The Islamic Calendar and Its Virtues

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    Islamic Calendar is very important to all Muslims around the world although it is sad to note that some of us do not follow it. This calendar has a good reflection on our religion that is why we are encouraged to follow it as Allah says in the Holy Qura’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….” (Q: 9:36).

    The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in many Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.

    As Muslims, we do not traditionally “celebrate” the beginning of a new year, but we do acknowledge the passing of time, and take time to reflect on our own mortality.

    This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the Hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Madinah (approximately July 622 A.D.).

    Who Introduced the Islamic Calendar?…when?

    If we go deep into the history of the Islamic Calendar, we will find that it derives from the order set by the Almighty Allah Taala on the day he created the heavens and the earth. Allah says in the Holy 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).

    The calendar’s system was first introduced by the close companion of the Prophet, ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab. During his leadership of the Muslim community, in approximately 638 A.D., he consulted with his advisors in order to come to a decision regarding the various dating systems used at that time. It was agreed that the most appropriate reference point for the Islamic calendar was the Hijrah, since it was an important turning point for the Muslim community. After the emigration to Madinah, the Muslims were able to organize and establish the first real Muslim “community,” with social, political, and economic independence. Life in Madinah allowed the Muslim community to mature and strengthen, and the people developed an entire society based on Islamic principles.

    The Islamic year has twelve months that are based on a lunar cycle. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an

    “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 of the first day, the day when the lunar crescent is visually sighted. 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 and their meaning:

    1. Muharram (“Forbidden” – it is one of the four months during which it is forbidden to wage war or fight)

    2. Safar (“Empty” or “Yellow”)

    3. Rabiul Awal (“First spring”)

    4. Rabiul Thani (“Second spring”)

    5. Jumaadul Awal (“First freeze”)

    6. Jumaadul Thani (“Second freeze”)

    7. Rajab (“To respect” – this is another holy month when fighting is prohibited)

    8. Sha’ban (“To spread and distribute”)

    9. Ramadan (“Parched thirst” – this is the month of daytime fasting)

    10. Shawwal (“To be light and vigorous”)

    11. Dhul-Qa’dah (“The month of rest” – another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

    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)