“A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in.”
Five years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessing be upon him), in 638 CE, the dating of the Islamic calendar was firstly introduced by the second caliph, Umar ibn Al-Khattab, attempting to solve administrative problems during his period. That was, as Ibn Kathir (d. 1373 CE) narrated, because one Shahabi who was a governor of Iraq, Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari, wrote to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab in distress: “There are letters have reached us from you, o Amirul Mu’minin, but we do not know how to deal with them. We read a document dated the month of Sha’ban, but we do not know which of the Sha’bans is meant: is it the month that has passed, or that which is to come?”
Not like names of days and months, Arabs at that time had not had numbering system of years yet. They only named years by the most significant event or situation occured during those years. For instance, the year of the Prophet Muhammad’s birth called “The Year of Elephants”, named after Aksumite warriors who attempted to attack Kaaba with their war elephants. Al-Biruni (d. 1050 CE) also mentioned that Muslims named the year 10 AH as “The Year of Farewell”.
Receiving Abu Musa’s complaint, Umar call a number of senior Shahabis to discuss this very issue. They all agreed to invent a new calendar system instead adopting both Persian or Roman calendar. Then they began disputed which year should be the first year of this new Islamic Calendar. Some said, “From the year of the Prophet’s birth.” Others proposed, “From the year of thr Prophecy when Quran first revealed.” Ali suggested, “From the year of Hijra to Medina.” Umar agreed with him saying, “We begin from the year of Hijra, because it distiguished between the truth and the falsehood.”
Next, they talked the beginning month over between several suggestions. Umar approved Uthman’s proposal to begin every Islamic year from the month of Muharram, reasoning it by saying “It is the month when people returned from they hajj (pilgrimage).” even the Prophetic hijra was in Rabi’ul Awwal. After this discussion, Umar announced this agreement and spread the using of this Islamic calendar and that year itself was consequently the 16th AH (After Hijra).
Some scholars, like Dr. Yassir Qadhi, stated that the 108th verse of At-Tawbah in Quran may be a sign to this calendar: “A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in.” Note that Allah called the Prophetic Hijra when our Prophet built Quba mosque as “awwali yawm/the first day”. It is somehow like a sign that Islamic Calendar will refer to this historical moment. Allah knows best.
This sunset (Islamic days begin every sunset), 10th September 2018, we are going to enter 1st Muharram 1440 AH the first day of the Islamic new year. For many muslims, Islamic New Year is more of a time for personal reflection than parties and celebrations. It is, therefore, a time when people make new year resolutions, especially those who return home from their hajj (pilgrimage). We should make our resolutions in this new year to make our worldly life and our Hereafter life much better. If our beloved Prophet arranged and designed everything for his hijra very well, why we live our life and spend our time without any planning?
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