We have just recently begun a new year, in the pages of history. 2009, according to the Gregorian Calendar. And 1430, according to the Islamic Calendar. As the subject has been brought up, I want to share with you the story behind the Islamic Calendar and its importance in the life of every Muslim.
During the era of the Ameer Al-Mu’mineen (the leader of the believers), ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him), during the sixteenth or seventeenth year after the Hijrah (the migration of the Prophet & his Companions from Makkah to Madeenah), the Islamic Empire spread far and wide. The Muslims lands were extremely vast. And they needed to have some sort of calendar that they could all follow, in order to be organized.
So the Ameer Al-Mu’mineen, ‘Umar, sought the people’s advice on when the Islamic calendar should start. What event should be the mark of the beginning of the calendar. Some people held that it should have started from the birth of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, whilst others thought that it should have begun from the very first day that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam began his mission. Another group believed that the calendar should have started from the emigration and the last group held that the calendar should have begun from the death of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam
‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with him, agreed with those who wished to start the Islamic Calendar with the Hijrah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, due to the fact that this marked the point in history when Allaah differentiated between truth and falsehood by giving the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam real power & authority which was manifested in the form of the first Islamic State.
The Companions were also consulted on which month should mark the beginning of the year; ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab and ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan, may Allah be pleased with them both, chose Al-Muharram due to it being a sacred month and because it follows the month of Dhu’l-Hijjah, which is when the Muslims perform Hajj (the pilgrimage), which was the last pillar of Islam that Allaah enjoined upon the Muslims. Al-Muharram also follows the month in which the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam pledged allegiance to the Ansaar (His Madeenan supporters) to emigrate to Madeenah, and this “pledge of allegiance” was one of the introductory acts of the Hijrah. Due to all these reasons, Al-Muharram was deemed the most suitable month to begin the Islamic Calendar.
* Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-’Uthaymeen stated (translation): “The Muslim nation must have a distinct and independent identity which is derived solely from the essence of Islaam. It is incumbent on the Muslim nation that it be distinguished from other nations as far as morals, manners, and entire way of life are concerned. This nation cannot be a subservient one that is always tending towards the blind imitation of others. This kind of blind imitation will not entail any goodness or prevent any evil. On the contrary, it will cause the Muslim nation to become weak and dependant on others, and this will cause it to forget its past glories.”
The reason I brought this quote in right here, is because I want to remind you, that we Muslims are a distinct & independant Ummah. Our morals, our manners, our entire way of life is distinguished from all others. We cannot abandon what we have, and blindly follow the customs and traditions of others. This will lead to our own weakness and humility before the world — as we can clearly see nowadays.
This Ummah will never be reformed except by following the very same methodology that reformed it in the past. In Islaam, when does our day start? At 12 am in the morning? No. The day starts at sunset, at Maghrib time. The new day begins at this time. When does the month start? In Islaam, the month starts once the crescent is sighted. Once the new moon is spotted. And we just learned right now, that the year starts from the day of the Hijrah of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
This was the method followed by the Muslims of the past. The Fuqahaa’ (the Scholars & Jurists) recorded dates according to this method in their books when handling issues, such as the time of settling debts and so on.* I remind you again, that this Ummah will never be reformed, unless and until we follow the very same methodology that reformed it in the past. We have an entire code, and entire way of life, literally! Every single aspect is covered. And only once we completely return to this can we hope to see a change, in our state of affairs.
These were some of my thoughts regarding the new year ~ in addition to the fact, that this is definitely a time to plan. We need to look back at the previous year, and see what mistakes we have made, what things we did wrong. And see, how we can do better this year. How we can become better people. How can you can avoid those mistakes this year? Set goals that you plan on reaching this year. Write down some things you want to accomplish this year. Plan it all out. ‘I will fast every Monday and Thursday.’ or ‘I will attend the Congregational Prayer in the Masjid at least once a day.’ or ‘I will put $10 in the Masjid Donation box every week.’ or ‘I will read such-and-such a book by the end of this month.’ Get ready for this year. Prepare. Set goals. Don’t waste time. Know that the days of your life are counted, and as every second passes you come closer to your appointed time. Know that you are now in the life of action, whereas tomorrow you will be in the life of account and recompense!
The last thing I’ll leave you with is, a reminder. Remember that the Prophet told us that: أَفْضَلُ الصِّيَامِ بَعْدَ رَمَضَانَ شَهْرُ اللَّهِ الْمُحَرَّمُ – The best fast after Ramadaan, is (fasting in) the sacred month of Allaah (Al-Muharram).” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari] Today is Friday, the 5th of Al-Muharram. The 10th of Al-Muharram is an extremely sacred and important day. It is called, the day of ‘Aashooraa. In Saheeh Muslim, we are informed that the Jews used to fast on this day because it was the day on which Allah saved Prophet Musa and his followers (the Children of Israel) from the Pharaoh and his armies. This was the day Allaah caused the Red Sea to split into 2 halves for Musa and Bani Israel, and drowned the Pharaoh and his soldiers in the same sea. And therefore, Prophet Musa (ص) fasted on this day, in gratitude to Allaah. So the Prophet Muhammad (ص) said to the Jews, “We have more right to Musa than you!” So he fasted on that day, and ordered all of the Muslims to do likewise. And he said, “If I live till next year, I will fast the day before it as well (the 9th of al-Muharram) [in order to be different from the Jews].”
Furthermore, in Musnad Ahmad, we are informed that this was the day that the ship of Prophet Noah rested on Mount Judi. And so, the Prophet (ص) said, Noah fasted on this day in gratitude to Allaah.
Finally, the rewards you get for fasting on this blessed honorable day: The Prophet said, as recorded in Saheeh Muslim: صيام يوم عاشوراء، إني أحتسب على الله أن يكفر السنة التي قبله For fasting on the Day of ‘Aashooraa, I expect from Allaah that He will expiate the sins on the year before it.” And this is from the favors of Allaah upon us ~ that for fasting just one day, He erases the sins of an entire year. May Allaah bless us to fast on that day, give us the reward of fasting on it.
That is all for now. I hope that, Allaah willing, you have benefited from these thoughts. May Allah help us to practice what we learn and to constantly check ourselves.
Was-Salaamu ‘Alaykum, wa Rahmatullaahi, wa Barakaatuhu,
Abdul Baasit Khan :)