The Ruling on Fighting during the Sacred Months: Ibn Rajab

In his chapter concerning the sacred month of Rajab, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brought forth the following discussion on the ruling of fighting during the sacred months (al-Ashhoor al-Hurum):

وقد اختلف العلماء في حكم القتال في الأشهر الحرم هل تحريمه باق أو نسخ ؟ فالجمهور على أنه نسخ تحريمه ونص على نسخه الإمام أحمد وغيره من الأئمة . وذهبت طائفة من السلف ، منهم عطاء ، إلى بقاء تحريمه ورجحه بعض المتأخرين واستدلوا بآية المائدة والمائدة من آخر ما نزل من القرآن وقد روي: “أحلوا حلالها وحرموا حرامها” ـ

The scholars have differed concerning the ruling of fighting during the Sacred Months – does its prohibition remain or was it abrogated? The majority are of the opinion that its prohibition was abrogated, and Imam Ahmad and others from the scholars specifically stated that. And a group of the salaf held the position – and among them was ‘Ataa’ – that its prohibition remained, and some of the latter-day scholars held that to be correct and they used the ayah of surah al-Maa’idah* as evidence since al-Maa’idah was one of the last parts of the Qur’an to be revealed. And it is narrated [concerning surah al-Maa’idah], “Consider halaal its halaal, and consider haraam its haraam.”

وقيل : ليس فيها منسوخ . وفي المسند: أن عائشة رضي الله عنه قالت: هي آخر سورة نزلت فما وجدتم فيها من حلال فاستحلوه وما وجدتم فيها حرام فحرموه وروى الإمام أحمد في مسنده حدثنا اسحاق بن عيسى حدثنا ليث بن سعد عن أبي الزبير عن جابر قال: لم يكن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يغزو في الشهر الحرام إلا أن يُغزى فيغزو فإذا حضره أقام حتى ينسلخ

And it is said, “There is nothing in it [i.e. in surah al-Maa’idah] which is abrogated.” And in the Musnad there is that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “It is the last surah which was revealed so whatever you find in it of the halaal then consider it as halaal and whatever you find in it of haraam then consider it haraam.” And in his Musnad Imam Ahmad narrated from Ishaaq ibn ‘Eesaa from Layth ibn Sa’d from Abu’l-Zubayr that Jaabir said, “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did not conduct military expeditions during the Sacred Months unless he was attacked and then he would attack. But otherwise, he would remain without going out until the time ended.”

وذكر بعضهم أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم حاصر الطائف في شوال فلما دخل ذو القعدة لم يقاتل بل صابرهم ثم رجع وكذلك في عمرة الحديبية لم يقاتل حتى بلغه أن عثمان قتل فبايع على القتال ثم لما بلغه أن ذلك لا حقيقة له كف واستدل الجمهور بأن الصحابة اشتغلوا بعد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بفتح البلاد ومواصلة القتال والجهاد. ولم ينقل عن أحد منهم أنه توقف عن القتال وهو طالب له في شيء من الأشهر الحرم وهذا يدل على إجماعهم على نسخ ذلك والله علم. ـ

And some of them mentioned that the Prophet (ﷺ) laid siege to a group in the month of Shawwaal but then when the [sacred] month of Dhu’l-Qa’dah came he did not fight them, rather he waited patiently for them and then returned [to besieging, i.e. after the end of the Sacred Months, or after they initiated hostilities]. And similarly during the time of Hudaybiyyah [which occurred during the sacred months] he did not fight until it was conveyed to him that ‘Uthman had been killed, so he took pledges to fight, but then when it was conveyed to him that that was not the truth he refrained. And the majority use the fact that after the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) the sahaabah were occupied with conquering the lands and continued fighting and jihaad without interruption as a point of evidence. And it is not narrated from any one of them that he would halt fighting while he was engaged in it during the Sacred Months, and this demonstrates that their consensus was upon the abrogation of that – and Allah knows best.

[Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif pg. 224-225]

*Translator’s Note: Ibn Rajab is referring to the second of ayah of surah al-Maa’idah wherein Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُحِلُّوا شَعَائِرَ‌ اللَّـهِ وَلَا الشَّهْرَ‌ الْحَرَ‌امَ

O you who have believed, do not violate the rites of Allah or [the sanctity of] the sacred month… [5:2]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam ibn Kathir mentions the different statements regarding this ayah and its implications for the permissibility or permissibility of initiating fighting during the sacred months. He wrote:

وقال علي بن أبي طلحة عن ابن عباس في قوله تعالى : ( ولا الشهر الحرام ) يعني : لا تستحلوا قتالا فيه . وكذا قال مقاتل بن حيان وعبد الكريم بن مالك الجزري ، واختاره ابن جرير أيضا ، وقد ذهب الجمهور إلى أن ذلك منسوخ ، وأنه يجوز ابتداء القتال في الأشهر الحرم ، واحتجوا بقوله : ( فإذا انسلخ الأشهر الحرم فاقتلوا المشركين حيث وجدتموهم ) [ التوبة : 5 ] قالوا : والمراد أشهر التسيير الأربعة ، [ ( فاقتلوا المشركين حيث وجدتموهم ) ] قالوا : فلم يستثن شهرا حراما من غيره . ـ

‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah said that ibn ‘Abbaas said in regards to the statement, “or the sacred months” that it means that fighting was not made permissible in them. And Muqaatil ibn Hayaan and ‘Abd al-Kareem ibn Maalik al-Jazari also said something similar, and ibn Jareer (al-Tabari) also chose this position. But the majority have come to the conclusion that this is abrogated and that it is permitted to initiate fighting in the sacred months, and they argued that based on Allah’s statement:

فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الْأَشْهُرُ‌ الْحُرُ‌مُ فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِ‌كِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ

And when these sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them [9:5]

They said: the intended meaning (here) is the four months of free travel [see surah al-Tawbah 9:2].

فَاقْتُلُوا الْمُشْرِ‌كِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ

then kill the polytheists wherever you find them [9:5]

They said: So He did not make an exception of the sacred months from other than them.

وقد حكى الإمام أبو جعفر [ رحمه الله ] الإجماع على أن الله قد أحل قتال أهل الشرك في الأشهر الحرم وغيرها من شهور السنة

And the Imam Abu Ja’far (rahimahullaah) reported a consensus that Allah had made fighting the people of al-shirk permissible during the sacred months and outside of them during the months of the years.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 3/10]

See also: The Sacred Months

See also: “The month of ‪‎Rajab‬ is the key to the months of goodness and blessings”: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

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One thought on “The Ruling on Fighting during the Sacred Months: Ibn Rajab

  1. Pingback: The Sacred Months | Tulayhah

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