally, we should aim to conduct our own research on matters we are unsure of. Seek out reliable sources of knowledge, preferably in person but also online as these are the times in which we live. Conduct sound research with cross-referencing on points and reaching sound conclusions all the while reminding ourselves that Allah knows best.
We live in an age where innovation is rife and the true path is sometimes hard to tread upon but with the right intention and methods of seeking truth from innovation, we can still be successful inshAllah.
May Allah SWT protect us from innovative acts. May Allah SWT equip us to discover truth from falsehood. And may Allah SWT reward us for our intention in our acts of worship.
Ameen wal hamdullilahi rabilalameen.