MONTH Arabic شهر, pl. shuhur.
The months of the Muslim year
are lunar, and the first of the month is reckoned from the sunset immediately succeeding the appearance of the new moon (hilal). The names of the months are: (1) Muharram محرم (2) Safar سفر; (3) Rabi’u'l Awwal ربيع الاول; (4) Rabi’u'l Akhir ربيع الاخر ; (5) Jumada ‘l-Ula جمادى الاولى ; (6) Jumada ‘l-Ukhra جمادى الاخرى ; (7) Rajab رجب (8) Sha’ban شعبان ; (9) Ramazan رمضان (l0)Shawwal شوال (11) Zu ‘l-Qa’dah ذو القعدة; (12) Zu ‘l-Hijjah ذو الحجة
Four of these months are held to be sacred, namely, Muharram, Rajab, Zu ‘l-Qa’dah, Zu ’1-Hijah, and according to the teaching of the Qur’an (Surah ix. 86), it is not lawful for Muslims to fight during these months, except when they attack those who join other gods with God, even as they attack you one and all.”
The names of the months seem to have been given at a time when the intercalary year was in force, although Muslim writers assume that the names were merely given to the months as they then stood at the time when they were so named. For a discussion of the formation of the Muslim year, the reader is referred to that article. [YEAR.]
(1) Muharram is the first month in the Muslim calendar, and is so called because, both in the pagan age and in the time of Muhammad, it was hold unlawful (haram) to go to war in this month. It is considered a most auspicious month, and Muhammad is related to hove said, ” Whosoever shall fast on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in this month, shall be removed from hell fire a distance of seven hundred years journey; and that he who shall keep awake the first night of this month, shall be forgiven all the sins of the past year; and he who shall fast the whole of the first day, shall be kept Ironi sin for the next two years.” (Hanisu ‘l-Waizin, p. 154.) The first ten days of this month are observed in commemoration of the martyrdom of al-Hussain, and the tenth day is the ‘Ashura’ fast.
(2) Safar, the second month, is supposed to derive its name from safir, “empty,” either because in it the Arabians went forth to war and left their homes empty, or, according to Rubeh, because they left whom they attacked empty. According to some writers, it; was so named from sufar, “yellowness,” because when it was first so called, it was autumn, when the leaves bore a yellowish tint. (Vide Lane’s Arabic Dict.: Ghiyasu ‘l-Lughah.) It is held to be the most unlucky and inauspicious month in the whole year, for in it, it is said, Adam was turned out of Eden, (See Hanisu ‘l- Waizin.) It was during this month that the Prophet was taken ill, but his partial recovery took place on the last Wednesday.
(3) Rabi’u ‘l-Awwal, and (4) Rabi’u ’1-Akhir, the first and second spring months, are said to have been so named when the calendar was first formed, and when those months occurred in the spring. Muhammad died on the 12th day of the Rabi’u ‘l-Awwal.
(5) Jumada ‘l-Ula, and (6) Jumada ‘l-Ukhra, are the fifth, and sixth months, about which there is some discussion as to the origin of the name. Mr. Lane, in his Dictionary, says the, two months to which the name Jamada (freezing) is applied, are said to be so called because, when they were so named, they fell in the season of freezing water; but this derivation seems to have been invented when the two months thus named had fallen back into, or beyond, the winter, for when they received this appellation, the former of them evidently commenced in March, and the latter ended in May. Therefore, I hold the opinion of M. Caussin de Perceval, that they were thus called because falling in a period when the earth had become dry and hard, by reason of paucity of rain, jamad being an epithet applied to and upon which rain has not fallen, which opinion is confirmed by the obvious derivation of the names of other months. (See Lane’s Arabic Dict. in loco.)
(7) Rajab, the “honoured ” month, so called because of the honour in which the month was held in the Times of Ignorance, inasmuch as war was not permitted during this month. The Prophet is related to have said that; the month Rajab was like a snowy white fountain flowing from. heaven itself, and that he who fasts on this month will drink of the waters of life. It is called Rajab-i-Muzar, because the Muzar tribe held it in high esteem. It is usual for religious Muslims to spend the first Friday night (i.e. our Thursday night) of this month in prayer.
(8) Sha’ban, the month of separation (called also the Shahru ‘n-Nabi, “the Prophet’s month “), is so called because the ancient Arabians used to separate, or disperse themselves, in this month in search of water (for when the months were regulated by the solar year, this month corresponded partly to June and partly to July), or, as some say, for predatory expeditions. On the fifteenth day of this month is the Shab-i-Barat, or “Night of Record,” upon which it is said that God registers annually all the actions of man-kind which they are to perform during the year, and upon which Muhammad enjoined his followers to keep awake the whole night and to repeat one hundred rak’ah prayers. [SHAB-I-BARAT.]
(9) Ramazan, the ninth month of the Muslim year, is that which is observed as a strict fast. The word is derived from ramz, “to burn,” because it is said that, when the month was first named, it occurred in the hot season; or because the month’s fast is supposed to burn away the sins of men. (See Ghiyasu ‘l-Lughah.) The excellence of this month is much extolled by Muhammad, who said that; during this month the gates of Paradise are opened, and the gates of Hell shut. (Mishkat, book vii, chap. i. sec. 1.) [RAMAZAN.]
(10) Shawwal, lit. “a tail,” is the tenth month of the lunar year, and, according to Arabic lexicons (see Ghiyasu ‘l-Lughah, Qamus, &c.), it is so called because, when first named, it coincided with the season when the she camels, being seven or eight months gone with young raised their tails or, because it was the month for hunting. The Arabs used to say that it was an unlucky month in which to make marriage contracts, but the Prophet ignored this thus auguring and married Ayishah in this month. The ‘Ida l-Fitr, or “the Feast of Breaking the Fast,” occurs on the first of this month.
(11) Zu ‘l-Qa’dah, or the month of truce, is the eleventh month, and so called by the ancient Arabs, because it was a month in which warfare was not conducted, and in which the people were engaged in peaceful occupations.
(12) Zu ‘l-Hijjah, the month of the Pilgrimage is the last month of the Muslim calendar. It is the mouth in which the pilgrimage to Makkah must be made, a visit to the sacred city at another time having in no way the merits of a pilgrimage. The Hajj, or “Pilgrimage,” is performed upon the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth of this month. The ‘Idu l-Azha, or “Feast of Sacrifice,” is held on the tenth. [HAJJ.]
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam