Meeqatul Qibla and Islamic Calendar - By Ali Manikfan
Source : http://www.islamicvoice.com/february.99/features.htm#MEE
MONTHLY * Vol 13-02 No:146 * FEBRUARY 1999/ RAMADAN 1419H
Meeqatul Qibla and Islamic Calendar
By Ali Manikfan
All of you may be familiar with the word "Meeqat" in connection with the Hajj pilgrimage. As you know the Meeqat is a fixed place or a station at which the pilgrims don the 'Ihram', - that is the pilgrim's garment.
Now I am going to tell you about another Meeqat which is very important for the Muslims that is "Meeqatul Qibla". The former Meeqat which you already know is connected with place and this 'Meeqat' is connected with place as well as time, where and when a traveller on the earth has to change his Qibla, day and date.
We must have a universal date line, for the Islamic world to calculate the dates of the Islamic calendar, which is based on the movement of the Moon. (Qur'an 2:189). The date line of the Islamic calendar should be marked in the light of the holy Qur'an and the Sunnah with reference to Ka'abah, which is situated in the Ummal Qura, the mother of towns - that is Makkah al Mukarramah. Ka'abah is the Qibla of the Muslim prayer - the direction to which a Muslim must turn during his prayer.
I like to name this date line, which would be established as 'Meeqatul Qibla'.
What is the use of such a date line?
We calculate time in relation to the rotation of the earth with reference to the sun which is the largest and brightest object that we see in the sky. The Qur'an says that all the celestial bodies are floating in their orbits in space (36:40) under calculation. So the sun too is moving. We know time only in relation to the sun.
Perhaps the most important thing in our life is time. The time that is lost can never be regained. So time has to be spent with utmost care. For this we must pre- plan our affairs and carry out the programmes chalked out using a reliable calendar with defined and assigned dates. Islam gives certain rules to guide us in this venture.
Islam teaches us how to manage time by 5 prayers which must be performed in a day, punctually at the fixed timings. The prayer timings are measured using the shadow of an object cast by the Sun.
The Zuhr prayer is performed when the shadow disappears and the Sun is overhead, after the first declination of the Sun - that is when the sun has passed 90", the Asar prayer, after the shadow equals the object - that is when the Sun has passed 135 Deg., the Magrib prayer, after sun-set, - that is when the Sun has passed 180 deg., the Isha prayer when the flare of the setting Sun has disappeared - that is when the Sun has passed 202 1/2 deg., and the Subah prayer, when the first rays of the rising Sun appear - that is when the sun has passed 337 1/2 deg. if the Sun rise is taken as 0 deg. The Qur'an explains this in the verse 17:78 (see the diagram No: 1)
Time is dependent upon the angles of the Sun. We have converted all these angles to our watches. We can tell the Sun's angle in hours minutes and seconds without looking at the sun or its shadow. There is no difficulty even when the Sun is not visible for days together. The Qur'an says: "The Sun and the moon are with calculation" (55:5)
We cannot record the count of time in minutes or hours because the figures will be too long. Pages will be required to write them down. So we use Date, - that is days, months and years to make the recording easy. A date stands in place of a particular day to the week. A day has 24 hrs and a week 7 days. They are Ist, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, Jumua and 7th in the Islamic calendar and in English, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and this should be respected by all. The most important day of Muslims is the Jumua or Friday on which all Muslims in a town must perform the Jumua prayer at noon. Where on the Earth will the first Jumua be performed? How can this be found out according to Qur'an and Sunnah?
The verses of the Holy Qur'an "He merges night into day and He merges day into night" (35:13) make it clear that the Earth is a globe rotating on its axis causing the alternation of day and night. The hemisphere on which the sun light falls experiences day while the opposite hemisphere experiences night. As the globe rotates, night passes into day and day passes into night. First hemisphere in which Ka'abah is situated containing Australia, Asia, Europe and Africa has day while second hemisphere containing Americas has night. As time proceeds from east to west, 5 prayers must be observed at the stipulated time according to the angles of the Sun without violating the order.
In the second year of the Hijra, the order to turn towards the Ka'abah in the prayer was revealed in the Holy Qur'an (2:144). Supposing the Earth is a vast area with the Ka'abah at a particular place, imagine what will happen to the people in prayer on both the sides of Ka'abah. A diagram will explain the matter. (Diagram No. 2)
One day (day and night) is equal to 24 hrs. Time proceeds from east to west. The prayers will be
performed according to the time. It can be seen that the backs of A and B facing the
Qibla will meet when the ends are brought together. Those in the west cannot
advance the East. There will be a difference of one hour of every 150
When all turn towards the Ka'abah what will happen to those at the ends, if the ends are joined as it is upon the globe? The people at the ends will face towards the opposite direction and their backs will meet. This condition is not contradictory to the Qur'an which says: "Righteousness is not that you face East or West" (2:177). So there is a place on the Earth where Muslims face opposite directions in the prayer. Where on the Earth could this happen?
The Qibla of a town cannot be different. All in a town must face to one direction in the prayer. But as the Earth is a globe, a place where Muslims turn towards the opposite directions in the prayer, where two days of Jumua are experienced and where a man crossing from one place to the other loses 5 prayers of the day, is inevitable. This cannot be on any land.
The Imams of the past have written down rules for such a place. It should be separated by sea or a mountain which makes the two sides approachable only by travel. Here the traveller changes his Qibla, day and date. This is the 'Meeqatul Qibla' of which we have mentioned in the beginning. Meeqatul Qibla is among the Signs of Allah which must be recognised and respected (22:32).
Since the traveller is allowed to lessen his prayers (4:101) this peculiarity is not a problem.
The diagram explains how the lines of Qibla radiating from Ka'abah join and make a line passing from north to south, through the Bering Strait which is the only gap separating Asia and America. It has to be zigzag to allow one Qibla, one day and date for those living in the islands on the line. People on the eastern side observe the East Qibla and Thursday, while the people on the West observe the West Qibla and Friday. There is one day's difference here alone on the Earth. Change of day, date and Qibla will be forbidden at any other place on the Earth.
Meeqatul Qibla is exactly 9 hrs ahead of Makkah and day and date of the Islamic calendar begin here at the Zero hour, at noon. Corresponding time at the Ummual Qura, the centre of Islam is "Sahar" (the last part of the night) and at London it is midnight. The order of the Qibla was given to the Prophet 1400 years ago and the Muslims began to change their day at 'Sahar', since the Ramadan of the second year of Hijra when the orders of 'sahar' (Supper) for the fasting was revealed in the Qur'an (2:187). The Islamic date line was thus defined at that time. This date line was found out by the science in 1885 A.D. Those who established it did not know the Islamic rules.
Science does not contradict Islam
Our knowledge of time is in relation to the rotation of the Earth with reference to the Sun. To count the number of rotations of a wheel two marks are necessary - one in the wheel and one stationary, outside. When the two marks meet one rotation is counted. In the same way to count the rotation of the Earth, a mark on the Earth and a mark outside are needed. The mark on the Earth is the Meeqatul Qibla and the external mark is the Sun. When both meet one rotation or one day is counted. To get the correct count we need a stationary mark outside. But one mark, the Sun itself is moving. So we will not be able to count our days exactly with the help of the celestial objects which are in motion. We record days in dates. So, if we calculate with the average length of the day measured in relation to the Sun which is moving, we will make mistakes in recording time. So the creator has asked us to use the Moon for the purpose so that we may not make mistakes and be confused in our calculation of time.
The day dawns for those who live near the 'Meeqatul Qibla' 9 hrs before Makkah. They must observe all religious rites 9 hrs before Makkah. In fasting and feasting also they will be 9 hrs ahead. They cannot postpone any rite saying that the Centre has not yet done it. The time order must be strictly followed. Violation of time sequence is forbidden. A date cannot be postponed. (2:189, 17:78, 9:37)
Meeqatul Qibla is the date line of the Islamic calendar. Day begins depending upon the Sun (25:45). So the date which stands in place of the day, should also begin with the day. A date line cannot be shifted from place to place. The Lunar date lines suggested by some astronomers are not scientific and not Islamic.
After having defined the beginning of the day under the light of the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah, let us try to define the beginning of the months of the Islamic calendar. The Qur'an has already explained that dates and months depend on the Moon. The Moon cannot be caught by the Sun. (36:40) It is a satellite of the Earth. One rotation of the Moon around the Earth is calculated as one month with reference to the Sun. Every day the Moon changes the phase showing us the date. A solar eclipse (New Moon) can occur at the end of the month and next day is the first day of ensuing month. Sometimes a solar eclipse could occur at the time of Eid prayer (Imam Shafi). The dates must tally with the phases or the Manzils of the Moon. (2:189, 10:5, 36:38-40) The full moon (lunar eclipse) occurs only in the mid of the month. So it is clear that the dates depend on the angles of the Moon in relation to the Sun and could be calculated exactly. Why should there be confusion regarding the dates depending on the Moon angles while there is no confusion regarding the time which depends upon the Sun's angles?
The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)ý who taught the Qur'an to the illiterate Arabs of his time, taught them the easy methods of counting time by observing the Sun. He also taught them how to find out the dates of the months by simple methods of observing the Moon. They were not able to write, calculate or record. The Prophet asked them to learn wisdom, the art of reading and writing. He did not forbid them to learn but on the other hand he urged the Muslims to acquire knowledge in every faculty.
He said that the months have 29 or 30 days. The calendar in vogue in Arabia at this time was the Jewish lunar calendar which had a fixed number of days for every month, 30, 29 alternating with a leap year system. He gave instructions to correct the dates according to the moon's Manzils (36:36). He abolished the leap year and made it fully natural. The deviation of dates from the Manzil was not allowed because if a day of Shaaban entered into Ramadan, Allah's Halal and Haraam will be violated. Shabaan according to the Jewish calendar always had 29 days whereas it could have 30 days also. It had 30 days in all Ramadans, but Ramadan too could have 29 days according to the Moon. That is why the Prophet ordered to observe the Moon and correct the dates accordingly. There are 12 months in a year (9:36). We know what will happen if a day is skipped over. Qur'an forbids postponing of dates (9:37).
The observation of the Moon for long periods gives us the average of 354. 3671 days for a year and 29.53059 days for a month. (354.3671 x 12 = 29.53059). The science has proved this statement of the Prophet that the lunar months have 29 or 30 days only.
The months of the Islamic calendar also begin with the day at the Zero hour in the world. Now the Muslims do not practise this calendar, but rely on the Christian calendar. Pope Gregory 13. in 1582 reformed the Julian calendar which was instituted by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C, by removing the error of 10 days which had accumulated in the calendar by that time. The exact measure of the solar year was not known then. It was regarded as 365.25 days. Earth takes 365 days 5 hrs 48 minutes 49 sec to make a rotation around the Sun. This gives 365.2422 days. The difference of 0.0078 day in a year becomes 15.6 days in 2000 years,
This means that 15.6 days have passed without Sun rise! In the solar date system days will have to be eliminated from the calendar at intervals and this is meddling with the calendar. This will create confusion. Such a system cannot be good for recording time.
Had the people used the lunar date system to record the events in the past we would not have any problem in finding out the actual day on which the incidents had occurred. But now we are in utter confusion. We do not get the recorded day and date by calculation. The Qur'an says "The Sun and the Moon are with calculation" (55:5). Many renowned mathematicians and astronomers have caculated the date of birth of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). But all have gone wrong. They give different dates of birth for the Prophet! A person cannot be born on two days. There is some thing wrong in their calculations. Their dates do not tally with the historical records too. This is because the calendar had been meddled with and the omissions are not taken into account. We have a record of two events of the past. If we calculated the number of days that elapsed between the two incidents according to two calendar systems we can see what happens when a wrong calendar is used to record time. The equivalent dates and days of two solar eclipses of the past are given below as recorded in two calendars.
Solar eclipse according to C.E and M.E
1. C.E. 22.7.1990 Sunday = M.E. 30.12.1410 Sunday
2. C.E. 14.7. 622 Wednesday = M.E. 30.12.0000 Wednesday
Time elasped 8.0.1368 = 00.00.1410 Wednesday
Total No. of days according to C.E and 1368 x 365.25+8= 499670.00 days
Total No. of days according to M.E and 1410 x 354.3671= 499657.61 days
Difference = 12.39 days
The error accumulated in C.E for 1368 years is 12.39 days. There is no error in M.E. If the Moon is left out, we cannot find out this error. Our calculation of time will go wrong and we will be in confusion. It is high time that we adopted the scientific date system and used it in our daily affairs so that our records will not cause confusion for the next generation.
If we have consensus to prepare the scientific lunar calendar for the entire world, we can have the first of Ramadan on the same day for each and every Muslim on the Earth. Likewise we can celebrate Eid also on the same day in every country. Let me remind that the Holy Prophet has forbidden to observe fasting on the Day of Eid. How is it justifiable to have fasting and feasting on the same day? If we agree to this, we are admitting that there can be mistakes in the calculation of Allah the Almighty.
Observing Ramadan and Eid on the correct day which will be same for all the Muslims on the Earth as commanded by Allah, will lead to the unity, harmony and peace of the Muslim communities in various parts of the world.
Kindly think over the problem and the relevance of the Meequatul Qibla which is very important to define the beginning of the dates of the Islamic calendar,
May Allah bless us with open mind and intelligence to find out His orders and Systems which are hidden in Nature and to live accordingly.
(The author is the Chairman of Hijra Committee of India, 19/1706 East Kallai, Calicut- 673003, Kerala, Tel: 0091495-301996/304226, Fax:302352)