I recently received a mail from a brother which says that fasting and staying up on the 27th of Rajab is baseless and it quotes the following Hadith:
It is narrated by Hazrat Ibn Abbas (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) forbade the fasts of Rajab. (Ibn Majah).
This was because these fasts were observed before the advent of Islam as the month of Rajab was held in high regard even during the days of ignorance. The Prophet (SAW) forbade this in order to break the
Therefore, we have discovered that staying up on the afore-mentioned night and fasting during the day has no real significance in the Islamic Shariah. Is this true? I have always thought that it is very praiseworthy to do dhikr and keep fast on the 27th of Rajab. Please clarify.
Also please tell what we should do in that night. Are there any particular dhikr that it is recommended to perform?
The month of Rajab, which is the seventh month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a blessed month as a whole. It was regarded as one of the four sacred months (al-Ashhur al-Hurum) in which battles were prohibited in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace).
Allah Most High says:
“The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth. Of them four are sacred.” (Surah al-Tawbah, 9:36)
Sayyiduna Abu Bakrah (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Verily, truly time has revolved like the day on which Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year is twelve months, including four (that are) sacred; three consecutive (months): Dhu al-Qa’dah, Dhu al-Hijjah, al-Muharram; and Mudhar’s Rajab which is between Jumada and Sha’ban.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 3025)
The sanctity that has been attached to these four months is from two perspectives. Firstly, fighting and battles were prohibited in these months, and secondly, the rewards for worshiping Allah Most High are increased. The first feature of war being prohibited has been abrogated according to the majority of the scholars, whilst the latter still remains. (See: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Lata’if al-ma’arif fi ma limausim al-Am min al-watha’if and Ma’arif al-Qur’an, 4/372)
Similarly, Rajab is a month that is a prelude to the month of Ramadhan, for only the month of Sha’ban separates it from the holy month of Ramadhan. For that reason, when the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) sighted the moon of Rajab, he would make the following supplication (dua):
“O Allah! Make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhan” (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadhan, so that we may benefit from its merits). (Narrated by Tabrani and Ahmad)
Therefore, the whole month of Rajab is somewhat sacred and sanctified. One may use this month and the month following it (sha’ban) in order to prepare for the month of Ramadhan. For those who have prayers or fasts to make up (qadha) from the previous year, now is an excellent time to fulfil those duties, especially sisters may begin making up for their missed fasts. And for everyone, it’s an excellent time to return to Allah, and ask Him for an increase in obedience and acts of worship.
There are no fixed, specific or special modes of worship (ibadah) prescribed for this month, rather, all the normal recognised modes of worship may be carried out, such as prayer, recitation of the Qur’an, fasting, Dhikr, giving in charity, etc.
As far as the night of the 27th of Rajab is concerned, there are no special merits attached to it in the Qur’an, Sunnah or the works of the classical scholars. It is surely unlike the night of freedom from fire (laylat al-Bara’ah) or the night of power (laylat al-Qadr), in that there is no additional significance for worshiping Allah Most High.
However, all the recognized modes of worshipping Allah (ibadah) are commendable at any time, especially in the late hours of the night, and obviously the 27th of Rajab is not an exception, rather, if the whole month of Rajab is taken into consideration, then there is more virtue. Thus, if one engages in Ibadah in this night, then there is nothing wrong in doing so, and he will (insha Allah) be entitled to the reward from Allah Almighty, but one should not believe that this night is more meritorious or carries more reward such as the nights of Laylat al-Bara’ah and Laylat al-Qadr.
The classical scholars and jurists (fuqaha), when they mention the significance of worshipping Allah Almighty in certain nights of the year, they do not mention the night of 27th Rajab.
The great Hanafi jurist, Imam al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:
“It is recommended to stay awake (in worship) on the nights of the two Eid celebrations (m, al-Fitr & al-Adhha), on the night of the 15th of Sha’ban (m, laylat al-Bara’ah), the last ten nights of Ramadhan and first ten nights of Dhu al-Hijjah.” (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, 2/25)
Thus, we don’t see any mention of the night of 27th Rajab. Similarly, other scholars, such as Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (Allah have mercy on him) in his “Lata’if al-ma’arif” show that there is no added significance to this particular night.
It is usually believed that the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him & give him peace) ascension to the heavens (me’raj) took place on the night of 27th Rajab, thus it should be celebrated. This, however, is incorrect, for, as Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali points out, many amazing things have been related to occur during the month of Rajab and not a single one of them is rigorously authentic. (Lata’if al-ma’arif)
Moreover, the date of the event of Me’raj is uncertain. Although, some narrations suggest that it occurred on the 27th of Rajab, yet there are many other narrations that state otherwise. Imam al-Zurqani (Allah have mercy on him), the famous biographer of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) has mentioned six opinions with regards to the occurrence of Me’raj: 1) Rabi al-Awwal, 2) Rabi al-Akhir, 3) Rajab, 4) Ramadhan, 5) Shawwal and 6) Dhu al-Hijjah. (See: al-Zurqani, Sharh al-Mawahib, 1/306-308). Some have stated that the more correct opinion is that it occurred either in Ramadhan or Rabi al-Awwal.
Thus, there is no clear indication that the event took place on the night of 27th Rajab. And even if it did, as mentioned before, there are no prescribed worships for that night.
Some people regard the fasting on the 27th of Rajab to be a sunnah. This is also incorrect. As mentioned earlier that, the month of Rajab as a whole is sacred, thus if one was to observe an optional (nafl) fast on the 27th for that reason, there is nothing wrong in doing so. It will be similar to fasting on the 28th, 15th or any other day of Rajab. There is no added significance for fasting on the 27th, and the fast can not be deemed Sunnah, rather it will be an optional fast.
There is a narration of Sayyiduna Abd Allah ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) forbade fasting in the month of Rajab. (Sunan Ibn Majah, no. 1744)
However, the chain of transmission for this Hadith is considered to be extremely weak (dha’if). Imam al-Kannani al-Busayri (Allah have mercy on him) states that, it is unanimously agreed that the chain of transmission for this narration is weak. (See: Misbah al-Zujajah, fi Zawa’id Ibn Majah, 2/78 & also: Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Ilal al-Mutanahiya).
On the other hand, there are narrations that recommend the fasting in the month of Rajab. Imam al-Tabrani (Allah have mercy on him) records in his Mu’jam al-Awsat that, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) would fast almost the whole month of Rajab. (Mu’jam al-Awsat, narrated by Abu Hurayra)
Thus, there is nothing authentic that proves the prohibition of fasting on the 27th of Rajab; neither does it hold extra significance. If one desires to keep an optional fast on the 27th (or any other day) of Rajab, then one will be rewarded. However, one should not think that there is special significance for fasting on this day.
In conclusion, the month of Rajab is sacred as a whole. One should begin preparing for Ramadhan and worship Allah Almighty as much as possible. However, there is no specific significance to the night or day of 27th Rajab.
And Allah knows best
Leicester , UK