HIJRI Calendar: Its significant role
Dr. A F M Khalid Hossain
Hijrah calendar is based on purely lunar system, which is not lesser than 354 days and not more than 355 days. This calendar year commenced from past 1948439 days of Julian calendar. In Hijrah calendar there is no leap month to correspond it to the solaric calendar. Simply, because being a natural religion, Islam carries equality which has no seasonal character of any particular month.
By forbidding intercalation in the farewell sermon, the Prophet (SAW) has preserved equality and justice among the followers of Islam, the worldwide religion regarding the observance of two basic Ibadah of Islam, fasting in the month of Ramadan and pilgrimage in the month of Dhul Hijja.
So many modern thinkers have suggested during the past few years to make the lunar Islamic year into a solar one by adding an extra month every three years or eleven days a year for making the Islamic Hijrah calendar more important in life. This suggestion would cause inequalities and destroy the justice in the religious duties of the Muslims living every nook and corner of the world with different geographical latitude particularly in Southern and Northern hemispheres where the length of the day and night is different and seasons are reversed. Dr. Sayyid Hossain Nasr in his analysis shows how the cause of justice among the believers is served by the rotation of the lunar year through the solar seasons and a year in the following language: “Only on the two days vernal and autumnal equinoxes are the lengths of the day and night the same. On every other day of the year a Muslim living in Central Asia experiences a different day length from one living in southern India or one living in London a longer or shorter day than a person in Nigeria. If the season for fasting, let us say, were to be fixed in the solar year throughout his life a Muslim in the northern latitude would fast a shorter or longer day than one in the south. Likewise, if the Hajj season were to be fixed in the winter for the northern hemisphere it would always be in the summer for the southern hemisphere, and vice versa. In both cases there would be an inequality of conditions for the believers. There is only one way in which the obligation of rites placed upon the shoulders of Muslims can be applied to all believers equally, and that is that lunar year should rotate through the solar year as Islam has ordered. In this way compensation is made for the inequalities of day and night over different regions of the earth during a man’s earthly life. The Muslim living in London who fasts nineteen hours during the summer will be able to break his fast in winter at about four O’clock in the afternoon. During a lifetime his summer hardships are compensated by easier fasting conditions during the winter and balance out to become at the end like conditions imposed on one living, let us say, in Persia; Afghanistan or Pakistan.
As for the few living in very northern regions, such as Sweden, where in certain seasons the sun never sets completely, their problem would not be solved by fixing the fasting season at a particular time anyway. Moreover, if the season were to be fixed, others living in other climates would be in differing, and in the case of people in the southern hemisphere, opposite conditions. In such extreme case as the very northern or southern regions a fatwa is needed to decide upon the number of hours one should fast and in fact the times of prayer. It is illogical and absurd to sacrifice the order and equilibrium of the religious life of the vast majority of Muslims for a few exceptional cases which do not amount to more than a few thousand believers at most”
Allah and His Prophet (SAW) have forbidden pagan practice of intercalation. In fact of such prohibition there should not be any attempt to justify intercalation on any ground whatsoever. Islam is a religion for the whole world. Different areas of the world have different geographical positions. The rotation of the earth, the sun and the moon causes differences in days and nights and the Islamic religious function vary in timing and there should not be any objection to the variance in timing. Muslims all over the world pray five times prayer in accordance with their respective dawn( فجر ) noon ( ظهر ) afternoon (عصر ), evening, ( مغرب ) and night ( عشاء ) prayers, It is not possible to make any of the prayer to hold at the same time and same day. In the same way all other religious activities of Islam have these mutual varieties but the form and sprit of the prayer remain one and the same.
Hence, Islam and all its activities have unity in variety and that impart universality to Islam as world religion. Any attempt to hold any of the Islamic practices ( عبادات ) on the same day and time would undermine its universality and beauty. As Almighty Allah is a great unity in variety so His chosen Deen Islam is also as a unity and variety. Therefore, the pagan theory of intercalation and ideas of the modern pagans on the subject do not hold any water whatsoever.
Mention may be made here that throughout the course of history Hijrah calendar based on lunar system was in vogue among many Muslim societies as well as in state affairs for a long time and they had also used solar dates which was however, remained subservient to Islamic lunar calendar. To this effect, Umar Khayyam played a pioneering role by devising ‘Jalali calendar‘ that is considered as most perfect solar calendar in which Hijrah dates were often employed.
Therefore, it is not at all necessary to make the lunar Islamic year into a solar one by intercalation enamoured with pagan and western ideas with an aim to add to its importance. Rather it would cause heterogeneity and division in performing Saum and Hajj the basic Ibadah within the Ummah than homogeneity and unity.
The writer is a former Professor
and Head of the Deptt
of Islamic History & Culture,
Omar Ghani M.E.S College,
 Salman Mansurpuri, Mercy for the World, vol.ii, p. 376.
 Ibn Hisham, Siratun Nabuwiyah, vol.ii, p. 604; Al-Qurtubi, Al-Jame Li Ahkam al Quran, vol.viii, p.133.
 Dr. Sayyid Hossain Nasr, Islamic life and thought, pp. 216-217.