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The four sacred months in the lunar calendar

Introduction

There are four sacred months out of twelve months in the lunar (also known as Islamic or Hijri) calendar but there is dispute regarding the names of the sacred months despite a clear warning in the Quran that altering sacred months is a disbelief. However, there are three versions of sacred months: (a) 7th, 11th, 12th and 1st, (b) 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th, and (c) 12th, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Of the three versions one of them is hadith based while the other two are in light of the Quran. However, let us review the relevant verses of the Quran to understand the correct names of the four sacred months from the Quran.

Four months are sacred

[9:36] The count of the months with God is twelve months in ordinance of God from the day He created the heavens and the earth; four of them are sacred. That is the perfect religion, so do not wrong yourselves therein. And fight the idol worshipers all together as they fight you all together, and know that God is with the righteous.
Note: The above confirms that God has made four months sacred out of twelve months in the lunar calendar and there is no dispute about it.

Four sacred months are consecutive

[9:2] Therefore, roam the land for four months and know that you cannot escape God, and that God will humiliate the disbelievers.
[9:5] But when the sacred months have passed, then you may kill the idol worshippers wherever you find them, and attack and surround them, and make an ambush against them at every point. But if they repent, and observe the Contact Prayer, and pay the Obligatory Charity, then you shall let them go to their way. Indeed, God is Forgiving, Merciful.
Note: The above two verses confirm that the sacred months are consecutive. When the sacred months have passed, i.e., the believers are in war with the idol worshippers, the believers can make all their moves and efforts to defeat the idol worshippers.

Hajj can be performed during the sacred months

[2:197] The Hajj can be performed in the specified months. So whoever decides to perform the Hajj therein, then there shall be no sexual relations, no wickedness and no vain arguments throughout the Hajj. And whatever good you do, God is aware of it; and bring provision, indeed, the best provision is righteousness. And you shall fear Me O people of understanding.
Note: Hajj can be performed in any of the known months (ash’hurun ma’lunmun), which indicates that when the Quran was revealed, the names of the months in which Hajj can be performed were known to the believers or there is way to know the names of the sacred months from the Quran.

Fighting is prohibited during sacred months

[2:217] They ask you about the sacred month whether there is fighting in it. Say: “Fighting is sacrilege in it, but repelling from the path of God and disbelieving in Him and the Sacred Masjid, and driving out its people is a greater sin with God while oppression is worse than killing.” And they will fight with you until they turn you away from your religion if they are able. And whoever among you turns away from his religion, then he dies while a disbeliever, then these has nullified their works in the worldly life and the Hereafter, and these are the people of the Fire, they will abide in it forever.
[2:194] The sacred month violation and all the violations are punishable. If anyone attacks you, then you shall attack him in the same manner as he attacked you. And you shall fear God and know that God is with the righteous.
[9:5] But when the sacred months have passed, then you may kill the idol worshippers wherever you find them, and attack and surround them, and make an ambush against them at every point. But if they repent, and observe the Contact Prayer, and pay the Obligatory Charity, then you shall let them go to their way. Indeed, God is Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Note: Fighting is prohibited in the sacred month but if the idol worshippers violate it and attack the believers, then they can only take retaliation of it while they are in war with the idol worshippers, they can make all their moves and efforts to defeat them.

Adjusting sacred months is disbelief

[5:97] God has made the Ka’ba the Sacred House, an establishment for the people, and the sacred month, and the offering and the garlands, that you may know that God knows what is in the heavens and what is in the earth, and that God is aware of all things.
Note: God has not only made the Ka’ba the sacred House, the sacred month, the offering and the garlanding but He is also aware of all things in the heavens and the earth. However, what God has decreed for us, we must give our due respect to it if we truly believe in Him.

[9:37] Indeed, postponing the sacred months is an increase in disbelief as those who disbelieve are led astray by it. They alternate it every other year adjusting the number of months what God has made sacred. Thus, they violate what God has decreed as sacred months. Their evil works have been adorned for them, and God does not guide the disbelieving people.
Note: The above two verses confirm that God has decreed the sacred months for us and any adjustment of them is a sin for us.

Review of three versions of the sacred months

The twelve months in the Islamic (lunar) calendar are: (1) Muharram, (2) Safar, (3) Rabi’I (Rabi al-Awal), (4) Rabi’II (Rabi al-Akhir), (5) Jumada I (Jumada al-Ula), (6) Jumada II (Jumada al-Akhira), (7) Rajab, (8) Sha’ban, (9) Ramadan, (10) Shaw’wal, (11) Dhu al-Qa’da and (12) Dhu al-Hijjah. There are three versions of sacred months which include: (a) 11th, 12th, 1st and 7th (b) 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th, and (c) 12th, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. However, one of them is hadith based while other two are in light of the Quran. Let us review of these three versions to derive the correct names of the four sacred months in the lunar calendar.

(a) 11th, 12th, 1st and 7th (Dhu al-Qa’dah, Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab)
This is hadith based version and according to Hadith al-Bukhari, 2958: in reference of Abu Bakarah it was said, “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram (11th, 12th, 1st months), and Rajab Mudar (the 7th month) which comes between Jumadah and Sha’ban.”

(b) 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th (Ramadan, Shaw’wal, Dhul Qa’dah, Dhu al-Hijjah)
This is a Quran based version of the sacred months and all the information as stated in the above verses including the messages in the 9:3, 9:25, 9:28, 28:27 and 48:27 verses are used to pinpoint the last four consecutive months of the lunar year to be the four sacred months with a challenge anyone to refute the arguments in the light of the Quran. It has also been mathematically confirmed using the gematrical values of the last four months of the lunar calendar. Here is a snapshot of the justifications that are given in pinpointing the last four consecutive months being Ramadan is the beginning of the four sacred months of Hajj (http://www.quranaloneislam.net/the-4-sacred-months-of-hajj):

  • The Quran confirms that four sacred months of Hajj are consecutive. So Hajj can be performed during these four months, which are not just like any other months.
  • The mentioning of “the day of the greater pilgrimage” in 9:3 has an indication of starting of the four sacred months of Hajj while there is indication in 9:2 that the four sacred months are consecutive.
  • The verse 28:27 confirms Hajj to be a ritual based on lunar year while there is indication of the last day of the lunar calendar in the verse 9:28.
  • The mentioning of the month of Ramadan by name among the verses describing the Hajj between 2:158 and 2:197 is an indication that the sacred months start with the first day of Ramadan.
  • It has been noted that according to Muhammad Shaykh, Muharram, currently known as the First month of the Islamic calendar, is a corruption, which was initially called Safar 1. The second month was called Safar 2 and is now called Safar instead. Hence, the first month of the lunar calendar cannot possibly be called “Muharram” (Sacred), as there are only four sacred months in the lunar year, and they are proven to be the last four of the lunar year in the Quran.
  • The corruption occurred when traditional Muslims both Sunni and Shia religious leaders and their followers originally allowed themselves to believe in hadiths other than God and His revelations (45:6), and their beliefs often contradict and as a result supersede the message of the Quran, which the Quran says is idol worship (6:19) and the unforgiveable sin (4:48).
  • The corruption is so deep that the names of the first two months of the lunar year in Sunni and Shia Islam were changed from what they originally were and are currently called “Muharram” (which means “Forbidden”) – to make people believe that it is one of the four “Forbidden” sacred months during which Muslims can’t fight – and Safar. 
  • Therefore, “The day of the greater pilgrimage” (يوم الحج الاكبر = Yawma al hajji al akbar) is simply and logically the very first day from which a four month truce had been decreed by God, corresponding to the first day of the four sacred months of Hajj. Sura 9 was thus revealed on the first day of Ramadan, 9 AH (December 12th 630). More broadly, the day of the greater pilgrimage is therefore the day that opens the Hajj season every year.
  • The expression “day of the greater pilgrimage”, due to the comparative form “al akbar” (الاكبر), also separates the first eight lunar months of the year where only the ‘Umrah can be performed, from the Hajj season, which is the time for “the greater pilgrimage” by comparison: This is why it is correct to say that the ‘Umrah is “the lesser” or “small pilgrimage” in comparison with the Hajj which is “the greater pilgrimage”. Another way to say it is that since the Quran is fully detailed, it does not allow any pilgrimage other than the ‘Umrah and the Hajj, therefore the ‘Umrah can be called the “lesser” or “small” pilgrimage in comparison with the Hajj.
  • There is also reference of the gematrical value of the four sacred months (the last four months of the lunar year) which is a multiple of 19 => 1091 + 337 + 916 + 753 = 3097 = 19 x 163.

(c) 12th, 1st, 2nd and 3rd (Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram, Safar, Rabi’I)
This is a Quran based version of the sacred months and all the information as stated in the above verses is used to pinpoint the names of the four sacred months. There is no dispute with Dhu al-Hijjah as one of the four sacred months. We all are comfortable with having Dhu al-Hijjah as one of the four sacred months as the name of this month implies connection with Hajj. There are 2 months in the lunar calendar with the name Rabi`; the third month – Rabi` I and the fourth month – Rabi` II. Rabi` is derived from the root word Araba which means 4. The use of the word Rabi` (implying 4) for the fourth calendar month is meaningful and understandable, but why is the third month also has the word Rabi` in it. It is fourth of what? It is the fourth of the 4 sacred months beginning with Dhu al-Hijjah. Hence, the four sacred months are Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram, Safar, and Rabi` I (12th, 1st, 2nd, 3rd months) in the lunar calendar.

There is also the reference of the gematrical values of the letters in the names of four sacred months and the verse connected with the commandment of observing Hajj in the known months (2:197) confirm the four sacred months of Hajj as shown below:

Name of Month Arabic Letters in the name Gematrical Values
Dhu al-Hijjah Dhal, Waw, Alif, Laam, Ha, Jeem, Ha (closed) 700 6 1 30 8 3 5
Muharram Meem, Ha, Reh, Meem 40 8 200 40
Safar Saad, Faa, Reh 90 80 200
Rabi al-Awwal (Rabi’ I) Reh, Beh, Yaa, Ayn, Alif, Waw, Laam 200 2 10 70 1 6 30

If we add the gematrical values of the names of 4 sacred months as derived with the digits of sura and verse numbers connected with the commandment of observing Hajj in the known months, the total is a multiple of 19 => 7006130835 + 40820040 + 9080200 + 200210701630 + 2 + 197 = 207266732904 = 19x10908775416.

Conclusion

The Quran confirms that the four sacred months are consecutive. So, the names of the four sacred months as mentioned in the version (a) are not acceptable to be the correct names of the four sacred months as they are not consecutive (11th, 12th, 1st and 7th). In addition, Hadiths have been falsely assigned to the prophet are not the valid source of Islamic laws and teachings.

The version (b) has been detailed with the references from the Quran. The sacred month names are consecutive (9th, 10th, 11th and 12th) and there is also a straightforward mathematical confirmation from the gematrical value of the four sacred months (the last four months of the lunar year). The first day of Ramadan has been considered the beginning of Hajj based on the expression “day of the greater pilgrimage” as well as the citing of Ramadan by name among the verses describing Hajj. However, the commandment in regard to Hajj to substitute animal sacrifice with ten days of fasting – 3 days while in Hajj and 7 days upon return to home (2:196) would be a contradiction if the Ramadan is considered one of the four sacred months. In addition, the Quran confirms that the Quran was revealed in a blessed night of Ramadan (44:3, 97:1), so Ramadan is a blessed month wherein fasting is decreed for the believers and there is no indication of any exception for the one who is traveling for Hajj or performing Hajj (2:185). There is also indication that the name of the first month, Muharram (sacred) of lunar calendar has been changed without indicating any time period while the Hadith literature has been used as a source of Islamic teachings about 150 years after the death of the prophet. So, the last four months as mentioned in this version are not correct and the mathematical confirmation may be a coincidence.

In the version (c) there are sufficient evidences in the names of certain months: Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram (sacred) and Rabi derived from the root word “Araba” as well as the connection of these sacred months with the commandment of Hajj in 2:197 being known months (ash’hurun ma’lunmun) like the known amount of Zakat (haqqun ma’lumun) that the correct four sacred months are Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram, Safar, and Rabi` I (12th, 1st, 2nd, 3rd months) in the lunar calendar.

The Quran has not only detailed the steps of Hajj but the Quranic verses also deal with the time of Hajj. But the traditional Muslims have lost the knowledge that there are four continuous sacred months during which the Hajj can be performed. Ignoring the message of the Quran and limiting the Hajj only to a few days of Dhu al Hijjah has caused many disasters during the Hajj including thousands of deaths like the deadly stampede in 2015 which killed over 700 people in one day. If the correct sacred months were restored, it would open the door for a large number of Muslims to perform Hajj every year and the Muslims from any part of the world who wish to perform Hajj would be able to fulfill their obligation.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.
Tafazzal (9/23/2016)