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Your Questions - October, 2017
My young son studies in an Islamic school. Yesterday, after he came back from the school he asked us if we knew about Islamic months.
It was embarrassing for us that we could not name more than two Islamic months. Can You please let us know about the origin of Islamic months and its importance ?
Answered by: Shaykh Zafar ul Hasan

Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them (At-Toubah: 36)

 The new Islamic year has begun and there are many Islamic customs and rituals attached to our Islamic calendar and dates therefore it is essential to know about the Islamic months and their dates.

Allah has fixed up 12 months in a year and it was done right from the day He created the heavens and the earth, long back, even before the first human Adam (peace be upon him) was created. 

What makes the Islamic calendar very vital for us?

 Allah has decreed the twelve months right from the time he created the heavens and the earth. Secondly,  there are four sacred months among them, and even these 4 months of prohibition were also ordained at the same time when the heavens and the earth were created. Thirdly, even the name of all these 12 months were fixed up by Allah at the same time when heavens and the earth were created and  were not prescribed in our age, nor even during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him)

  Four months of them are the months of ‘Hurmat’, that is, the sacred months. Their sanctity requires to be honoured and respected and we have to observe the discipline of these four months.The command to observe their sanctity is given in not less than three places in the Qur’an and it includes in Surah al Baqarah, Surah al Maidah and Surah at-Toubah.  In the four months of Hurmat, the reward of good deeds are increased and so are the punishments of sins too. Do not commit wrong upon yourselves by committing sins in the sacred months

As per the Hadith, the three months of prohibitions, Dhil Qadha, Dhil Hijjah and Muharram fall in sequence and the fourth month of prohibition is secluded from the rest of the three months, and it is in between Jumada al Thani and Shaban, ie. Rajab. Among the four months of prohibition the most important month is the month of Muharram and it is decreed by Allah and conveyed to us by His Prophet (peace be upon him).

Islamic calendar is meant to calculate days, months and years

Allah has declared  that he has made and fixed these months so that we can calculate our dealings and accounts. The entire administrative work of ours has been attached to these 12 months. Therefore, the rightly guided Scholars have agreed upon that knowing the Islamic months and getting connected to its dates while adjusting our  routine is compulsory upon the community as ‘Fardh e Kifaya’. Fardh e Kifaya means that there should be a number of Muslims who should have the knowledge of these 12 months so that in a locality when there arises a need to enquire about important days and events, people should get avail of the facility. Is not compulsory upon every individual to learn about these months but there should be a collection of certain people who should expertise in this.

It is only due to the Islamic calendar that we can know the arrival of holy months like Ramadhan, our festivals like Eids and other important events.  Even a precious month of Muharram has a valued day, Ashura, and only if we know the calendar, we can fast on the day of Ashura.  

The Islamic Months are a part of our Deen and it is kufr to alter them

Observing the sanctity of sacred months is the Deenul Qayyim, the Straight-upright Religion because it is connected to Islam. The way, salah, fasting, charity, hajj and other good deeds are a part of Deenul Qayyim, in the same manner observing the sanctity of the sacred months also stands as a part of Deenul Qayyim. The manner in which no alteration is allowed in Islam, in the same way, no alteration is allowed in the sequence of 12 months or their dates and to make even a minute change in the sequence of these months is declared to be blasphemy.

The Arabs had been following the lunar calendar since ages but they used to alter it by postponing and preponing particular months to suit their conditions, especially during the wars. If any group was on the verge of winning but saw that the months of Hurmat were close by a day or two and by stopping the war during those months would mean that their efforts in war would go in vain so they used to declare the postponing of the month of Hurmat.  

When the Prophethood was bestowed upon him,  the Prophet (peace be upon him) noted that his people were altering the sequence of the 12 months. The correct sequence of these Months were according to the sequence prescribed when Allah created the heavens and the earth. The alternation of the sequences of the ones that was done by the ancient Arabs who altered it as per their desire was put to an end and the right sequence was  revived while the mankind was commanded to hold to it. Therefore  during the farewell pilgrimage, he delivered a sermon in which he declared that such alteration in the sequence of the months is prohibited.

How is Islamic calendar different from the other calendars?

Now, consider the variety of calendars that are prevailing in our society and the most popular among them is the Christian calendar. In the other ancient communities, we have the Hindu calendar as well, in the Indian subcontinent have their year called as Vikram year. The Jewish community the followed the Jewish calendar which according to them was originated during the time of King Solomon. They do not consider Solomon as a prophet but only as a king. When Solomon  was coronated as the ruler of Palestine, the Jews declared that day to be the first day of the year and calendar. The Christian calendar is supposed to  have begun from the day Jesus was born and the Romans have kept this as their calendar year.

The Christian calendar is only two thousand and seventeen years old. The Vikrami calendar is  also around few thousand years old and so is the Jewish calendar. It is only the Islamic calendar which has begun right from the day the heavens and the earth were created Millions of years ago The oldest calendar for mankind is the calendar of Islam.

The list of the other calendars and the names of the months are invented by humans whereas the Islamic calendar and its months are named by none other than the creator of the heavens and the earth himself. The other calendars are attached or  associated with either some humans achievement or death or birth of some prominent human being  or someone’s coronation.

The Islamic Calendar was begun to be calculated during the time of Umar bin al Khattab (Allah be pleased with him). The  calculation of Islamic calendar begins from the day the Prophet (peace be upon him), migrated from Mecca to Medina known as Hijrah. The Islamic year begins with the month of Hurmat and it ends with the month of Hurmat.

Yet we Muslims ignore it and stick to only the Christian calendar!!!

It is a very sad thing to note but if you ask from a group of 100 Muslims to speak the names of Islamic months only a very few of them would be able to name the Islamic months otherwise the rest of them are unaware of the names. On the contrary if we ask them the name of the month of English calendar then they will not be only able to name them but also they are well aware of the dates as well

And if they are even asked whether this month is of 29 days or 30 or 31 they will be able to tell us instantly.

 The months of Islam are Muharram, Safar, Rabiul Awal, Rabiul Thani, Jumada Awal, Jumada Thani, Rajab, Shaban, Ramadhan, Shawwal, Dhul Qida, Dhul Hijja

How to remember the names of Islamic months?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Who ever from my ummah, young, old, rich or poor, whoever he may be, if he fasts on three days of every month, 13, 14, and 15th of every month, Allah will register him as if he fasted for the whole month and he will be rewarded for fasting for a whole month.   And it is because for every good deed that you do, you get ten times reward from Allah, therefore fasting three days a month is equal to being rewarded for thirty days. Now, if Muslims act upon this Sunnah and and are enthusiastic to receive the virtues of this deed,  there will not be a single Muslim home which would be not calculating the Arabic lunar calendar. 

This is because when a person wants to fast with every month he will have to keep a track of the dates and keep on watching the moon to get an idea of the beginning of the new month and also he will keep on inquiring from others. This way he will be able too fast on these three days and also remember these days and will be scheduling himself along with the Islamic calendar. Therefore, all of us should know these months and Honour them.