The Turkish word rağbet is of Arabic origin, and it comes from the same root -- ragaba -- as the words margūb, targīb, rāgıb, rāgiba, and raghāib. Rağbet has meanings such as; to value, to fulfill a requirement, to render valuable, to manifest the value of... And the Night of Raghāib is a night favored by Allah subhānahū wa ta’ālā. It is, of course, possible to examine the reasons why Allah Almighty favors this night. However, the inability to fathom the divine will behind the divine favoring of this night, should in no way cause anybody to lie about it, by fabricating a material reason in an attempt to explain this divine favor - the reason for which, we are unable to grasp; and this lying means showing disrespect to this night of divine blessings. For instance, when you check out the papers on the day of the Raghāib Night, you see that many of them write that our Beloved Master sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was – astagfirullah - conceived and fell into his mother's blessed womb this night. The thought that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam honored the material world tonight has been a persistent and prevalent mistake in our society. One should not jump to the conclusion that, by "material world", what is meant, is being born into the world, as we understand it; no, the life of a fetus in the womb is a state that belongs to the material world as well. Unfortunately, the social environment we live in is one in which such incorrect pieces of information have become oft-recurring, empty slogans that are, as it were, duplicated by so many people by using carbon paper, as a result of which there is no intellectual and spiritual advancement.
To be able to appreciate the Raghāib Night, just like other blessed periods of time, we need to learn that times, places, and people are in no way equal to one another. We need to know, first and foremost, that Friday is a special day, described by our Beloved Prophet, as the ‘festival of the believers’. The Muslim perception of time in a truly Islamic way of life would be different from the current perceptions of time; day changes into night around late afternoon. The night precedes the day. Therefore, Friday night starts around late afternoon, connecting Thursday to Friday. So, the night connecting Thursday to Friday is not Thursday night; it is called Thursday evening and Friday night. Friday starts with Friday night and it ends the next day around late afternoon. Around the afternoon time the next day, Friday ends, and one can no longer pray Salāt al- Jumu'a. This being the case, the night connecting Thursday to Friday is a blessed night because it belongs to Friday.
The Messenger of Allah recommended us to fast on the first and last days of every lunar month as well as the three middle days, that is, the 13th, 14th, and 15th days1. We know that our Beloved Master sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam made long supplications on the initial days of every lunar month when he saw the new crescent and we also know that he often spent these days fasting. If our Beloved Master had not observed this fast frequently, but rather observed it all the time, it would have become a mu’akkad2 sunnah for us. Owing to his great mercy for us, he did not observe this fast all the time, but rather he kept it frequently. Tahajjud prayer is an act of worship obligatory upon our Beloved Master, but it is not obligatory for us. The obligatory nature of this prayer was limited to himself. It is not a sunnah for us to pray tahajjud before dawn every day either, because even imitating our Beloved Master in this is forbidden for us, just like practicing al-wisāl (continuous fasting) is forbidden for us; this, He sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did but prohibited others from doing. Pointing to a subtle point, he asked, "Do you feed on what I feed on?" and prohibited us from practicing this kind of fast. Here, we should pay close attention to the nuance between "feeding on something" and "feeling full" as highlighted by our BelovedMaster. While "feeling full" is a physical state that belongs to this body, "feeding on something" is not necessarily related to the physical act of eating something. One can feed on even air and water.
This is to say, the Raghāib Night is a blessed night on which the blessedness of the month of Rajab, the blessedness of the first days of every lunar month, the blessedness of the day and night of Friday all intersect, and it has absolutely got nothing to do with our Beloved Prophet's falling into his mother's blessed womb, a fallacy which we can liken to a tasteless gum chewed by almost every other Muslim! Above all, it is utterly disrespectful to think that the Night of Raghāib has such a meaning. As was clearly stated by our Beloved Master, all of his ancestors, all the way to Seyyidinā Ādam, were hanīf (pl. hunafā) and thus none of them ever associated partners with Allah. Making such a connection between Raghāib and our Beloved Master's conception, astagfirullah, indirectly means talking about the private affair between Seyyidinā Abdullah and Lady Āmina, which is utterly rude and discourteous! In addition, when you perform a simple mathematical operation by counting the months backwards from our Beloved Master's birthday, it becomes clear as day that the Night of Raghāib could not have possibly been the date of His honoring his mother's purest womb.
The Raghāib Night is the first Friday night of the month of Rajab. Thus, depending on which day of the week the first day of Rajab falls on, the Night of Raghāib may fall on any one of the first seven days of Rajab. Let's do the math, assuming that the Night of Raghāib has fallen on Rajab 1: Rajab, Sha'ban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhu'l-Qa'adah, Dhu'l-Hijjah, Muharram, Safar, and Rabiu'l- Awwal. In this calculation, we have 8 full months and 12 days. If the Night of Raghāib falls on Rajab 7, this period becomes 8 months and 5 days.
The exact time a normal, healthy baby spends in its mother's womb is 280 days. Although people have taken to saying "9 months and 10 days" assuming that every month is 30 days, some months are 30 days and some are 31, and there is one which lasts 28 to 29 days. So, 9 months and 10 days does not always add up to 280 days. Thanks to revolutionary advancements in medical technology and various modern ways of medical intervention, babies born in the 8th month of gestation can be made to live, but this was impossible under the circumstances of 1,400 years ago; in those days (up until recent centuries) most prematurely born babies died, sometimes causing the mother to die along with them. Babies born in the 7th month of gestation were an exceptional case, and they survived as opposed to eight-month-old babies. So according to the simple mathematical operation we conducted above, it was impossible for our Beloved Master to have been born either as an 8-month-12-day baby or an 8-month-5- day baby. Nothing about the Holy Prophet was deficient or lacking in any way. Therefore, the period he spent in his mother's womb is a full 280 days.
What we have, therefore, is a proven fallacy, very problematic both scientifically and in terms of courtesy. This being the case at hand, where on Earth did this utterly flawed thinking originate? It stems from our erroneous tendency to put everything down to a material affair, including blessed nights and religious & spiritual institutions. You can find such kind of thinking regarding Rabiu'l-Awwal 12 too. While Rabiu'l-Awwal 12 is both His birth and passing date and also when Hijrah ended and He entered Medina and the Friday prayer became obligatory, we have, because of our ignorance, reduced it to His birth alone. This means talking about this date from a purely materialistic perspective. It is high time we stopped attempting to establish material links in relation to our blessed days and nights.
Unfortunately this error is still persisting, and neither the Directorate of Religious Affairs, nor the Office of the Chief Mufti, nor any ministry has categorically stated that this information is absolutely wrong. Even though a few religious officials do make mention of it from time to time, they do it in passing, and what they say becomes a desultory wind that dies down as soon as it starts blowing! What is even more vehement is, this miscalculation is of no serious origin; somebody simply made it up! Ibn al-Jawzi, the great Islamic scholar, notes that a man called Zâhid Abu'l-Hasan Nureddin Ali ibn Abdullah ibn Husayn first fabricated this and it has apparently caught on!
If we look at the history of religious celebrations, we can better understand the essential importance of Raghāib, and how it became a religious institutions too. We know for a fact that our Beloved Master attached particular significance to the first Friday night of every month. Aside from Rajab, Sha'ban, and Ramadan -- whose blessedness is clearly established --, he dedicated more of his time to supererogatory acts of worship and additional special supplications on the first Friday nights of all other lunar months. Therefore, the first Friday of the Blessed Rajab has particular significance in that it is the first Friday of what the Holy Prophet says is "Allah's month". Simply because of this special, extra blessedness, it has become institutionalized and turned into an organized event over the course of the centuries. Its becoming an organized ceremony is much later, of course. Another thing we know is, the order of the Friday prayer and the Friday khutbah changed even during the lifetime of our Beloved Master. Before this change, the prayer used to be made before the khutbah. On a fateful Friday, when our Beloved Master climbed the pulpit after leading the prayer, most of the Companions present in the mosque left the congregation, without listening to the khutbah, upon hearing the chimes and clangs and the yells of the people of a camel caravan which had just entered the City. As is stated in the 11th verse of Sura Jumu'ah, they left our Beloved Master standing, and only 14 of the Companions remained behind. (In the meantime, as a sign that can be appreciated by arifs, let us recall that the Ka'bah used to have 14 servants with 14 specific duties.) After this incident, our Beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam first delivered the khutbah, so that nobody would miss it, now that everybody was going to wait for the prayer. Considering that the Friday prayer became obligatory more than halfway through the mission of our Beloved Master, and that such a change was able to be made because the de facto situation called for it, the first night of Rajab could be institutionalized and particular celebratory events could be held. Why not hold special events so that these days and nights, these religious institutions are properly displayed and taught to the up-and-coming generations of Muslims, as well as to non-Muslims, who may come and see us for the first time when we make contact with their cultures? The Friday prayer itself is a ceremony in essence!
Communal Raghāib celebrations emerged as particular celebratory events at the beginning of 1000's. Before that time, celebrations were of an individual character. Imam al-Ghazzali, for instance, mentions in one of his books the Raghāib celebrations held in Quds (Jerusalem). It is a clearly established fact that there are no limitations on supererogatory acts of worship. No such act of worship can be ever considered as an innovation (bid'ah). Those who argue the opposite view see Islam as made up solely of a set of commandments and prohibitions, and in so doing, they reveal their being deprived of the love of Allah and His Beloved. So, Molla Fanarî, the great Ottoman scholar, knew nothing about the Night of Raghāib, whereas those, who put forward their utterly limited and subjective views as the real faith, have a sound opinion about this night… is that so!? Such ignorant people must first of all take the trouble to check out what is written in Mullah Fanarî's book.
What kind of reasoning could possibly urge one to think, that the larger portion of the ummah's favoring this night, is a mistake and an innovation? It is inconceivable that such gigantic figures, as Ibn Kemal, Ebussuud Efendi, Lutfi Pasha, Ismail Haqqi al-Bursawi, Abdulqadir al-Gaylani, and Mawlana Rumi, shouldn't know about this topic, while a number of upstarts in knowledge should. This is all to say, the Night of Raghāib is a period of time which is a more blessed, more special and more beautiful night compared to most others. This night has certain kinds of divine effusion (faydh) and among the ones who know its value there are people who know, see, and experience these benefits. "How do you know?" could be a question that comes to mind at this point. The answer to "how do you know" has to do with faith. One could obviously ask the same question about the prophethood of Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. Which one of us has weighed, measured, and proved his prophethood? How do you know? Can this be perceived with the outward knowledge? Which one is real faith: saying "eyvallah" or asking "how do I know" when Muhammad Mustafa sallallahu alayhi wa sallam tells you "I'm Allah's servant and messenger"? Those who do not have faith in the blessed nature of the Night of Raghāib will come to their senses in the Hereafter regarding the truth. But it will be too late...
As to seeking evidence as opposed to having faith; there are Four Proofs (Adilla-i Arba'a) to determine whether any intention, word, or action is Islamically appropriate or not: the Book, the Sunnah, consensus of opinion (ijma') and analogical reasoning (qiyas). While the order of the first two never changes, ijma' and qiyas are sometimes swapped. To somebody who assumes and claims that the Night of Raghāib or the Night of Bara'ah cannot be found in the Book as explicit statements or commands, ask this question and wait for an answer: why do you make the sunnah part of the morning prayer (fajr) as two cycles (rak'ah)? The Book has no explicit references to the numbers of the cycles to be made in prayer, but we make two cycles in the morning, four at noon, four in the afternoon, three in the evening so on... It means that not everything has to be found openly written in the Qur'an, and that such nights can be determined based on the three other essential sources. No sunnah and no ruling, that is based on a sunnah, are against nass (clear Quranic injunctions)
These kinds of people also tend to dismiss the sunnah of the Holy Prophet by saying, "How do I know they are not later fabrications?". Of course, it is our duty to warn these people that they should not confuse the extremely meticulous and exacting task of collecting ahadith (which started with Ismail al- Bukhari) with, say, the efforts to write down the sayings of Augustus or Caesar. The work of collecting the Hadith was done so cautiously, conscientiously, and fastidiously that some Hadith scholars -- who were obviously saints at the same time -- went to the Blessed Tomb, Rawda al-Mutahhara, (apparently after our Beloved Master's passing) and asked him questions like, "O Messenger of Allah, did you say such and such thing or did you not?" Those who deny that such things have happened and still do happen, could never fully appreciate this knowledge, and will be eternally stuck in their self-imposed skeptical state of "how do I know". Let us reiterate: You know this, just like knowing the prophethood of Muhammad Mustafa, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.
People of genuine faith do not seek evidence, and, on the other hand, seeking evidence for faith is a type of lunacy! There lived a great scholar of Islamic theology and dogmatics (kalam) once upon a time, and in a gathering of knowledge where he was not present, it was said of him that "he can produce 1000 proofs about the existence of oneness of Allah." In the same gathering was a poor dervish baba, who was quietly sitting in a corner, and he said, "Well, he apparently had 1000 doubts!" Doubt and skepticism cannot be reconciled with real faith. Unfortunately, those who take their assumptions as real faith, get such normally understandable, intelligible topics all mixed up and messed up!
Therefore, it is a clear sunnah to do something additional on this night, apart from our daily practice. It is a muakkad (confirmed, certain) sunnah to increase our worship on such blessed nights, and muakkad sunnahs are binding duties upon all believers. This night has a right upon us, to be able to fulfill that right, we need to do something more, something additional on this night, however small it may be. We need to demonstrate through our actions that we are aware of the special nature of this night. For example, we have some alcoholic brothers who walk around drunk for nine months, but who do not take a sip for three months when Rajab arrives, just because they respect these months of Allah! Yes, of course, they are our brothers and sisters! If every kind of sin caused intoxication, we would all be staggering! Our Lord has such infinite mercy that He might easily say, "That servant of Mine has stopped committing that sin just for My sake, just for the sake of the nights that I favor over other nights, so I'm forgiving all his sins!" These nights are so blessed in prayer, worship of, if left for confining the next day where even tonight with the recitation that there continues providing a benefit. These nights are of such blessed nature that even those who confine all their worshiping efforts to such nights, those who read the Qur'an only on such nights will also reap the benefits. The reason is, erring comes from the All-Beneficent (ar-Rahman), but persisting in one's errors comes from Satan. That's why we should not persist in our errors and sins.
Apart from its meaning as "value", as we tried to explain at the beginning, Raghāib also means "a gift, a donation, which is very abundant and very precious." Based on this meaning, it has been used particularly in the sciences of jurisprudence (fiqh) and hadith to mean "a good deed, a great reward, or a beautiful and lofty act that leads to such a reward." It is even used by Imam Malik in his ijtihad synonymously with a jurisprudential (fıqhi) term, which has a meaning close to mustahab (desirable) and mandub (commendable). So, if our Lord's favoring the Night of Raghāib, coincides with our favoring it and doing our utmost to benefit from it, it will result in very abundant and precious gifts, donations, and rewards being given to us by Him. Blessed are those who love and favor the Night of Raghāib and do their best to benefit from it...
Known in Arabic as ayyām al-bīydh; ‘the illuminated days’ (a reference to the full moon).
Consolidated, confirmed, certain