This week, we welcome the month of Safar, the second month in the Islamic HIjri calendar!
Although Safar is not one of the four sacred months, it has a lot of historical significance and interesting facts. Here are some cool things you might not have known about the month of Safar!
1. The Islamic calendar began in Safar
As many of us know, the Hijri calendar which all Muslims use commemorates a very important event in Islamic history - Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. 's Hijrah from Makkah to Madinah.
Most Muslims assume that the Hijrah occured in Muharram, the first month of the year. But in fact, the Prophet’s Hijrah actually happened in Safar!
On 27th Safar, after many years of preaching quietly to the people of Makkah and enduring their rejection and torment, the Prophet made the decision to leave Makkah and go to Madinah, where many people had already accepted Islam and were willing to support him.
The journey was long and perilous, but with the help of his closest companion Abu Bakr R.A. , he arrived in Madina in Rabi’ul Awwal, beginning a whole new era of Islam.
2. Safar means ‘empty’ or ‘whistling’
The word Safar (صَفَر) in Arabic has a few different interesting meanings.
One translation of Safar is “empty”, alluding to the emptying of houses. It was first named when it fell during the winter season and provisions in Makkah were scarce. So after the sacred month of Muharram ended, pilgrims and the inhabitants of Makkah left their houses ‘empty’ when they went out to gather food.
An alternative translation of Safar is “whistling of the wind” as it was referred to as the windiest time of the year.
Many Islamic months are named after weather conditions, but since we have a lunar calendar these do not apply to the actual month. For example, Rabi’ul Awwal means ‘the first spring’, but it can take place in any of the seasons, since it follows the phases of the moon rather than how the earth’s position relates to the sun.
Similarly, Safar is no longer necessarily during winter or a food-gathering time - this was merely its historical meaning.
3. Arabs used to believe Safar was an inauspicious month
Due to the sacredness of ZulQa’dah, ZulHijjah, and Muharram, war and battle were prohibited. Therefore, when the month of Safar commenced, many left their homes to go to war, This contributed to widely spread misconceptions regarding Safar that it is a difficult month. However, these fallacies have no basis in the Quran.
The true Muslim belief is that there is only one all-powerful being, Allah (SWT). This omits any possibility of evil spirits or bad omens that are associated with Safar and allows for a better understanding of this month.
Jabir ibn Abdullah reported, he heard the Prophet S.A.W. say: “There is no bad omen in the month of Safar and no Ghouls (evil spirits).” [Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2222]
4. Safar is actually a good month to do Umrah
Umrah is an important pilgrimage and requires utmost devotion to worship and praise the almighty. Though one can perform it all through the year, the month of Safar offers great convenience.
After the jam-packed month of Hajj, Safar sees a significant decrease in the price of flights and hotels. Thus, it promotes peaceful pilgrimage without the inconvenience of rush!
5. The Prophet returned to Allah in Safar
On 29th Safar in 11 AH, the Prophet S.A.W. fell ill. He was coming back from funeral rites in Al-Baqi when his temperature rose so high that its heat could be felt over his headband. Despite his sickness, he continued to lead the Muslims in prayer for eleven days.
After a long illness, the Prophet S.A.W. returned to Allah on the 12th of Rabi’ul Awwal.
Though he only fell ill in Safar, the Prophet had long known he was soon going to leave this world, as he gave his final Farewell Sermon during Hajj the previous year. This sermon contained his final message and important reminders to all of us, his beloved ummah.
Though there are no specific deeds that one must follow during Safar, it is important to worship Allah S.W.T. and follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. all year round. Therefore, Safar should be no different in the expression of our faith and devotion to Islam.
Additionally, we should all strive to discount the circulation of misconceptions and incorrect beliefs that are attached to Safar. It’s also a good time to reflect on our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s life and history, and remind ourselves of the many lessons he taught us.