The Quran informs us that according to God, there are twelve months, of which four of them are sacred.

[9:36] The count of months, as far as GOD is concerned, is twelve. This has been GOD’s law, since the day He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred. This is the perfect religion; you shall not wrong your souls (by fighting) during the Sacred Months. However, you may declare all-out war against the idol worshipers (even during the Sacred Months), when they declare all-out war against you, and know that GOD is on the side of the righteous.

 إِنَّ عِدَّةَ الشُّهُورِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ اثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ مِنْهَا أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا فِيهِنَّ أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَقَاتِلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ كَافَّةً كَمَا يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ كَافَّةً وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ

Interestingly, the word “month” ( شَهْرٌ ) in the singular form occurs in the Quran twelve times (2:185 x2, 2:194 x2, 2:217, 5:2, 5:97, 9:36, 34:12 x2, 46:15, 97:3).

The next verse informs us that the mixing or altering ( النَّسِيءُ ) the sacred months in any way is a sign of excessive disbelief.

[9:37] Altering the Sacred Months is a sign of excessive disbelief; it augments the straying of those who have disbelieved. They alternate the Sacred Months and the regular months, while preserving the number of months consecrated by GOD. They thus violate what GOD has consecrated. Their evil works are adorned in their eyes. GOD does not guide the disbelieving people.

 إِنَّمَا النَّسِيءُ زِيَادَةٌ فِي الْكُفْرِ يُضَلُّ بِهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُحِلُّونَهُ عَامًا وَيُحَرِّمُونَهُ عَامًا لِيُوَاطِئُوا عِدَّةَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ فَيُحِلُّوا مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ زُيِّنَ لَهُمْ سُوءُ أَعْمَالِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ

Knowing the proper Sacred Months is important because God informs us that Hajj is to be observed during these four months.

[2:197] Hajj shall be observed in the specified months. Whoever sets out to observe Hajj shall refrain from sexual intercourse, misconduct, and arguments throughout Hajj. Whatever good you do, GOD is fully aware thereof. As you prepare your provisions for the journey, the best provision is righteousness. You shall observe Me, O you who possess intelligence.

 الْحَجُّ أَشْهُرٌ مَعْلُومَاتٌ فَمَنْ فَرَضَ فِيهِنَّ الْحَجَّ فَلَا رَفَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ وَمَا تَفْعَلُوا مِنْ خَيْرٍ يَعْلَمْهُ اللَّهُ وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَىٰ وَاتَّقُونِ يَاأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

Traditional sources, aHadith, claim that the months of Hajj and the Sacred Months are two separate things, but the above verse informs us that the months of Hajj are “specified” ( مَعْلُومَاتٌ ), therefore it doesn’t make sense that Hajj is a different group of months from the Sacred Months that are also specified in the Quran.

Traditionalists make the following false claims regarding the Months of Hajj and the Sacred Months.

  • The Sacred Months are four: Thul-Qi‘dah (11), Thul-Hijjah (12), Muharram (1), and Rajab (7).
  • The months of Hajj, on the other hand, are two months and ten days: Shawwaal (10), Thul-Qi‘dah (11), and the first ten days of Thul-Hijjah (12).
  • Two sacred months Muharram (1) and Rajab (7), have nothing to do with the months of Hajj.
  1. Muḥarram (Sacred)
  2. Ṣafar
  3. Rabīʿ al-Awwal (Rabi I)
  4. Rabīʿ al-Thānī (Rabi II)
  5. Jumādā al-Awwal
  6. Jumādā al-Thānī
  7. Rajab (Sacred)
  8. Shaʿbān
  9. Ramaḍān
  10. Shawwāl (Hajj)
  11. Dhū al-Qaʿdah (Hajj & Sacred)
  12. Dhū al-Ḥijjah (Hajj & Sacred)
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Traditional sources state that the four Sacred Months are Rajab (7), Zul-Qe`dah (11), Zul-Hijjah (12) , and Muharram (1). While this adds up to four months, these months are not consecutive according to traditional sources. Alternatively, if we look at the verses of the Quran, we see that the four Sacred Months are consecutive. 

[9:1] An ultimatum is herein issued from GOD and His messenger to the idol worshipers who enter into a treaty with you.

(١) بَرَاءَةٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ إِلَى الَّذِينَ عَاهَدْتُمْ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

[9:2] Therefore, roam the earth freely for four months, and know that you cannot escape from GOD, and that GOD humiliates the disbelievers.

(٢) فَسِيحُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ غَيْرُ مُعْجِزِي اللَّهِ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ مُخْزِي الْكَافِرِينَ

Verse five informs us that these four months are specifically in reference to the Sacred Months.

[9:5] Once the Sacred Months are past, (and they refuse to make peace) you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), you shall let them go. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

فَإِذَا انْسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُوا لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ فَإِنْ تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ

It would not make sense for the idol worshipers to roam the earth for the 7th month and then come back and roam the 11th through the 1st month of the Islamic calendar. Instead, from these verses, it is clear that the Sacred months are consecutive.

Additionally, if we look at the Islamic calendar, we see that the 12th month is called Ḏū al-Ḥijjah ( ذُو ٱلْحِجَّة‎ ). This is the first of the Sacred Months and marks the start of Hajj. Therefore, this would mean that the Sacred Months are the 12th, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd months of the Islamic calendar.

  1. Muḥarram
  2. Ṣafar
  3. Rabīʿ al-Awwal (Rabi I)
  4. Rabīʿ al-Thānī (Rabi II)
  5. Jumādā al-Awwal
  6. Jumādā al-Thānī
  7. Rajab
  8. Shaʿbān
  9. Ramaḍān
  10. Shawwāl
  11. Dhū al-Qaʿdah
  12. Dhū al-Ḥijjah

Additionally, we see that the Islamic calendar has two months called Rabi. These are the third and fourth months of the Islamic calendar and are called Rabīʿ al-Awwal (Rabi 1) and Rabīʿ al-Thānī (Rabi 2), respectively. The word Rabi in Classical Arabic means fourth or one-fourth. It is understandable why the fourth month of the Islamic calendar would be called the fourth (Rabi), but why would the third month of the Islamic calendar also be called the fourth (Rabi)? This is because Rabīʿ al-Awwal (Rabi 1) is the fourth sacred month.

Therefore, Hajj can be observed anytime during the Sacred Months: Dhū al-Ḥijjah (12), Muharram (1), Safar (2), and Rabi I (3). Unfortunately, local governments restrict Hajj to a few days for their own convenience, thus further showing signs of their excess disbelief per 9:37.

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