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Rabi‘ al-Awwal: The Spring of the Islamic Calendar

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Rabi‘ al-Awwal is the month in which Prophet Muhammad (s) migrated from Mecca to Medina and also the month in which he was born. Rabi‘ al-Awwal is one of the most joyous months in the Islamic calendar, specifically because it is the month in which the Noble Prophet (s) was born. This article featured on Islam4u, takes a closer look at the events that have happened in this month.

The Month of Joy and Happiness

The first two months of the Hijri calendar, Muharram and Safar, were months of mourning and sorrow. In these two months, many revered personalities such as Imam al-Hussain (a) and his family and followers, Imam al-Sajjad (a), Imam al-Hassan (a), the Noble Prophet (s), and Imam al-Rida (a) were martyred. Based on most historical accounts, no revered personality was born in these two months, making them months of grief and tragedy.

However, with the arrival of Rabi‘ al-Awwal, the celebrations begin. Of course, there is one Imam who was martyred in this month, that is, Imam Hassan al-Askari (a). Nevertheless, the day after it is celebrated as the commencement of Imam al-Mahdi’s imamate. The most important occasion in this month is the auspicious birthday of the Noble Prophet (s) and Imam al-Sadiq (a) on the 17th of Rabi‘ al-Awwal (according to Shias).

The Prophet’s Migration From Mecca to Medina

The first of Rabi‘ al-Awwal marks the Prophet’s migration from Mecca to Medina, known as hijra. The Prophet (s) and his followers were being prosecuted and abused in Mecca, and they could not freely practice their religion. One of the Islamic laws that has also been mentioned in the Quran is that if someone or a group of people cannot freely practice their faith, they must migrate to other lands where they are given such freedom. When the Medinites heard about the conditions of the Prophet (s) and his followers, they invited them to their city to come and even form a government based on Islam. The Prophet (s) and his followers accepted such an invitation and embarked on their journey to Medina.

The Meccans did their best to prevent the Prophet (s) from leaving Mecca and even conspired to kill him. We have all probably heard the story of Imam Ali (a) sleeping in the Prophet’s bed. There is even a verse in the Quran concerning this event:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْرِي نَفْسَهُ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ رَءُوفٌ بِالْعِبَادِ ‎﴿٢٠٧﴾

And among the people is he who sells his soul seeking the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is most kind to [His] servants.

Ali sold his soul for Allah’s pleasure, even though he was not killed.

On the 4th of Rabi‘ al-Awwal, the Prophet (s) exited the cave of Thawr and left for Medina. When the Prophet (s) finally made it to Medina, he was warmly welcomed by the Medinites who even chanted nasheeds welcoming the Prophet to their city. This marked a turning point in history, as this was when the foundations of an Islamic government, run by a divine prophet were about to be laid. Soon, the message of Islam and the government of Islam would be spread all across the Arabian Peninsula.

The Martyrdom of Imam al-Hassan al-Askari (a)

The second occasion in the month of Rabi‘ al-Awwal is the martyrdom of Imam al-Hassan al-Askari (a) on the 8th of this month. His holiness, after enduring long years under house arrest and being denied of having any form of relationships with others, was poisoned on the 8th of Rabi‘ al-Awwal 260 AH. His son, Imam al-Mahdi (a), succeeded him at the age of five.

The Commencement of Imam al-Mahdi’s Imamate

After the martyrdom of Imam al-Askari (a), Shias celebrate the commencement of Imam al-Mahdi’s imamate. Right when Imam al-Mahdi (a) became the Imam, he went into occultation known as the minor occultation. Under this occultation, he would only communicate with others through his representatives and deputies who would correspond with the Imam. Imam al-Mahdi’s minor occultation did not last long. After the fourth and last deputy of the Imam died, the Imam went into major occultation, which he is in as of today. When a time comes when the world is filled with injustice, tyranny, corruption, indecency, vice, and immorality, and there is no one left in this world to help the oppressed, Imam al-Mahdi will reappear to save the world from destruction.

To learn all about Imam al-Mahdi, his birth, occultation, deputies, and signs of his reappearance, please enroll in the course: The Awaited Savior.

The Birthday of Prophet Muhammad and Imam Sadiq (a)

Two revered personalities were born on the 17th of Rabi‘ al-Awwal. They are Prophet Muhammad (s) and Imam al-Sadiq (a). The best of Allah’s creation and Allah’s chosen one, meaning the Prophet (s), was born on such a day. Prophet Muhammad (s) would introduce a religion that would go down in history. It would be a religion that would never change until the Day of Judgment. It would be a perfect religion that considers all facets of one’s physical and spiritual life in both worlds. Prophet Muhammad (s) would bring forth the Noble Quran, a book of guidance that would bring people out of darkness and into light. Prophet Muhammad (s) would become a mercy to all nations:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ ‎﴿١٠٧﴾

We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations.

He would possess the best character, manners, and ethics as mentioned in the Quran.

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ ‎﴿٤﴾

And indeed you possess a great character.

This day also marks the birthday of the sixth noble Imam, Imam Ja‘far al-Sadiq (a). Imam al-Sadiq (a) is known as the founder of the Ja‘fari school of thought because so many hadiths have been recorded from him regarding many things including, religion, philosophy, jurisprudence, science, medicine, and ethics. Imam al-Sadiq (a) lived at a time when the Umayyads and Abbasids were fighting for power. This was a great opportunity to spread the message of genuine Islam to as many people as possible. Hence, Imam al-Sadiq (a) trained and educated many students who became masters of different sciences. Most of the hadiths that we have in the Shia hadith library are by Imam al-Sadiq (a).

What Do People Do in This Month?

Because the month of Rabi‘ al-Awwal is a month of joy and happiness, many Muslims plan their wedding and marriage ceremonies in this particular month. They hold feasts and celebrations marking the birth anniversaries of Prophet Muhammad (s) and Imam al-Sadiq (a) and have lots of fun in so doing. The Prophet (s) and our Imams have taught us to be happy when they are happy, and sad when they are sad. Therefore, Islam is a religion that values both happiness and sorrow.

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