Safar: Seasonal, Circumstantial, or Superstitious?


Although Safar is just the second month of the Islamic calendar, it’ll be the month to conclude this series.  If you recall, we began with the month of Rabi Al-Awwal, right at the inception of Lanterns.  Alhamdulillah, after 12 months of discussion and showcasing of the significance of the Islamic calendar, we have reached the final month for this year.

The word Safar carries three notions:

1)    Seasonal

2)    Circumstantial

3)    Superstitious “whistling wind”

The “seasonal” meaning refers to autumn when the leaves turn yellow.  In fact, the word Safar comes from the term asfar, meaning yellow.  This is in relation to the fact that the Islamic months are lunar calendar months, and are related to the changing of seasons.  The “circumstantial” meaning refers to the literal meaning of the word Safar, which means empty.  Before the advent of Islam, houses were vacated during Safar because Muharram ended, and with it the ban on going to war.  Everyone then proceeded to the battlefield and homes were left empty because warriors did not want to leave their wives and the children exposed.    As for the “superstitious” meaning, Safar was also referred to as “whistling wind.” It is either because autumn itself is a windy season or because people used to think of the season carrying bad omens, as the fall signifies decay.

Surprisingly, not many significant events took place in the month of Safar, but there are exceptions.

One refers to the Hijra of the Prophet (SAW) from Mecca to Medina.  Nevertheless, the stronger opinion says that the Hijra actually took place in the beginning of Rabi Al-Awwal and not during Safar.

Another occasion is the battle of Khaybar, which was mentioned as taking place in the month of Safar.  Most references highlight the aftermath of the martyrdom of Imam Al-Hussein (AS), which took place in the month of Muharram in Karbala.  Some of his family members, such as his daughter, Sakeenah, was martyred in the month of Safar.  Before that, even Imam Al-Hasan (AS), the grandson of the Prophet (SAW), the brother of Imam Al-Hussein (AS), and the son of Ali (AS), was believed to have been martyred in the month of Safar as well.  The grand Imam Al-Baqir was also believed to have been born in the month of Safar.

Some of these months started well before Islam and were carried over with the Islamic months, such as Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah. The four sacred months discussed in previous articles (and referenced in the Quran) were also carried over, namely: Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab. These months are associated with religious and spiritual significance.


With this, we conclude our Islamic calendar months series and look forward to launching our new Sacred Reflections series for 2015 come this January, insha Allah.

We’d love to hear your suggestions on what you’d like featured in the Sacred Reflections column. Please email with your thoughts!



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