The Islamic months are called Lunar months and they got their names a long time before Islam. But they used to use different until they were standardized later during the era of the great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him).

Islamic months in order

The 12 months of the Islamic calendar in order are:

  1.     Muḥarram
  2.     Ṣafar
  3.     Rabi al-awwal 
  4.     Rabi ath-thani
  5.     Jumada al-ula
  6.     Jumada al-akhirah
  7.     Rajab
  8.     Shaban
  9.     Ramaḍan
  10.   Shawwal
  11.   Dhu al-Qadah 
  12.   Dhu al-Ḥijjah

Why are the Islamic months called their names?

Each name has a history behind it and a reason for it so goes for the Islamic months. Each name that we know and use now has a reason why it was called that name. The scholar Al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

“Shaykh ‘Alam ad-Deen as-Sakhaawi stated in a book that he compiled, entitled al-Mashhoor fi Asma’ al-Ayyaam wa’sh-Shuhoor, that Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (Muharram) month. I think that it was so-called to affirm its sanctity because the Arabs used to change it, making it not sacred one year and making it sacred another year. He said: The plural form of Muharram is Muharramaat or Mahaarim or Mahaareem.

Safar is so called because their houses would be devoid of them when they went out to fight or to travel, and it would be said “safira al-makaan (the place has become empty)” when people left. The plural form of Safar is Asfaar.

Rabee‘ al-Awwal is so-called because they did not travel during that month (the word irtibaa‘, derived from the same root, means “not travelling”). The plural form is Arbi‘aa’, like the word naseeb (pl. ansibaa’), or Arbu‘ah like the word ragheef (pl. arghufah). The same may be said concerning Rabee‘ al-Aakhir as was said concerning Rabee‘ al-Awwal.

Jumaada is so-called because the water froze during that month (jumood means freezing).

And he said: In their calculations, the months did not rotate through the seasons, although there is some doubt concerning that, because their months were connected to the lunar cycle, so they would inevitably rotate through the seasons. Perhaps they called Jumaada by this name the first time when the water froze because of the cold. The plural form of Jumaada is Jumaadiyyaat, like the word hubaara (pl. hubaariyyaat). The word may be either masculine or feminine, so one may say Jumaada al-Oola or al-Awwal, and Jumaada al-Aakhir or al-Aakhirah.

The name of Rajab comes from the word tarjeeb, which means veneration. The plural form is Arjaab or Rijaab or Rajabaat.

The name of Sha‘baan comes from the word tasha‘‘ub (scattering), as the tribes would scatter and disperse to raid others. The plural form is Sha‘aabeen or Sha‘baanaat.

The name of Ramadan comes from the word ramda’, which refers to intense heat. Another word from the same root is used to refer to the thirst of camels when they become thirsty. The plural form is Ramadaanaat or Ramaadeen or Armidah.

The name Shawwaal comes from a word referring to camels raising their tails for the purpose of copulation. The plural form is Shawaawil or Shawaaweel or Shawwaalaat.

The month of Dhu’l-Qa‘dah – or, in my view, Dhu’l-Qi‘dah – is derived from the word qu‘ood (rest), as during this month they would rest from fighting and traveling. The plural form is Dhawaat al-Qa‘dah.

Dhu’l-Hijjah – or, in my view, Dhu’l-Hajjah – is so-called because they performed Hajj during this month. The plural form is Dhawaat al-Hijjah.”

And that is what the scholar said about the reasons behind the lunar months’ names.


Why are there 4 sacred months in Islam?

We can learn the four sacred Islamic months from the hadith of the prophet. The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said:

“The division of time had turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earths. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred: Three are in subsequent Zulkaedah, Zulhijjah, and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumadith-Thaniyah and Sha’ban.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

The four sacred months are:

  1.     Zulkaedah.
  2.     Zulhijjah.
  3.     Muharram.
  4.     and Rejab.

During the forbidden months fighting and wars are forbidden and that was the case before the rise of Islam.


What are the forbidden months in Islam?

The four forbidden months in Islam are Zulkaedah, Zulhijjah, Muharram, and Rejab. They were sacred before the rise of Islam.

Allah said in the Holy Quran:

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًۭا فِى كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌۭ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا۟ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ وَقَـٰتِلُوا۟ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ كَآفَّةًۭ كَمَا يُقَـٰتِلُونَكُمْ كَآفَّةًۭ ۚ وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلْمُتَّقِينَ ٣٦

“Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record1 since the day He created the heavens and the earth—of which four are sacred. That is the Right Way. So do not wrong one another during these months. And together fight the polytheists as they fight against you together. And know that Allah is with those mindful ˹of Him˺. “ [Surat al-Tawbah, 36]

The Hijri months are 12 months and four of them are sacred. During the forbidden months no fighting, wars, and battles are allowed. And Muslims tend to do only good deeds, read Quran, Azkar, do charity work and any good deeds.


What is the meaning of Islamic months?

  • Muḥarram (ٱلْمُحَرَّم): It is one of the sacred months in Islam, it was called Muharram because fighting, battles and wars are not allowed during this month.
  • Ṣafar (صَفَر): The reason behind its name is that during this month most of the Arab houses were empty as the people tend to go gather food.
  • Rabi al-awwal (رَبِيع ٱلْأَوَّل): In English it is called the first spring or graze as in this month cattle were grazed. Also, Muslims celebrate this month because it’s the month when the prophet was born.     
  • Rabi ath-thani (رَبِيع ٱلْآخِر).
  • Jumādá al-ūlá (جُمَادَىٰ ٱلْأُولَىٰ): The name might be related to the verb “to freeze” because, during this time of the year, the water would freeze.
  • Jumada al-akhirah (جُمَادَىٰ ٱلْآخِرَة).
  • Rajab (رَجَب): The second sacred month in the Islamic months where fighting is not permitted. The meaning might be related to the verb “to remove” because the arab used to remove the heads of their spears so that they don’t fight.                  
  • Sha‘ban (شَعْبَان): At this time of the year Arabs used to go searching for water. Also, the name might be related to the verb “to be in between two things”. Some other explanations say the reason behind this name is because the month falls between Rajab and Ramaḍān.                        
  • Ramaḍan (رَمَضَان): During this time of the year the heat was burning. So, the reason behind the name is the burning heat that causes high temperatures. Ramadan is the month of worshiping Allah; Muslims do all kinds of ibada like reading the Quran and praying Taraweeh.
  • Shawwal (شَوَّال).
  • Dhu al-Qa‘dah (ذُو ٱلْقَعْدَة): Another holy month where fighting and battles are forbidden.
  • Dhu al-Ḥijjah (ذُو ٱلْحِجَّة): The month of pilgrimage. During this month Muslim pilgrims from all around the world, go to Mecca to visit the Kaaba

Why Islamic calendar starts with Muharram?

Muharram is the first month in the Islamic calendar during which fighting and battles are forbidden. As it is one of the four sacred months in Islam.

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