Hijrah calendar: A landmark of the world history

Updated 16 November 2012
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Hijrah calendar: A landmark of the world history

The word Hijrah, which stands for migration, is a full message of Islam in itself. It strikes the mind with several questions such as, who migrated; and when, where and why the migration took place. In brief, Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) migrated in September 622 CE from Makkah to Madinah to save and promote the Truth. Almighty Allah protected him against all dangers and brought him an era of great success. This was the reason that Umer ibn al Khattab, the second great Caliph, ordered this event to be taken as the starting point of the Hijrah calendar. There were other calendars that carried personal tags like names of Jesus Christ or Judah; birth or coronation of a king, or foundation of a city. But, Hijrah calendar is unique in its inception attracting humanity to inquire about Islam.
It was only six years after the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) that Caliph Umar in 17th AH consulted the learned and canonized the Year of Hijrah, as suggested by Ali Ibn Abi Talib, as the beginning of Islamic era. Uthman bin Affan suggested that the year might begin from the month of Muharram after Haj, which was approved. Thus the first year of Hijrah (1 AH) began from Muharram 1, corresponding to the 16th July 622 CE, a Friday.
The actual migration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) had taken place on 12th Rabi Al-Awal, 1 AH, corresponding to 24th Sept. 622CE.
Islam being the religion most suited to natural way of human life prescribed the cycle of recurring natural phenomena familiar to common man in his every day life for observance of Salat, Saum, Zakat and Hajj, and best suited to the people of every color, clime and the continent. The most obvious and most precise of these are the alteration of day and night and the changing phases of the moon.
As a matter of fact all the three religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — were prescribed with lunar calendars. Jewish calendar is still lunar and like Islamic calendar begins at preceding sunset. Christian calendar was lunar in the beginning, but later it was changed to a solar one. However few festivals such as Easter and Good Friday are still celebrated on lunar dates. The natural phenomenon of day and night is more acceptable to the common man than a.m. and p.m. As the moon appears in the night, the date in the Islamic (also in Jewish) calendar begins in the night and follows the day. It is not like the Gregorian calendar where the night is split into two halves.
Can someone believe that under the generally accepted solar calendar, the year 45BC was 445 day long? Or, in October 1582, people went to bed on the 4th and woke up on the 15th. This is what and much more than that happened all through the past centuries to readjust the solar calendar.
The well publicized Christian calendar was invented by Dionsius Exigus in CE532 presuming the birth of the Jesus Christ to be 1 CE. But later Biblical scholars declared that his calculation was wrong as Jesus Christ was born in BC 4 of the present calendar. Further, the Christian calendar was revised in CE1582 by Pope Gregory III, hence known as Gregorian calendar. France accepted this calendar in 1582 but Great Britain refused to do so resulting in two different dates prevailing in Europe up to 1752 when Britain accepted the Gregorian calendar and applied it in all its colonies in Asia, Africa and Americas. It was only 90 years before and after WWI that this calendar assumed an international status. Greece accepted it as late as 1923; and Turkey in 1927.
It was Islam that introduced for the first time a natural and truly international calendar. The Hijrah calendar canonized in AH17 (CE638), and within the first century Hijrah when Caliph Umer bin Abdul Aziz ruled at Damascus in 99AH, this calendar was used in Muslim territories of France, Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Iran, Chinese Turkistan and India. This gigantic region comprised more than half of the then known world.
Astronomically, we know that the moon revolves around the earth in 29 days 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.78 seconds. It completes 59 days in two lunations. The remaining fraction constitutes 11 days in 30 years. For a uniform Hijrah calendar, the first month is taken as 30 days and the second as 29 days totaling 59 days in two months and 354 days in a year. The extra 11 days are added as 30th Dhul-Hijja in 11 years numbering 2, 5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 24, 26, and 29 of a 30 year-cycle thus creating a perfect Hijrah calendar. This system has already been accepted by all Muslim and non Muslim astronomers, scholars, historians of the past and the present. It has been reiterated by Wustenfel Mahler of Germany, Mohammed Mukhtar Pasha and Ahmad Atiyatullah of Egypt, Habibur Rahman Sabri of India, Abdul Quddus Hashmi of Pakistan and Dr. Ibrahim Juma of Dar Malik Abdul Aziz of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Interestingly, the Gregorian calendar, which is based on Roman calendar, was lunar in the beginning, covering 304 days in 10 months and starting from March. Later Numa the second king of Rome (716-673 BC) added two months of January and February after December with a year comprising 355 days. By BC46, the Roman calendar was out of step with the seasons by about three months. In BC45, Julius Caesar on the advice of Egyptian astronomer Sosigenes started a new calendar in 709 year of Rome after his name as Julian calendar.
In order to adjust the calendar, he inserted 67 days between November and December, thus making that year 445 days in length. He abolished lunar calendar and decreed the regulation on the basis of solar calendar. The year was to begin on Jan. 1, and not on March 1. Further, every fourth year was decreed to be leap year of 366 days by inserting a day between Feb. 23 and Feb. 24. In 44BC, the month Qintilis was renamed July as a memorial to Julius Caesar. In BC7, Octavius, who took the title of Augustus Caesar and ruled Rome from BC27-CE14 to adjust the mishandling of the leap years during the past 38 years, lengthened the month Sextilis and had it renamed in his honor as Augustus.
Again in 15th century Pope Gregory XIII approached the government of the principal states of the Roman Empire and after their agreement issued a brief in March 1582 promulgating the Gregorian calendar and directing the day following the feast of St. Francis on Oct. 5, should be reckoned as October 15 and that no century year should be counted as leap year unless it was exactly divisible by 400. France, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Poland, the Netherlands and Catholic parts of Germany adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Protestant did not accept it until 1700, Sweden in 1753, Japan in 1873, China and Albania in 1912, Soviet Russia in 1918, Rumania in 1919 Greece in 1923 and Turkey in 1927.
Britain approved Gregorian calendar in 1752 and added 11 days in September 1752. It was declared that the day following Sept. 2, should be termed Sept. 14, 1752 and that from then on, the year was to begin on Jan. 1 and not on March 25 as earlier. The same year, Britain imposed the Gregorian calendar in all its colonies including America. All dates preceding Sept. 2, were marked as OS or old style. George Washington was actually born on Feb. 11, 1732 OS and after 1752 his birth day fell on Feb. 22 under the Gregorian era.
The Hijrah Islamic calendar had no intercalation or extra-calation during the last 1400 years. Further it does not suffer from the lacuna of being subordinate to the seasonal equinox. Subsequently, the Muslim festivals rotate through all the seasons of the year – a fact which lends a unique charm to them for all the people of the globe whether they inhabit the northern or the southern hemisphere. It is not like the icy cold Christmas in the north fixed every year on 25th Dec. while it is boiling hot in South Africa and Australia. The event of Hijrah stands as the seed of entire Islamic history, which is most important part of the world history.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.