By Umarrah Javed Al-Hadi
It is He who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light and determined for it phases – that you may know the number of years and account [of time]. Allah has not created this except in truth. He details the signs for a people who know. [Surah Yunus 10:5]
The lunar calendar, otherwise known as the Hijri calendar, is based on the cycles of the moon. The calendar consists of 12 lunar months of either 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the new moon at the beginning of each month.
Background: The Migration
The Islamic calendar begins with the migration of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra. This event occurred in the year 622 CE and marks the beginning of the Islamic era. The first year of the Islamic calendar is known as 1 AH (After Hijra). The migration took place after the Prophet ﷺ and his followers faced persecution and hostility from the people of Mecca who rejected his message of monotheism and social justice.
The Hijra was a strategic decision made by our beloved Prophet ﷺ to protect his followers and establish a new community in Medina, where the people were more receptive to his message. The journey from Mecca to Medina, a distance of over 300 kilometers, was arduous and dangerous, as the Prophet ﷺ and his companion, the Truthful, Abu Bakr (RA), travelled through the desert to avoid detection by their enemies.
During the journey, the Prophet ﷺ and Abu Bakr (RA) took refuge in a cave known as Thawr Cave for three days to escape the search party that had been sent by the Meccans to capture them. It was during this time that Abu Bakr (RA) expressed his fear, not for his own safety, but about his master, to the Prophet ﷺ to which he ﷺ replied:
لا تخافوا إنّ الله معنا
Do not fear, Allah is with us.
This event is seen as testament to the strong faith and trust that the Prophet ﷺ and his companions had in Allāh and is recorded for all of time in Surah At-Tawbah (Quran 9:40).
Upon their arrival in Medina, the Prophet ﷺ was welcomed with open arms by the people, who had eagerly awaited his arrival. The migration of the Prophet ﷺ and his companions to Medina marked the beginning of a new era in Islamic history, as the Prophet ﷺ established the first Islamic state and began to build a community based on the principles of justice, equality, and compassion.
The Hijra is celebrated as an important event in Islamic history and is considered a turning point in the spread of Islam. After this, the Islamic calendar was based on the Hijra, with the first year of the Islamic calendar beginning from the date of the migration.
12 Months of the Hijri Calendar
1. Muharram مُحَرَّم
This is the first month of the Islamic calendar and has been made one of the sacred months by Allāh.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ encouraged fasting during the month of Muharram, particularly on the 10th day of Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura.
2. Safar صَفَر
The second month of the Islamic calendar.
3. Rabi’ al-Awwal رَبِيع ٱلْأَوَّل
The month in which Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was born.
4. Rabi’ al-Akhir رَبِيع ٱلْآخِر
Also known as Rabi’ al-Thani. It is a month of farming and agriculture.
5. Jumada al-Awwal جُمَادَىٰ ٱلْأُولَىٰ
This is the fifth month of the Islamic calendar and is associated with the pre-Islamic era in Arabia. It is believed that during this month, many tribes used to raid other tribes for resources.
6. Jumada al-Akhir) جُمَادَىٰ ٱلْآخِرَة
Also known as Jumada al-Thani. It is also associated with the pre-Islamic era in Arabia.
7. Rajab رَجَب
This is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar and is considered a sacred month.
During this month, Allah blessed Prophet Muhammad ﷺ with the miracle of the Isra and Mi’raj, in which he was taken on a journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and then to the heavens.
8. Sha’ban شَعْبَان
This is the eighth month of the Islamic calendar and is associated with preparation for the holy month of Ramadan.
9. Ramadan رَمَضَان
Considered the holiest month for Muslims. It is a month of fasting, prayer, and charity, during which Muslims abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs from dawn until sunset.
10. Shawwal شَوَّال
This is the tenth month of the Islamic calendar and marks the end of Ramadan with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
11. Dhu al-Qidah ذُو ٱلْقَعْدَة
This is the eleventh month of the Islamic calendar and is associated with the pre-Islamic era in Arabia. It is believed that during this month, the tribes used to abstain from fighting to allow for the Hajj pilgrimage to take place.
12. Dhu al-Hijjah ذُو ٱلْحِجَّة
This is the twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar and is considered the holiest month after Ramadan.
It is the month of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, which is a mandatory obligation for Muslims who are physically and financially able to perform it.
The 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah is Eid Al-Adha which commemorates the devotion of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to Allah (SWT).
The Lunar Cycle
Among the signs of Allah is that the moon increases in appearance until full and then decreases consistently in a cyclical way each month.
Something to ponder is that the phases of the moon are not dissimilar to the stages that occur in the life of man.
The human also appears to grow in size, age and strength until a point of ‘fullness’ is reached and the decline begins.
Phases of the Moon
The lunar cycle has several stages, which are:
1. New Moon
This occurs when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, and the side of the Moon facing the Earth is not illuminated by sunlight, making it appear invisible from Earth.
2. Waxing Crescent
This occurs a few days after the New Moon, when a small sliver of the Moon becomes visible on the right side of the Moon, and the illuminated portion gradually increases over the next few days.
3. First Quarter
This occurs when half of the Moon appears illuminated by sunlight, and it appears as a half-circle in the sky.
4. Waxing Gibbous
This occurs a few days after the First Quarter, when more than half of the Moon appears illuminated by sunlight, and the illuminated portion gradually increases over the next few days.
5. Full Moon
This occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, and the entire side of the Moon facing the Earth appears illuminated by sunlight, making it appear as a large, bright circle in the sky.
6. Waning Gibbous
This occurs a few days after the Full Moon, when the illuminated portion of the Moon gradually decreases.
7. Third Quarter
This occurs when half of the Moon appears illuminated by sunlight, but the opposite half from the First Quarter, making it appear as a half-circle in the sky, but on the opposite side.
8. Waning Crescent
This occurs a few days after the Third Quarter, when a small sliver of the Moon becomes visible on the left side of the Moon, and the illuminated portion gradually decreases over the next few days.
After the Waning Crescent, the lunar cycle starts again with a New Moon, and the cycle continues.
Significance of the Moon
Among the reasons for a believer to ponder the moon, its brightness, phases and appearance is the fact that Allāh swears by it in the Qur’ān:
“No! By the moon” [Surah Al-Muddathir 74:32]
“And by the moon when it waxes full.” [Surah Al-Inshiqaq 84:18]
Swearing is an act of taking an oath or making a solemn promise. When Allah swears by something in the Qur’ān, it signifies the importance and truthfulness of the message being conveyed, and it serves as a powerful means of emphasizing a point or a fact.
Swearing by something in the Qur’ān also indicates the seriousness and gravity of the matter being discussed, and it draws the attention of the listener or the reader to the message being conveyed.
Furthermore, swearing by something in the Qur’ān also shows the greatness and majesty of Allah, as He swears only by things that are significant and important in His creation.
Swearing by something in the Qur’ān is a way for Allah to convey His message to humanity in a clear and powerful way, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of His message and His commandments.
In addition to this, Surah Al-Qamar is named after the moon. The cosmic body itself is repeatedly mentioned among the divine signs of Allāh and is told to the believers as being a means of determining our location in time and space in order to structure our time and worship Allāh with efficiency and consistency.
The Splitting of the Moon
“The Hour has come near, and the moon has split [in two]” [Surah Al Qamar 54:1]
The splitting of the moon is a miraculous event that is mentioned in the Qur’ān in Surah Al-Qamar (The Moon). The splitting of the moon is one of the most significant miracles that was granted to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ by Allah.
It is believed that the event occurred on the 14th of the lunar month of Sha’ban, in the 13th year of the Prophet’s ﷺ mission. According to Islamic tradition, the event happened when the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was in a gathering with his companions, and he pointed to the moon and said, “O Allah, bear witness.” At that moment, the moon was split into two distinct halves, and they remained in the sky for some time before returning to their original state.
The event of the splitting of the moon is seen as a powerful symbol of the truthfulness of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and his prophethood. The miracle was witnessed by a large number of people, including the Prophet’s ﷺ enemies, who were unable to deny the reality of what they had seen. Many people who witnessed the event were inspired to accept the message of Islam, and it helped to strengthen the faith of the early Muslim community.
The splitting of the moon is also considered to be a reminder of the power and majesty of Allah, and His ability to intervene in the natural world as a means of guiding humanity to the right path. It is seen as a manifestation of Allah’s mercy and grace towards His creation, and a sign of His infinite knowledge and wisdom.
The event continues to be a source of inspiration and guidance for Muslims around the world, who look to it as a symbol of the miraculous nature of their faith, and the power of Allah’s message.
Allāh, from His generosity and mercy has blessed us with signs in His Book, signs within our very selves and signs around us in nature. Allāh has given us intellect in order to apply our sensory faculties in order to better recognize the Greatness of our Creator and His infinite Power over everything on earth and in the cosmos.
Our Creator knew our need for time management and structure, He gave us an astronomical body in order for us to have a consistent, undeniable benchmark through which we can place ourselves in time and space.
Ibn Abi Awfa reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Verily, among the best servants of Allah are those who observe the sun, the moon, the stars, and the shades for the remembrance of Allah.”
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