Ismaili Lunar Calendar:An ideal base to unite the ‘Ummah’ (Part 3) [Archives:2008/1198/Culture]

October 13 2008

Qazi Dr. Shaikh Abbas Borhany
The purpose of the following dialogue is to promote tolerance and intellectual understanding among the Muslim community of the global village. The Modern World humiliates the Muslims with the fact that while astronauts have landed the Moon, and other scientists are busy in discoveries of the universe, majority of the Muslims are still following the directions of the clergy, regarding the sighting of the Moon, instead of following the scientific course, upon which religion of Islam is based.

The Qur'an points out towards the Christians, among whom Siy'am, is based not on sighting of Moon but on the basis of calculation. Afterwards, Qur'an has indicated a fixed period. It emphasizes that: “It is the counted days.”

(The readers are requested to please study the above Ayat carefully)

Thus the counted days are those which were surely calculated. Thus there is no need to search for the Moon while the days are calculated. If there is the slightest doubt left, that once the month of Ramazan would be of 29 days and once of 30 days, than Qur'an would never have mentioned the specific words: “Calculated Period”, with great emphasis. Thus the meaning of the “Counted Period” is the perfect counted time. It means it is an equivalent of the statement of the one who has mentioned that this one is counted, and this one is weighed in gold. Another argument is that if the base of a year is on six complete and six incomplete months, so it is compulsory that the base of year should be perfect without any lacuna. The first month Muharram should be perfect and Safar should be imperfect, Rabi al Awwal should be perfect while Rabi al Aakhar should be incomplete, Jamadil Awwal should be perfect while Jamadil Aakhar should be imperfect, Rajab and Ramazan should be perfect. Therefore, the famous Hadith:

“Shab'an will never be perfect and Ramazan will never be imperfect”.

On the imperfectness of Shab'an “Lailat al Nisf” -15th night is enough evidence, other than Rajab and Ramazan. The Night of 15th Shab'an has a different position, because it has 14 nights in the beginning, and 14 nights after it is counted. This law is not applicable to the month of Ramazan, because if the 15th night of Ramazan is declared as half of the month, then it is not correct, because 16 days remain in the month. If the 16th night of Ramazan is declared half of the month then also it is not correct because 16 is not the half of 30.

Kafarat of the Ramazan is also evidence. The one who does not observe Siy'am, without legal excuse, than he/she must observed Siy'am of 2 months. This is the Kafarat of that sin. It is also the double of the days of Ramazan, which are 60 in numbers.

If one is also not eligible to perform this then he/she must arrange food for 60 poor persons. If their was any slightest doubt in the counting of the days of Ramazan, ie: 29 days, then their must be provision available, that one must arrange food as Kafarat for 60 or 58 poor”.

19th Al Dai al Fatemi, Syedna Idris Imaduddin has discussed in “Mudhezat al Buht'aan” as follow:

“It is clear that Ahadith and sayings of the Ahl al Bait are not for 'unbound people', but it was for those who are not aware with the calculations. This was the practice of Imam Jafar Assadiq. The one who followed him followed Rasulullah (S). Qur'an has clarified that “So, Siy'am is Faraz upon you similarly as it was Faraz before you on others”.

Years and months can be calculated through the Kabisah calculation chart. According to the teaching of Imam Jafar Assadiq, 'ABJAD 'chart is used in Kabisah calculation. Account of “Man La Yahzaruhul Faqih” confirms a Tradition of Imam Jafar Assadiq explaining Kabisah formation.

This chart was prepared according to the guidance of Qur'an and instructions of Ahl al Bait. Every student of Islam knows this Hadith:

“I am leaving two everlasting precious things among you, one is Qur'an another is the Ahl al Bait”

The learned scholar of Ahl al Bait explains that we can not separate both from each other nor can we follow Qiyas and Rai, which creates clouds of doubts. The discussion is very long but irrefutable. In this book a Hadith is quoted with the reference of one of the wives of Rasulullah(S), who said: “I never saw Rasulullah(S) that he ever observed an in-completed month of Siy'aam of Ramazan and neither found him to observe Siy'aam in any month perfectly”.

Method of Kabisah Calculation: The calendar contains 12 months that are based on the Qur'an. Hijrahcalendar is a purely lunar calendar. It depends on the Moon's cycle around the earth. That is how the HijrahCalendars have been calculated and prepared. It has twelve lunar months. The average length of a lunar month is 29.53058 (solar) days. As per certain Hikmat, the Hijrah year will contain 29 or 30 days long months. Muharram starts with 30 days. The next month Safar has 29 days, so on so forth. That means the last month of the year Zilhajjah will have 29 days in a month. The total length of the Hijrah year is usually 354 days. There is a small fractional difference between the Moon's cycle around the earth in a year and the Hijrahcalendar. To compensate for this difference, there are 11 Kabisah years in a cycle of 30 years. A Kabisah year is a year in which the month of Zilhajjah has 30 days instead of the usual 29 days.

According to the learned writer of “Risalah al Bay'aan”, the following Nabavi instruction was issued at the time when Rasulullah (S) was leaving for an expedition:

“Observe Sawm and celebrate Eid by watching him”.

It contains a particular meaning (not related towards the sighting of moon) which has a significant importance. The above Nabavi commandment was issued at a particular time, when Rasulullah(S) was leaving the Muslim community. A person who was ignorant with the orders of Ramazan asked Rasulullah (S) that “we observed Siyam with you and celebrated Eid with you. Now that you are leaving so how should we observe Siyam? He answered:

“Observe by watching him and celebrate by watching him”.

The persons who asked this question were those who were considered to be simple men with true intentions. So, Rasulullah (S) instructed them emphatically to follow his Ahl al Bait”. This matter has been clarified in detail in “Daem al Islam” of Syedna Qazi al Nauman (d.363/974 C.E. Qahera, Egypt). It is only for those, who are able to understand and solve the problem. Allah has fixed the Siyam of Ramazan obligatory. Qur'an says:

“Ramazan is the month in which Qur'an was descended, with Hidayat for people, and which differentiates and clarifies between truth and obscurity. Whoever achieves this month, it is obligatory upon him to observe Siyam, if he is sick or in travel, so must complete it in other days. Allah likes an ease for you, not hardship”.

Concluding Remarks: The period is of 30 days, neither more nor less. The Moon is entirely different in different places and periods. It is difficult to understand for those who have little information in this matter. The reason of difference in periods is early and late, the first period will be different from the second, and second from third, and in this way this matter is continuous till the end of the year. In this manner the differences in the Moon's width and height differ, from cities to cities. This dispute was created due to the distance of the Moon when it ascends towards the sky and also when it descends in to the skies. “The 'Uml Al Qura Calendar' used by Saudi Arabia who claim it to be for civil purposes only, yet plays a major role in influencing the determination of the 29th day of the month in which the crescent is normally observed”.

Qazi Dr. Shaikh Abbas Borhany has PhD (USA), NDI, Shahadat al A'alamiyyah (Najaf, Iraq), M.A., LLM (Shariah) Member, Ulama Council of Pakistan. He is Attorney at Law & Religious Scholar. He can be reached at [email protected]