• Why Does the WHO Make False Claims Regarding Proposals to Seize States’ Sovereignty?
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh December 11, 2023 Government, Law, Public Health 15 minute read
    The Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) states:

    No country will cede any sovereignty to WHO,

    referring to the WHO’s new pandemic agreement and proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), currently being negotiated. His statements are clear and unequivocal, and wholly inconsistent with the texts he is referring to.

    A rational examination of the texts in question shows that:

    The documents propose a transfer of decision-making power to the WHO regarding basic aspects of societal function, which countries undertake to enact.
    The WHO DG will have sole authority to decide when and where they are applied.
    The proposals are intended to be binding under international law.
    Continued claims that sovereignty is not lost, echoed by politicians and media, therefore raise important questions concerning motivations, competence, and ethics.

    The intent of the texts is a transfer of decision-making currently vested in Nations and individuals to the WHO, when its DG decides that there is a threat of a significant disease outbreak or other health emergency likely to cross multiple national borders. It is unusual for Nations to undertake to follow external entities regarding the basic rights and healthcare of their citizens, more so when this has major economic and geopolitical implications.

    The question of whether sovereignty is indeed being transferred, and the legal status of such an agreement, is therefore of vital importance, particularly to the legislators of democratic States. They have an absolute duty to be sure of their ground. We systematically examine that ground here.

    The Proposed IHR Amendments and Sovereignty in Health Decision-Making

    Amending the 2005 IHR may be a straightforward way to quickly deploy and enforce “new normal” health control measures. The current text applies to virtually the entire global population, counting 196 States Parties including all 194 WHO Member States. Approval may or may not require a formal vote of the World Health Assembly (WHA), as the recent 2022 amendment was adopted through consensus. If the same approval mechanism is to be used in May 2024, many countries and the public may remain unaware of the broad scope of the new text and its implications to national and individual sovereignty.

    The IHR are a set of recommendations under a treaty process that has force under international law. They seek to provide the WHO with some moral authority to coordinate and lead responses when an international health emergency, such as pandemic, occurs. Most are non-binding, and these contain very specific examples of measures that the WHO can recommend, including (Article 18):

    require medical examinations;
    review proof of vaccination or other prophylaxis;
    require vaccination or other prophylaxis;
    place suspect persons under public health observation;
    implement quarantine or other health measures for suspect persons;
    implement isolation and treatment where necessary of affected persons;
    implement tracing of contacts of suspect or affected persons;
    refuse entry of suspect and affected persons;
    refuse entry of unaffected persons to affected areas; and
    implement exit screening and/or restrictions on persons from affected areas.
    These measures, when implemented together, are generally referred to since early 2020 as ‘lockdowns’ and ‘mandates.’ ‘Lockdown’ was previously a term reserved for people incarcerated as criminals, as it removes basic universally accepted human rights and such measures were considered by the WHO to be detrimental to public health. However, since 2020 it has become the default standard for public health authorities to manage epidemics, despite its contradictions to multiple stipulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind including no arbitrary detention (Article 9).
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence (Article 12).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Article 13).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (Article 19).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20).
    The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government (Article 21).
    Everyone has the right to work (Article 23).
    Everyone has the right to education (Article 26).
    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (Article 28).
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein (Article 30).
    These UDHR stipulations are the basis of the modern concept of individual sovereignty, and the relationship between authorities and their populations. Considered the highest codification of the rights and freedoms of individuals in the 20th century, they may soon be dismantled behind closed doors in a meeting room in Geneva.

    The proposed amendments will change the “recommendations” of the current document to requirements through three mechanisms on

    Removing the term ‘non-binding’ (Article 1),
    Inserting the phrase that Member States will “undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations” and recognize WHO, not as an organization under the control of countries, but as the “coordinating authority” (New Article 13A).
    States Parties recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during public health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response.

    As Article 18 makes clear above, these include multiple actions directly restricting individual liberty. If transfer of decision-making power (sovereignty) is not intended here, then the current status of the IHR as ‘recommendations’ could remain and countries would not be undertaking to follow the WHO’s requirements.

    States Parties undertake to enact what previously were merely recommendations, without delay, including requirements of WHO regarding non-State entities under their jurisdiction (Article 42):
    Health measures taken pursuant to these Regulations, including the recommendations made under Articles 15 and 16, shall be initiated and completed without delay by all State Parties and applied in a transparent, equitable and non-discriminatory manner. State Parties shall also take measures to ensure Non-State Actors operating in their respective territories comply with such measures.

    Articles 15 and 16 mentioned here allow the WHO to require a State to provide resources “health products, technologies, and know-how,” and to allow the WHO to deploy personnel into the country (i.e., have control over entry across national borders for those they choose). They also repeat the requirement for the country to require the implementation of medical countermeasures (e.g., testing, vaccines, quarantine) on their population where WHO demands it.

    Of note, the proposed Article 1 amendment (removing ‘non-binding’) is actually redundant if New Article 13A and/or the changes in Article 42 remain. This can (and likely will) be removed from the final text, giving an appearance of compromise without changing the transfer of sovereignty.

    All of the public health measures in Article 18, and additional ones such as limiting freedom of speech to reduce public exposure to alternative viewpoints (Annex 1, New 5 (e); “…counter misinformation and disinformation”) clash directly with the UDHR. Although freedom of speech is currently the exclusive purview of national authorities and its restriction is generally seen as negative and abusive, United Nations institutions, including the WHO, have been advocating for censoring unofficial views in order to protect what they call “information integrity.”

    It seems outrageous from a human rights perspective that the amendments will enable the WHO to dictate countries to require individual medical examinations and vaccinations whenever it declares a pandemic. While the Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki refer specifically to human experimentation (e.g. clinical trials of vaccines) and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights also to the provider-patient relationship, they can reasonably be extended to public health measures that impose restrictions or changes to human behavior, and specifically to any measures requiring injection, medication, or medical examination which involve a direct provider-person interaction.

    If vaccines or drugs are still under trial or not fully tested, then the issue of being the subject of an experiment is also real. There is a clear intent to employ the CEPI ‘100 day’ vaccine program, which by definition cannot complete meaningful safety or efficacy trials within that time span.

    Forced examination or medication, outside of a situation where the recipient is clearly not mentally competent to comply or reject when provided with information, is unethical. Requiring compliance in order to access what are considered basic human rights under the UDHR would constitute coercion. If this does not fit the WHO’s definition of infringement on individual sovereignty, and on national sovereignty, then the DG and his supporters need to publicly explain what definition they are using.

    The Proposed WHO Pandemic Agreement as a Tool to Manage Transfer of Sovereignty

    The proposed pandemic agreement will set humanity in a new era strangely organized around pandemics: pre-pandemic, pandemic, and inter-pandemic. A new governance structure under WHO auspices will oversee the IHR amendments and related initiatives. It will rely on new funding requirements, including the WHO’s ability to demand additional funding and materials from countries and to run a supply network to support its work in health emergencies (Article 12):

    In the event of a pandemic, real-time access by WHO to a minimum of 20% (10% as a donation and 10% at affordable prices to WHO) of the production of safe, efficacious and effective pandemic-related products for distribution based on public health risks and needs, with the understanding that each Party that has manufacturing facilities that produce pandemic-related products in its jurisdiction shall take all necessary steps to facilitate the export of such pandemic-related products, in accordance with timetables to be agreed between WHO and manufacturers.

    And Article 20 (1):

    …provide support and assistance to other Parties, upon request, to facilitate the containment of spill-over at the source.

    The entire structure will be financed by a new funding stream separate from current WHO funding – an additional requirement on taxpayers over current national commitments (Article 20 (2)). The funding will also include an endowment of voluntary contributions of “all relevant sectors that benefit from international work to strengthen pandemic preparation, preparedness and response” and donations from philanthropic organizations (Article 20 (2)b).

    Currently, countries decide on foreign aid on the basis of national priorities, apart from limited funding that they have agreed to allocate to organizations such as WHO under existing obligations or treaties. The proposed agreement is remarkable not just in greatly increasing the amount countries must give as treaty requirements, but in setting up a parallel funding structure disconnected from other disease priorities (quite the opposite of previous ideas on integration in health financing). It also gives power to an external group, not directly accountable, to demand or acquire further resources whenever it deems necessary.

    In a further encroachment into what is normally within the legal jurisdiction of Nation States, the agreement will require countries to establish (Article 15) “…, no-fault vaccine injury compensation mechanism(s),…”, consecrating effective immunity for pharmaceutical companies for harm to citizens resulting from use of products that the WHO recommends under an emergency use authorization, or indeed requires countries to mandate onto their citizens.

    As is becoming increasingly acceptable for those in power, ratifying countries will agree to limit the right of their public to voice opposition to the WHO’s measures and claims regarding such an emergency (Article 18):

    …and combat false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation, including through effective international collaboration and cooperation…

    As we have seen during the Covid-19 response, the definition of misleading information can be dependent on political or commercial expediency, including factual information on vaccine efficacy and safety and orthodox immunology that could impair the sale of health commodities. This is why open democracies put such emphasis on defending free speech, even at the risk of sometimes being misleading. In signing on to this agreement, governments will be agreeing to abrogate that principle regarding their own citizens when instructed by the WHO.

    The scope of this proposed agreement (and the IHR amendments) is broader than pandemics, greatly expanding the scope under which a transfer of decision-making powers can be demanded. Other environmental threats to health, such as changes in climate, can be declared emergencies at the DG’s discretion, if broad definitions of ‘One Health’ are adopted as recommended.

    It is difficult to think of another international instrument where such powers over national resources are passed to an unelected external organization, and it is even more challenging to envision how this is seen as anything other than a loss of sovereignty. The only justification for this claim would appear to be if the draft agreement is to be signed on the basis of deceit – that there is no intention to treat it other than as an irrelevant piece of paper or something that should only apply to less powerful States (i.e. a colonialist tool).

    Will the IHR Amendments and the Proposed Pandemic Agreement be Legally Binding?

    Both texts are intended to be legally binding. The IHR already has such status, so the impact of the proposed changes on the need for new acceptance by countries are complicated national jurisdictional issues. There is a current mechanism for rejection of new amendments. However, unless a high number of countries will actively voice their oppositions and rejections, the adoption of the current published version dated February 2023 will likely lead to a future shadowed by the permanent risks of the WHO’s lockdown and lockstep dictates.

    The proposed pandemic agreement is also clearly intended to be legally binding. WHO discusses this issue on the website of the International Negotiating Body (INB) that is working on the text. The same legally binding intent is specifically stated by the G20 Bali Leaders Declaration in 2022:

    We support the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) that will draft and negotiate a legally binding instrument that should contain both legally binding and non-legally binding elements to strengthen pandemic PPR…,

    repeated in the 2023 G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration:

    …an ambitious, legally binding WHO convention, agreement or other international instruments on pandemic PPR (WHO CA+) by May 2024,

    and by the Council of the European Union:

    A convention, agreement or other international instrument is legally binding under international Law. An agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response adopted under the World Health Organization (WHO) would enable countries around the globe to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics.

    The IHR already has standing under international law.

    While seeking such status, WHO officials who previously described the proposed agreement as a ‘treaty” are now insisting neither instrument impacts sovereignty. The implication that it is States’ representatives at the WHA that will agree to the transfer, rather than the WHO, is a nuance irrelevant to its claims regarding their subsequent effect.

    The WHO’s position raises a real question of whether its leadership is truly ignorant of what is proposed, or is actively seeking to mislead countries and the public in order to increase the probability of acceptance. The latest version dated 30 October 2023 requires 40 ratifications for the future agreement to enter into force, after a two-thirds vote in favor within the WHA. Opposition by a considerable number of countries will therefore be needed to derail this project. As it is backed by powerful governments and institutions, financial mechanisms including IMF and World Bank instruments and bilateral aids are likely to make opposition from lower-income countries difficult to sustain.

    The Implications of Ignoring the Issue of Sovereignty

    The relevant question regarding these two WHO instruments should really be not whether sovereignty is threatened, but why any sovereignty would be forfeited by democratic States to an organization that is (i) significantly privately funded and bound to obey the dictates of corporations and self-proclaimed philanthropists and (ii) jointly governed by Member States, half of which don’t even claim to be open representative democracies.

    If it is indeed true that sovereignty is being knowingly forfeited by governments without the knowledge and consent of their peoples, and based on false claims from governments and the WHO, then the implications are extremely serious. It would imply that leaders were working directly against their peoples’ or national interest, and in support of external interests. Most countries have specific fundamental laws dealing with such practice. So, it is really important for those defending these projects to either explain their definitions of sovereignty and democratic process, or explicitly seek informed public consent.

    The other question to be asked is why public health authorities and media are repeating the WHO’s assurances of the benign nature of the pandemic instruments. It asserts that claims of reduced sovereignty are ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation,’ which they assert elsewhere are major killers of humankind. While such claims are somewhat ludicrous and appear intended to denigrate dissenters, the WHO is clearly guilty of that which it claims is such a crime. If its leadership cannot demonstrate how its claims regarding these pandemic instruments are not deliberately misleading, its leadership would appear ethically compelled to resign.

    The Need for Clarification

    The WHO lists three major pandemics in the past century – influenza outbreaks in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The first two killed less than die each year today from tuberculosis, whilst the reported deaths from Covid-19 never reached the level of cancer or cardiovascular disease and remained almost irrelevant in low-income countries compared to endemic infectious diseases including tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDs.

    No other non-influenza outbreak recorded by the WHO that fits the definition of a pandemic (e.g., rapid spread across international borders for a limited time of a pathogen not normally causing significant harm) has caused greater mortality in total than a few days of tuberculosis (about 4,000/day) or more life-years lost than a few days of malaria (about 1,500 children under 5 years old every day).

    So, if it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach. We are, after all, talking about restricting basic human rights essential for a democracy to function.

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

    View all posts
    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
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    https://brownstone.org/articles/why-does-the-who-make-false-claims-regarding-proposals-to-seize-states-sovereignty/
    Why Does the WHO Make False Claims Regarding Proposals to Seize States’ Sovereignty? By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh December 11, 2023 Government, Law, Public Health 15 minute read The Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) states: No country will cede any sovereignty to WHO, referring to the WHO’s new pandemic agreement and proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), currently being negotiated. His statements are clear and unequivocal, and wholly inconsistent with the texts he is referring to. A rational examination of the texts in question shows that: The documents propose a transfer of decision-making power to the WHO regarding basic aspects of societal function, which countries undertake to enact. The WHO DG will have sole authority to decide when and where they are applied. The proposals are intended to be binding under international law. Continued claims that sovereignty is not lost, echoed by politicians and media, therefore raise important questions concerning motivations, competence, and ethics. The intent of the texts is a transfer of decision-making currently vested in Nations and individuals to the WHO, when its DG decides that there is a threat of a significant disease outbreak or other health emergency likely to cross multiple national borders. It is unusual for Nations to undertake to follow external entities regarding the basic rights and healthcare of their citizens, more so when this has major economic and geopolitical implications. The question of whether sovereignty is indeed being transferred, and the legal status of such an agreement, is therefore of vital importance, particularly to the legislators of democratic States. They have an absolute duty to be sure of their ground. We systematically examine that ground here. The Proposed IHR Amendments and Sovereignty in Health Decision-Making Amending the 2005 IHR may be a straightforward way to quickly deploy and enforce “new normal” health control measures. The current text applies to virtually the entire global population, counting 196 States Parties including all 194 WHO Member States. Approval may or may not require a formal vote of the World Health Assembly (WHA), as the recent 2022 amendment was adopted through consensus. If the same approval mechanism is to be used in May 2024, many countries and the public may remain unaware of the broad scope of the new text and its implications to national and individual sovereignty. The IHR are a set of recommendations under a treaty process that has force under international law. They seek to provide the WHO with some moral authority to coordinate and lead responses when an international health emergency, such as pandemic, occurs. Most are non-binding, and these contain very specific examples of measures that the WHO can recommend, including (Article 18): require medical examinations; review proof of vaccination or other prophylaxis; require vaccination or other prophylaxis; place suspect persons under public health observation; implement quarantine or other health measures for suspect persons; implement isolation and treatment where necessary of affected persons; implement tracing of contacts of suspect or affected persons; refuse entry of suspect and affected persons; refuse entry of unaffected persons to affected areas; and implement exit screening and/or restrictions on persons from affected areas. These measures, when implemented together, are generally referred to since early 2020 as ‘lockdowns’ and ‘mandates.’ ‘Lockdown’ was previously a term reserved for people incarcerated as criminals, as it removes basic universally accepted human rights and such measures were considered by the WHO to be detrimental to public health. However, since 2020 it has become the default standard for public health authorities to manage epidemics, despite its contradictions to multiple stipulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind including no arbitrary detention (Article 9). No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence (Article 12). Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Article 13). Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (Article 19). Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20). The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government (Article 21). Everyone has the right to work (Article 23). Everyone has the right to education (Article 26). Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (Article 28). Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein (Article 30). These UDHR stipulations are the basis of the modern concept of individual sovereignty, and the relationship between authorities and their populations. Considered the highest codification of the rights and freedoms of individuals in the 20th century, they may soon be dismantled behind closed doors in a meeting room in Geneva. The proposed amendments will change the “recommendations” of the current document to requirements through three mechanisms on Removing the term ‘non-binding’ (Article 1), Inserting the phrase that Member States will “undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations” and recognize WHO, not as an organization under the control of countries, but as the “coordinating authority” (New Article 13A). States Parties recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during public health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response. As Article 18 makes clear above, these include multiple actions directly restricting individual liberty. If transfer of decision-making power (sovereignty) is not intended here, then the current status of the IHR as ‘recommendations’ could remain and countries would not be undertaking to follow the WHO’s requirements. States Parties undertake to enact what previously were merely recommendations, without delay, including requirements of WHO regarding non-State entities under their jurisdiction (Article 42): Health measures taken pursuant to these Regulations, including the recommendations made under Articles 15 and 16, shall be initiated and completed without delay by all State Parties and applied in a transparent, equitable and non-discriminatory manner. State Parties shall also take measures to ensure Non-State Actors operating in their respective territories comply with such measures. Articles 15 and 16 mentioned here allow the WHO to require a State to provide resources “health products, technologies, and know-how,” and to allow the WHO to deploy personnel into the country (i.e., have control over entry across national borders for those they choose). They also repeat the requirement for the country to require the implementation of medical countermeasures (e.g., testing, vaccines, quarantine) on their population where WHO demands it. Of note, the proposed Article 1 amendment (removing ‘non-binding’) is actually redundant if New Article 13A and/or the changes in Article 42 remain. This can (and likely will) be removed from the final text, giving an appearance of compromise without changing the transfer of sovereignty. All of the public health measures in Article 18, and additional ones such as limiting freedom of speech to reduce public exposure to alternative viewpoints (Annex 1, New 5 (e); “…counter misinformation and disinformation”) clash directly with the UDHR. Although freedom of speech is currently the exclusive purview of national authorities and its restriction is generally seen as negative and abusive, United Nations institutions, including the WHO, have been advocating for censoring unofficial views in order to protect what they call “information integrity.” It seems outrageous from a human rights perspective that the amendments will enable the WHO to dictate countries to require individual medical examinations and vaccinations whenever it declares a pandemic. While the Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki refer specifically to human experimentation (e.g. clinical trials of vaccines) and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights also to the provider-patient relationship, they can reasonably be extended to public health measures that impose restrictions or changes to human behavior, and specifically to any measures requiring injection, medication, or medical examination which involve a direct provider-person interaction. If vaccines or drugs are still under trial or not fully tested, then the issue of being the subject of an experiment is also real. There is a clear intent to employ the CEPI ‘100 day’ vaccine program, which by definition cannot complete meaningful safety or efficacy trials within that time span. Forced examination or medication, outside of a situation where the recipient is clearly not mentally competent to comply or reject when provided with information, is unethical. Requiring compliance in order to access what are considered basic human rights under the UDHR would constitute coercion. If this does not fit the WHO’s definition of infringement on individual sovereignty, and on national sovereignty, then the DG and his supporters need to publicly explain what definition they are using. The Proposed WHO Pandemic Agreement as a Tool to Manage Transfer of Sovereignty The proposed pandemic agreement will set humanity in a new era strangely organized around pandemics: pre-pandemic, pandemic, and inter-pandemic. A new governance structure under WHO auspices will oversee the IHR amendments and related initiatives. It will rely on new funding requirements, including the WHO’s ability to demand additional funding and materials from countries and to run a supply network to support its work in health emergencies (Article 12): In the event of a pandemic, real-time access by WHO to a minimum of 20% (10% as a donation and 10% at affordable prices to WHO) of the production of safe, efficacious and effective pandemic-related products for distribution based on public health risks and needs, with the understanding that each Party that has manufacturing facilities that produce pandemic-related products in its jurisdiction shall take all necessary steps to facilitate the export of such pandemic-related products, in accordance with timetables to be agreed between WHO and manufacturers. And Article 20 (1): …provide support and assistance to other Parties, upon request, to facilitate the containment of spill-over at the source. The entire structure will be financed by a new funding stream separate from current WHO funding – an additional requirement on taxpayers over current national commitments (Article 20 (2)). The funding will also include an endowment of voluntary contributions of “all relevant sectors that benefit from international work to strengthen pandemic preparation, preparedness and response” and donations from philanthropic organizations (Article 20 (2)b). Currently, countries decide on foreign aid on the basis of national priorities, apart from limited funding that they have agreed to allocate to organizations such as WHO under existing obligations or treaties. The proposed agreement is remarkable not just in greatly increasing the amount countries must give as treaty requirements, but in setting up a parallel funding structure disconnected from other disease priorities (quite the opposite of previous ideas on integration in health financing). It also gives power to an external group, not directly accountable, to demand or acquire further resources whenever it deems necessary. In a further encroachment into what is normally within the legal jurisdiction of Nation States, the agreement will require countries to establish (Article 15) “…, no-fault vaccine injury compensation mechanism(s),…”, consecrating effective immunity for pharmaceutical companies for harm to citizens resulting from use of products that the WHO recommends under an emergency use authorization, or indeed requires countries to mandate onto their citizens. As is becoming increasingly acceptable for those in power, ratifying countries will agree to limit the right of their public to voice opposition to the WHO’s measures and claims regarding such an emergency (Article 18): …and combat false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation, including through effective international collaboration and cooperation… As we have seen during the Covid-19 response, the definition of misleading information can be dependent on political or commercial expediency, including factual information on vaccine efficacy and safety and orthodox immunology that could impair the sale of health commodities. This is why open democracies put such emphasis on defending free speech, even at the risk of sometimes being misleading. In signing on to this agreement, governments will be agreeing to abrogate that principle regarding their own citizens when instructed by the WHO. The scope of this proposed agreement (and the IHR amendments) is broader than pandemics, greatly expanding the scope under which a transfer of decision-making powers can be demanded. Other environmental threats to health, such as changes in climate, can be declared emergencies at the DG’s discretion, if broad definitions of ‘One Health’ are adopted as recommended. It is difficult to think of another international instrument where such powers over national resources are passed to an unelected external organization, and it is even more challenging to envision how this is seen as anything other than a loss of sovereignty. The only justification for this claim would appear to be if the draft agreement is to be signed on the basis of deceit – that there is no intention to treat it other than as an irrelevant piece of paper or something that should only apply to less powerful States (i.e. a colonialist tool). Will the IHR Amendments and the Proposed Pandemic Agreement be Legally Binding? Both texts are intended to be legally binding. The IHR already has such status, so the impact of the proposed changes on the need for new acceptance by countries are complicated national jurisdictional issues. There is a current mechanism for rejection of new amendments. However, unless a high number of countries will actively voice their oppositions and rejections, the adoption of the current published version dated February 2023 will likely lead to a future shadowed by the permanent risks of the WHO’s lockdown and lockstep dictates. The proposed pandemic agreement is also clearly intended to be legally binding. WHO discusses this issue on the website of the International Negotiating Body (INB) that is working on the text. The same legally binding intent is specifically stated by the G20 Bali Leaders Declaration in 2022: We support the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) that will draft and negotiate a legally binding instrument that should contain both legally binding and non-legally binding elements to strengthen pandemic PPR…, repeated in the 2023 G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration: …an ambitious, legally binding WHO convention, agreement or other international instruments on pandemic PPR (WHO CA+) by May 2024, and by the Council of the European Union: A convention, agreement or other international instrument is legally binding under international Law. An agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response adopted under the World Health Organization (WHO) would enable countries around the globe to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. The IHR already has standing under international law. While seeking such status, WHO officials who previously described the proposed agreement as a ‘treaty” are now insisting neither instrument impacts sovereignty. The implication that it is States’ representatives at the WHA that will agree to the transfer, rather than the WHO, is a nuance irrelevant to its claims regarding their subsequent effect. The WHO’s position raises a real question of whether its leadership is truly ignorant of what is proposed, or is actively seeking to mislead countries and the public in order to increase the probability of acceptance. The latest version dated 30 October 2023 requires 40 ratifications for the future agreement to enter into force, after a two-thirds vote in favor within the WHA. Opposition by a considerable number of countries will therefore be needed to derail this project. As it is backed by powerful governments and institutions, financial mechanisms including IMF and World Bank instruments and bilateral aids are likely to make opposition from lower-income countries difficult to sustain. The Implications of Ignoring the Issue of Sovereignty The relevant question regarding these two WHO instruments should really be not whether sovereignty is threatened, but why any sovereignty would be forfeited by democratic States to an organization that is (i) significantly privately funded and bound to obey the dictates of corporations and self-proclaimed philanthropists and (ii) jointly governed by Member States, half of which don’t even claim to be open representative democracies. If it is indeed true that sovereignty is being knowingly forfeited by governments without the knowledge and consent of their peoples, and based on false claims from governments and the WHO, then the implications are extremely serious. It would imply that leaders were working directly against their peoples’ or national interest, and in support of external interests. Most countries have specific fundamental laws dealing with such practice. So, it is really important for those defending these projects to either explain their definitions of sovereignty and democratic process, or explicitly seek informed public consent. The other question to be asked is why public health authorities and media are repeating the WHO’s assurances of the benign nature of the pandemic instruments. It asserts that claims of reduced sovereignty are ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation,’ which they assert elsewhere are major killers of humankind. While such claims are somewhat ludicrous and appear intended to denigrate dissenters, the WHO is clearly guilty of that which it claims is such a crime. If its leadership cannot demonstrate how its claims regarding these pandemic instruments are not deliberately misleading, its leadership would appear ethically compelled to resign. The Need for Clarification The WHO lists three major pandemics in the past century – influenza outbreaks in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The first two killed less than die each year today from tuberculosis, whilst the reported deaths from Covid-19 never reached the level of cancer or cardiovascular disease and remained almost irrelevant in low-income countries compared to endemic infectious diseases including tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDs. No other non-influenza outbreak recorded by the WHO that fits the definition of a pandemic (e.g., rapid spread across international borders for a limited time of a pathogen not normally causing significant harm) has caused greater mortality in total than a few days of tuberculosis (about 4,000/day) or more life-years lost than a few days of malaria (about 1,500 children under 5 years old every day). So, if it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach. We are, after all, talking about restricting basic human rights essential for a democracy to function. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/why-does-the-who-make-false-claims-regarding-proposals-to-seize-states-sovereignty/
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    If it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach.
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  • Rajab: The Forgotten Sacred Month
    We may be well aware of the significance of Ramadan, Syawal, and Zulhijjah, to name a few. However, what about Rajab? In fact, Rajab is one of the four sacred months in Islam.

    We may be well aware of the significance of Ramadan, Syawal, and Zulhijjah, to name a few. However, what about Rajab? In fact, Rajab is one of the four sacred months in Islam.
    The month of Rajab is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar and a prelude to the ninth month, Ramadan. The classical Muslim scholar Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali quoted another scholar, Abu Bakr Al-Warraq, in his book Lataif al-Ma’arif:

    “Rajab is a month of cultivation, Sha'ban is the month of irrigating the fields, and Ramadan is the month of reaping and harvesting.”

    Preparing before the arrival of Ramadan is crucial. Rajab could be the starting point for these preparations. Our deeds can (hope to) be compared to a tree, where the seeds are planted in Rajab, the tree begins to take shape in Sha’ban, and the fruits are harvested in Ramadan.

    Therefore, it is recommended that we take advantage of Rajab so that they may hope to perform well in Ramadan. This article will delve into the origin of "Rajab", significant events that happened in Rajab, and four acts you can perform during this period.

    Hijri month, why is rajab a sacred month

    Etymology of Rajab (the origin of Rajab and the historical development of its meaning)

    The word “Rajab” (رجب) comes from the word 'at-tarjeeb' (الترجيب), which means revered/reverence. The month also goes by Rajab Al-Haram, Rajab Al-Fard, and Rajab Mudhar, just to name a few.

    The reason it is named Rajab Al-Haram (Rajab the sacred one) is because it is one of the four sacred months in Islam, as mentioned in Surah At-Tawbah, verse 36. The Quran states:

    إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِى كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ

    “Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record since the day He created the heavens and the earth—of which four are sacred…”

    (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:36)

    Many classical scholars have interpreted this verse with the accompanying hadith whereby the Prophet s.a.w. mentioned in a hadith:

    إنَّ الزَّمانَ قد استدار كهيئتِه يومَ خَلَق اللهُ السَّمواتِ والأرضَ، السَّنةُ اثنا عَشَرَ شَهرًا، منها أربعةٌ حُرُمٌ، ثلاثٌ متوالياتٌ: ذو القَعْدةِ، وذو الحِجَّةِ، والمحَرَّمُ، ورَجَبُ مُضَرَ الذي بين جُمادى وشَعبانَ

    “Time has completed its cycle and has come to the state of the day when Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year consists of twelve months of which four are inviolable; three of them consecutive - Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram and Rajab, the month of Mudar (tribe), which comes between Jumada and Sha'ban.”

    (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

    Read: Muslim SG | 4 Sacred Months in Islam

    Rajab is also called Rajab Al-Fard (Rajab the single one) because the month is a standalone compared to the other three consecutive months of Zulkaedah, Zulhijjah, and Muharram.

    And finally, it is known as Rajab Mudhar (Rajab of the tribe Mudhar) because historically, there’s a tribe called Mudhar (Bani Mudhar) in the Arabian peninsula, and the tribesmen would often perform their pilgrimage in the month of Rajab as they view the month as sacred and holy.

    During the pre-Islam period, it was a practice of the Arabs to rearrange the months in the calendar wherever they saw fit. However, the tribe Mudhar would not rearrange the month of Rajab and would consistently appoint it accordingly every year, which they became known for.

    Read: 4 Intriguing Things You May Not Know About the Islamic Hijri Calendar

    Islam takes great emphasis on calculating time and not changing it on a whim, which has been the case of many past civilisations. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:

    إِنَّمَا ٱلنَّسِىٓءُ زِيَادَةٌ فِى ٱلْكُفْرِ ۖ يُضَلُّ بِهِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ يُحِلُّونَهُۥ عَامًا وَيُحَرِّمُونَهُۥ عَامًا لِّيُوَاطِـُٔوا۟ عِدَّةَ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ فَيُحِلُّوا۟ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ زُيِّنَ لَهُمْ سُوٓءُ أَعْمَـٰلِهِمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِى ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ

    Reallocating the sanctity of (these) months is an increase in disbelief, by which the disbelievers are led (far) astray. They adjust the sanctity one year and uphold it in another, only to maintain the number of months sanctified by Allah, violating the very months Allah has made sacred. Their evil deeds have been made appealing to them. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.

    (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:37)

    Hence, when the Prophet s.a.w. declared Rajab as Rajab Mudhar, the companions knew the Prophet s.a.w. meant the seventh month of the Hijri lunar calendar.[1]

    One of the 4 sacred months

    Rejab, Hijri month, why is rajab a sacred month

    As it has been established that the month of Rajab is one of the four sacred months in Islam, let us look at why these months are sacred and how we should welcome them.

    Allah s.w.t specifically warns us on this matter:

    يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تُحِلُّوا۟ شَعَـٰٓئِرَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا ٱلشَّهْرَ ٱلْحَرَامَ وَلَا ٱلْهَدْىَ وَلَا ٱلْقَلَـٰٓئِدَ وَلَآ ءَآمِّينَ ٱلْبَيْتَ ٱلْحَرَامَ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلاً مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرِضْوَٰنًا

    “O believers! Do not violate Allah’s rituals (of pilgrimage), the sacred months, the sacrificial animals, the (offerings decorated with) garlands, nor those (pilgrims) on their way to the Sacred House seeking their Lord’s bounty and pleasure.”

    (Surah Al-Maidah, 5:2)

    These months are called sacred for two reasons:

    1. Prohibition of fighting

    Ibn Kathir[2] explains that this warning comes as an instruction for Muslims to observe, respect and honour the sacred months and avoid bad deeds such as fighting. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:

    يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلشَّهْرِ ٱلْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ

    “They ask you (O Prophet) about fighting in the sacred months. Say, “Fighting during these months is a great sin”

    (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:217)

    Rajab, Hijri month, sacred months, rejab

    Historically, even before the advent of Islam, fighting was prohibited within the four sacred months. The sequence of the sacred months appears to be intentionally arranged to provide a safe journey for pilgrims travelling to and from Makkah.

    The month of Zulkaedah is when the pilgrims begin their preparation for the hajj, Zulhijjah is when they perform the hajj rituals, and Muharram is when they return from the hajj pilgrimage.

    On the other hand, Rajab was made sacred to ensure safety for pilgrims performing the minor pilgrimage (umrah).

    Hence, in this spirit, let us strive our best to leave conflict, disputes and animosity as we benefit the best from the sacred month of Rajab.

    2. Prohibition of wronging oneself

    Allah s.w.t. instructed us to observe the sanctity of the sacred months by the prohibition wronging oneself. The Quran states:

    إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِى كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا۟ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ

    “Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record 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…”

    (Surah At-Tawbah 9:36)

    According to Ibn Kathir, sins are worse in general in the sacred months, where their degree is almost akin to sinning within the confines of the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Ibn Abbas states:

    "In all (twelve) months. Allah then chose four out of these months and made them sacred, emphasising their sanctity, making sinning in them greater, in addition to multiplying rewards of righteous deeds during them."

    Important Events That Happened In Rajab

    First hijrah (migration) to Abyssinia

    From the late fourth and into the middle of the fifth year of Muhammad s.a.w’s prophethood, Quraysh slowly but steadily accelerated the persecution and torture of Muslims. It was evident that practising Islam in Makkah was no longer tolerable.

    The Prophet s.a.w. then instructed some Muslims to migrate and seek asylum in the land of Habshah (Abyssinia, modern-day Ethiopia), as the Negus (King) Ashama, was a fair ruler.

    Read: Muslim SG | What Does Islam Really Say About Muslim-Christian Relations?

    Rejab, Hijri month, why is rajab a sacred month

    The first migration consisted of twelve men and four women. Among them was the son-in-law of the Prophet s.a.w, Uthman Ibn Affan r.a. and his wife, Ruqayyah r.a. (the daughter of the Prophet s.a.w.)

    While the news of the migration was made known to Quraysh, the dispatch came too late to stop the migration.[3] Several futile attempts by Quraysh to dissuade the Negus to expel the companions of the Prophet s.a.w. back to Makkah were made but failed. The Negus lived up to his reputation of being a just ruler, and the Muslims lived peacefully and securely from the threats of the Quraysh.

    Read: Muslim SG | Can Muslims Live in a Non-Muslim Country?

    Isra' Mi'raj

    Isra’ and Mi’raj are events referring to the miraculous night journey of the Prophet s.a.w. from Makkah to Jerusalem and then the ascension to heaven.

    Rejab, Hijri month, why is rajab a sacred month

    The journey impacted Muslims as after the ascension to heaven, the Prophet s.a.w. was commanded to teach Muslims to establish the prayers five times a day. The daily prayers became a Pillar of Islam.

    Anas Ibn Malik r.a. reports:

    فُرِضَتْ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيْلَةَ أُسْرِيَ بِهِ الصَّلَوَاتُ خَمْسِينَ ثُمَّ نُقِصَتْ حَتَّى جُعِلَتْ خَمْسًا ثُمَّ نُودِيَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُبَدَّلُ الْقَوْلُ لَدَىَّ وَإِنَّ لَكَ بِهَذِهِ الْخَمْسِ خَمْسِينَ

    "On the Night of Isra, fifty prayers were made obligatory upon the Prophet. Then it was decreased until it was made five. Then it was called out: 'O Muhammad! Indeed My Word does not change; these five prayers will be recorded for you as fifty.'"

    (Sunan At-Tirmizi)

    The journey occurred on the 27th of Rajab and happened a year before the hijrah of the Prophet s.a.w. to Madinah.

    Read: Muslim SG | Isra’ & Mi’raj: The Miraculous Night Journey of the Chosen One

    4 practices you can do in the month of Rajab

    1. Istighfar

    Istighfar, or seeking forgiveness from Allah s.w.t, is considered one of the most important acts of worship for Muslims as it is a means of purifying oneself from sins and seeking protection from Allah s.w.t.

    Rajab, Hijri month, sacred months, rejab

    Read: 8 Ways To Get Closer To Allah

    One should regularly make istighfar as a means to purify oneself from his sins and to also seek protection from the wrath and punishment from Allah s.w.t, as often emphasised by the Prophet s.a.w. In a narration by Ibn ‘Abbas r.a, the Prophet s.a.w. said:

    مَن لَزِمَ الِاسْتِغْفَارَ، جَعَلَ اللهُ لَهُ مِنْ كُلِّ ضِيقٍ مَخْرَجاً وَمِن كُلِّ هَمٍّ فَرَجاً، وَرَزَقَهُ مِن حَيثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ

    "If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not." ‏

    (Sunan Abi Daud)

    Even if the month of Ramadan is only a few months away, that doesn’t mean we have to wait till then to seek forgiveness because, ideally, as Muslims, we should regularly seek forgiveness.

    Read: Muslim SG | Powerful Duas for Forgiveness From Allah

    2. Reconcile

    Islam teaches us to quickly reconcile with our Muslim brethren if there are any disputes between them. It’s emphasised in the Quran:

    إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُواْ بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

    “The believers are but one brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers. And be mindful of Allah so you may be shown mercy.”

    (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:10)

    Rajab, Hijri month, sacred months, rejab

    The Prophet s.a.w. has also mentioned in a hadith:

    لاَ يَحِلُّ لِرَجُلٍ أَنْ يَهْجُرَ أَخَاهُ فَوْقَ ثَلاَثِ لَيَالٍ، يَلْتَقِيَانِ فَيُعْرِضُ هَذَا وَيُعْرِضُ هَذَا، وَخَيْرُهُمَا الَّذِي يَبْدَأُ بِالسَّلاَمِ

    “It is not lawful for a man to desert his brother Muslim for more than three nights. (It is unlawful for them that) when they meet, one of them turns his face away from the other, and the other turns his face from the former, and the better of the two will be the one who greets the other first”

    (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

    Historically, the month of Rajab was known to be a peaceful period as wars and fighting were prohibited. Therefore, we should take this opportunity to reconcile with those whom we have disputes with and make peace with them as it brings not only harmony but also may be a source of help on the Day of Judgement, as mentioned by the Prophet s.a.w. in a hadith narrated by Ibn Umar r.a:

    أنا زعيمٌ ببيتِ في رَبَضِ الجنةِ لمَن تَرَكَ المِراءَ وإن كان مُحِقًّا ، وببيتِ في وسطِ الجنةِ لمَن تركَ الكذبَ وإن كان مازحًا ، وببيتٍ في أعلى الجنةِ لمَن حَسُنَ خُلُقُه

    “I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a home in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.”

    (Sunan Abi Daud)

    3. Fast

    In preparation for the upcoming fasting month, why not start voluntarily fasting on Monday and Thursday? or perhaps the ayyamul bidh (the white days of fasting), which falls on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every hijri month? In a hadith, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said:

    صَوْمُ ثَلاَثَةِ أَيَّامٍ صَوْمُ الدَّهْرِ كُلِّهِ

    “Observing fasting on three days of every month is equivalent to fasting the whole year”

    (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

    Do note, if you have missed prior Ramadan fasts, it is important to prioritise making up the missed fasts as they are wajib (obligatory) while the fasting of white days is sunnah (non-obligatory/non-mandatory).

    Read: Muslim SG | Fasting On The White Days

    We can then follow up with fasting in the next month, Sha’ban. Narrated by Usamah bin Zaid r.a:

    قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَمْ أَرَكَ تَصُومُ شَهْرًا مِنَ الشُّهُورِ مَا تَصُومُ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ‏.‏ قَالَ "‏ذَلِكَ شَهْرٌ يَغْفُلُ النَّاسُ عَنْهُ بَيْنَ رَجَبٍ وَرَمَضَانَ وَهُوَ شَهْرٌ تُرْفَعُ فِيهِ الأَعْمَالُ إِلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ‏"‏

    "I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Sha’ban.' He said: 'That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting."'

    (Sunan An-Nasai)

    Read: Muslim SG | The Virtues and Benefits of The Month of Sha'ban

    4. Prepare for Ramadan

    As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, we can ready ourselves by making a bunch of preparations. We could make a timetable or a daily schedule of what to do in Ramadan, plan meal preps, and many others to set us in the mood of welcoming the month of Ramadan!

    Read: Muslim SG | 8 Tips To Prepare For Ramadan in Rajab

    Rajab, Hijri month, sacred months, rejab

    5. Read the dua for Rajab

    Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali related in his book, Lataif al-Ma'arif, that the companions would supplicate for a safe journey to Ramadan for six months. After Ramadan, they would continue to pray for another six months, asking Allah to accept the acts of worship that they performed throughout the holy month. We can recite the following dua:

    اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي رَجَب، وَشَعْبَانَ، وَبَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَانَ

    Allahumma barik lana fi Rajab wa Sha’ban wa ballighna Ramadan

    “O Allah make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us and let us reach the month of Ramadan.”

    (Musnad Ahmad)

    And the dua:

    اللَّهُمَّ سَلِّمْنِي مِنْ رَمَضَانَ، وَسَلِّمْ رَمَضَانَ لِي، وَتَسَلَّمْهُ مِنِّي مُتَقَبَّلًا

    Allahumma Sallimni min Ramadhan. Wa sallim Ramadhana li. Wa tasallamhu minni mutaqabbala

    “O Allah preserve me for Ramadan, safeguard Ramadan for me and accept it for me.”

    (narrated by Imam At-Tabrani)

    So let's turn to Him, the Most Generous, as we get ready for Ramadan. May Allah s.w.t. accept all of our deeds and make it easier for us to prepare for the holy month this year.

    And Allah knows best.

    References:

    [1] Safa Faruqui, The Benefits and Virtues of Rajab, the Month of Allah. Muslim Hands, 2021. https://muslimhands.org.uk/latest/2021/02/history-importance-and-benefits-of-rajab-in-quran-and-hadith

    [2] Abu Al-Fida’ ‘Imad Ad-Din Ismail Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol. 1

    [3] Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar. 1976. pg.64

    https://muslim.sg/articles/rajab-the-forgotten-sacred-month
    Rajab: The Forgotten Sacred Month We may be well aware of the significance of Ramadan, Syawal, and Zulhijjah, to name a few. However, what about Rajab? In fact, Rajab is one of the four sacred months in Islam. We may be well aware of the significance of Ramadan, Syawal, and Zulhijjah, to name a few. However, what about Rajab? In fact, Rajab is one of the four sacred months in Islam. The month of Rajab is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar and a prelude to the ninth month, Ramadan. The classical Muslim scholar Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali quoted another scholar, Abu Bakr Al-Warraq, in his book Lataif al-Ma’arif: “Rajab is a month of cultivation, Sha'ban is the month of irrigating the fields, and Ramadan is the month of reaping and harvesting.” Preparing before the arrival of Ramadan is crucial. Rajab could be the starting point for these preparations. Our deeds can (hope to) be compared to a tree, where the seeds are planted in Rajab, the tree begins to take shape in Sha’ban, and the fruits are harvested in Ramadan. Therefore, it is recommended that we take advantage of Rajab so that they may hope to perform well in Ramadan. This article will delve into the origin of "Rajab", significant events that happened in Rajab, and four acts you can perform during this period. Hijri month, why is rajab a sacred month Etymology of Rajab (the origin of Rajab and the historical development of its meaning) The word “Rajab” (رجب) comes from the word 'at-tarjeeb' (الترجيب), which means revered/reverence. The month also goes by Rajab Al-Haram, Rajab Al-Fard, and Rajab Mudhar, just to name a few. The reason it is named Rajab Al-Haram (Rajab the sacred one) is because it is one of the four sacred months in Islam, as mentioned in Surah At-Tawbah, verse 36. The Quran states: إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِى كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ “Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record since the day He created the heavens and the earth—of which four are sacred…” (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:36) Many classical scholars have interpreted this verse with the accompanying hadith whereby the Prophet s.a.w. mentioned in a hadith: إنَّ الزَّمانَ قد استدار كهيئتِه يومَ خَلَق اللهُ السَّمواتِ والأرضَ، السَّنةُ اثنا عَشَرَ شَهرًا، منها أربعةٌ حُرُمٌ، ثلاثٌ متوالياتٌ: ذو القَعْدةِ، وذو الحِجَّةِ، والمحَرَّمُ، ورَجَبُ مُضَرَ الذي بين جُمادى وشَعبانَ “Time has completed its cycle and has come to the state of the day when Allah created the heavens and the earth. The year consists of twelve months of which four are inviolable; three of them consecutive - Dhul-Qa'dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram and Rajab, the month of Mudar (tribe), which comes between Jumada and Sha'ban.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) Read: Muslim SG | 4 Sacred Months in Islam Rajab is also called Rajab Al-Fard (Rajab the single one) because the month is a standalone compared to the other three consecutive months of Zulkaedah, Zulhijjah, and Muharram. And finally, it is known as Rajab Mudhar (Rajab of the tribe Mudhar) because historically, there’s a tribe called Mudhar (Bani Mudhar) in the Arabian peninsula, and the tribesmen would often perform their pilgrimage in the month of Rajab as they view the month as sacred and holy. During the pre-Islam period, it was a practice of the Arabs to rearrange the months in the calendar wherever they saw fit. However, the tribe Mudhar would not rearrange the month of Rajab and would consistently appoint it accordingly every year, which they became known for. Read: 4 Intriguing Things You May Not Know About the Islamic Hijri Calendar Islam takes great emphasis on calculating time and not changing it on a whim, which has been the case of many past civilisations. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran: إِنَّمَا ٱلنَّسِىٓءُ زِيَادَةٌ فِى ٱلْكُفْرِ ۖ يُضَلُّ بِهِ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ يُحِلُّونَهُۥ عَامًا وَيُحَرِّمُونَهُۥ عَامًا لِّيُوَاطِـُٔوا۟ عِدَّةَ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ فَيُحِلُّوا۟ مَا حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ زُيِّنَ لَهُمْ سُوٓءُ أَعْمَـٰلِهِمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِى ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلْكَـٰفِرِينَ Reallocating the sanctity of (these) months is an increase in disbelief, by which the disbelievers are led (far) astray. They adjust the sanctity one year and uphold it in another, only to maintain the number of months sanctified by Allah, violating the very months Allah has made sacred. Their evil deeds have been made appealing to them. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people. (Surah At-Tawbah, 9:37) Hence, when the Prophet s.a.w. declared Rajab as Rajab Mudhar, the companions knew the Prophet s.a.w. meant the seventh month of the Hijri lunar calendar.[1] One of the 4 sacred months Rejab, Hijri month, why is rajab a sacred month As it has been established that the month of Rajab is one of the four sacred months in Islam, let us look at why these months are sacred and how we should welcome them. Allah s.w.t specifically warns us on this matter: يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تُحِلُّوا۟ شَعَـٰٓئِرَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا ٱلشَّهْرَ ٱلْحَرَامَ وَلَا ٱلْهَدْىَ وَلَا ٱلْقَلَـٰٓئِدَ وَلَآ ءَآمِّينَ ٱلْبَيْتَ ٱلْحَرَامَ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلاً مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرِضْوَٰنًا “O believers! Do not violate Allah’s rituals (of pilgrimage), the sacred months, the sacrificial animals, the (offerings decorated with) garlands, nor those (pilgrims) on their way to the Sacred House seeking their Lord’s bounty and pleasure.” (Surah Al-Maidah, 5:2) These months are called sacred for two reasons: 1. Prohibition of fighting Ibn Kathir[2] explains that this warning comes as an instruction for Muslims to observe, respect and honour the sacred months and avoid bad deeds such as fighting. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran: يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلشَّهْرِ ٱلْحَرَامِ قِتَالٍ فِيهِ ۖ قُلْ قِتَالٌ فِيهِ كَبِيرٌ “They ask you (O Prophet) about fighting in the sacred months. Say, “Fighting during these months is a great sin” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:217) Rajab, Hijri month, sacred months, rejab Historically, even before the advent of Islam, fighting was prohibited within the four sacred months. The sequence of the sacred months appears to be intentionally arranged to provide a safe journey for pilgrims travelling to and from Makkah. The month of Zulkaedah is when the pilgrims begin their preparation for the hajj, Zulhijjah is when they perform the hajj rituals, and Muharram is when they return from the hajj pilgrimage. On the other hand, Rajab was made sacred to ensure safety for pilgrims performing the minor pilgrimage (umrah). Hence, in this spirit, let us strive our best to leave conflict, disputes and animosity as we benefit the best from the sacred month of Rajab. 2. Prohibition of wronging oneself Allah s.w.t. instructed us to observe the sanctity of the sacred months by the prohibition wronging oneself. The Quran states: إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِى كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا۟ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ “Indeed, the number of months ordained by Allah is twelve—in Allah’s Record 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…” (Surah At-Tawbah 9:36) According to Ibn Kathir, sins are worse in general in the sacred months, where their degree is almost akin to sinning within the confines of the Holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Ibn Abbas states: "In all (twelve) months. Allah then chose four out of these months and made them sacred, emphasising their sanctity, making sinning in them greater, in addition to multiplying rewards of righteous deeds during them." Important Events That Happened In Rajab First hijrah (migration) to Abyssinia From the late fourth and into the middle of the fifth year of Muhammad s.a.w’s prophethood, Quraysh slowly but steadily accelerated the persecution and torture of Muslims. It was evident that practising Islam in Makkah was no longer tolerable. The Prophet s.a.w. then instructed some Muslims to migrate and seek asylum in the land of Habshah (Abyssinia, modern-day Ethiopia), as the Negus (King) Ashama, was a fair ruler. Read: Muslim SG | What Does Islam Really Say About Muslim-Christian Relations? Rejab, Hijri month, why is rajab a sacred month The first migration consisted of twelve men and four women. Among them was the son-in-law of the Prophet s.a.w, Uthman Ibn Affan r.a. and his wife, Ruqayyah r.a. (the daughter of the Prophet s.a.w.) While the news of the migration was made known to Quraysh, the dispatch came too late to stop the migration.[3] Several futile attempts by Quraysh to dissuade the Negus to expel the companions of the Prophet s.a.w. back to Makkah were made but failed. The Negus lived up to his reputation of being a just ruler, and the Muslims lived peacefully and securely from the threats of the Quraysh. Read: Muslim SG | Can Muslims Live in a Non-Muslim Country? Isra' Mi'raj Isra’ and Mi’raj are events referring to the miraculous night journey of the Prophet s.a.w. from Makkah to Jerusalem and then the ascension to heaven. Rejab, Hijri month, why is rajab a sacred month The journey impacted Muslims as after the ascension to heaven, the Prophet s.a.w. was commanded to teach Muslims to establish the prayers five times a day. The daily prayers became a Pillar of Islam. Anas Ibn Malik r.a. reports: فُرِضَتْ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَيْلَةَ أُسْرِيَ بِهِ الصَّلَوَاتُ خَمْسِينَ ثُمَّ نُقِصَتْ حَتَّى جُعِلَتْ خَمْسًا ثُمَّ نُودِيَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُبَدَّلُ الْقَوْلُ لَدَىَّ وَإِنَّ لَكَ بِهَذِهِ الْخَمْسِ خَمْسِينَ "On the Night of Isra, fifty prayers were made obligatory upon the Prophet. Then it was decreased until it was made five. Then it was called out: 'O Muhammad! Indeed My Word does not change; these five prayers will be recorded for you as fifty.'" (Sunan At-Tirmizi) The journey occurred on the 27th of Rajab and happened a year before the hijrah of the Prophet s.a.w. to Madinah. Read: Muslim SG | Isra’ & Mi’raj: The Miraculous Night Journey of the Chosen One 4 practices you can do in the month of Rajab 1. Istighfar Istighfar, or seeking forgiveness from Allah s.w.t, is considered one of the most important acts of worship for Muslims as it is a means of purifying oneself from sins and seeking protection from Allah s.w.t. Rajab, Hijri month, sacred months, rejab Read: 8 Ways To Get Closer To Allah One should regularly make istighfar as a means to purify oneself from his sins and to also seek protection from the wrath and punishment from Allah s.w.t, as often emphasised by the Prophet s.a.w. In a narration by Ibn ‘Abbas r.a, the Prophet s.a.w. said: مَن لَزِمَ الِاسْتِغْفَارَ، جَعَلَ اللهُ لَهُ مِنْ كُلِّ ضِيقٍ مَخْرَجاً وَمِن كُلِّ هَمٍّ فَرَجاً، وَرَزَقَهُ مِن حَيثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ "If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not." ‏ (Sunan Abi Daud) Even if the month of Ramadan is only a few months away, that doesn’t mean we have to wait till then to seek forgiveness because, ideally, as Muslims, we should regularly seek forgiveness. Read: Muslim SG | Powerful Duas for Forgiveness From Allah 2. Reconcile Islam teaches us to quickly reconcile with our Muslim brethren if there are any disputes between them. It’s emphasised in the Quran: إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُواْ بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ “The believers are but one brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers. And be mindful of Allah so you may be shown mercy.” (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:10) Rajab, Hijri month, sacred months, rejab The Prophet s.a.w. has also mentioned in a hadith: لاَ يَحِلُّ لِرَجُلٍ أَنْ يَهْجُرَ أَخَاهُ فَوْقَ ثَلاَثِ لَيَالٍ، يَلْتَقِيَانِ فَيُعْرِضُ هَذَا وَيُعْرِضُ هَذَا، وَخَيْرُهُمَا الَّذِي يَبْدَأُ بِالسَّلاَمِ “It is not lawful for a man to desert his brother Muslim for more than three nights. (It is unlawful for them that) when they meet, one of them turns his face away from the other, and the other turns his face from the former, and the better of the two will be the one who greets the other first” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) Historically, the month of Rajab was known to be a peaceful period as wars and fighting were prohibited. Therefore, we should take this opportunity to reconcile with those whom we have disputes with and make peace with them as it brings not only harmony but also may be a source of help on the Day of Judgement, as mentioned by the Prophet s.a.w. in a hadith narrated by Ibn Umar r.a: أنا زعيمٌ ببيتِ في رَبَضِ الجنةِ لمَن تَرَكَ المِراءَ وإن كان مُحِقًّا ، وببيتِ في وسطِ الجنةِ لمَن تركَ الكذبَ وإن كان مازحًا ، وببيتٍ في أعلى الجنةِ لمَن حَسُنَ خُلُقُه “I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a home in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.” (Sunan Abi Daud) 3. Fast In preparation for the upcoming fasting month, why not start voluntarily fasting on Monday and Thursday? or perhaps the ayyamul bidh (the white days of fasting), which falls on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every hijri month? In a hadith, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said: صَوْمُ ثَلاَثَةِ أَيَّامٍ صَوْمُ الدَّهْرِ كُلِّهِ “Observing fasting on three days of every month is equivalent to fasting the whole year” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) Do note, if you have missed prior Ramadan fasts, it is important to prioritise making up the missed fasts as they are wajib (obligatory) while the fasting of white days is sunnah (non-obligatory/non-mandatory). Read: Muslim SG | Fasting On The White Days We can then follow up with fasting in the next month, Sha’ban. Narrated by Usamah bin Zaid r.a: قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَمْ أَرَكَ تَصُومُ شَهْرًا مِنَ الشُّهُورِ مَا تَصُومُ مِنْ شَعْبَانَ‏.‏ قَالَ "‏ذَلِكَ شَهْرٌ يَغْفُلُ النَّاسُ عَنْهُ بَيْنَ رَجَبٍ وَرَمَضَانَ وَهُوَ شَهْرٌ تُرْفَعُ فِيهِ الأَعْمَالُ إِلَى رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ فَأُحِبُّ أَنْ يُرْفَعَ عَمَلِي وَأَنَا صَائِمٌ‏"‏ "I said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Sha’ban.' He said: 'That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting."' (Sunan An-Nasai) Read: Muslim SG | The Virtues and Benefits of The Month of Sha'ban 4. Prepare for Ramadan As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, we can ready ourselves by making a bunch of preparations. We could make a timetable or a daily schedule of what to do in Ramadan, plan meal preps, and many others to set us in the mood of welcoming the month of Ramadan! Read: Muslim SG | 8 Tips To Prepare For Ramadan in Rajab Rajab, Hijri month, sacred months, rejab 5. Read the dua for Rajab Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali related in his book, Lataif al-Ma'arif, that the companions would supplicate for a safe journey to Ramadan for six months. After Ramadan, they would continue to pray for another six months, asking Allah to accept the acts of worship that they performed throughout the holy month. We can recite the following dua: اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِي رَجَب، وَشَعْبَانَ، وَبَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَانَ Allahumma barik lana fi Rajab wa Sha’ban wa ballighna Ramadan “O Allah make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us and let us reach the month of Ramadan.” (Musnad Ahmad) And the dua: اللَّهُمَّ سَلِّمْنِي مِنْ رَمَضَانَ، وَسَلِّمْ رَمَضَانَ لِي، وَتَسَلَّمْهُ مِنِّي مُتَقَبَّلًا Allahumma Sallimni min Ramadhan. Wa sallim Ramadhana li. Wa tasallamhu minni mutaqabbala “O Allah preserve me for Ramadan, safeguard Ramadan for me and accept it for me.” (narrated by Imam At-Tabrani) So let's turn to Him, the Most Generous, as we get ready for Ramadan. May Allah s.w.t. accept all of our deeds and make it easier for us to prepare for the holy month this year. And Allah knows best. References: [1] Safa Faruqui, The Benefits and Virtues of Rajab, the Month of Allah. Muslim Hands, 2021. https://muslimhands.org.uk/latest/2021/02/history-importance-and-benefits-of-rajab-in-quran-and-hadith [2] Abu Al-Fida’ ‘Imad Ad-Din Ismail Ibn Kathir, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol. 1 [3] Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar. 1976. pg.64 https://muslim.sg/articles/rajab-the-forgotten-sacred-month
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