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have disbelieved. They alternate the Sacred Months
and the regular months, while preserving the number of months consecrated
by God. They thus violate what God has consecrated. Their evil works
are adorned in their eyes. God does not guide the disbelieving people.
Therefore the Islamic calendar year always has 12 lunar months,
which alternates in length between 29 and 30 days. This makes the
Islamic calendar year 11 1/2 days shorter than solar year. The real
problem of the lunar calendar happened when the people of this earth
failed to realize that God created the sun and the moon and He absolutely
meant for us to have a lunar calendar as much as He meant for us
to have a sun and a moon. All the attempts made to fix the lunar
calendar to the solar calendar failed because God meant for us to
have these two wonderful calendars.
The sun is never to catch up with the moon—the
night and the day never deviate—each of them is floating in
its own orbit. (36:40)
The Islamic day as we can now appreciate is the same day used by
the oldest civilization, the same as the Hebrew day, begins at sunset
and ends at the next sunset. In the Story of Creation, in the Bible,
it says “And there was evening and there was morning one day.”
Evening marked the beginning of the new day. In the Quran, God almost
always mentions the night before the day.
And He is the One who created the night and the day,
and the sun and the moon; each floating in its own orbit. (21:33)
To calculate when a new lunar month
begins, we need to know mainly two facts, the first is the exact
time of the birth of the new moon and the second fact is the sunset
of the same day of the birth of the new moon. Remember that when
we talk about a day, we mean an Islamic day that begins on sunset
and ends on sunset. The new lunar moon begins theoretically on the
birth of the new moon, but begins practically on the first sunset
after the new moon is born. So if the new born is born after a certain
sunset, the day of this moon will belong to the going month and
the new month will begin with the following sunset.
In case of Ramadan, for example, if the new moon is born on 11:00
a.m. on the 10th of February, the fasting will begin after the Fajr
(Dawn) of the 11th of February. On the other hand, if the new moon
is born after the sunset of the 10th of February, (for example at
11:00 p.m.,) the new month would begin at sunset on the 11th, and
the fasting will begin at Fajr (Dawn) on the 12th of February.
They ask you about the phases of the moon! Say, “They
provide a timing device for the people, and determine the time of
It is a well known fact that it takes at least six hours to appreciate
a new crescent in the sky after the birth of a new moon. Several
factors will affect the ability of man to witness the new crescent
with his naked eyes, for example, weather conditions, the season,
the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, the angular distance of
the moon from the sun, the observer’s situation and so on.
God gave mankind from the early civilizations the knowledge to
calculate the time of birth of the new moon. He also taught us to
start our day after
sunset. Combining these two factors,
the beginning of the new lunar month at sunset of the next lunar
day guarantee enough time for the new moon to have a visible crescent
somewhere in the sky. This way of calculating the Islamic month
is totally Quranic and does not take into consideration the political
differences between ruling parties in the Muslim world, differences
that should have no place in calculating God’s calendar.
- Quran: The original Arabic text.
- Quran: The Final Testament. Authorized English version. Translated
from the original by Rashad Khalifa, Ph.D.
- Calendars: A First Book. By Necia H. Apfel, 1985.
- The Space-age Solar System. By Joseph F. Bauher, 1988.
- Astronomy: Second Contact. By Tom Bullock, 1989.
- A Brief History of Time From The Big Bang to Black Holes. By
Stephen W. Hawking, 1988.
- The Flammarion Book of Astronomy. By Gabrielle Camille Flammarion,
- The Story of The Jewish Calendar, By Azriel Eisenberg, 1958.
- The Moon: Earth’s Natural Satellite. By Franklin M. Branley,
- The Moon. By George Gamow, 1971.
- Wheel of Time. By Harry Zarchy, 1957.
- Calendar Art. By Leonard Everett Fisher, 1987.
- World Encyclopedia.
Atef Khalifa, M.D.