The Sacred/Forbidden Months

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

The Haram, sacred or forbidden months are called haram or forbidden as some lawful things are made temporarily unlawful during these months. These months are not named in Quran therefore with the help of Ayas of Quran we will identify which months are the sacred months, in this post.

The Islamic calendar is lunar, therefore these sacred months are also lunar months. The lunar calendar is important with respect to the months of Ramadan and Hajj. Because of the lunar calendar, these months don’t always come in the same season but the seasons keep on changing, thus giving us the opportunity to experience the blessing of these months in all seasons.

2:217  يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ ۖ وَصَدٌّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَكُفْرٌ بِهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ وَإِخْرَاجُ أَهْلِهِ مِنْهُ أَكْبَرُ عِندَ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَكْبَرُ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ ۗ وَلَا يَزَالُونَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَرُدُّوكُمْ عَن دِينِكُمْ إِنِ اسْتَطَاعُوا ۚ وَمَن يَرْتَدِدْ مِنكُمْ عَن دِينِهِ فَيَمُتْ وَهُوَ كَافِرٌ فَأُولَٰئِكَ حَبِطَتْ أَعْمَالُهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ

They ask you about fighting in the sacred / holy month. Say fighting in it is great (offence) and to oppose from the way of Allah and from the sacred Mosque and to reject with it and to expel its people from it is greater (offence) in the nearness of Allah and Fitna/temptation is greater (offence) than killing. If they have the capability, they will not cease to fight you until you return from your judgment (i.e. to establish Islam / Peace). And amongst you whosoever turns away from his judgment and he dies while he was a rejecter, then they are those whose works have failed in this World and in the last and they are the companions of fire, they will dwell in it.

The sacred/forbidden months are associated with a prohibition of fighting and temptation. We will further see below Ayas for identification of sacred months.

9:36  إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِندَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ وَقَاتِلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَافَّةً كَمَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ كَافَّةً ۚ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ

Surely in the nearness of Allah the number of the months are twelve months, in the book of Allah, the day He created the skies and the earth, from them four are sacred / forbidden.  That is the established judgment. So you do not oppress your nafs/psyche in them (by fighting) and you fight (in other than sacred months) the associaters entirely like how they fight you entirely. And know, Allah is with those who guard themselves.

The names of the twelve Islamic lunar months are given below.

01. Muharram,  02. Safar, 03. Rabi-ul-Awwal, 04. Rabi-ul-Thani, 05. Jumada-l-Ulawwal, 06. Jumada-th-Thaniyya,, 07. Rajab, 08. Shaaban, 09. Ramadhan , 10. Shawwal, 11. Dhul Qadah, 12. Dhul Hijja

Out of these 12 months, four are sacred/forbidden. Lets see which months are made sacred/forbidden in Quran:

2:185  شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

Ramadan is the month in which Al-Quran/The Reading was sent down, a guide for mankind, and clarification from the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong), so whosoever is a witness amongst you of that month, then he should fast in it, but if any one is ill, or travelling, then the count (should be made up) in later days. Allah intends facility for you; He does not intend to put you to hardship. So that you to complete the prescribed period (of fasting), and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and you be grateful to Him.

From the above Ayat, we come to know about a month ‘Ramadan’ which is holy as Quran was revealed in this month and we are prescribed to do fasting in this month.

2:187  أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَىٰ نِسَائِكُمْ ۚ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ ۗ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنكُمْ ۖ فَالْآنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۚ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ ۚ وَلَا تُبَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَأَنتُمْ عَاكِفُونَ فِي الْمَسَاجِدِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَقْرَبُوهَا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ آيَاتِهِ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ

It is lawful for you to be intimate with your women in the night of fast, they are a covering for you and you are covering for them. Allah knows that you used to be dishonest with your nafs/psyche, so He returns over you and pardoned you about it. So now be in contact with them and seek what Allah has written for you, and eat and drink until from dawn the white thread clarifies for you from the black thread, then complete the fast towards the night and you do not be in contact with them (your women) when you are devoted/Aakif in the mosques. These are the boundaries of Allah so you do not go near them. Likewise Allah clarifies His Ayas / signs for people so that they may take guard.

During fasting, eating and drinking becomes temporarily unlawful from Dawn to Dusk. This is for training purpose of our ‘nafs’. We restrain our ‘nafs’ during this month from bad things. Therefore now we can identify  ‘Ramadan’ as one of the Sacred/Forbidden months.

Also, during Ramadan most men are reluctant to go to their women in the night as they are more into worship and sanctity of the month and thereby are declining their nafs/psychology. Allah addresses this point also in above Ayat.

2:194  الشَّهْرُ الْحَرَامُ بِالشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْحُرُمَاتُ قِصَاصٌ ۚ فَمَنِ اعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ بِمِثْلِ مَا اعْتَدَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ

The Sacred / Holy month is with the sacred / holy month and the sanctities are related (months and others) So whosoever aggresses against you so you aggress against him with the example of what he aggresses against you. And take guard of Allah and know that surely Allah is with those who guard them-selves.

The important point to note for identification of sacred months in the above Ayat, is that it states that a sacred month is with a sacred month. It means that we can deduce, all four sacred months are adjacent to one another. (The B/بِِ in above Ayat (بِالشَّهْرِ), means ‘with‘ in Arabic)

2:197  الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَّعْلُومَاتٌ ۚ فَمَن فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ ۗ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّهُ ۗ وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَاتَّقُونِ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

The months of Hajj/Pilgrimage are known so whosoever imposes Hajj / Pilgrimage (on himself) in them so he should not commit obscenity nor commit immoralities and no bickering in the Hajj / Pilgrimage. And what you do from goodness, Allah knows it. And take provision, so surely the best of the provisions is to take guard and take guard from Me, O’ you who posses the core (to know the essence / spirit of anything).

One of the formality of Hajj is Ahram, which puts temporarily certain restrictions on pilgrims. Some normally lawful things become unlawful during Hajj and Ahram. Therefore the months associated with Hajj as also sacred and forbidden. The Ayat also informs that the months of Hajj are well known, because the system of Salat and Hajj is preserved in the Holy City of Makkah by divine intervention, please see previous post (https://topicsfromquran.com/2017/03/21/salat-procedure/ ). We know that Hajj is performed in Dhul Hijja. First we had identified that Ramadan is a sacred month and ayat 2:194 informed us that sacred months are together, and then we know that Hajj is performed in Dhul Hijja. These facts lead us to identify the four sacred months as Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhul Qadah and Dhul Hijja. So we can highlight the sacred months from the list of names of 12 months as below:

01. Muharram,  02. Safar, 03. Rabi-ul-Awwal, 04. Rabi-ul-Thani, 05. Jumada-l-Ulawwal, 06. Jumada-th-Thaniyya,, 07. Rajab, 08. Shaaban, 09. Ramadhan , 10. Shawwal, 11. Dhul Qadah, 12. Dhul Hijja

9:5  فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ ۚ فَإِن تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

So when the sacred / holy months are ended then fight the mushrikeen/associaters  wherever you find them and catch them and confine them and sit for them at every place of ambush. So if they repent and establish salah/prayer and give zakah / justification so leave the way for them. Surely Allah is all forgiving, merciful.

After having identified the sacred months above,  what is for us to do in these sacred/forbidden months. The sacred months are for our training and killing of your own Nafs. After we have killed our own Nafs then only we are allowed to kill the Nafs of Mushrikeen/associaters. The sacred months are also for preparation i.e Jihad Akbar with Quran, in these months the associaters are not to be engaged in ideological fight. After the forbidden months are over then associaters are to be engaged in ideological fight with Quran, wherever they are encountered. It is ideological fighting only because physical fighting and bloodshed is not allowed.

2:84  وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَكُمْ لَا تَسْفِكُونَ دِمَاءَكُمْ وَلَا تُخْرِجُونَ أَنفُسَكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ ثُمَّ أَقْرَرْتُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ

And when We took a covenant with you, not to shed your blood and do not expel your souls/selves from your circles then you confirmed and you are witness to it.

9:37  إِنَّمَا النَّسِيءُ زِيَادَةٌ فِي الْكُفْرِ ۖ يُضَلُّ بِهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُحِلُّونَهُ عَامًا وَيُحَرِّمُونَهُ عَامًا لِّيُوَاطِئُوا عِدَّةَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ فَيُحِلُّوا مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ ۚ زُيِّنَ لَهُمْ سُوءُ أَعْمَالِهِمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ

Surely the postponing of the (sacred / holy month) is an increase in the rejection, those who reject are led astray with it. They make it (sacred month) un-lawful in a year and make it sacred in another year. So that they adjust the numbers (of the sacred  months) to what Allah has made forbidden. So they make it lawful what Allah has made forbidden. Their bad works are adornment for them. And Allah does not guide the people who are rejecters.

Exchanging sacred months with other months is not allowed. The prescribed sacred months are to be respected.

Notes:

A lecture by Scholar Mohammad Shaikh about Sacred/forbidden months:

https://www.iipccanada.com/category/english-video-lectures/direction-of-belief/

https://www.iipccanada.com/2017/12/12/muhtarum-mahiney-2006/