October 1997: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Submitters Perspective

Page 2

Islamic Calendar

Continued from page 1

measurable path.

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. (36:38-39)

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 know. (10:5)

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.

Gregorian Calendar

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, and Zulhijjah.

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.

Atef Khalifa, M.D.

(To be continued)