Rabbee Zidnee

"And convey to my servants that surely I am the Ghafoor (the Forgiving) and the Raheem (the Merciful)". -- Suratul Hijr, Verse 49

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Welcoming the Month of Rajab

Translated from a lecture on this topic given by a teacher of the Howza, Qum, August, 2005:

The month of Rajab is full of blessings and mercy. The Ahlul Bayt (a) have described it as asabb (أصب), meaning that the blessings of Allah pour down in abundance during this month on believers who observe its rites like heavy rain (on dry earth).

Sayyid Tawoos in his Iqbaal al-Amaal (one of the main sources of mafatih al-jinaan) says that be aware that when you enter the month of Rajab, you enter a sacred month of haraam (prohibition). Allah (swt) has set aside four months in the year wherein fighting is prohibited. These are known as the months of haraam. Of course, fighting for unjust causes and attacking innocent people in other months is also unlawful but these four months have the additional sanctity that Allah, the Master, has entirely prohibited fighting and battle among his servants.

In the calendar, the last month of haraam we had was the month of Muharram. Muharram too is a sacred month, yet we know that in the sad history following the death of the Prophet (s), so-called Muslims violated the sanctity of this month. After cornering the grandson of the Prophet (s), his blessed family, and his noble companions in the desert of Karbala, they desecrated the sanctity of Muharram and committed the greatest disobedience of Allah ever by battling with Imam Husayn (a) and sending him and those who fought with him to their martyrdom -- even though fighting was prohibited throughout the month.

Therefore Sayyid Tawoos notes that the blessed arrival of the month of Rajab brings with it a renewed sense of security and peace as we hope to be protected by the rule of Allah, our Master, from warfare and fighting from other fellow servants of Allah. We haven’t felt this spirit of protection for five months since the month of Muharram. Sayyid Tawoos makes a further interesting observation. In this month, how bad would it be if servants were to disobey Allah by fighting each other? But even worse than that, when servants are protected from each other, how disrespectful and ugly would it be if a servant were to react to this blessing of Allah by warring against his Master, by disobeying Him and sinning?

The most important act of this month is seeking forgiveness of Allah (istighfar) that helps in moving aside the curtains that cover our hearts. In this respect repetition of the line
استغفر الله و اساله التوبة (astaghfirullaaha wa asaluhu at-tawbah) has been recommended.

It is perhaps is in this month that Imam Zayn al-Abideen (a) used to spend his nights in Makkah in front of the Ka’bah reciting this line while in sajdah:
الهي عظم الذنب من عبدك فليحسن العفو من عندك (ilaahee, `adhuma adh-dhanbu min `abdika, falyahsunil `afwu min indik)
O My God! Great indeed is the sin from your servant. Is it not therefore fitting and proper that you should forgive him?

The dua “يا من ارجوه لكل خير” (yaa man arjoohu li kulli khayr) is commonly recited after prayers during this month. Many people have unknowingly misinterpreted the tradition accompanying the dua and make these common mistakes:
- The tradition says to hold your beard in your left hand while moving the index finger of your right hand. It doesn't say to move your hand or your arm. Swinging your arm around left and right doesn’t fit with what the tradition says. Instead, keep your arm and hand steady and still and move only your pointing finger back and forth.
- The narration actually says that the Imam (a) held his beard and moved his finger throughout the whole dua -- not just the part that begins with يا ذا الجلال و الاكرام (ya dhal jalaali wal ikraam). This can be proven by carefully examining the whole tradition.
- Women are exempted from the accompany rites and can simply recite the dua while lifting their hands towards the sky as is typical when asking from Allah.