The basis of the Hijra calendar, which is the Islamic calendar, is the Moon. One cycle of the Moon around the Earth measured with the Sun as the reference point, marks its months. The Manazil or phases of the Moon mark the dates, which may be 29 or 30 solar days depending on the duration of the Moon’s cycle. The phases (Ahillah) are related to the Manazil (positions) of the Moon. It will be seen that a change in the position of the Moon in relation to the Sun alters the phase according to the angular distance between the Sun and the Moon observed from the Earth. The Qur’aan explains this in the chapter Yaseen called the heart of the Qur’aan. “And for the Moon we have appointed Manazil (positions) till it returned like the old ‘Urjoon’ (withered date stalk).” (36:39).
The Earth, our home has only one moon. The Earth perambulates the Sun and the Moon perambulates the Earth. There are other objects also like the Earth that perambulates the Sun. We know eight of them excluding the Earth, five of these can be seen by the naked eye. They are called planets. The other planets too have Moons. These moons are known as Satellites. The Qur’aan says that all these heavenly bodies float in their orbits uner precise calculations. “The Sun, it is not possible for it to catch the Moon and the night is not the forerunner of the day and everything floats in an orbit.” (36:40) we too perambulate the Ka’aba, the Centre of Islam just as the planets go round the Sun anticlockwise!
We see the same Moon from the Earth. The moons and the planets do not glow by themselves like the Sun, which is a star. They reflect the Sun’s light that falls on it. We begin the count of the Moon’s cycle around the earth when the moon comes just straight to the sun and when it comes again to this position we count one month. The Sun’s light falls on the opposite side which is straight to the Sun. The lighted side is not seen in this position to those who are straight to the sun. This is known as the new moon.
There is a difference of about 5 degrees in the plain of the Moon’s orbit, so the shadow of the Moon does not fall on the Earth at the end of every cycle (month). Only when the crossing coincides in a line with the end of the cycle the shadow falls on the Earth and the Earth experiences a solar eclipse. Since all these bodies are moving continuously this position changes almost in a moment and a small portion of the lighted part of the Moon must appear to the Earth. This is the appearance of the Hilal, which the Qur’aan calls the ‘Urjoon al qadeem’. Qur’aan does not use the word ‘Hilal’. (See the diagram).
The birth of the new moon can be likened to the birth of a child. This happens in a moment. But the people see it after a long time depending on the position, atmosphere, weather and any other factors. This seeing may differ from place to place age-to-age and man-to-man. This seeing cannot be used for measuring the month or the predestined cycle of the Moon. The basic principle that defines the month is the measure of the cycle of the Moon. The month should be 29 or 30 days according to the Manazil of the moon as per the instructions of the Prophet (saw).
The Arabs at the time of the Prophet (saw) were using the artificial lunar calendar, which too had 30 or 29 days alternating for the months, but the dates did not tally with the Ahillah (phases) of the Moon. So the Prophet (saw) ordered to look for the appearing of the Hilal to make the dates tally with the phases of the Moon. It is reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “Fast at the appearing of the Hilal and celebrate Eid at its appearing, if it is doubtful, then calculate or complete 30”. He also said: “If two Muslims witnessed begin the fasting or celebrate Eid”. From these instructions of the Prophet (saw) and the Ayahs of the Qur’aan, the lmams have derived the laws to fix the months of the Islamic calendar. Seeing the Hilal on the 29th or completion of 30 days is the rule given in the Books of Jurisprudence for defining a month in the Islamic Shariah. We can understand from this that the 29th should not differ except at the Matla’, where the Day should naturally change from Friday to Saturday.
We have now seen that the dates of the Hijra calendar used by people are not based on the Moon’s phase. The dates recorded for five years tell us that the Hijra dates given in them are not correct. Those who argue that the months would change only after the Hilal is seen to the naked eye should prove that the Hijra dates given in the schedule agree with the Book of Allah (swt) and the guidance of the Prophet (saw). They will not be able to prove it because Allah’s Book does not contain errors. The Prophet (saw) did not teach wrong things. Those who mislead people with their ignorance and compel them to celebrate Eid on different days should be prepared to bear the burden on the Day of Judgment. Allah informs in His Book: “That they may bear their burdens undiminished on the Day of Resurrection, with somewhat of the burdens of those whom they mislead without knowledge. Ah! Evil is that which they bear!” (16:25).
The Eid celebration is not a trifling matter. Islam wants to teach people how to rejoice on a happy occasion. Even though the Jurists have categorized it in the Sunnah it is a symbol of Islam. The Qur’aan says: “Whoever respects the symbols of Allah that is from the fear of the hearts”. (22:32) Days and dates also are such symbols. The Prophet (saw) had explained the inviolability of days and dates during the Hajjathul wida. The Friday should not be changed into another day. It is the leader of the days. So the other days too become sacred and inviolable because of the sanctity of Friday. Friday is the Eid that repeats once in 7 days. This is observed on the same day all over the world. The Eid of the week teaches us that the annual Eid also should be celebrated on one day all over the world. Then how could the Eid ul Fitre fall on different days? We have been committing this mistake since a long time without realizing it.
We must realize that Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) have not ordered us to do wrong things. If the Eid falls on a Friday at some town then all towns on the Earth should observe the Eid on Friday only. This is the right religion. But the Satan our enemy creates confusion and makes us celebrate the Eid on different days and we believe that it is the way taught by the Prophet (saw). We do not realize what we are doing is a Bid’a. We must be careful. The Qur’aan says: “He and his groups are watching you from where you cannot see them”. (7:27) Saying that the Eid should be celebrated on different days is fabricating a lie on Allah (swt) and His messenger. It is a great sin, a Shirk that Allah (swt) will never forgive. The Prophet (saw) had not given wrong instructions. “And who does greater wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah when he is summoned unto Al-Islam. And Allah guides not wrongdoing folk”. (61:7).
We should not speak irrelevant things without knowledge. The Qur’aan warns us: “Do not stand on which you have no knowledge. Certainly, the hearing, the sight and the Minds, all these things will be questioned about”. (17:36) Allah has bestowed man the intelligence. Man has learnt things by using it and mastered all other creatures. If they do not use the intelligence they will degrade themselves to a lower level than that of the animals.
The religion of Allah (swt) is being mocked at because of the foolish attitudes and prejudice of the leaders and the men in power. We claim that Islam is a perfect and everlasting code of life for the people of this world. But the dates used by the Muslims are absurd. We bear witness that Muhammad (saw) is the Messenger of Allah and proclaim that the Prophet (saw) has not taught anything other than what Allah (swt) has taught. Then is it Allah (swt) who taught that the Islamic dates in Kerala and Tamil Nadu should be different? Those who put forth such argument put the blame on Allah (swt). They should fear Allah (swt).
People who lived a hundred years ago were not aware of the discrepancy of the Islamic dates of different places. They were not practicing the Islamic calendar. They were using the Christian calendar for their day-to-day life. Their movements were restricted. They did not enjoy the facilities that we have today. Telecommunication and fast methods of transport were not invented. But today we can see people on the other side of the Earth and speak to them from our room. Allah (swt), the all knowing knew about these days. Then how could his orders in the Qur’aan contradict the conditions of today? If we say that Mangalore and Madras should celebrate Eid ul Fitre on two different days, (Monday and Tuesday) it is due to foolishness and ignorance, which Allah (swt) has not allowed. They begin Ramadan or celebrate the Eid independently on different Days. The Prophet (saw) has said: “Fasting is on the Day people fast, the Eid ul Fitre is on the Day people observe the Eid and Hajj is on the Day people perform Hajj”. This means that all Muslims should perform these religious rites on the Same Day. He also said: “If two Muslims witnessed begin fasting or celebrate Eid”. There is no need to hide these words of the Prophet (saw) or misinterpret them in order to justify our superstitions.
Due to lack of communication the people in those days may have celebrated the Eid on different days without knowing. But when there is communication and people know what is happening everywhere, it will be Haraam to do so. Those who give Fatwas that the Eid can be celebrated differently come forward with such arguments have a disease in their hearts. The Qur’aan says: “There are people among men who say we believe in Allah and the last day, but they are not believers. They cheat Allah and the believers, but only they get cheated and they do not realize. They have a disease in their hearts. Allah increases it. They will have a painful punishment because they tell lies”. (2: 8-10)
We hear these Ayahs of the Qur’aan very often. But they do not have any impact on us. The hearts have hardened because of our misdeeds. The Qur’aan says: “”Had we sent down this Qur’aan on a mountain you would see it humbling and bursting with fright of Allah.” (2:74) we hear all these Ayahs but our conditions do not change.
Because we have been celebrating the Eid on different days since our boyhood and our fathers and forefathers too did like that, we do not feel that it is awkward and wrong. Satan makes it appear good to us because we do not use our intelligence. We are unable to understand and most of the people do not bother to know about it.
They think that they are not responsible and the matter is not serious. We do not have the knowledge of Qur’aan. Even our Khateebs do not know the meanings. If we ask them they turn us back saying that it was like that since the Prophet’s time! There is nothing wrong in it. What can the ordinary man do? He has no other alternative but to keep quiet. He may be a great officer. He may be a Judge. But as long as he is ignorant in the religion he cannot argue with the religious leaders. But Islam cannot suffer because of the ignorance of the religious leaders. Allah (swt) will find out a way.
The Qur’aan says: “If you dispute concerning a matter, then refer it to Allah and His Messenger” (4:59) So let us examine first the Book of Allah (swt), and see what it says about the calendar that is so important for man in his day to day life. We have already said that we cannot plan anything without using a calendar. Today when we expect people from distant parts of the world to take part in a function we must fix the dates well in advance. We cannot fix it with the Islamic calendar in its present condition. It is impossible because the Khazi has to fix the date after seeing the Hilal! We cannot print the Islamic calendars in advance for a year because the seeing of the Hilal with the naked eye is not definite! The Khazi has authority to change the dates, as he likes. Is this the state of affairs with the calendar of Allah (swt) given to man to mark the dates for the civil and religious affairs of this world?
Today the Muslims have abandoned the calendar given by Allah (swt). They have chosen the Christian calendar and use it for the day-to-day affairs just as others do. No one feels bad about it. No one knows how to calculate the dates of the Islamic calendar. Even the names of the months are forgotten. The religious authorities cling to the Fatwas issued hundreds of years ago and argue that calculations should not be used for computing the Islamic calendar! They believe that Allah (swt) has ordered them not to calculate. This is because they do not ponder over the Ayahs of the Qur’aan and do not open their eyes and minds to understand the creation. May Allah save this community! Allah orders the people to learn the laws of religion. The Qur’aan says: “It is not proper that the believers should go forth all together. Therefore, why does not a group of each division stay behind so that they may obtain the understanding of Deen (Al-Islam), and admonish the people when they return to them so that they may refrain from un-Islamic conduct?” (9:122)
Allah orders us to keep our words and promises. To say what we would not do is a great sin. The Qur’aan says: “Oh! Believers why do you say what you would not do?” (109:2) A Muslim should not change the fixed date. For this we should know the correct dates in advance. This is not possible without calculations. Then how can Allah (swt) the All-knowing forbid the use of calculations for making the calendar? But our Alims say that calculations should not be used to find out the appearing of the Hilal on which the dates of the Islamic calendar depend. They believe that the Hilal can appear, as it likes. Does not their belief contradict the Qur’aan?
The Qur’aan says: “It is He who made the Sun a blazing light and the Moon a shining light and He appointed phases for the Moon so that you may know the count of ages and calculations. Allah has not created this but with purpose. He explains the Ayahs for the people who think” (10:5) this verse of the Qur’aan clearly informs us that our dates, months and years can be calculated. Who can forbid what Allah (swt) has allowed?
The Qur’aan also informs us that the months were fixed in the very beginning. “The Qur’aan says: “Certainly the number of months with Allah is twelve ever since He created the Heavens and the Earth. Of these four are sacred. That is the right religion. And do not wrong to yourselves in them, but just as the disbelievers fight you all together, you too fight them all together and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.” (9:36)
In Sura Yaseen which is very often recited at someone’s death we read: “And for the Moon we have appointed Manazil (positions) till it returned like the old ‘Urjoon’ (withered date stalk)” (36:39) We can see that many important matters are dealt with in this Sura. But the wonderful thing is that we do not try to learn and understand the Qur’aan.
There are many verses in the Qur’aan that invite us to the study of the universe, Allah’s creation. “Do not they look at the camel, how it is created, at the sky, how it is raised and the mountains how they are fixed and at the Earth how it is spread out”. (88:17-20) These Ayahs invite our attention to biology, astronomy, geology and all branches of science. Allah (swt) has given man eyes to observe the creation, ears to hear and a mind to think and understand. By using these means Man acquires knowledge. He can learn and understand things and know the meanings of the Qur’aan.
Again we read: “Surely in the creation of the Heavens and the Earth and the alter-nation of the day and night there are signs for those who have sense, they remember Allah standing and reclining on their sides while pondering over the creation of the Heavens and the Earth. Our Lord! You have not created all this in vain. You are sanctified. So save us from the punishment of the fire” (3:190-191)
When the Qur’aan was revealed Man’s knowledge about the things around him was very poor. Even about the Earth, his own home he had wrong notions. Though he knew the positions of the stars and the rising times etc. and could travel to destinations by their directions, he did not know any thing about their nature.
He thought that the Earth was flat and it was Centre of the Universe. He thought that the Sun, the Moon and the stars all went round the Earth. This wrong geocentric theory was in vogue in the world at that time.
People had many superstitions. They believed that the celestial bodies too were gods like their animal gods around them. They believed that they could harm them. So they worshiped them. They were sunk deep in such superstitions. In some parts of the world, people even worshiped creatures like cows, snakes and birds. Thus people were degraded to the level of the animals that were created for them and they lived in total ignorance. This was the condition of the people in world in the 7th century when the Qur’aan was revealed. The Qur’aan told them that people should not worship any thing but Allah the Supreme who created every thing for the use of Man. Thus the Qur’aan led the people out of the bondage of darkness to light and they began to think.
Now we know by experiments and experience that the Earth is a huge globe rotating as if on an axis. The Moon is a satellite revolving around the Earth. The Hilal (crescent) appears on the western horizon like a narrow sickle, grows bigger and bigger gradually and attains half in 7 days and becomes full in two weeks in the middle of the month and reverses to the old stage of the narrow sickle in the end of the month. This is explained in the Qur’aan, “And for the Moon we have appointed Manazil till it returned like the old palm stalk” (36:39). Thus the Moon through her cycle around the Earth indicates people their dates by her changing phases. The Qur’aan says: “They ask you about the phases of the Moon, tell they are dates for the people and the pilgrimage”. (2:189) 12 months or 12 cycles of the Moon (29 or 30 days each) will give the year 354 or 355 days. This is the meaure of the year destined by Allah (swt) for the use of the people in their civil and religious purposes in the world. (Diagram)