It is said one should say “Shahr” or “The Month of” before one were to mention the word “Ramadhan”. However, is it forbidden or only disliked? Is there any atonement for saying it? What does “Ramadhan” mean?

محمد بن يعقوب ، عن محمد بن يحيى ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، ومحمد بن الحسين ، عن محمد بن يحيى الخثعمي ، عن غياث بن إبراهيم ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام عن أبيه قال : قال أمير المؤمنين : لا تقولوا رمضان ، ولكن قولوا : شهر رمضان ، فإنكم لا تدرون ما رمضان
Ameer al-Mu’mineen [Ali] (as) said: “Do not say Ramadhan, but rather, say: “The Month of Ramadhan” [Shahr Ramadhan], for you do not know what Ramadhan is.

Reference: al-Kafi, Volume 4, Page 69, Hadith #1; Man Laa Yahdhuruhu al-Faqih, Volume 2, Page 112, Hadith #480; Ma`ani al-Akhbaar, Page 315, Hadith #2; Wasaa’il al-Shia, Volume 10, Page 319, Hadith #1 / 13504 (See First Image below).

Grading: al-Majlisi has graded it Reliable/Muwathaq (موثق) [Mir’aat al-`uqool, Volume 16, Page 212 (See Second Image below)]; al-Mohsini has graded it Reliable/Mu`tabar (معتبر) [Mu`jam al-Ahaadeeth al-Mu`tabarah, Volume 5, Page 481, Hadith #1 / 6247 (See Third Image below)]; Sh. Haadi al-Najafi says the chain is reliable (لرواية معتبرة الإسناد) [Masu`at Ahadeeth Ahlulbayt (as), Volume 4, Page 297, Hadith #3 (See Fourth Image below)]; al-Bahraani says it is Sahih/Authentic (صحيح) [al-Hadaa’iq, Volume 13, Page 13]

This hadith is the strongest one we have in relation to the chain of narrators – however other hadiths are supplemented by this – and also give insight as to the reason why we are told to always say “Shahr/Month”.

 وعن عدة من أصحابنا ، عن أحمد بن محمد ، عن أحمد بن محمد بن أبي نصر ، عن هشام بن سالم ، عن سعد ، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال : كنا عنده ثمانية رجال فذكرنا رمضان ، فقال : لا تقولوا هذا رمضان ، ولا ذهب رمضان ، ولا جاء رمضان ، فان رمضان اسم من أسماء الله عز وجل لا يجئ ولا يذهب ، وإنما يجئ ويذهب الزائل ولكن قولوا : شهر رمضان ، فالشهر مضاف إلى الاسم ، والاسم اسم الله عز ذكره ، وهو الشهر الذي انزل فيه القرآن ، جعله مثلا ووعيدا
[The narrator said] We were eight men with him [Abu Ja`far [al-Baqir] (as)] and we mentioned Ramadhan.  He (as) said: Do not say “this is Ramadhan”, nor “Ramadhan has passed”, nor “Ramadhan has come”; for Ramadhan is a name from the names of Allah (azwj), [and He] does not come or pass. Indeed, the perishable is what comes and passes.  Therefore, say: “The Month of Ramadhan” [Shahr Ramadhan], for the month is appended to the name, and [this] name is the name of Allah, and this is the month in which the Qur’an descended. He made it an example and a `eid.

Reference: al-Kafi, Volume 4, Page 69, Hadith #2; Wasaa’il al-Shia, Volume 10, Page 319, Hadith #2 / 13505 (See First Image below).

Here we come to understand that “Ramadhan” is in fact one of the names of Allah (swt). The names of Allah (swt) are not limited to the “99” – especially when we consider Du`a Jawshan al-Kabeer, which include around 1000 of His (swt) names. We find that “Ramadhan” and “Allah” is used interchangeably, which further strengthens the idea that it is one of the names of Allah (swt). This is confirmed by the following reliable hadith:

إنّ رسول الله ( صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم ) خطبنا ذات يوم فقال : أيّها الناس انّه قد أقبل إليكم شهر الله بالبركة والرحمة والمغفرة
Verily, the Messenger of Allah (sawa) gave a sermon saying: “Indeed the Month of Allah [Shahr Allah, meaning Shahr Ramadhan] has welcomed you with blessings, mercy and forgiveness…”

Reference: `Uyoun Akhbaar al-Ridha, Volume 1, Page 295, Hadith #53; Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 93, Page 356

Grading: Sh. Haadi al-Najafi says the chain is reliable (لرواية معتبرة الإسناد) [Masu`at Ahadeeth Ahlulbayt (as), Volume 6, Page 249, Hadith #5 (See Fifth Image below)]; al-Mohsini has graded it Reliable/Mu`tabar (معتبر) [Mashra`at Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 2, Page 458]

Imam al-Ridha (as) then mentions this clearly in another hadith which discourages us from saying the word “Ramadhan” alone:

وعن محمد بن إبراهيم بن إسحاق ، عن أحمد بن محمد الكوفي ، عن المنذر بن محمد ، عن الحسن بن علي الخزاز ، عن الرضا عليه السلام – في حديث – قال : إن رمضان اسم من أسماء الله فلا يقال جاء وذهب واستقبل ، والشهر شهر الله وهو مضاف إليه
Al-Ridha (as) said in a hadith: “Indeed, Ramadhan is a name from the names of Allah, so do not say “Ramadhan has come or passed or arrived”, for the month is the month of Allah [Shahr Allah] and it [the month] is appended to it [the name of Allah].

Reference: Fadhaa’il al-Ashhur al-Thalaathah; Wasaa’il al-Shia, Volume 10, Page 320, Hadith #5 / 13508 (See First Image below).

So we see here Shahr Ramadhan = Shahr Allah, which suggests that saying Ramadhan alone is tantamount to saying Allah, as per the ayah:

قُلِ ادْعُوا اللَّهَ أَوِ ادْعُوا الرَّحْمَٰنَ ۖ أَيًّا مَّا تَدْعُوا فَلَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ وَلَا تَجْهَرْ بِصَلَاتِكَ وَلَا تُخَافِتْ بِهَا وَابْتَغِ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ سَبِيلًا

Say: ‘Call upon God, or call upon the Merciful; whichsoever you call upon, to Him belong the Names Most Beautiful.’ And be thou not loud in thy prayer, nor hushed therein, but seek thou for a way between that. (17:110, Arberry)

Finally, we look at whether this discouragement from the infallibles is to suggest that it is Haraam (forbidden) or Makrooh (disliked), and if there is any Kaffarah (atonement) for saying it.

First, we analyse the following hadith.

علي عليهم السلام قال : لا تقولوا رمضان ، فإنكم لا تدرون ما رمضان ؟ فمن قاله فليتصدق وليصم كفارة لقوله : ولكن قولوا كما قال الله عز وجل : شهر رمضان
Ali (as) said: Do not say Ramadhan, for you do not know what Ramadhan is. Whoever says this, let him pay charity and fast as an atonement (kaffaarah) for him saying it. You should say as Allah (azwj) said: “Shahr Ramadhan” [The month of Ramadhan].

Note: Allah (swt) says “Shahr Ramadhan” in Surat Al-Baqarah, Ayah 185

Reference: Iqbaal al-A`maal; Wasaa’il al-Shia, Volume 10, Page 320, Hadith #3 / 13506 (See First Image below).

The apparent of this hadith suggests that not only is it Haraam (forbidden), but there would need to be an atonement of charity along with fasting for saying “Ramadhan” without appending “Shahr” to it. However, we must note a few things.

One: The chain is weak according to the standards of most Maraja’, thus, it is not a hujjah (proof).

Two: Even those who accept this hadith as a hujjah, have described the kaffarah as being recommended, rather than obligatory. For example, al-Hurr al-Amili says after mentioning this hadith:

أقول : قد تواتر في الأخبار لفظ رمضان بغير شهر كما مضى ويأتي . وكذا الأدعية المأثورة فالنّهي للكراهة ، والكفّارة على الاستحباب

I say: It is Tawaatur (narrated multiple times via multiple chains) in the narrations the mentioning of “Ramadhan” without [adding] “Shahr” just as [the narrations that have] passed and [the ones] that will come. Likewise, the supplications that have have been transmitted, so the discouragement is based upon Karaaha (disliked, but not forbidden), and the kafaarah (atonement) is recommended (Mustahhab). (Hidaya al-Ummah Ila Ahkaam al-A’immah, Volume 4, Page 249)

Al-Hurr also mentions this in Wasa’il al-Shia:

I say: [This hadith] indicates that it is not Haraam [forbidden], while still not giving permission to act upon it. The lack of strictness in discouragement through the existence of the expression “Ramadhan” without the addition of “The Month” in numerous narrations as have passed and to come. As for the kaffarah (atonement), it is based upon recommendation (Mustahhab) as we have mentioned. (Wasaa’il al-Shia, See First image below)

This is also backed up by al-Majlisi (See Mir’aat al-Uqool, Volume 16, Pages 213-214, See second Image below) and al-Muhaqiq al-Bahraani (See al-Hadaa’iq, Volume 13, Page 14-15).

Furthermore, al-Mohsini also states this is based upon Karaaha:

“The discouragement is based upon Karaaha (disliked, but not forbidden) since it is established in the narrations the mentioning of it [Ramadhan] without the addition of “Shahr” to it. (See Third Image below).

Therefore, leaving out “Shahr” would only be a Makrooh (disliked) act, and not Haraam (forbidden).

As for the meaning, or origins, of the word “Ramadhan” and how that links back to Allah (swt), we find there is a few possibilities. al-Majlisi relates this discussion in Mir’aat al-Uqool (Volume 16, Pages 212-213, See Second Image below). Here is a summary of the possibilities.

1. الرمض (al-Ramdh with sukoon on the meem) – Which is the rain that comes down in autumn, which cleanses the surface of the earth from dust. Thus, the Month of Ramadhan was named after this because it cleanses the bodies from filth and brunt.

2. الرمض (al-Ramdh) – Which is the intense heat from the sun, or the burn due to the excessive sun-heat reflecting upon the desert sands. Thus, the Month of Ramadhan was named after this either because the people burn (suffer) due to excessive hunger – or because their sins burns (wiped away) during the month.

3. It was named this because the people of Ignorance used to burn (يرمضون) their weapons in preparation for the sacred months (where blood-shed was banned).

4. It was named this in the times of old in which it coincided with the weather being extremely hot/burning – and thus it stuck to that name in time.

When looking at the first two meanings, one may also apply this to the meaning behind it being a name of Allah (swt), in that He (swt) is the one who cleanses and burns away the sins.

References:

(1) Wasaa’il al-Shia

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(2) Mir’aat al-`Uqool

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(3) Mu`jam al-Ahaadeeth al-Mu`tabarah

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(4) Masu`at Ahadeeth Ahlulbayt (as)

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(5) Masu`at Ahadeeth Ahlulbayt (as)

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May Allah (swt) bless us all during this month and increase us in faith & knowledge.