Ahead of us begins a very important month in the Islamic calendar, the holy month of Rajab al-Haram. It stands alone out of the four months which God has declared sacred Rajab, Dhul-Qi`da, Dhul-Hijja, and Muharram. It also opens the series of three holy months culminating in Ramadan: Rajab, Shaban, and Ramadan. During these three months everyone must prepare and keep himself, as much as possible, away from low traits, bad manners and sins.The Prophet said, ‘Rajab is the month of God, Shaban is my month and Ramadan is the month of my Community.’ God gave us twelve months in the year, eleven of which are ours and one of which belongs to God. What rewards God will give his servants in His month, no one knows, not even the Prophet . The work of prophets and angels stops in the month of Rajab.
They are not allowed to know what rewards God is going to give His community. It is in the hands of the Lord, Almighty God. In the following month, Shaban, no one is permitted to know what rewards Prophet will give his Community except the Prophet and God. What is accumulated of the rewards in Rajab and Shaban will be written for you and become known to everyone in Ramadan. That is why it is the month of the Community. These three months are therefore very important months in the understanding of the Sufi orders.
In the month of Rajab, the Prophet went through the Night Journey and Ascension. During this month one must keep oneself away from all kinds of bad manners and behavior. One of the most important days of the year is the first day of the ‘month of God.’ All seclusions commence at the beginning of the month of Rajab. The most important seclusion that Sufi masters have performed in their lives always fell in that month. It is a holy month. If you do something more (for God) in that month, you are going to be rewarded with a reward known to no one except God. In that month, God’s Oceans of Mercy, Love and Rewards are going to be opened for His Community and His servants.
All Saints wait to see what rewards God is going to grant human beings at this time of year. All saints on this planet, from East to West, from North to South, expect to see something happen in this world during these three special months. Everyone of us must therefore behave themselves in these coming three months especially.
Look at the mercy that God sends in the month of Rajab. If you did something wrong, do not turn away, as if to run away from God. Turn to your Lord. He will forgive you. It is very important because no one knows what God is going to give to His servants not even the two angels appointed to write a person’s deeds, who ride on the shoulders of every human being. Everything in that month comes through God and no one knows what God will put into his or her scale for the least good manner or act of worship done for Him.
Story of the Saint of Rajab
In the time of the Prophet there lived a notorious highway robber. He used to frequent the streets after midnight. If he found someone walking alone at night in the street, he caught him, robbed him, sometimes beat him or killed him, and then returned home. No one was able to catch that highwayman. The Prophet used to curse that highwayman in his time, saying, ‘That is an evil person. I will never pray for him and I will not bury him in the graveyard of the Muslims.’
After many years, the highwayman passed away. Because the Prophet used to curse him, the children dragged his body through the streets of Madinah and threw him into a dry well. As soon as they had thrown him into the well, God spoke to the Prophet and said, ‘O my beloved Prophet, today one of my saints has passed away. You must go and wash him, clean him, cover him, pray for him and bury him.’ The Prophet was astonished because all his life he had cursed that person. Now that he had passed away, God told him that he was a saint. How could he be a saint?
But no one can interfere with God’s knowledge, not even the Prophet . If God wants to make a thief a saint, no one can ask, ‘Why?’ We must accept. That is why according to Sufi teachings and the teachings of the Naqshbandi Order, you have to look at everyone as being better than you. You do not know if God is going to raise that person’s level higher than your level who knows? No one can know. Therefore no one can interfere. Do not look down at people as if you were superior to them. You do not know whether that person, in God’s eyes, is a saint or not.
Who knows? Always regard people as being at a higher level than yourself. Show them respect and be humble towards them. Do not show ego and pride. God’s Mercy is so great that you are forbidden to look at what people are doing on the outside. You must not call them crazy or criticize their bad manners. Leave them alone. They have a Lord to judge them. Look at yourself. Make yourself behave well. Do not interfere with anyone else. It is not your job to correct anyone else. Your job is only to correct yourself. Correct yourself and leave everyone else to their Lord. This is the true understanding and teaching of Sufism leave everyone to their Lord and change yourself.
If you teach your ego not to interfere with anyone, then you are going to find yourself living in happiness, because when you look at people, you will only see servants of the same Lord as yours and, therefore, God will sometimes forgive them what they are doing. Do not say, ‘You are committing wrong by drinking, womanizing, doing this and doing that. Leave everyone to his or her Lord. Teach people in general. Do not focus in on someone and be specific.
God told the Prophet , ‘O Messenger of God, take him and purify him.’ The Prophet immediately called Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and said, ‘O Abu Bakr, we have to go and bury the highwayman who died.’ Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said, ‘O Messenger of God, you said that you did not want to bury that person in a Muslim grave for he is not Muslim!’ The Prophet said, ‘No! Let alone ordinary Muslims. God informed me today that that person was a saint!’
What did that thief do in his life to become a saint? He killed, robbed and stole all his life. The Prophet went into the well, took that person’s body out with his own hands and with his Companions, carried him to his house. He cleaned him, washed him, wrapped him in a shroud, prayed for him, then took him from the his mosque to the Baqi cemetery, a distance of fifteen minutes’ walk. It took the Prophet more than two hours to move from the mosque to the cemetery.
All the Companions were astonished at the way the Prophet was walking. He had performed ablution for the dead with his own hands on that man, washed him and prayed for him. Now that he was taking him to his grave, he was walking on tiptoes. ‘O Messenger of God,’ they asked him, ‘Why are you walking on tiptoes?’ He said, ‘God ordered all saints from East to West, all angels from the seven heavens and all spiritual beings to be present and follow the bier of that saint. There are so many of them filling the way that I cannot find a place to put my feet. Never in my life was I so surprised as I am today.’
After they buried him, the Prophet did not speak with anyone but quickly returned to his house trembling and shivering. He sat with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq asking himself what that saint had done, a robber all his life, to merit such a high degree of respect from God. Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said, ‘O Messenger of God, I feel ashamed to ask about what I saw today. It was so astonishing.’ The Prophet answered, ‘Abu Bakr as-Siddiq , I am even more surprised than you. I am waiting for Gabriel (s) to come and inform me of what has happened.’
When Gabriel (s) came, the Prophet said, ‘O Gabriel what is the matter?’ He answered, ‘O Prophet, do not ask me. I am also astonished! Yet do not be astonished. God can do what no one can do. He is telling you to ask that man’s daughter what he did in his life.’
The Prophet immediately went in person with Abu Bakr as-Siddiq to the house of that burglar. Nowadays, ministers and secretaries of state, no, even a manager in a company treats everyone else as if they were beggars at his door. They show neither respect nor humility. The Prophet , disregarding his power and status as a perfect human being, as the beloved of God, humbly went to that saint’s house to ask his child what her father had done in his life.
He said, ‘O my daughter, please tell me how your father lived.’ She told him, ‘O Messenger of God, I am very ashamed before you. What am I going to tell you? He was a killer, a thief. I never saw him do anything good. He robbed and stole day and night, except for one month during the year. When that month came, he would say, ‘This is the month of God,’ because he heard you say, ‘Rajab is the month of God, Shaban is the month of the Prophet and Ramadan is the month of the Community.’ So he said, ‘I do not care for the month of the Prophet or the month of the Community, only for the month of my Lord. Therefore, I am going to sit in my room and close it and perform seclusion during this month.’
The Prophet asked her, ‘What kind of seclusion did he do?’ She told him, ‘O Messenger of God, one day he was out in the street looking for someone to rob. He found an old man of seventy or eighty years of age. He beat him until he was unconscious and robbed him. He found a small piece of folded paper in his pocket. He opened it and found a prayer inside. He liked that prayer very much. Every year when the month of Rajab–the month of God–came around, my father used to sit and read that prayer day and night, weeping and reading, except when he wanted to eat or perform ablution. After the month was over he would get up and say, ‘The month of God is finished. Now for my pleasure,’ and go back to robbing and stealing for eleven more months.’
The supplication used by that man is a very important supplication which all are advised to recite three times a day during the month of Rajab. Sultan Mawlana Sheikh Nazim said that this supplication purifies you from all your sins and leaves you as pure as a newborn child. It is a very famous supplication in Sufi orders.
When the Prophet asked the daughter to bring him the paper, he kissed it and rubbed this paper over his body. I advise all of you not to forget about that supplication, but practice it during this coming month. Keep reciting it and God will give you as He Wills, according to your intention.
God told the Prophet , ‘O my beloved Prophet, that person came and repented to me in the most precious month of the year. For that reason, because he sacrificed at least one month of the year for Me, I have forgiven him all his mistakes and I have changed all his sins into laudable deeds. As he had many sins, now he has many rewards. He became a great saint.’
Because of one prayer, God made him a saint, a person who never worshipped the Lord as he should have, by coming to such associations as this to listen. You have a merciful God, a loving God. What do you think He will give you in return? Do you think that He is going to leave you in difficulties? For every step that you took to come to such a meeting, God will take away from you one sin and give you ten rewards. Whoever came two hours’ driving, let them compute how many steps they made. Do not miss such associations because you cannot get such rewards when you worship. Your five prayers are an obligation upon you but such associations are not an obligation.
They are voluntary. Therefore if you attend, you are going to be rewarded with a very weighty reward. That is why these associations are very important. They will show you the shortest way to reach the Divine Presence. They will show you the shortest way to reach your reality. With very little practice, by reciting something which saints recited, you can progress very quickly. Prepare yourself in the month of Rajab not to miss any prayers. If you happen to miss prayers during the day, try to perform them at night when you come home before sleeping.
Try to recite ‘Allah’ 1500 times a day in your heart. If you prefer to recite it by tongue, do so. Also recite 100 times a day, ‘Allahumma salli ala Muhammadin wa ala ali Muhammadin wa sallim’ (O God, send blessings and peace upon Muhammad and upon the Family of Muhammad). God willing, this will give you power during this month and will prepare you for the month of Shaban which has other duties which we will describe in time, God willing.
We ask success from Allah Almighty (God) through the Opening Chapter of the Quran, al-Fatihah.