The Holy Month of Ramadan

Ramadan represents the goodness, grace and the entire blessings of Allah.

Shia Wisdom

Once again the Holy Month of Ramadan is upon us and Muslims around the globe will enter a spiritual journey toward their creator by fasting and devoting an entire month to whatever gratifies their Almighty Lord. The 185th verse of Quran’s 2nd chapter states: “The month of Ramadan, in which the Quran was revealed. A guidance for people and clear proof of guidance and criterion.”

The entire month of Ramadan has been defined and labeled as month of guidance, as the blessings of Allah are poured on his subjects around the clock. During this month, any movement, action, deed, hint or even good intention of a believer is rewarded with blessings and considered as worship. The Holy Month of Ramadan equalizes the sense of need among all believer, regardless of their social and economic class. Whether poor or wealthy, elite or random citizen, men or women, everyone will experience the pain and sufferings of those less fortunate. Continue reading The Holy Month of Ramadan

Eid-e-Ghadir

By: M.K.

Eid-e-Ghadir is a well-known event that occupies the Islamic Calendar each year on the 18th Zilhijjah of the year, 10 A.H  (forenoon of Thursday, 21st March 633 CE). A historical portrait of this event shows that it occurred in a place called Ghadir Khumm. This place today is found in near proximity to al-Johfa and it is where people from surrounding provinces gathered around in the past to exchange greetings between each other prior to returning home. Al-Johfa or the town of Johfa is geographically situated at about 13 miles of distance from Mecca. And at this junction, routes from other countries such as Medina, Egypt and Syria as well as Iraq radiate in several directions.

On the border, there is a pond and in the Arabic language, the word ‘pond’ has a synonym called ‘Ghadir.’ Due to the location factor, the Hadith or tradition terminology as well as historical data refers to this as Khumm. The event of Ghadir Khumm occurred when Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) completed Hajjatul-Wada (last pilgrimage) and headed towards Ghadir Khumm in Madinah from Makkah with approximately 100, 000 Muslims. And the return journey had increased in numbers by thousands!

Ghadir Khumm’s appreciation is a little on the difficult side because neither its eminence nor its importance can be conceived completely. And each aspect of this event bathes it in eternal fame and glory. On the edge of this inspiring pond or watering place (Ghadir), the history preserved the divine message from God. Therefore, this place adorns a spiritual fragrance that presents a thriving atmosphere of righteousness and piety. At this place, good news was sent down from the Divine that guaranteed Islamic civilization protection from injustice. In addition, the marvelous devotions of the Apostle of God (p.b.u.h) were seen here, as this place is where his long awaited and sincerity-filled desires attained fulfillment.

When the caravan of people reached the border of Ghadir, it came to an abrupt halt. This is because the Archangel Gabriel appeared from the heavens to bring down the word of God to the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). God ordained, “O Apostle! Deliver what has been sent down to you from your Lord; and if you don’t do it, you have not delivered His message (at all); and Allah will protect you from the people” (Qur’an 5:67). Trustee of the God’s words conveyed the divine message and after this, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) diligently executed it with proper accomplishment. There was a terrible rise in temperature in the air and the earth burnt like fire. Some people moved forward while others had been left behind.

The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) recalled the swift footed people and passed along a message that advised slow moving in order to reach him hastily. The passionate lovers of God’s Apostle began forming groups and then he provided them with instructions to make arrangements for a meeting place in order to carry out the proclamation of the divine wish. By the time the arrangements were completed, it was time for noon prayers and Bilal recited the Adhan in a melodious tone. Once the prayers finished, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) glanced surprisingly at the surging crowd before moving gracefully over to the historic pulpit to deliver his revelation-molded speech to the anxious crowd. As he delivered his sermons, the crowd chorused back responses and in one sermon, the Apostle said, “I am reaching the Fountain of Kawthar before you and you all will follow me. The width of the Fountain of Paradise would be equal to the distance that lies between Sana’a and Basra (the way between Yemen and Syria). What to say of the number of silver bowls and drinking-vessels? They are countless like the stars in the sky. Now it is to be seen that after me with what respect you regard these two most precious things that I shall leave behind”. Hearing this, somebody from the crown asked loudly, “O Apostle of God! What do you mean by these two most precious things?” To this, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) replied, “One is the Book of God. One end of which is in the Hand of God, the Glorious and Majestic and the other is in your hands. Hold it fast, lest you deviate from the right path. And the second valuable thing is `my Descendants’. God, the Knower of the subtleties and the Aware has informed me that both these things will never separate from each other till they reach me at the Fountain of Kawthar. (Their union is eternal). I have also sought the same for them from my God. You should never dare to linger behind or surpass them. If you venture to do so you would be doomed and ruined”.

Following this, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) grabbed Imam Ali’s (a.s) hand and raised it high in the air. The grand crowd was then addressed by the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h), “O Muslims! Let me know, who else has got more power over the believers than they themselves?”

“God and His Prophet know better,” came the reply from the audience. Hearing this, from the heights of the Ghadir pulpit, the Apostle of God and Holy Secrets’ confidant declared, “God is my Master. I am the master of the faithful and I have right over them even more than they themselves possess. Therefore, of whomsoever I am master, Ali is his master too.” Here, the historians provide an indication of God’s Messenger repeating the aforementioned sentence thrice. In continuation with this sermon, the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “O My God! Be a Friend of him who is a friend of Ali and treat him like a Foe who opposes Ali. Help them who help Ali and abandon them who go against Ali. And O My Lord! Whichever way Ali turns orient, the Right is in the same direction.” And after this, he further said, “Look here! This is binding upon them who are here that they should convey this message to those who are not present”.

A respectable companion of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) named Zaid bin Arqam has narrated that following the end of Prophet’s discourse, the people began advancing in groups towards the Ghadir pulpit and swore allegiance to Imam Ali (a.s) amidst greetings and words of congratulations. Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Talha, and Zubair were the first ones to have clasped the hand of Imam Ali (a.s) while swearing their allegiance. The Muhajirs and Ansars were next followed by the remaining congregation who all swore allegiance while passing their congratulatory words to the Commander of the Faithful. The grand celebration of the Ghadir event underwent continuation for three full days. And up until this day, this event is celebrated as Eid-e-Ghadir among the believers of Almighty God, His Apostle and His vicegerent, Ali (a.s).

On Khumm’s plains nearing the Ghadir border, the Apostle of God following proclamation of Imam Ali’s (a.s) vicegerency as well as lieutenancy called the Imam (a.s) by his side and wound his special turban over the Imam’s (a.s) head. A narration from Kanzul Ummal ascribed to Imam Ali (a.s) shows Prophet’s (p.b.u.h) words said to the Imam (a.s) during the ceremony performance as, “O my beloved cousin Ali! The angels through whom God Almighty helped us in the battles of Badr and Hunain were all wearing turbans. Turban is that sign of distinction which distinguish between paganism and Faith in God, in His Word and in His Apostles.” This means that the Apostle of God himself had always exhibited happiness at the sight of the robe of honor that had been bestowed upon Imam Ali (a.s). In addition, the Apostle was also desirous to witness the Imam’s (a.s) coronation celebrations undergoing commemorations in Islamic Society.

Thus, the event of 18th Zilhaj (10 A.H.) was not an underground top-secret gathering or a hidden endeavor and there is no space for any doubts, suspicions or uncertainty. Attended by thousands, this mammoth congregation had been held by God’s mandate under the direct supervision of His Apostle in the vast space of a desert and during full lightness of the day. Quran and Hadith as well as historical records all show preservations of the main proceedings of this feast.

Sources:

http://www.al-islam.org/ghadir-khumm-where-religion-was-brought-perfection-dr-hasan-najafi

http://duas.org/ghadir.htm

 

Islamic Lunar Calendar

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The Islamic Lunar Calendar or Hijri Calendar, which consists of 12 months in a year of 354 days, is used to date events in Muslim countries, and used by all Muslims to determine the proper days of Haj season, fasting month (Ramadhan) and other Islamic holidays and festivals. The initiation of this calendar is dated to the migration of Prophet Mohammad from Mecca to Medina, which occurred in 622 AD. The interesting fact about this calendar lays in the number of days it holds, which are 10 to 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar. In addition, determining the beginning and end of the month depends on crescent sighting, which can be different from one geographic zone to another. The issue of determining the beginning of the Hijri month usually becomes problematic prior to Ramadhan and at the end of Ramadhan, as Muslims are eager to determine the first and last day of this holy month. Therefore, majority of Muslims, whether Shia or Sunni, turn to their religious authority institutions and wait for their announcements to formally determine the start and end of Ramadhan.

In addition, due to difference in jurisprudential opinions, during some years, Muslims are divided and start the month of Ramadhan in two different days, which ultimately affects the end of the month as well. However, the necessity lays in determining the end of the months, as Muslims are prohibited from fasting on the day of (Eid), which marks the end of Ramadhan. Therefore, even if the beginning of the month is differed upon, Muslims can fast that day with an intention of doubt, which means if that day is Ramadhan, then it is considered as first day, and if it is not the first day, it will only considered as commendable deed. However, fasting beyond the last of Ramadan with the intention of Ramadhan fasting would subject Muslims to atonement.

However, to evade such a dilemma, Shia jurisprudence has presented several options, which are used as simplification methods for Muslims during the months, where crescent sighting is important and essential (Ramadhan & Haj Season).

  • The first solution for this problem is very simple, as it has been offered by the Quran itself in verse 185 of chapter 2: “So, whoever of you sights the month, he must observe fasting”. Therefore, Muslims are suggested to go for heights and do what Islam calls moon-sighting. In this case, if any Muslim sights the crescent, he/she is obligated to start fasting on the next day, regardless if rest of the Islamic world is fasting on the next or not, as his/her sighting is sufficient. Therefore, that person will do the same thing upon the 29th day of Ramadhan, and if he/she sights the moon again, that would mark the end of Ramadhan for him/her and the next day is considered Eid for that person. However, if the crescent was not sighted, that person will fast the full 30 days of Ramadhan, and after the completion of 30 days the month of finished and the first day of the following month is considered Eid.
  • The other situation that might occur is due to the impossibility of moon sighting, due to weather conditions or any other obstruction. Therefore, Islamic jurists can permitted to Muslims to travel outside their towns boundaries, as they have travel over 24 kilometers, and return to their home only once the time of noon prayer has arrived. This solution can be done after a Muslim has fasted for 29 days, and there is a possibility that the 30th day is Eid.

Islamic Lunar Calendar Months

Just like any other calendar consists of 12 months, as mentioned earlier. The Islamic Lunar year start on the first of month of Muharram and end on the 29th or 30th day of month of Dhu Al-Hijjah. The name of Islamic Lunar months are:

  • Muharram
  • Safar
  • Rabi Al-Awwal (I)
  • Rabi Al-Thani (II)
  • Jumada Al-Awwal (I)
  • Jumada Al-THani (II)
  • Rajab
  • Sha’aban
  • Ramadhan
  • Shawwal
  • Dhu Al-Qa’adah
  • Dhu Al-Hijjah

Among these 12 months, four of them are considered the forbidden months, which many historians and scholars believe those forbidden designation to these months dates back to pre-Islamic era in Arabia. The four forbidden months are: Muharram, Rajab, Dhu Al-Qa’adah and Dhu Al-Hijjad. During these months Arabs and later on Muslim refrained from wars and any sort of confrontation, as whomever broke the code was renounced by rest of the Arab tribes.

Astronomical VS Visual consideration of Lunar Calendar

The issue of using astronomical calculations or modern tools to determine the beginning and end of Islamic months has been raised and used by several Muslim jurists and scholars. According to those scholars and jurists, considering and using astronomical methods to determine the beginning and end of the lunar month is permissible, as these calculations are precise and accurate. Therefore, Muslims are able to carry their rituals precisely on the intended dates and times, as the visual sighting of the crescent is subjected to several conditions and complications.

However, the scholars rejecting astronomical methods are not denying the accuracy of calculations or the tools used, as modern science has been able to determine the birth of the crescent several days prior to its birth. Nevertheless, the rationale used by these scholars to their rejection is derived from the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Mohammad and his holy household. According to those scholars, the visual accessibility of moon sighting has been labeled by the Quran through (Naked Eye), meaning without any tools or calculation. The Quranic verse state sighting not observing, as observing can be attained through telescopes or even astronomical calculations. Therefore, those scholars reject any notion of astronomical consideration for determining the start and end of the Islamic lunar months.

Regardless, this specific issue should not be viewed as a divisive matter, as Muslims are obligated to take their religion from the experts, and those jurists and scholars are the expert, which becomes an issue of submission to the expertise of the jurist a person follows.