1.Origin of Islamic Calendar - Part 1
2. Related Verses of Holy Quran and Hadiths - Appendix
3. Facts about the moon - Appendix
4 Difference of Opinions in Interpreting Hadiths - Part 2
5. Fuqaha Positions on Regional and Global Sighting - Part 3
‘Ikhtilaf vs. Ittihad al-Matali
6. The Excellence of Friday
Origin of Islamic Calendar
At the dawn of Islam there were no watches or printed calendars and different dating systems were in use. Illiteracy and ignorance were so prevalent that many Ulemas refer to the era before revelation of Holy Quran as an era of ignorance!. To measure time the gnomon (shadow clock), a vertical stick or shaft that casts a shadow were being used. Methods of measuring hours in the absence of sunlight included the notched candle and the Chinese practice of burning a knotted rope. Other ancient devices include the hourglass and the water or sand clock, in which the flow of water or sand indicated passage of time. The mechanical clocks were developed in the 14th century AD.
The Jews in Arabia were using an unscientific Lunisolar calendar taken from the ancient Hebrew calendar. That has been modified and is the official calendar of the modern state of Israel and is used by Jewish people throughout the world as a religious calendar.
The Islamic year has twelve months that are based on a lunar cycle. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) - so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth...." (9:36).
"It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory, and the moon to be a light of beauty, and measured out stages for it, that you might know the number of years and the count of time. Allah did not create this except in truth and righteousness. And He explains His signs in detail, for those who understand" (10:5).
And in his final sermon before his death, the Prophet Muhammad said, among other things, "With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumaada and Sha'ban."
Islamic months begin at sunset, on the day when the lunar crescent is visually sighted. Because of centuries old practice of looking for the lunar crescent to determine if the new month has begun, different months begin and end on different weekdays in different countries/communities and usually a gap of one to three days occurs.
The lunar year is approximately 354 days long, so the months rotate backward through the seasons and are not fixed to the Gregorian calendar. The months of the Islamic year are:
1: Muharram ["Forbidden" -
it is one of the four months
2: Safar ["Empty" or "Yellow"]
3: Rabia Awal ["First spring"]
4: Rabia Thani ["Second spring"]
5: Jumaada Awal ["First freezing"]
6: Jumaada Thani ["Second freezing"]
7: Rajab ["To respect" - this
is another holy month when
8: Sha'ban ["To spread and distribute"]
9: Ramadan ["Parched thirst"
- this is the month of
10: Shawwal ["To be light and vigorous"]
11: Dhul-Qi'dah ["The month
of rest" - another month
12: Dhul-Hijjah ["The month of Hajj" - this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed]
|The number of days in each month is adjusted
throughout the year in accordance with each lunar cycle. The beginning
of the Muslim year retrogresses through the solar year, completing a full
cycle every 32 1/2 years.
A month consists of 29 days or 30 days depending upon appearance of crescent. The old traditional way, which is also mentioned in hadiths, to determine, if a new month has begun was and still is in many communities, to look for crescent every 29 days. If the crescent is seen the month ends on 29th day and the new month is begun from the same evening. If the crescent is not seen the month is regarded to have 30 days and the month ends the after sunset in the evening of 30th day.
In many Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, the calendars are printed for civil or planning purposes. They are based on astronomical calculations for scientific estimates of the visibility of the lunar crescent earliest on earth or for a given location such as Mecca. In Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India etc. the printed calendars are adjusted based on sighting the crescent on 29th day of the Islamic month for religious occasions.
Beginning of Hijri Calendar
The Hijrah, i.e. the migration of
the Prophet Muhammad (SWS) from Makkah to Madinah in September 622 C.E
was turning point in the Islamic history. The Holy Prophet Muhammad
(SWS) in his preaching also advocated improving the lot of slaves, orphans,
women, and the poor and giving up idolatry and embrace Islam. The infidels
and idolaters offered him bribe to give up his preaching but he kept on
preaching and thus the infidels were angered and became his enemies. They
plotted to kill the Holy Prophet and thus he migrated secretly to Medina,
a city about 300 km (about 186 mi) to the north. This journey became
known as the Hegira (Hijra) and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar.
Islamic calendar does not conform to seasons like the Gregorian calendar. Thus the month of Ramazan as also other months fall in every season as the Islamic year retrogresses through the solar year, completing a full cycle every 32 1/2 years.
As the year in the Islamic calendar is
about 11 days shorter than the year in the Christian calendar, the Islamic
years are slowly gaining in on the Christian years. But it will take thousands
of years before the two coincide. The 1st May of the year 20874 AD under
the Gregorian calendar is estimated to be the 1st day of Jumaada Awal of
the year 20874 of the Islamic calendar. Let us hope the dooms day
does not occur before that.
The following extract from the web sitehttp://www.tondering.dk
answers this question.
Holy Quran in verse 009.037 prohibited transposition or adjustments of months and in verse 055.005 indicates that the sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed. In verse 009.036 it is shown that the number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year)- four of them are sacred: Click here to read the related verses and hadiths.
Hindu calendar is used by Hindus in India for their festivals and dating in its classic form from the fourth century A.D. The solar year is divided into 12 lunar months in accordance with the successive entrances of the sun into the signs of the zodiac, the months varying in length from 29 to 32 days.
For preparation of calendars the astronomers have been studying and measuring the the movements of moon and earth and the regular appearances of the sun and the moon. A day is reckoned as the average time taken for one rotation of the earth on its axis. The measurement of a year is based on one revolution of the earth around the sun and is called a seasonal, tropical, or solar year. A solar year contains 365 days, 5 hr, 48 min, and 45.5 sec.
However, ancient peoples calculated a month as the time between two full moons. This measurement, called a synodic, or lunar month, resulted in a lunar year of 354 days, which is 11¼ days shorter than a solar year.
In modern calendars, the length of the months is approximately one twelfth of a year (28 to 31 days) and is adjusted to fit the 12 months into a solar year. The week comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition requiring rest from work and labor every seventh day i.e. Sunday for Christians. Muslims give special significance to Friday. See the hadith at the end of this chapter.
The ancient Roman calendar was causing much confusion as the officials responsible for adding days and months abused their authority to prolong their terms of office or to hasten or delay elections. In 45 BC Julius Caesar decided to use a purely solar calendar known as the Julian calendar. It established the order of the months and the days of the week as they exist in present-day calendars. It fixed the normal year at 365 days, and the leap year, every fourth year, at 366 days, with the extra day in February.
In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII modified the Julian Calendar and adopted the Gregorian calendar, which provided that century years divisible evenly by 400 should be leap years, with 29 days in February. Thus, 1600 was a leap year, but 1700 and 1800 were common years. The Gregorian calendar is used today throughout most of the Western world and in different continents as well as for International trade and other social and political affairs. The Gregorian calendar is also called the Christian calendar because it uses the birth of Jesus Christ as a starting date. Dates of the Christian era are often labeled AD (Latin anno domini,”in the year of our Lord”) and BC (before Christ).
Updated 3rd November, 2006