ISLAMIC CALENDAROf all the calendars mentioned in Part I, Hijrah alone, which is the Muslim divine calendar, is unique for its eventfulness and clear historical background. Its dating began on the 16th of July 622 CE a day after the migration of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from Makkah to Yathrib (Al Madinah). After a non-such persecution and threats to his life by the Makkah pagans, the messiah of mankind had to migrate for the safety of his life and, by implication, for the rescue of humanity from the wildness of inchoation.
The Islamic calendar, Muslim calendar or Hijri calendar (AH) is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days. Whereas every month of Hijrah calendar has spiritual importance apart from the universality of its blessings for mankind, its effect from 622 CE is only symbolic of modernity as it actually came into existence over 5,000,000 years ago when it was decreed and its months were christened by Allah Himself. The Qur‘an testifies to this as follows: “Surely, the number of months with Allah is twelve months in one year in Allah’s decree since the day when Allah created the Heavens and earth. Of these months four are sacred (Muharram, Rajab, Dhul- Qa‘dah and Dhul-Hijjah). This is the only straight and righteous path”. (Q. 9: 36). No other calendar can be so referenced in any revealed Book other than the Qur’an.
The twelve Hijri months are named as follows in Arabic:
- Muḥarram (المحرّم meaning "forbidden"), so called because battle was forbidden (haram) during this month. Muharram includes the Day of Ashura.
- Ṣafar (صفر meaning "void"), supposedly named thus because pagan Arab houses were empty this time of year while their occupants gathered food.
- Rabīʿ I (Rabīʿ al-Awwal, ربيع الأوّل) meaning "the first spring".
- Rabīʿ II (Rabīʿ ath-Thānī ربيع الثاني or Rabīʿ al-Ākhir ربيع الآخر) meaning "the second (or last) spring".
- Jumādā I (Jumādā al-Ūlā, جمادى الأولى meaning "the first month of parched land"). Often considered the pre-Islamic "summer".
- Jumādā II (Jumādā ath-Thāniya جمادى الثانية or Jumādā al-Ākhira جمادى الآخرة) meaning "the second (or last) month of parched land".
- Rajab (رجب meaning "respect", "honor"). This is another sacred month in which fighting was traditionally forbidden.
- Shaʿbān (شعبان meaning "scattered"). Marked the time of year when Arab tribes dispersed to find water.
- Ramaḍān (رمضان meaning "scorched"). Ramadan is the most venerated month of the Hijri calendar. During this time, Muslims must fast from dawn till sunset and should give charity to the poor.
- Shawwāl (شوّال meaning "raised"). She-camels normally would be in calf at this time of year.
- Dhū al-Qaʿda (ذو القعدة meaning "the one of truce"). Dhu al-Qa'da was another month during which war was banned.
- Dhū al-Ḥijja (ذو الحجّة meaning "the one of pilgrimage"). The month in which the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj) occurs.
Thus, the significance of Hijrah calendar is manifest not only in the eventfulness of its historical background but also in the divinity of its months. Unlike other calendars which were imposed for the purpose of worshipping material gods or to subject people to psychological subservience, Hijrah calendar is an evidential indication of human salvation. And besides, it has divine sanction.
In Arabic, as in Hebrew, the "first day" of the week corresponds with Sunday of the planetary week. The Islamic weekdays, like those in the Hebrew and Baha'i calendars, begin at sunset, whereas the medieval Christian and planetary weekdays begin at the following midnight. The Christian liturgical day, however, kept in monasteries, begins with vespers (see vesper), which is evening, in line with the other Abrahamic traditions.
But by far the most authentic of them all is Hijrah calendar because of its uniqueness and eventfulness as authenticated by its clear historical background. The idea of putting this calendar into use was suggested by Caliph Umar Bn Khattab in Madinah as a historic landmark for Islamic religion. And it has since been in use throughout the Muslim world especially in determining the beginnings and ends of every lunar month as well as Muslim festivals…….(conclusion)
· Glassé, Cyril (2001). The New Encyclopedia of Islam, pp. 98–99. Rowman Altamira. ISBN 0-7591-0190-6.
· Muhammad Aurang Zeb Mughal (2014). Calendars Tell History: Social Rhythm and Social Change in Rural Pakistan. History and Anthropology.