The Christian Broadcasting Network

Please explain for me the Islamic calendar -- The Islamic calendar is quite different from the one we use in the West. It begins, not with the birth of Christ, but with the Hijra, the day Muhammad "emigrated" from Mecca to Medina to set up his new social order. Muslims date everything from that event, usually considered to correspond to September 20th, 622 in the Gregorian calendar.

Then, the Hijri calendar is lunar, and not solar like the Gregorian calendar. The Qur'an stipulates (10:5) that the new moon be used to mark the first day of each month. Since the average interval between new moons is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds, the lunar months alternate between 29 and 30 days in length. Any given month will have 29 days some years and 30 days in others. The new moon must also be visually sighted for the new month to start; mathematical calculation is not valid.

Because of this requirement one can never be sure in advance precisely when the month of Ramadan will begin and one should start fasting. Because of this, although the Islamic lunar year has 12 months, it has only 354 days on an average. The Qur'an (9:36-37) forbids the periodic insertion of a 13th month to keep it in line with the solar year. Hence, the Islamic calendar travels backward through the solar calendar about 11 days per year, returning to the same solar time in about 33 lunar years. Thus, 33 lunar years equal 32 solar years.

The names of the Islamic months in numerical order are:
1 - Muharram
2 - Safar
3 - 1st Rabi`
4 - 2nd Rabi`
5 - 1st Jamadi
6 - 2nd Jamad
7 - Rajabi
8 - Sha`ban
9 - Ramadan (Fast month)
10 - Shawwal
11 - Dhul-Qu`da
12 - Dhul-Hijja (Pilgrimage month)

Note that Muslims (as in Biblical times) reckon the "day" [24 hour period] to begin in the evening. Thus the "night of the 27th of Ramadan" begins just after sundown on the 26th. Keep this in mind when fixing a date with those from the Muslim world to be sure there are no misunderstandings.

Friday noon is the one time in the week Muslims must worship together at the mosque, but Friday is not a day of rest. In recent years, however, many Muslim countries have adopted the Western practice of closing offices one day in seven, and some have opted for Friday instead of Sunday. The entire ninth month, Ramadan, is special in that it is the month all Muslims must fast. On the first of the following month, Shawwal, the first of the required feasts, `Id al-Fitr, is celebrated to mark the end of the fast. It is a joyous occasion, rather like Easter, when businesses and offices close. About 69 days later, on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijja is `Id al-Adha, the "Feast of Sacrifice," that commemorate Abraham's offering of his son. These are the main events in the Muslim calendar.

Arab World Ministries (Source)


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