Owais Manzoor Dar
Islam is the religion of truth and veracity. It is the religion which has illuminated the world with belief in Tawheed (the unity of Allah) and Risalat (Prophethood). It ended superstitions and of all kinds heresies. Because Heresy (innovation) is a cutting axe to religion and the Sunnah is guiding star. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Whenever an innovation is introduced into the Deen it is inevitable that an authentic Prophetic practice is displaced.”
Among the superstitions of the pre-Islamic days was that the month of Safar was considered to be inauspicious and taken as an ill omen. It was believed that the month would bring calamities along with a lot of diseases and economies would be destroyed. The pagans didn’t start any important work or new project in this month. Unfortunately, the Muslims of the subcontinent have imbibed these superstitions. On one hand, bad lucks and omens have been associated with this month and, on the other hand ,self made solutions for such things have been proposed as well.
Safar is the second month of Islamic calendar. Safar literally means’ empty’ or a house that is empty. According to some scholars, it is named because of emptying (Isfaar) of Mecca. People used to extensively travel in this month. Some scholars say that the Arabs believed in the sacredness of the holy months: Dhul Qadha, Dhul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. They did not indulge in war or any other crime in theses months and used to wait for such months to be over, so that they could be free from all sorts of restrictions and take evil opportunity to indulge in war, robbery and theft.
As soon as the month of Muharram used to be over and Safar began they would start committing crimes like robbery, theft, fighting with other tribes, and would leave their home vacant [Safar] for the purpose. That is why this month is named Safar [vacant]. The celebrated Hadith scholar and historian, Sakhawi, has written in his famous book, ‘Al Mashoor Fi Asma-il ayam wal shahoor’ that , this was the reason for naming of this month as ‘Safar.’ When the Arabs saw that during this month many crimes were committed, people killed and houses emptied, they associated bad omens and ill fate with this month, instead of looking at their own evil deeds and wrong doings.
Sadly the innovations, misconceptions which were rampant in the Jahilliyah society about the month of Safar have become widespread among today’s Muslims. The misconceptions, innovations regarding the month of Safar are enlisted below:
1. Four Rakat Nafil prayer, prayed on the last Wednesday of the month of Safar with specific surah and number of times same surah are read in it;
2. People do not conclude the marriage contract during Safar. Some people go so for that they say travelling and marriage in Safar is haram [forbidden];
3. This month is full of misfortunes and calamities, so one should not start his new business or any other work during this month as it will bring bad luck;
4. One who distributes food or give other things in charity on the 13th of this month will be saved from its bad luck and misfortune. They also believe that this it is very bad for those who die(d) in this month;
5. It is also believed that Umrah in this month is not as good as in other months;
6. The making of 360 balls of flour and throwing them into water so that ill-omens, bad luck and misfortune are driven away and provision is increased and blessed is another practice associated with this.
There is no bad luck, ill-omen, misfortune in any person, month, date or number in Islam. As per the Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: ‘(There is) no ‘Adwa (no contagious disease is conveyed without Allah’s permission), nor is there any bad omen (from birds), nor is there any Haamah (disease), nor is there any (bad omen in the month of) Safar’. Hadhrat Jaabir (RA) said that, ‘I heard the Prophet saying; the descending of illness and evil superstition befalling in the month of Safar is untrue’ (Muslim).
Everything that occurs is from Allah. As Muslims, we can’t and shouldn’t believe in superstition, in general, and those associated with months and dates in particular. What is worse is that we create our own evils with our own belief in superstition. We have to work on our self to remove calamities from our life. Um-ul-Momineen Aisha (RA) was asked whether marriage in the month of Safar brought bad luck. She (RA) said, ‘the Prophet (PBUH) married me in the month of Safar’ and added ‘I am the luckiest woman by marrying the prophet of Islam (PBUH). This month of Safar has proven to be a month of extraordinary success and victories for Muslims and Islam. This is the month in which the Conquest of Makkah happened. In a way, the Hijrah in Safar became the reason of spread of Islam. That is why, normally Safar is referred to as Safar-e-Muzaffar [The one of victory].As we can see, by these few Ahadith, the belief that there is a misfortune in the month of Safar has long been debunked by the Prophet (PBUH).
Muslims should strictly refrain from entertaining such superstitions and innovations. Believing in superstitions and practicing innovations amount to disobedience to Allah and his Prophet (PBUH) through which we choose our destruction in this world and Hereafter. As mentioned by Bukhari, Prophet (PBUH) said ‘of all matters the worst are innovations, and everything new is innovation, and every innovation is a deviation leads to hellfire.’ Deeds not found in Quran and Sunnah are innovations. The belief in the perfectness of our religion should itself prevent us from indulging in various innovations.
Islamic scholars have cautioned against misconceptions leading to superstition and shirk in the month of Safar. They state that no specific mode of worship or other special rules are set by the Shari’ah to be observed during the month. The intention behind this article is to clarify some of the misconceptions of some Muslims
—The author is pursuing his Masters in Islamic studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He can be reached at:firstname.lastname@example.org