The month of Rajab is described as one of four sacred months in the Islamic calendar.
Findings from the fields of psychology and neuroscience have established that it takes between 21 and 40 days to create a habit, and about 90 days to create a new lifestyle. When we delve deeper into our faith, we can come to appreciate that the basis for this principle has already existed within the folds of Islam. Through the allocation of special months throughout the year, Islam provides the opportunity to revive our souls and habits.
“Surely, the number of months according to Allah is twelve (as written) in the Book of Allah… of which there are Four Sacred Months. … So, do not wrong yourselves during them. (Quran, 9:36)
The word Rajab comes from the Arabic root “rajaba”, which literally means “to respect” or “to be in awe of”.
In one narration, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “The month of Rajab is the greatest month of Allah… Indeed, Rajab is the month of Allah, while Shaban is my month and (the month of) Ramadan is the month of my community.”
When the Quran advises us not to “wrong ourselves” in the sacred month of Rajab, it’s as if it is asking us to turn inwards and re-evaluate the many ways that we may be unjust to ourselves through our shortcomings and negligence of our own selves. In this month, we are called to heighten our awareness of our actions, and begin replacing poor habits with ones that are healthier, both physically and spiritually.
Many of us scramble to prepare just days before the month of Ramadhan – the holiest month of the Islamic calendar – whether this involves physical, mental, or spiritual preparation. The narration above encourages us to recalibrate ourselves two months earlier, starting with the month of Rajab. By planting the seeds of newer, healthier habits in Rajab, we can expect to see its fruits by the month of Ramadhan, and in this way, we can change our habits that will ultimately create a new lifestyle.
In the month of Rajab, some of the most recommended acts are fasting, giving sadaqa (charity), and asking Allah (SWT) for forgiveness as a way to become aware of the distractions of our ego and of this world that turn us away from our purpose and proximity to God.
The month of Rajab is also unique because it comes with its own set of titles. This month is also known as Rajab al-Asabb, or the Pouring, referring to the abundance of blessings that Allah (SWT) pours down on us. It is also known as Rajab al-Fard, or the Separate one, because of its distinguished status over other months.
Rajab is also marked by two momentous celebrations: the birth of Imam Ali (AS) on the 13th of Rajab, and al-Isra wal Meraj, or the Prophet (SAW)’s Night Journey and Ascension to the heavens on the 27th of Rajab.
Let us embark upon our own spiritual journey today, as we mark the beginning of the month of Rajab. Let us work towards healthier habits that allow us to create a lifestyle rooted to our higher purpose, to serving others, and to understanding Allah (SWT) by better understanding ourselves.