In the first place, we would like to stress that Safar is the name of the second month in the Hijri Calendar. It follows the month of Muharram. The word “safar” is said to be derived from the Arabic word “isfar”, which means emptiness. This refers to Makkah’s emptiness in that month, when its inhabitants used to travel. It is also said that the Arabs name the month Safar as before the advent of Islam, the people of Makkah used to invade other tribes in that month and leave people void of any property. There are many sayings regarding this.
Some people spread false claims about some tribulations that take place on the last Wednesday of the month of Safar, while others offer special supererogatory acts of worship in that month in particular. Both cases have no Islamic basis; they are rather innovations that must be abandoned.
The late Saudi scholar, Sheikh Ibn `Uthaymeen, (may Allah bless his soul), states the following:
“There are many senses for the word “safar” in Arabic. In the first place, it refers to the second month in the Hijri calendar. Before Islam, the Arabs used to think of the month of Safar as bringing bad tidings. Secondly, the word “safar” may also refer to a contagious abdominal disease of camels. Thirdly, it may be referring to the postponement of the sacred month of Muharram. There is a reference to this in the Glorious Qur’an when Allah Almighty says: “Postponement (of a sacred month) is only an excess of disbelief whereby those who disbelieve are misled, they allow it one year and forbid it (another) year, that they may make up the number of the months which Allah hath hallowed, so that they allow that which Allah hath forbidden. The evil of their deeds is made fair-seeming unto them. Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk.” (At-Tawbah: 37)
The most suitable sense for the word is the first. That is, it is mainly used to refer to the month in the year, that which was a herald of bad tidings for the disbelievers before Islam. However, time has nothing to do with Allah’s predestined decree. Hence, Safar is like any other month. It witnesses both good and bad events.
Some ignorant people claim that on the last Wednesday in Safar, man should perform four rak`ahs of supererogatory prayer in the period from after sunrise and before zuhr. They say that such prayer is ended with one tashahhud, and in each rak`ah one recites Surat Al-Fatihah, followed by Surat Al-Kawthar seventeen times, Surat Al-Ikhlas fifteen times, and Surat Al-Falaq and Surat An-Nas once each. This is repeated every rak`ah. Finally, one ends that prayer with one Taslimah (saying as-salamu `alaykum) to the right side only.
After concluding the prayer, one recites the following verse: “And Allah was predominant in his career, but most of mankind know not.” (Yusuf: 21) 360 times. Then one says: “Glory be to Thy Lord, the Lord of the Honor and Power! (He is free) from what they ascribe (to Him)! And peace be on the Messengers! And praise be to Allah, the Lord and Cherisher of the worlds.” Then one gives some bread in charity to the poor.
It is also claimed that in every year about 320,000 tribulations take place on earth on the last Wednesday of Safar and, thus, it is the most tiresome day in the whole year. Ignorant people say that whoever offers the four rak`ahs of prayer mentioned above will be saved by Allah’s Grace from the tribulations of that day.
Undoubtedly, the aforementioned supererogatory prayer has no basis either in the Qur’an or in the Prophetic Sunnah. Also, none of the righteous predecessors or of the contemporary scholars have performed such a prayer or permitted people to perform it. Rather, it is no more than an abominable innovation in matters of religion.
In this concern, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “He who innovates something in our religion that is not part of it, will have it rejected.”
Then, whosoever ascribes such falsehood to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) or to any of his righteous Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) is in fact making a great lie and, thus, deserves Allah’s wrath and will receive the punishment of the liars.”
Moreover, Sheikh Muhammad `Abdus-Salam Ash-Shaqiri, in his book As-Sunan Wal-Mubtada`at, adds:
“Ignorant people used to write some specific verses which indicate salam or peace, such as “Peace be unto Noah among the peoples!” (As-Saffat: 79). On the last Wednesday of the month of Safar, they used to write such verses on the inner walls of some containers, dissolve the ink in water and drink it and give it as a present to dear people to bring blessings and ward off evil.
This is a false belief, and people’s pessimism on that day is blameworthy and all such claims about tribulations are no more than a matter of heresy in religion. So if anyone sees another observing such abominable customs in relation to the last Wednesday of Safar, he must prevent him from doing so, showing him the abhorrence of his deed.”