Friday, November 27, 2009

Calendar

The Islamic calendar, working with 12 lunar months in a year, makes the months vary with the seasons since a solar year is 365.25 days and 12 lunar months is 354 or 355 days. So the days of the lunar year fall 11 or so days earlier every solar year (like the 1st of Ramadan falling 11 days earlier each year of our gregorian calendar). Muslims often make this a positive thing, since over a period of just over 30 years, Ramadan will have fallen at all times of the year (all the seasons, the longer fasting times, the shorter fasting times)...

But shouldn't a calendar be more useful than simply using it for knowing when to fast (and for eids)? This Islamic calendar is useless when it comes to the seasons because of the variation. Every month changes seasons, so the winter can fall in Ramadan one year but will fall in summer too some years later. You cannot rely on the months.

I see Islam as being perfect because surely God's system is perfect. But I don't think the current Islamic calendar is perfect. I think it's no wonder no Islamic country even uses this calendar exclusively. Seasons are an important part of life... We live our lives in this cycle with the seasons (the solar year cycle). This is the natural way we live! This is the way it was meant to be! I cannot imagine that God wants us to ignore the seasons he created for us.

I know the Qur'an only people overall believe in a luni-solar calendar. It is clear that the Qur'an speaks of lunar months. I know of something in the Qur'an though that has been seen as meaning that we cannot use intercalated months, which is why Muslims don't use this luni-solar system, but the Qur'an only people have managed to find a way to make it mean something else. I don't know exactly what the argument is so I need to continue learning. Even within the Qur'an only people, there are different opinions about the calendar. I don't believe hadiths are to be totally disregarded in Islam, so I don't have the same views as they do, overall, but as I have been saying, I also don't think the lunar Islamic calendary is right. I haven't figured out what the way God means for us is, but I do think it lies in a luni-solar calendar.

It gets pretty confusing though because I have no idea where Ramadan would lie in this calendar...

I feel OK with using the gregorian calendar in my daily life. And I feel OK following Muslims in fasting and religious holidays for now based on the lunar Islamic calendar. But I think the real system would be useful in my religious AND real daily life, so I don't think either are right... A mix of both like this makes a decent average. But what is the truth?

I have no idea!!

5 Comentários:

Laila said...

Muhammad Asad says in a footnote on 9:36:

"In their endeavour to obviate certain disadvantages for their trade caused by the seasonal rotation of the lunar months, the pagan Arabs used to intercalate a thirteenth month in the third, sixth and eighth year of every eight-year period, with a view to making the lunar calendar more or less stationary, and thus roughly corresponding to the solar year. An acceptance of this unwar­ranted intercalation by the Muslims would have tied the Mecca pilgrimage as well as the fast of Ramadan to fixed seasons, and would thus have made, permanently, the performance of these religious duties either too exacting or too easy; and in either case the believers would have been offending against the spiritual purpose underlying these duties - which is the meaning of the words "do not sin against yourselves with regard to these months": i.e., by following, without any warrant from God, a custom devised by "those who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him", to whom the sequence refers."

It sounds to me like the religious duties have to be based on a lunar calendar, because that was the calendar in place at the time the duties were prescribed; but to organise our lives we can probably use whatever calendar we want. I've never really thought about it though. I guess I don't think God really cares what calendar we use, as long as we preserve what he commanded in terms of religious duties. For example if God commanded a month of fasting, we need to preserve what it meant at the time it was commanded - we can't just decide that a month is now only 5 days long, to make it easier for ourselves. lol. ;)

I'd be interested to know if those Quran-only people think it was always a luni-solar calender. Do post on it if you find out more!

Candice said...

I would imagine the Qur'an only people believe that at the time of Muhammad it was luni-solar for sure, but that it got corrupted and changed somehow by an interpretation of the verse about the intercalated month.

I think it's definitely a possibility to have our religious duties on one calendar and be able to use whatever other calendar we want in our daily lives, but I see Islam as such a way of life that it's a bit hard to accept.

It's almost hard to believe that a calendar could have been corrupted. It seems to be without any reasont o do it. Unlike things like women's rights, where men might have just oppressed them and invented things to give themselves more rights. A calendar seems a useless thing to corrupt!

The Qur'an is clear about a month being a lunar month, so it will always stay 29 or 30 days if we follow the Qur'an. The Qur'an only people's view that the calendar needs to include the seasons comes from the "restricted months" which they see as being related to hunting. So it's related to the seasons, the months in which we cannot hunt. But the other Muslims using the Islamic lunar calendar interpret these restricted months differently. Not sure exactly what they see it as. Anyway, it does seem linked to hunting when I read the translation of the verse myself... But anyway. I need to learn more for sure because I'm not clear on either position.

Just an extra note: A bunch of Qur'an only people believe it's obligatory to fast 10 days, not the full month. They say the verse says to fast a few of the days of Ramadan (few like, more than two and being able to count it on your fingers) and that in then says to "complete the count" (fast the whole 10 days). Not sure how valid that interpretation might be. It's confusing on their site because of the different views. Some of them believe Ramadan means hot month and so should always fall in the summer as the hottest month. Others believe it has to do with Jesus' conception as well as the month the Qur'an was revealed, and they consider it the first month of the calendar at the winter solstice. I am so lost in all they say. lol. I don't agree with their way of ignoring hadiths overall, although I think other Muslims put too much importance. Hard to find the middle people.

Anonymous said...

First, there's not 4 seasons everywhere in the world.
I have never heard of any muslims referring to Jesus(Isa) conception date??

Nuseiba said...

Assalamu'alaykum,

Thank you for putting this forward. To be honest, I've never really thought about the questions on usage of solar or lunar calendar. Maybe for the most part, because I'm living on the Equator line, so we don't get the four seasons in a year. The only season we get are fruit season :D

I'd want to look into this though.

IMO, it is good that you would want to understand it. But don't fret too much, I'm sure there are other more pressing matters in relation to Islam that you are focusing on.

Allahuakbar wa lillahi alhamd

Have a blessed Eid.

Candice said...

Anon: I hadn't heard about that either before reading the book "The Natural Republic" that I printed off the internet from free-minds.org. I still don't know if I consider it to have been a worthwhile read or not. Overall, I kind of disagreed with lots of what he was saying... But yeah, he mentioned the conception date as being Ramadan somehow.

Nuseiba: Yes, definitely more things to think about than this! I'm pretty satisfied with using the Islamic calendar for religious matters and the gregorian for my day to day life right now :)

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