جزاک اللہ خیر
History behind the Islamic calendar
As we follow the lunar calendar, let us learn the significance of the motion of the moon and how it affects us. Allah Ta’ala states in the Holy Qur’an:
“It is He Who created the sun radiating and the moon shining and appointed positions for it, for you to know the number of the years, and the account; Allah has not created it except with the truth; He explains the verses in detail for the people of knowledge.” [Surah Yunus]
“They ask you, (O dear Prophet Mohammed – Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam), regarding the crescents (moon); say, "They are indicators of time for mankind and for Hajj (the pilgrimage)”
In the above verses it is indicated that the movement of the moon helps us establish the system of time, years and also its account.
Qu’ran is the complete code of conduct, which guides us in every aspect of our life. We need to organise our time in such a way that we can do our day to day business, worship and also have enough rest. These days we divide our time according to hours and minutes but in the olden days there were no clocks and no such concept of time. Then how did people in those days manage their time and schedule? The answer lies in the Holy Qur’an where Allah Ta’ala has guided us that the rotation and revolution of the sun and the moon is not only the source of energy and light but it also helps to determine the time for Hajj and other purposes. Even the modern concept of time that we use today is based on the movement of the sun and the moon.
Unfortunately there are people who try to paint Islam as a backward religion. They boast about their developments in science and technology, but they need to see how Allah Ta’ala, more than fourteen centuries ago, outlined the purpose of the sun and moon and highlighted the concept of time. And in the same way, Qur’an has provided the base for all the research and developments that we see today.
After reading briefly about the moon and its significance, it would be beneficial to look at the system of months in Islam. The twelve months that we know of is not the invention of any scientist but it is from Allah Ta’ala and it has been continuing since the day Allah created the heavens and the lands. Allah Ta’ala states,
‘Indeed the number of months before Allah is twelve - in the Book of Allah - since the day He created the heavens and the earth, of which four are sacred; this the straight religion; so do not wrong yourselves in those months; and constantly fight against the polytheists as they constantly fight against you; and know well that Allah is with the pious.’ [Taubah 9:36]
So Which Are Those Four Months?
Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique RadiyAllahu Anhu narrates that on the day of sacrifice, that is the 10th of Zill-Hajj, Rasoolallah Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam gave a sermon in which he stated that after a complete cycle, the world has come to its original position, just as it was on the day the lands and skies were made. The year is made of twelve months, of which four are sacred. Three are consecutive, Zil-Qa’dah, Zil-Hajj and Muharram-ul-Haram and the fourth is Rajab-ul-Murajjab, which falls between Jamadis-Sani and Sha’ban-ul-Muazzam. [Tafseer-e-Mazhari, Tafseer-e-Roohul Bayan]
Why are these months sacred?
The reason for the sacredness of these months is that in them, the rewards for good deeds are increased; in the same way the punishment of sins is also multiplied. Thus, in these months, we need to make extra efforts to do more good deeds and stay away from all sorts of sins.
Muharram-ul-Haram is an elevated month for various reasons, but most believers, due to their negligence on the importance of this month, are deprived of its blessings. Therefore, in this book, we explain the significance of this month and outline a way on how to spend it in order for the reader to act accordingly and become worthy of gaining the immense blessings and rewards hidden in this month.
Even though we use the solar (Christian) calendar for our day to day business, our worship depends on the lunar calendar. May it be Fasting, Hajj or the fulfilment of Zakaah, or ‘Iddat’ of a woman whose husbands dies, in all cases the lunar month should be taken into consideration. It is interesting to note that because the number of days in a lunar month is not consistent, the period of worship does not fall in a particular season. Sometimes we may have long fast of summer and Hajj could fall in winter and vice versa, thus giving us the benefit of worshipping our Lord in all seasons.
Thus it is Farze Kifayah to witness the moon of each month, which means that it is obligatory for at least some members of a city or town to witness the moon. And strict guidelines of Shariah should be followed in this matter as new measures are adopted by communities and nations which completely contradict the rules of Shariah. People are keen to celebrate Eid on the same day throughout the world, this is of course desirable, but the laws of Shariah should not be compromised to achieve this.
Now let us learn the names of the twelve Islamic months and also teach our children.
3. Rabi ul Awwal
4. Rabi ul Aakhir
5. Jamadil Awwal
6. Jamadil Aakhir
11. Zil Qa’dah
12. Zil Hajj
Why and When our Hijri calendar began
At this point it would be worthy to note as to why and when Hijri calendar began. It was a custom of the Arabs that they would name the year according to any important incident which took place that year. For example, the year in which Makkah was attacked by Abrahaa who came to destroy the Holy Ka’bah, is called Aam ul Feel, meaning the year of Feel (Feel are the birds sent by Allah Ta’lah to destroy Abrahaa and his army). The year in which Hazrat Khadija RadiyAllahu Anha and Janab Abu Taalib died is remembered as Aam ul Huzn (the year of mourning). But there was no number or name to each year which of course caused a lot of confusion.
In his era, the second Caliph, Hazrat Umar Farooq e Aazam RadiyAllahu Anhu received a letter in which the month was mentioned but not the year. This caused him to call a meeting with the other companions so that this confusion could be ended for ever and so that Islamic history could be preserved correctly. They decided that the year should start with an important event. Hazrat Ali RadiyAllahu Anhu advised that the most important even in the lifetime of RasoolAllah Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam was his ‘hijrah’ that is migration from Makkah to Madinah. They all unanimously agreed that the Islalmic year should start from the day of migration. But there was a glitch.
The first month should be Muharram and the migration did not take place in that month. But Hazrat Usman Gani RadiyAllahu Anhu came up with a simple solution to leave Muharram as the first month and backdate the beginning of the Hijri year to the day of migraton. Thus the Hijri calendar came into effect on 20th Jamadil Aakhir 21 Hijri corresponding to 9th July 638 AD.
This shows how important the life of RasoolAllah Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam was in the eyes of the companions and also the significance of establishing an Islamic system, even though a calendar did exist in those days, they established an Islamic calendar.
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