Proper recognition of date is essential for recording the events correctly and to ensure that the religious observances are performed according to the Shariah. Lunar calendar existed from time immemorial, though it lacked the basic qualities required of it. The dates of birth and death of the Holy Prophet were mentioned according to the pre- Hijra calendar and have to be the recorded according to AH. Various historians because of the wrong concept incorrectly mention his date of death also. This paper establishes the correct date of birth as Rabiul Awwal 14th 53 BH and death as 14 Rabiul Awwal 11AH and that he lived for 64 Lunar years. Its conversion into AD becomes controversial. One reason is that year 0 of AH is not 12 months.
The Hijra Calendar and the "Moon Sighting"
All of us know that the Islamic Calendar is called the Hijra calendar. Any calendar is based on certain principles and calculations. The dates of a calendar, past or future could be found out by calculations. If the past and future dates of a calendar cannot be calculated or a date for a program cannot be fixed in advance, such a calendar cannot be used in the day-to-day affairs of this world. It cannot be called a calendar. The word ‘Moon sighting’ is a misnomer. It should be ‘Moon observation’.
The Hijra calendar is based on the moon. The Qur’aan says that the Ahillah or the phases of the moon mark the dates for the mankind. (2:189).The Qur’aan also informs us that the sun and the moon move with precision according to certain laws appointed for them. (55:5). There cannot be any objection to use of calculations in finding out dates and times which are related to them because Allah (swt) does not forbid what is good.
Ever since the civilization began man calculated time depending on the moon. The crescent appears on the western horizon. It grows bigger and bigger day by day as it moves towards the east. It becomes full in about fifteen days and begins to wane and return to the previous state of the crescent. (Q 36:39). This period is called a month and twelve months make a year (Q 9:36). This system of calendaring basing on the moon was in vogue from time immemorial. This was the easiest, most natural and accurate method of counting time on the Earth. Today science has proved that this is the most perfect method for recording time.
Man did not know the calculations of the phases of the moon in the early times and he was unable to know the exact dates of the moon’s phases in advance. In due course he gave up the moon as a dating system and invented easier but erroneous methods of calculating time depending on seasonal variations. They were more concerned with knowing the seasons for agriculture than recording of time. The Jews invented the artificial lunar calendar in which the months in total went with the moon but dates did not tally with the phases of the moon. This calendar and the Christian calendar were in use in Arabia at the time when the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was born. The Prophet’s (saw) date of birth is recorded as 12th of Rabiul Awwal in the year of the Elephant in the Arabian calendar.
It is not known whether the others too had recorded the Prophet’s (saw) birth in their calendars at that time. At the time of his demise the Prophet (saw) had attained great fame. He was popular and extra-ordinary. So the others too had recorded his demise in their calendars and there is no dispute among historians regarding this date.
The Prophet’s demise is recorded in Christian calendar as Monday the 8th of June 632AD. Muslims have recorded as Monday the 12th of Rabiul Awwal of the year 11AH. We should remember that the Arabian calendar was the same as the Jewish calendar at that time.
During the Hajjathul wida the Prophet (saw) gave orders to revise their artificial lunar calendar and make it fully natural. There should not be interfering with the calendar. The dates and months should be in tune with the moon for which Allah (swt) has created it. The number of the months in a year should be 12. The duration of the months should be between 29 and 30 and according to the Manazil of the moon. No addition or deduction would be allowed in the dates or the months of the calendar. The calendar must be perfectly natural. Four months Zul Quaid, Zul hajj, Muharrm and Rajab will be sacred and war is forbidden in them. Days and dates will also be sacred and inviolable and no one should change them according to their whims. These were the instructions given by the Prophet (saw) on the occation of the Hajjathul wida regarding the calendar to be followed strictly by the Muslim community in future. The Prophet (saw) returned to Medina immdeately after the Hajj and passed away in the month of Rabiul Awwal of the year 11AH.
During the reign of the second Caliph Omar the Muslim era was instituted under the name of the Hijra calendar. In this calendar observed strictly according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, the dates tallied with the Manazil or the phases of the moon where as in the Arabian or the Jewish calendar this was not necessary. So the 12th of Rabiul Awwal of the Arabian calendar is equal to the 14th in the Muslim calendar. But even today the Muslims follow the erroneous Arabian calendar except in Saudi Arabia. This has created a lot of confusion among the Muslims.
We cannot carry out our day-to-day needs if we followed a calendar without unified dates all over the world. If the date of one place varied from the other it would create serious problems. For example, Calcutta and Bombay are two cities in India situated far away. The day is common for both the cities. If the date varied and the day remained same it will be absurd. Further more, without a correct dating system it will not be possible to know when an event in the past took place. This information is very important in history. To convert one calendar into the other, the exact number of days elapsed from one event to the other must be known. Without this it will not be possible to convert one calendar into the other or find out the exact day of a past event and the calendar becomes impractical. Mankind is in need of a perpetual calendar, which could serve this purpose. The moon provides such a calendar.
We have a great lesson in the art of calculating the dates of the birth and demise of the Prophet (saw).
Recording time in this world is a complicated affair. Let us see what happens when we try to calculate the exact number of days elapsed from the date of demise of the Prophet (saw) to the date 16-06-2000 AD Friday. Any one can understand that the 16 in this date stands in place of Friday and if 16 changed into 15, the day must change into Thursday. From this it could be known that date and day should be common at all places in the world. The dates in two calendars are given below.
The present date 16-06-2000 Thursday AD = 14-03-1421 AH Friday
The date of demise 08-06-0632 Monday AD = 14-03-0011 AH Monday
Time elapsed 08-00-1368 yrs. 14-03-1410 yrs
Number of days in the Christian year is 365.25 and in Muslim year 354.3671 days.
So 1368 x 365.25+8 = 499670 days according to Christian dating system and
1410 x 354.3671 =499657 61 (499657 days) according to Muslim dating system. There is a difference in the number of days in these calculations. That is due to an error in any one of the dating systems. We can see where the mistake lies by a simple calculation. People have been counting the week-days by their names ever since the civilization began and not a single day has been left out. So when we divide the total number of days by 7 we can get the number of weeks and the reminder will be the day of the week counted backwards from the present day.
The calculation 499657/7 gives 71379 weeks and 4 days. Counting 4 days back from the known day, that is the Friday, 1 Thursday, 2Wednwsday, 3 Tuesday, 4 Monday. Thus we know by calculation that the Prophet (saw) passed away on a Monday for certain. We have the same in the records too. Thus we know that the number of days according to the Hijra calendar is correct.
The ‘solar’ year used in the Christian dating system has many defects. The average number of days 365.25 was found to be a little more than the exact figure. This was not known till 1582 AD. About ten days had crept unnoticed into the calendar by then. Pope Gregory xiii removed it and updated the calendar in 1582 AD. The average number of days now used for this calendar is 365.2422. It is impossible to adjust this by a leap year system.
The adjustment is somehow carried out by omitting the leap year for the century years unless divisible by 400. Those well versed in scientific knowledge admit that a permanent solution to this problem in a ‘solar’ calendar is impossible. Whenever the calendar is updated the name and the rule of calculations must be changed. This leads to problems like y 2 k. Even by using 365.2422 days for a year the results do not tally with the correct figure.
1368 x 365.2422 + 8 = 499657.61=1.71 days
There is a difference of about two days.
We must be able to calculate and find out the date of birth of the Prophet (saw) by using the art of calculating dates the Qur’aan says that Manazil have been fixed for the moon so that man may calculate time. According to the Hijra calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon, the Prophet’s date of birth is recorded as 14-03-53 BH and his date of demise as 14-03-11 AH. Both the incidents took place on a full moon day. We can calculate his span of life on the Earth by subtracting his date of birth from the date of his demise.
Date of demise of the prophet 14-03-0011AH
Date of birth of the prophet 14-03-0053BH
The lifetime of the prophet 00-00-0064 lunar years
By this calculation we know that the Prophet (saw) had lived 64 lunar years exactly. Now this can be converted into the Christian dating system by using the rules of calculations. That is 64*354.3671/365.25= 62 yrs 1 month and 3 days. By subtracting this from the date of demise we can get the correct date of birth of the Prophet (saw) in the Christian calendar.
The Prophet’s date of demise 08-06-0632 AD-
The life span of the Prophet 03-01-0062
The Prophet’s date of birth 05-05-0570 AD Monday
Even though we have arrived at the correct date of birth of the Prophet (saw) by using simple calculations, the historians and the astronomers who tried to find out his date of birth in the past had made mistakes in their calculations. The fact that all of them contradicted each other proves that the dates they give are not correct. This was because they did not know the exact number of days in the years. They have used different rules in the calculations. If they had used the correct method they would not have made the mistake. From all this we can understand that calculation is a must for a calendar. All celestial bodies move precisely according to the laws destined by the Creator for them. The Qur’aan says that He has appointed the Manazil for the moon so that man may know the count of the ages of the moon and the calculations, (10:5). Under the light of this verse of the Qur’aan it would be unjust to say that one should not learn this art and use it for finding out the dates to be used in our daily life. It would be silly to believe that we cannot know the first day of next Ramadan now. The Creator had fixed the dates on the very day He created the heavens ands the Earth, says the Qur’aan. He has not kept it a secret.
The Muslims even in our times (21st century) believe that the moon does not follow any rule and so it can move according to its own wish. They believe that the Hilal must be seen with the naked eye before commencing a month. They believe that the Prophet (saw) had ordered them to do so. This is in fact contradictory to Qur’aan and what the Prophet (saw) had taught. “The Prophet (saw) said do not commence fasting without considering the Hilal and do not celebrate Eid without considering it” He also said “we are a people unlettered; we do not write or calculate the dates. Our month is like this and like that (29 or 30 days). Begin the fast at its appearance and celebrate the Eid at its appearance. If it is clouded, estimate it.”
The Arabic word used in the Hadeeth is Ra’a or Ru’ya and this has been given the literal meaning, ‘to see’ or ‘sighting’ by the translators who had no knowledge of astronomy which was not developed in their times and they are not to blame. If we give the literal meaning to it in our times when we not only hear what is happening in America on the other side of the Earth but also see it, this meaning becomes awkward.
The Prophet (saw) spoke from Allah (swt), the all-knowing and he said “if two Muslims witness, begin the fasting and if two Muslims witness, celebrate the Eid”. He had forebidden to fast on the Eid Day of the Muslim community and to eat on the first day of Ramadan. How can fast and feast go hand in hand? But today the Muslims transgress this order of the Prophet (saw) and eat publicly on the first of Ramadan and celebrate the Eid on other days but not on the day prescribed for it. This practice allows some Muslims to observe fasting on the day when some Muslims celebrate Eid, which ridicules the Prophet (saw) and Islam.
They blindly believe that the Prophet (saw) has taught them to do so. The word Ra’a used by the Prophet (saw) has vast meaning. The dictionary gives the meaning “to see with eyes or with the mind”. The Prophet (saw) said: “”The months are some times 29 and sometimes 30. He ordered us to see the Hilals and verify the months. One has to confirm whether the moon overtakes the sun on the 29th by observing the appearing of the Hilal on the western horizon. When we observe the waning Hilal we can easily find out the time of its crossing and we can know whether the month has 29 or 30 days.
Now what happens is that we look for the Hilal on a day wrongly fixed by the Qadi as the 29th of Shaban according to his conjecture. This 29th of Shaban is different at different cities and people look for the Hilal of Ramadan on different days. Some look for it on Saturday, some on Sunday and some on Monday! Even if the Hilal is seen in Calicut the people in Trivandrum do not accept it insisting that they should see the Hilal in their city to begin the fasting. They believe that the Prophet (saw) has ordered like that. Is this not mere superstition?
How can the Prophet (saw) give such silly orders? Why are the Muslims unable to think? We read the Book and we do not understand. Seeing or sighting the Hilal is a misnomer. It should be observing the Hilal. Hilal cannot be seen everywhere on the same day just as an eclipse is not seen. So the Prophet (saw) ordered to act upon the information received from other places. Since he had not laid down any limitation for this, today when the whole world is like a village, one cannot put any boundaries for celebrating the Eid. The Prophet (saw) said in vey clear words “fasting is on the day the people fast, the Eid is on the day the people celebrate it and the sacrifice is on the day the people perform it.” Days of the week are known by their names and common for all. If people celebrate it on a Friday all must celebrate it on Friday. Some cannot celebrate it on Saturday or Sunday. Eidul Fitre is to be observed on the first of Shawwal and the first of a month cannot fall on different days. The first can be only one day in the calendar. Then what is wrong with the Muslims? Do the Qur’an and Sunnah allow this anomaly?
Eidul Adha or Youm Annahar is to be observed on the 10th of Zul Hijjah of the Islamic calendar. The moon should be 10 days old on the tenth according to the Book of Allah (swt). Following the calculation of the moon we know that the Hilal of Zul Hijjah of 1420AH was born on 06-03-2000 AD = 30-11- 1420AH Monday. The Hilal on that evening set after 16 minutes of the sunset on the coast of Kerala. We knew this many years ago and it happened exactly at the stipulated time and date.
There is a Hilal committee in Kerala under the Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen. They have their astronomers and calendars. They began their work in 1978AD. On many occasions when the difference of sunset and moonset was only two or three minutes the next day was considered as the first of the next month. But now even though the difference is sixteen minutes they did not agree. It is difficult to understand why they have done so. If they do not believe in calculations and Allah (swt) has forbidden it why should they have misleading astronomers and calendars? They should observe the Ahillah and decide the date. Then there will not be any confusion.
How can any one deny the bounties of Allah (swt)? Man’s enquiry into the universe and his studies enabled landing on the moon on 16-07-1999AD and the safe return to the Earth. This proves that man has learnt the laws of the moon’s motion. We will be bluffing if we say that we do not know how to calculate the dates shown by the changing phases of the moon and the time shown by the sun by its changing shadows. Time and dates can be predicted hundreds of years in advance because the sun and the moon travel precisely. (55:5)
People who lived at the time of the Prophet (saw) did not have knowledge of all these things. If they made a mistake they are not to blame. We know how to calculate the date of an eclipse. This is because the moon, the sun and the earth float in space with precision. Allah (swt) has informed this in then Qur’aan 14 centuries ago. We can calculate the day and date of the solar eclipe that occurred on the day when Ibrahim the son of the Prophet (saw) had passed away. The Prophet (saw) informed the people that the eclipse has nothing to do with anybody’s birth or death. It is only a natural phenomenon. From studies conducted by man for long periods we know that eclipses repeat in a long period of 1410 lunar years also. So it is not difficult to foretell the date of an eclipse that would occur even after a very long period.
The date of the Eidul Adha was announced from Makkah 6 days in advance. All news papers, radio and telivision gave wide publicity. But the people in India refrained from celebrating the Eid according to the information. They fasted on the Eid day transgressing the limits of Allah (swt). They blindly believed that the day of India and Arabia would be different. I had informed the authorities in Kerala about the date of the Eidul Adha but it fell on deaf ears. The Eid was celebrated on the wrong day.
I request the Ulema and the authorities to study the matter and refrain from such activities that defame Islam and the Prophet (saw).
May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings and lead us to His Straight Path