Continued from page 1
The sun sets into a specific location, according
to the design of the Almighty, the Omniscient. The moon we designed
to appear in stages, until it becomes like an old curved sheath.
The sun and the moon are perfectly calculated. (55:5)
He is the One who rendered the sun radiant, and the
moon a light, and He designed its phases that you may learn to count
the years and to calculate. God did not create all this, except
for a specific purpose. He explains the revelations for people who
Do you not realize that God merges the night into
the day and merges the day into the night, and that He has committed
the sun and the moon in your service, each running in its orbit
for a specific life span, and that God is fully Cognizant of everything
you do? (31:29)
He created the heavens and the earth truthfully.
He rolls the night over the day, and rolls the day over the night.
He committed the sun and the moon, each running for a finite period.
Absolutely, He is the Almighty, the Forgiving. (39:5)
The ancient Sumerians devised the first known lunar calendar about
5,000 years ago. Later Babylonians divided months into weeks and
a week into 7 days. The Jews, once captive in Babylonia, used the
Babylonian 7-day week, as did the sun-worshipping Egyptians, who
developed a 52-week solar calendar based on 7-day week.
Julius Caesar (circa 100-44 BC) tried to adjust the solar calendar
so that it
would repeat itself the same way every
year. Progress was made, but not enough. Then early Christians modified
Caesar’s “Julian” calendar so that all years following
year 1, when Jesus Christ was born, would be known as AD, or anno
domini, “in the year of the Lord” and those that came
before as BC, before Christ, or BCE, before the common era. Still
the calendar errors continued to multiply. Finally, pope Gregory
XIII (1502-1585) corrected the solar calendar. Now its dates would
conform year after year to the proper seasons with almost no error.
The Gregorian calendar has 12 months, 11 of them with 30 or 31
days. The other month, February, normally has 28 days. Every fourth
year, called a leap year, it has 29 days. But even this calendar
is not quite exact enough. It is 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes,
12 seconds or 365.2425 days long. That is 26 seconds longer than
the real solar year. However, that means that the Gregorian calendar
will gain less than a full day on the sun in the next 3,300 years.
It therefore should be adequate for some time to come. In century
years that cannot be divided by 400, such as 1700, 1800, and 1900,
the extra day in February must be dropped. The century year 1600
was a leap year, and the year 2000 will be one.
The Hebrew Calendar
According to the Jewish tradition, this calendar was supposed to
have started with the creation, at a moment 3,760 years and 3 months
before the beginning of the Christian era. The Hebrew year is based
on the moon, and normally consists of 12 months. These months are
Tishri, Heshvan, Kislev, Tebet, Shebat, Adar, Nisan, Iyar, Sivan,
Tammuz, Ab, and Elul. The months are alternately 30 and 29 days
long. Seven times during every 19 year
period, an embolismic or extra 29-day month, called Veadar, is inserted
between Adar and Nisan. At the same time, Adar is given 30 days
instead of 29.
The Church Calendar
This calendar is regulated partly by the sun and partly by the
moon. Immovable feasts include Christmas and such feasts as Nativity
of the blessed Virgin. They are based on the solar calendar. Such
days as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, and Easter are called movable
feasts, because their dates vary from year to year, according to
the phases of the moon.
The Islamic Calendar
This calendar begins with the prophet Muhammad’s flight from
Mecca to Medina, known as Hegira, that took place in AD 622 by the
Gregorian calendar. This calendar is the same lunar calendar used
since the creation of man on earth (9:36).
The Islamic year is based on the moon. It has 12 months, alternately
30 and 29 days long. These months are Muharram, Safar, Rabi I, Rabi
II, Jumada I, Jumada II, Rajab, Shaban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Zulkadah,
The Islamic year is 354 days long. It divides time into cycles
30 years long. During each cycle, 19 years have the regular 354
days, and 11 years have an extra day each. The extra day in the
leap year goes to Zulhijjah. This method of counting time makes
the Islamic year nearly as accurate as the Gregorian calendar. The
Islamic calendar would be only about one day off every 2,570 years
with respect to the moon.
(To be continued)