Allaah Almighty bestows favors and grants bounties upon His slaves, during all times, to help expiate their sins, elevate their ranks and make up for their shortcomings. Allaah Almighty legislated for us a month during which we observe fasting, another which we perform pilgrimage in, and one or two extra days to fast during the remaining months. He also legislated prayer during the night and the Witr prayer, the Ud’hiyah (‘Eed sacrifice), and the 'Aqeeqah, (birth sacrifice) and many other virtuous deeds. All of these are ways of opening different channels for righteous deeds and methods to energize us by shifting from one form of worship to another, and therefore, not become weary, but continue to worship Allaah Almighty. This is indeed a great favor from Allaah upon us.
Moreover, we find that any act of worship which causes the people to come closer to Allaah Almighty is mentioned in His Book or in the Sunnah of His Prophet . The problem is in those people who try to come close to Allaah and gain His reward by looking outside these two sources, and thus, divert from the right path.
The Prophet sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam said during his farewell pilgrimage, “I have left with you that, which if you adhere to, you will never go astray, the Book of Allaah".
And Allaah Says (what means): "… And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from. And fear Allaah; indeed, Allaah is severe in penalty." [Quran: 59:7]
Allaah Almighty dispraised the Arabs during the pre-Islamic period because they interfered in that which they had no right in, and started changing what is lawful to unlawful, and what is unlawful to lawful, and recommending that which Allaah Almighty did not. They used to shift around the times of the sacred months and change the names of the months because they did not want to wait for this long period to finish.
Ibn Katheer said, “Dealing with the legislations of Allaah with one's corrupt mind and reasoning, and changing the rulings of Allaah according to their desires, and deeming lawful what is unlawful, were some of the things for which Allaah dispraised the disbelievers.”
The Arabs had also forbidden upon themselves slaughtering certain animals, by setting some laws which Allaah Almighty did not legislate, so Allaah Almighty dispraised them for that. Thus we know that worshipping Allaah Almighty is something which is not permitted except through that which He The Most High has legislated Himself and through His messenger . Anyone who wants to draw closer to Allaah and gain His reward, love and pleasure through other channels, will get the contrary result, because Allaah Almighty does not accept from people except that which He legislated for them.
During the month of Rajab, which is one of the sacred months, some Muslims make some wrong practices through which they intend to come closer to Allaah Almighty and gain His forgiveness, love and pleasure. But they seek that through acts of worship which He did not permit nor legislate, and although they are seeking something good, they do not achieve it.
The point is not only in having a sincere and good intention, but the deed itself must be legitimate, or else it will be rejected. Who dare say that a deed is rejected by Allaah Almighty? Who told him that the deed is rejected? The one who told us this is the truthful Prophet Muhammad who said: "He who introduces any deed into our matter (Islam) which is not from it then it is rejected." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
'Aa'ishah narrated that the Prophet said: "He who performs any deed which is not according to what we are upon (i.e., the Prophet and his Companions) then it is rejected." [Muslim] Therefore, any deed which is not in accordance with what Islam has come with is rejected.
One of the practices during the month of Rajab which was done during the pre-Islamic period, is to offer sacrifices and call it 'Far'a and 'Ateerah. The Muslims scholars said Islam voided this practice. Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said: "No Fara'. No 'Ateerah." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Ar-Raghaa'ib prayer is another thing which people innovated which was never legislated by Allaah nor His Messenger . The scholars said, “There is no authentic Hadith regarding a special prayer during the month of Rajab, and all the narrations concerning Ar-Raghaa'ib prayer are fabricated lies.” They also said, “This prayer was innovated after the fourth century and was never known before that, and no one from the scholars during the first virtuous generations ever mentioned it.”
People fast all the month of Rajab although there is no authentic Hadeeth in this regard and so this practice should be abandoned. On the other hand, those who are in the habit of fasting regularly, even in during other months, may fast. Moreover, the Prophet never fasted any month in full other than Ramadan, as narrated by 'Aa'ishah 'The Prophet used to fast so much until we would think that he always fasts, and would stop fasting until we would think that he never fasts. I never saw the Prophet fast a full month except during Ramadan, and he never fasted more than fasting during the month of Sha'baan.' [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
It was narrated that 'Umar used to hit men's hands until they would start using them to eat during the month of Rajab, and he would say, 'What is the virtue of Rajab? It is a month which the people during the pre-Islamic period used to honor, but when Islam came, people gave this up.'
Abu Bakrah, may Allah be pleased with him, saw his household preparing during the month of Rajab, and said to them, 'Did you make Rajab like Ramadan?'. Then he threw the baskets and broke the cups.
Another innovation is what they call the Rajabiyyah, which is an 'Umrah during Rajab which has no evidence proving it. As a matter of fact, the only month during which 'Umrah would have a certain prescribed reward is the month of Ramadhan. The Prophet said: "'Umrah during Ramadan equals performing Hajj" , in another narration he said, "Equals Hajj with me."
Therefore, anyone who performs 'Umrah during Rajab for the sake of Rajab has committed a mistake. Moreover, the Prophet never performed 'Umrah during Rajab even though he has performed 'Umrah four times.
A Muslim should know that if he seeks the pleasure of Allaah, and wants to adhere to obedience, he would find many acts to perform, so there is no need to add to what the Prophet instructed us to do; let us perform what he taught us, and he who does that, is guaranteed to succeed and prosper in this life and the Hereafter.
Ibn Mas'oud said, 'Imitate and do not innovate (in religion)'. Therefore, we should not add anything to the religion baselessly, and we should adhere to the Sunnah of the Prophet . Some of the scholars said, 'Sunnah is like to Noah's Ark, anyone who sticks to it would be rescued.'