Though performing `Umrah entails great reward, it is incorrect to perform it in the month of Rajab while believing that `Umrah in Rajab is an act of the Sunnah, or that it has more reward than in any other month. Still, there is no harm to perform `Umrah in Rajab, for, generally, `Umrah has great merits when performed at any time throughout the year. Moreover, Muslims should be keen on doing many righteous deeds in the sacred months.
Responding to the topic in hand, Mahmoud Isma`il, states:
1. Allah Almighty has chosen four months to be sacred, as stated in the verse that reads: (Lo! The number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah’s ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves in them) (At-Tawbah 9: 36). The Sacred Months have not been defined in this verse but they have been specified in the Sunnah. This is stated in the hadith narrated on the authority of abu Bakrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said in the Farewell Hajj (Hajjat Al-Wada`) while delivering his sermon, “Time has taken its original shape which it had when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. The year is of twelve months, four of which are sacred, and out of these (four) three are in succession: They are Dhul-Qi`dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab which is named after the Mudar tribe, between (the month of) Jumada (II) and Sha`ban.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
2. There is no authentic legal proof reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) or from his Companions indicating a special merit in observing fast in Rajab particularly. But it is an act of the Sunnah to observe fast in Rajab just like in other Hijri months, such as fasting on Mondays and Thursdays; on the thirteenth, the fourteenth and the fifteenth days of every Hijri month; and on alternate days. Moreover, there is no authentic legal proof reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) or from his Companions showing that there is a particular reward for performing `Umrah in Rajab.
3. It is not authentically narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) performed `Umrah in Rajab. There is only one narration on the authority of ibn `Umar in which he holds the view that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) at one time performed `Umrah in Rajab; this narration is rejected by scholars as well as by `A’ishah, Mother of the Believers, (may Allah be pleased with her). In this concern, `Urwah ibn Az-Zubayr reported, “I and ibn `Umar were reclining against (the wall of) the dwelling place of `A’ishah, and at that time, we heard the sound of cleaning her teeth with siwak. I said, “O abu `Abdur-Rahman (ibn `Umar’s nickname), did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) perform `Umrah in Rajab?” He replied in the affirmative. So I said, “O Mother of the Believers, do you not hear what abu `Abdur-Rahman is saying?” She said, “What is he saying?” I said, “He is saying that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) (once) performed `Umrah in Rajab.” `A’ishah said, “May Allah be merciful to abu `Abdur-Rahman! By my religion, the Prophet never performed `Umrah in Rajab, and he did not perform `Umrah except when I was with him.” Ibn `Umar heard this and said nothing to deny or affirm it, but remained silent.”
4. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is not reported to have said any hadith concerning a certain reward for performing `Umrah in Rajab, but he (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “`Umrah in Ramadan is equal to Hajj (in reward).”
5. No one should specify certain times for performing certain acts of worship as long as this is not specified in the Shari`ah. This is because there is no excellence in performing an act of worship at a certain time over performing it at another time except when this is defined by the Shari`ah. That is, the
Shari`ah may define a specific act of worship to be done at a particular time, or it may state that doing any act of worship at a certain time would have more reward than at any other time.
6. It is allowable to perform `Umrah in Rajab the same as it is allowable throughout the whole year but without the intention of performing it only in Rajab, as performing `Umrah has a great reward when performed at any time throughout the whole year. Finally, a Muslim is in need of performing acts of worship in all the Sacred Months, and Rajab is undoubtedly one of them.