Monday, September 22, 2008

406)'Ismaili Lunar Calendar': An ideal base to unite the 'Ummah'; Quotes of Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan III and Noble Quran.

"That quest for a better life, among Muslims and non-Muslims alike, must lead inevitably to the Knowledge Society which is developing in our time. The great and central question facing the Ummah of today is how it will relate to the Knowledge Society of tomorrow.The fundamental reason for the pre-eminence of Islamic civilizations lay neither in accidents of history nor in acts of war, but rather in their ability to discover new knowledge, to make it their own, and to build constructively upon it. They became the Knowledge Societies of their time."(Aga Khan IV, Speech, 2nd December 2006, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan)

"Astronomy, the so-called “Science of the Universe” was a field of particular distinction in Islamic civilization-–in sharp contrast to the weakness of Islamic countries in the field of Space research today. In this field, as in others, intellectual leadership is never a static condition, but something which is always shifting and always dynamic"(Aga Khan IV, Convocation, American University of Cairo, Cairo, Egypt, June 15th 2006)

"Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God's signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order(Aga Khan III, April 4th 1952)

Chapter 30, Verse 27: He originates creation; then refashions it - for Him an easy task. His is the most Sublime Symbol in the heavens and the earth(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

Chapter 21, Verse 30: Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together before We clove them asunder, and of water fashioned every thing? Will they not then believe?(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

Chapter 51, verse 47: We built the heavens with might, and We expand it wide(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

Chapter79, verse 30: And then he gave the earth an oval form(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

Chapter 86, verse 11: I swear by the reciprocating heaven.....(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

The above are 8 quotes taken from Blogpost Four Hundred:

'Ismaili Lunar Calendar': An ideal base to unite the 'Ummah' - Part I
Yemen Times

Dr. Qazi Shaikh Abbas Borhany PhD (USA), NDI, Shahadat al A'alamiyyah (Najaf, Iraq), M.A., LLM (Shariah) Member, Ulama Council of Pakistan

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.

Origin of the Lunar Calendar: Base of the 'Ismaili Lunar Calendar' is Qur'an: "The Sun and the Moon follow exactly computed courses."[1]

This Ayat lays the foundation on which it is permissible to calculate the emergence of new crescent from a Shariah standpoint, and refutes any claim raised by people of limited-understanding who believe that crescent sighting should be followed; because all such erroneous sightings would contradict the findings of this Ayat and at the same time contradict the 'words of Qur'an', explaining the orderly movement of the Moon and other celestial bodies. The precise laws, made by Allah, governing the Universe, bear witness to Hikmat ilahiyyah and Adal and also of His favours to His creatures.

It was Bani Fatimah who realized the need of the Lunar Calendar, and they introduced it to the world at large, as soon as they established their vast Empire, even spreading across Europe. This Lunar Calendar remained in practice officially for more than 225 years, in North Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean. The same calendar is in practice officially by the Ismaili Nizaries & Musta'alavis (Dawoodi, Sulaiymani, & Alavi). The notable powerful dynasty of the Sumrahs of Sindh (Pakistan) followed the Lunar Calendar from 365(A.H) to 974(A.H) for more than 609 years, and without any alteration. As elites of Sindh, the Sumrahs handled the affairs of Al Dawah al Hadiyah as Aa'mil of the Ismaili Fatemi Imams in Sindh, whose jurisdiction extended up to the 'Attock Fort'. Their relationship continued to remain under the command of Al Dai al Mutlaq, one after the other, during the period of Satar. The Ismailis calculate their months according to this Lunar Calendar and least bother(scarcely depend) on the sighting of the Moon for starting a New Year or a New Month, as they have carried out an accurate scientific research on the movements of the Moon. They have a very rich and valuable literature on the subject of 'Lunar Calendar', the glorious origin of which goes to Amir al Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib through the references of Abi Abdillah Imam Jafar Assadiq. An authentic scientific chart of 'Qaran-e-Saghir' and 'Qaran-e-Kabir' is attributed to Ali. [2]

Calculation of the Lunar Cycle: On an average, a lunar month (or lunation) comprises 29 days 12.73 hours, but it can sometimes be as short as 29 days 6_ hours, or as long as 29 days 20 hours. Fluctuations in length are cyclic. There is a fast cycle averaging about 412 days (which is just under 14 lunar months); which is associated with changes in the eccentricity, or shape of the lunar orbit. This rapid cycle is modified by a slower one whose mean wavelength is 8.85 years (equal to one complete revolution of the axis of the Moon's elliptical orbit). In addition, there are other oscillations, some causing variations extending over many hundreds of years – when it may not even make sense to look for an average wavelength. Other factors too contribute to the Moon's complex behavior.

For instance, a longer than normal lunation tends to occur between October and March because of the faster movement by the Earth in its orbit round the sun. In February and March, this delays the instant when the Moon appears to overtake the sun. Also, the sun lies closer to a newborn crescent than it would if the Earth's speed was uniform - thus postponing the onset of New Moon visibility. In October and November, on the other hand, the sun's position on the ecliptic line is "behind schedule" - so the Moon overtakes it earlier. Occasionally, four consecutive lunation will span more than 119 days. Under these circumstances, it is possible to have four successive 30-day months. When that happens, the Moon only just becomes visible at the beginning of the first month in the sequence, and just fails to do so on the 29th of the 4th month. A predetermined calendar would certainly make it easier to plan events. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to predict that a newborn crescent will definitely be visible or invisible from a given location, because of the wide grey area separating the two categories. This uncertainty is caused by day to day fluctuations in atmospheric water vapor and dust content.

A Few Logical Examples: The Ismailis follows a pre-calculated calendar based on a cycle of 30 Muslim years (eleven of which contain 355 days instead of the more common 354–thus totaling 10631 days). The accumulated error in that calendar is about one hour per century. This, together with the cyclic variations in the behavior of the lunar orbit, can bring the Ismaili dates two (or on rare occasions even three) days earlier than those governed strictly by Crescent visibility. In 1412 (A.H), for example, their Ramazan commenced on the morning of 4th March 1992, whereas throughout much of India and the Far East, Sawm did not start till 7th March. There are of course other ways in which a predetermined calendar might be constructed. Mathematical criteria could be laid down – and adopted, regardless of whether or not the crescent happens to be observed. Such guidelines might be based, for example, on the age of the New Moon at dusk (suitably defined), or the lag between sunset and moonset, or the number of degrees separating the sun and moon as they descend. It is then essential to specify either the exact time at which the criteria are to be applied–or the precise location; for example, Makkah would probably be universally acceptable. [3]

Qur'an says:

"Allah enlightens the sun and effulgent moon and created stations for the moon's movement so that you can keep the counting and records of years". [4]

The Circulation of the Moon around the Earth is described in the Qur'an, and on the basis of it the Lunar Calendar was designed. The 19th Al Dai al Fatemi, Syedna Idris Imaduddin(d.872/1468, Shib'am, Yemen) discussed the issue and proved that the Moon circulates one time around earth in 29 _ days and some minutes, and a single circulation is counted as one month. According to calculations, in the Lunar Calendar, a 30 days month is considered complete, and a 29 days month is called incomplete. The first month of Muharram is of 30 days and the second month is of 29 days, so according to this, the last month of Zilhajjah will be of 29 days. At the end of 12 months, some fraction is left between the movement of the Moon and 12 months, and as per calculation 11 leap-years are set in every 30 years in the lunar calendar. That means a leap-year will have 30 days instead of 29 days in the last month, which is Zilhajjah. [5]

Shia Ismaili Point of view: Shia Ismailies argue that Rasulullah (S) always observed Siy'am by particular calculations and commanded the Ummah to do accordingly. A valuable reference of Maaz bin Kasir is available in "Majm'a al Bahraiyn" which has been transmitted by Huzaifah bin Mansur who asked Abi Abdullah Imam Jafar Assadiq that people say: Rasulullh(S) observed some months of Ramazan for 29 days and some for 30 days. Imam Jafar Assadiq spontaneously rejected this allegation and replied:

"These people are telling lies; Rasulullah(S) has always observed 30 days Siy'aam in the month of Ramazan. From the day Allah created the Sky and the Earth, Ramazan has never ended in 29 Naqis (incomplete) days". [6]

As Muslims of the early era were not familiar with calculations at that time, the day on which everyone observed Sawm, and celebrated Eid, used to be announced. Once when Rasulullah(S) was leaving Madinah for expedition of 'Ghazwah Hunain', people behind him questioned, "We observed Sawm of Ramazan with you, and celebrated Eid with you, as you are leaving, how should we observe it?" Rasulullah(S) guided as follow:

"Observe Sawm of Ramazan by watching Him and celebrate your Eid by watching Him too." [7]

Children of the Ismaili Dawah argue that the meaning behind the word of Hadith "Ley Ruyate Hee" was Ali, as Rasulullah (S) had appointed him 'Wali al Amar' on his seat, in his place. Similarly, there is no doubt that Rasulullah(S) is the Sun of Nubuwah while Ali is the Moon of Imamah. Pointing out this divine reality, Syedna al Moayyid al Shirazi (d.470/1078, Qahera, Egypt) says in a couplet, available in his "Diw'aan" as follows:

"Wa Ya Qamaran B'aada Zakas Siraji; Muniran Bada Lid'diyaji Mubira" [8]

(O Moon which appears after the Sun; in order to remove darkness)

Selected Bibliography[1] "Al Qur'an", Surat No.55,Ayat No.5
[2] Alibhai Sharafali, "Sahifat us Sal'aat", Chart of' Qaran al Kabir wa Qaran al Saghir', Mumbai [3] David Mc Naughton,"Crescent- sighting & Islamic Calendars", Hamdard Islamicus, Karachi,January 1997
[4] Al Qur'an
[5] Syedna Idris Imaduddin, "Kit'aab Izah ul Ael'aam", (in explanation of 29 days of Shab'an and 30 days of Ramazan),manuscript.
[6] 1-"Majma al Bahraiyn", 2- 39th Alavi Dai, "Kit'aab al ib'anate wal Hil'aal", Manuscript, (Cross-examination by the learned Shaikh on books like "Kit'aab al Hid'ayah" and "Man La Yahzuruhul Faqih" and established logical scientific approach of the Ismailies)
[7] Syedna Idris Imaduddin, "Kit'aab Izah ul Ael'aam", (in explanation of 29 days of Shab'an and 30 days of Ramazan). Hadith
[8] Syedna al Moayyid al Shirazi, "Diw'aan", QaheraThe writer is Attorney at Law & Religious ScholarEmail address:

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The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)