Four Sacred Months in Islam

The Lunar Islamic year is of twelve months, four of which are sacred. Islamic years starts with the Hijrah (migration) of Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) from Makkah to Madinah.  This was in the year 622 A.D. Allah has chosen to honour 4 months over the rest and call them “sacred”. Allah says in the Quran,

Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve(12). In the record of Allah since the day He created the heavens and the earth, of which four are sacred.

Quran 9:36

Arabs knew those months and honor them even before Islam.

The Four Sacred Months

It is easy to know about those months from the Hadiths: Prophet(PBUH) says:

The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earths. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in succession Dhul-Qa’ da, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadi-ath-Thaniyah and Shaaban. 

Sahih al-Bukhari 3197

The three months are consecutive and one is separate, The months are;

  • Dhu al-Qa’dah (the 11th month of the Islamic lunar calendar)
  • Dhu al-Ḥijjah (12th)
  • Muḥarram (Ist)
  • Rajab (the 7th month of the Islamic lunar calendar).

History of Sacred Months

The Arabs named those months for good reasons, which are:

  • Rajab means the month of inundation which means remove in Arabic. It has this name because Arabs used to remove the heads of their spears and refrain from conducting war during Rajab to guarantee safe passage to those travelling to perform minor pilgrimage(Umrah).
  • Dhu al-Qi’dah means sitting in Arabic, it has this name because it was the month during which Arabs would sit and stop fighting wars to give safe passage to pilgrims travelling to Makkah to perform Hajj (pilgrimage) in Dhu al-Hijjah.
  • Dhu al-Hijjah refers to Hajj. It Is the month during which Muslims perform Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah (Ka’abah) in Makkah.
  • Muharram means forbidden or sanctified in Arabic. Arabs used to forbid waging wars during it to give safe passage to pilgrims.

Arabs honoured these months from the time of Ibrahim(A.S.), as they knew about Hajj and Umrah. They used to do good, be kind, give safety and peace to travellers.

Sacred Months in Islam

Allah the Almighty commands Muslims in Surah Tawbah to refrain from wronging themselves generally and especially during sacred months. Quran says:

Surely, the number of months according to Allah is twelve(12) (as written) in the Book of Allah on the day. He created the heavens and the Earth, of which there are four (4) Sacred Months. That is the right faith. So, do not wrong yourself therein. And fight the Mushriks all together, as they fight you all together, and be sure that Allah is with the God-fearing.

Quran 9:36

How to Spend these Months

Muslims must practice good deeds all the year, but do start extra Obedience to Allah in these four months. We must try to please Allah, refraining from disobedience and doing more good deeds. This is the time to build a habit of doing good deeds. Following good deeds can serve to please Allah and to earn His rewards during those four sacred months;

  • Performing obligations in the best way and form; prayers, fasting,  pilgrimage, and Umrah, etc.
  • Starting voluntary acts of worship like Tahjjud, remembrance of Allah, supplications, charity, and fasting.
  • In these months we must do more for others comfort like helping settle people’s debts that cannot do themselves, helping those in need, seeking religious knowledge, speaking kind words and try to follow the Quran and sunnah more.
  • Cease fighting willingly. Fight only in extreme conditions when Muslims must have to defend themselves.

It is Mercy and favour that Allah has guided us to those months so that we can earn more rewards and blessings.