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The Month of Safar and Baseless Superstitions

Today, misconceptions, whims and innovations are the fatal and destructive diseases of our societies. Creating innovations in the religion, believing in them and acting accordingly is not only a crime but also a sin and disobedience of Almighty Allah, through which we choose our own destruction both in this world and in the hereafter. On the other hand, it is the nature of human beings that Allah made them capable of using their common sense and searching for the reality of such beliefs and misconceptions in order to distinguish the right path from the wrong one in this temporary life and to save themselves from hell-fire in the afterlife.

The Month of Safar
Safar is the second month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Literally, it means empty or a house that is empty from items and goods. It also means empty handed. The Arabs (the pagan people of Makkah) believed in the sacredness of the holy months. The Arabs knew the sacredness of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Ḥijjah, and Muḥarram and thus refrained from war & battle throughout this period. They did not indulge in war or any other crime in these months. However, as soon as the month of Safar started, they used to leave their houses empty and do their best to go to war and do raids to collect as much war-booty as they could. They used to wait for such holy months to be over so that they can be free from all sorts of restrictions and avail the opportunity to indulge in robbery, theft and war. Therefore, as soon as Muharram was over, and Safar began, they would start committing crimes – thefts, robberies, fighting other tribes, leaving their homes vacant, etc., which is why the month was named Safar.

There is a common belief that the month of Safar was named as such due to the fact that in the pre-Islamic times, people used to travel extensively during this month to gather food and other necessities, leaving their houses empty. This relates back to the word “Safar” which when translated from Arabic means empty.

The month of Safar is regarded as a month of ill-fortune and bad luck. The pre-Islamic Arabs believed Safar to be a serpent that dwells in the stomach of man. It stirs to life in this month and causes various types of illnesses and diseases. Thus, people are more prone to fall ill in this month.

What’s more striking is that some Muslims, even today, believe in this myth of the 14th century. The Meccans, during the Jahiliyyah period, were so skeptical about the month of Safar that they labelled this month as the month of misfortune. Therefore, the Meccans were not engaging in any good activities during the month, especially during the first 13-days of the month.

As Muslims, we cannot blame a certain time for a calamity or ill-fortune. Everything that occurs is from Allah. There is no such a thing as evil time or a month of bad luck. We create our own evil with our own superstitious.

There are no particular practices of this month in the light of the Quran and Sunnah, therefore a person should continue his or her daily routine practices. And as for the virtues of this month, it is the second month of the Islamic calendar. There is no bad luck or ill-omen in this month as most of the people think.

There are many misconceptions, innovations and whims prevalent among the people concerning the month of Safar. On the other hand, bad lucks and ill-omens have been associated with this month. Some of these misconceptions were created by the Pagan people of Arabia and followed by some ignorant people of this Ummah, and they associated many others to them. The following are some of these misconceptions:

● Misplacing the Months
The pagans of Arabia were guilty of wrongdoings concerning the month of Safar. They used to play with it by making it earlier than its actual place or postponing it. The Noble Book of Allah indicates this in the following verse:
إِنَّمَا ٱلنَّسِىٓءُ زِيَادَةٌ فِى ٱلْكُفْرِ ۖ يُضَلُّ بِهِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ يُحِلُّونَهُۥ عَامًا وَيُحَرِّمُونَهُۥ عَامًا لِّيُوَاطِـُٔوا۟ عِدَّةَ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ فَيُحِلُّوا۟ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ زُيِّنَ لَهُمْ سُوٓءُ أَعْمَـٰلِهِمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِى ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ
Transposing a prohibited month is only an addition to unbelief, thereby the disbelievers are misguided. They make a certain month lawful one year and in another year, they make the same a forbidden month, so that they make up for the months which Allah has sanctified, thus making lawful what Allah has forbidden. Their evil actions seem pleasing to them. Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. [Tawbah 9: 37]

The polytheists of Makkah were well aware of that, but they knowingly used to postpone it or make it earlier according to their desires, superstitions and whims, such as assigning Safar in place of Muharram.

● Not Marrying In This Month
Some people think that marrying in this month (Safar) brings much bad luck, ill-omen and even destruction. Marrying in this month has no bad luck or ill-omen in the light of authentic teachings of Islam. One can perform Nikah (marriage) at any day, night, week, month and year without any restrictions, except when he/she is in the state of Ihram (during Ihram while performing Hajj and Umrah). Islam encourages us to marry; if such misconception was real, then why did the Prophet ﷺ, his Companions RA or the Salaf of this Ummah not inform us while the religion of Almighty Allah has been complete, centuries before inventing such misconceptions.

● Not Starting a New Business in This Month
This month is full of misfortunes and calamities. So, one should not start business or any other work during this month as it will bring bad luck. There is nothing to do or start new business during this month; it is only whims of the people and nothing else.

General incorrect beliefs regarding this month:
* The first to thirteenth of this month is evil and ill-fortune. Considering the 13th of this month as being unlucky or ill-omened.
* Considering this month to be hard for the dead.
* The one who distributes food or give money in charity on the 13 of this month will be saved from its bad luck and ill-fortune.
* Celebrating the last Wednesday of this month, regarding it as a holiday and praying particular prayer in it.
* Making 365 balls of flour and throwing them into the water so that ill-omens, bad lucks misfortunes are driven away and provision is increased and blessed.

In short, there are no bad lucks, ill-omens, misfortunes or calamities in any person, month, date or number in Islam. If something bad happens, it is due to our evils and bad deeds. We have to reform our deeds in order to remove calamities from our life. We should understand that all conditions which we face or befall us, good or bad, favourable or unfavourable are from our Lord (as a result of our bad or good deeds and actions).

What are Superstitions?

Superstitions and its incorrect beliefs and practises constituted an integral part of the belief system of the Pagans. Prior to the advent of Islam, the Arabs were steeped in superstitious beliefs, beliefs that regulated their social, economic and political activity. Superstitions created a mysterious value system that gave rise to fear, suspicion and enmity. It deprived man of rational thinking and every ailment, accident or calamity was attributed to some evil force bent on destroying their lives. The situation was further aggravated by wicked “Spiritual Doctors” who exploited the unwary masses and ran lucrative businesses treating and exorcizing the “evil forces”. Even today there are people who claim to know the future and try to impress people with their “divine powers”. Belief in superstition detracts from Imaan in Taqdeer and the Qudrat and Power of Allah.

The Holy Quraan states:
مَآ أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِىٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ إِلَّا فِى كِتَـٰبٍ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّبْرَأَهَآ ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ يَسِيرٌ
No affliction can happen on earth nor to your souls, which is not recorded in a Book, before We bring it into existence; surely that is easy for Allah. [Hadid 57: 22]

Disaster and misfortune take place according to the Will and Plan of Allah. No other force or power can direct your destiny or cause harm to you except with the permission of Allah.

The alternation of day and night, the change of seasons is a great sign of the Power of Allah. This is also a great favour of Allah to human beings.

It is mentioned in the Quran:
وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ خِلْفَةً لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يَذَّكَّرَ أَوْ أَرَادَ شُكُورًا
He is the One who made the day and the night following each other, for the one who wishes to be mindful or wishes to show gratitude. [Al Furqan 25: 62]

Undoubtedly, Allah made some days, nights, and months more sacred than others. The reward of good deeds at that particular time is much more than that at other times. But Allah did not make any day or night or any month evil. Time is Allah’s favour and kindness. By doing good deeds, anybody can make his time blessed and fruitful. It is a habit of Jahiliyyah to regard any day or night or month as evil or to take any particular time a carrier of misfortune for a particular work. Is there any month in a year when no great person was killed? Then, are all months of a year evil? Regarding the month of Safar people of Jahiliyyah thought that it was bad and evil. This type of misconception is undoubtedly superstition, which is refuted by Islam. Thus, Islam rescued people from a big danger and made the path to peace and happiness easy.

Superstition means to believe something only based on conjectures without any evidence and take its influence in real life. It is a dangerous disease that makes people’s minds full of imaginary things. It drowns people in depression and despair and imposes upon them different kinds of unbearable customs. Following these conjectures is not only the root cause of many false beliefs and many bidah (innovations), it is also the root cause of major sins like Shirk.

Islam and Superstitions

A great achievement of Islam is that Islam rejects conjectures without any evidence and gave the neat and clean belief of Tawheed (oneness of Allah) in which there is no room for blind belief and superstition.

Islam`s Holy Book, the Qur’an, strongly opposes all superstitious beliefs.

There are many verses of the Quraan which clearly explains this.
عَـٰلِمُ ٱلْغَيْبِ فَلَا يُظْهِرُ عَلَىٰ غَيْبِهِۦٓ أَحَدًا
He Alone knows the unseen. He does not reveal His secrets to anyone [Al Jinn 72: 26]

There are also various Hadith in which the Prophet ﷺ had clearly and definitively rejected and refuted superstitions in all its various forms.
عَنْ جَابِرٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏ لاَ عَدْوَى وَلاَ طِيَرَةَ وَلاَ غُولَ ‏
Jabir RA reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: There is no transitive disease, no ill omen, no ghoul (no evil-spirit or ghost). [Sahih Muslim 2222a]

The majority of scholars interpret this to mean that these things in and of themselves do not transmit or cause harm through supernatural or hidden means but that Allah is ultimately in control and any fearful superstition around these is false.
لا عدوى ولا طيرة ولا هامة ولا صفر
There is no contagiousness in diseases, no bad omens, no bad luck in an owl and no bad luck in the month of Safar [Bukhari and Muslim]

عَنْ أَبِي، هُرَيْرَةَ حِينَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ لاَ عَدْوَى وَلاَ صَفَرَ وَلاَ هَامَةَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ أَعْرَابِيٌّ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَمَا بَالُ الإِبِلِ تَكُونُ فِي الرَّمْلِ كَأَنَّهَا الظِّبَاءُ فَيَجِيءُ الْبَعِيرُ الأَجْرَبُ فَيَدْخُلُ فِيهَا فَيُجْرِبُهَا كُلَّهَا قَالَ ‏”‏ فَمَنْ أَعْدَى الأَوَّلَ
Abu Huraira RA reported Allah’s Messenger ﷺ as saying: There is no infection, no safar, no hama. A desert Arab said: Allah’s Messenger, how is it that when the camel is in the sand it is like a deer-then a camel afflicted with scab mixes with it and it is affected by it? He (the Holy Prophet) ﷺ said: Who infected the first one? [Sahih Muslim 2220a]

Previously people regarded this month as an unlucky month.
Rasulullah ﷺ established the Deen of Islam and put an end to such incorrect beliefs. Unfortunately, these beliefs still lingers along with many people today.

It is against the grain of Imaan to believe in superstition which is tantamount to Shirk. There are various forms of Shirk (associating partners with Allah.) If a person believes that anything besides Allah has the power to do things, then it is equal to believing that, such a thing is equal to Allah in power. For example, some people believe that if a cat crosses the road whilst one is driving, it indicates that an accident will occur. This is regarded as superstition. Allah alone has the power of all things. All good and bad comes to us from Allah and a cat has nothing to do with it.

Superstitions have been the bane (a cause of great distress or annoyance) of nations throughout the ages.

They are almost as bad as idolatry as they involve false beliefs in things that have no real power. Although some superstitions seem innocuous (not harmful or offensive), they can also become exceedingly dangerous, especially when put into the minds of ignoramuses who take it as Bible Truth. This is especially so among certain people who are very firm on their cultures.

There superstitious people can do some really terrible things like believing that seeing widows or blind people will bring them bad luck. Some people even go to the extent where they will kill their own offspring if they happen to be born under the ‘wrong star’.

Islam prohibits all types of superstitious beliefs, because it attributes to people or things that which is rightly Allah’s. Take for instance astrology which is widespread in many parts of the world and even in the West. It supposes that the stars influence people’s future. In some parts of the world, people believe very firmly in auspicious times to embark on a venture. Even politicians take astrology very seriously, especially when elections draw near, doing everything within their means to stay in line with the positions of the planets, with which their personal fortunes are believed to ebb and rise.

Not only does one’s mental and physical health suffer, but also one’s spiritual life. Why? Because superstitions can open the door to polytheism. Shaytaan preys on the fear of people who always fear for their future. Why, because man’s knowledge is limited. He does not know what will happen to him that night let alone tomorrow. As we are told in the Quraan:
وَمَا تَدْرِى نَفْسٌ مَّاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدً
”No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow” [Luqman 31: 34].

So Shaytaan has a field day playing around with superstitious folk, making them fear things which need not be feared and keeping them away from striving for the good things in life, and worst of all preventing them from placing their trust in Allah and Allah alone.

This is why Islam regards belief in superstitions as a sign of disbelief in Allah. In fact superstition itself arises out of a lack of faith in Allah. If a person were to fear Allah, will he fear other things? Certainly not! But if a man fears not Allah, then he will certainly fear other things. That is the nature of man. Superstition also goes against the Islamic view that knowledge of the future is the preserve of Allah alone. Not a leaf falls from a tree or a raindrop from the sky but He has full knowledge of it. While the eye of the Muslim is ever on the look-out for signs of Allah’s Grace in the realm of Nature, we do not take these signs themselves as our deities or destinies portending good or evil. As Muslims we hold that whatever befalls us comes from Allah. That is why we always say Insha Allah (God Willing) when we express a desire for the future. It is Allah alone who can bring about good or prevent harm.

Following the Sunnah (the teachings and instructions of Islam) are the greatest guide that dispel the clouds of ignorance and darkness hovering over mankind, give them light, and show them the way to Almighty Allah, away from the snares of the Shaytaan, disbelief, idolatry, innovations, whims, superstitions, ignorance, fear and grief. They set mankind on the Straight Path; guide them to worship Allah Alone, the One and True Allah. The teachings of Allah’s Prophet and Messenger ﷺ can never be a cause of evil or suffering or disunity, because they are sent for the purpose of bringing goodness to this world and the hereafter.

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