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Haram Months

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Ḥarām months (Arabic: الأشهر الحرم, prohibited months) or Sacred months are the months that God ordered the believers to respect in a special way. They include Muharram, Rajab, Dhu l-Qa'da and Dhu l-Hijja months. Since the time of the Prophet Ibrahim (a), it was forbidden to fight in these months. The blood money for murder in these four months is more than murder in other months.

For personal purposes, Arabs sometimes transposed the prohibition of the Muharram month to the Safar month. They sometimes transposed the prohibition of other months as well. This was called "nasi'" (postponement) that is considered as a major sin in the Qur'an.

Meaning

A haram month is what God has obliged believers to respect in a special way. Since the time of the Prophets Ibrahim (a) and Isma'il (a), it was forbidden to fight in these months. The tradition was respected by Arabs until the emergence of Islam. The Qur'an also confirmed the tradition.

Names

Three of haram months are successive: Dhu l-Qa'da, Dhu l-Hajja, and Muharram [of the next year]. The other one is Rajab. According to the sermon of Farewell Hajj by the Prophet Muhammad (s): "there are twelve months in our tradition four of which are haram; three of them are successive: Dhu l-Qa'da, Dhu l-Hajja and Muharram, as well as Rajab that occurs between Jumada II and Sha'ban."

In the Qur'an

Haram or sacred months are mentioned in the Qur'an 9:36,

Rulings

Prohibition of Wars

The Qur'an is explicit on the prohibition of wars in these four months. According to the Qur'an 2:217: "They ask you concerning warfare in the holy month. Say, 'It is an outrageous thing to fight in it...'"

Permissibility of defense: although it is a grave sin to fight in haram months, it is permissible, and indeed obligatory, for Muslims to defend themselves in these months in case they are attacked. According to the Qur'an 2:194: "A sacred month for a sacred month (if the enemy does not observe the sanctity of the sacred month and attacks you, you can defend yourselves), and all sanctities require retribution. So should anyone aggress against you, assail him in the manner he assailed you, and be wary of Allah, and know that Allah is with the Godwary."

In a reply to a question in this regard, Imam Khomeini said: "in a defensive war, when defense is obligatory, then it should be undertaken, even though it occurs in a haram month".

Increase of Diya

The blood money for murder in these months is more than blood money in other months by one third.

Nasi'

Main article: nasi'

The word "nasi'" literally means postponement or transposing. In the Qur'an, it refers to the postponement of the prohibition of a haram month to another month.

Arabs made changes in the rituals of hajj and haram months since it was difficult for them to stop fighting and plundering for three consecutive months because of their occasional grave anger. And since they did not want to ignore their long tradition of the four sacred months, they transposed or postponed the sacredness of, say, the Muharram month to Safar. Likewise, they transposed that of other months to other months of the year.

The Qur'an strongly condemned such a postponement:

"Indeed nasi' is an increase in unfaith, whereby the faithless are led [further] astray. They allow it in one year and forbid it another year, so as to fit in with the number which Allah has made inviolable, thus permitting what Allah has forbidden. Their evil deeds appear to them as decorous, and Allah does not guide the faithless lot." (Quran 9:37)

References