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The Timing of the Fasting Month of Ramadan: The Introductory Article

 

The Timing of the Fasting Month of Ramadan: The Introductory Article

Published in September 27, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

Introduction:

 In a previous article about polygamy (found on this link: http://www.ahl-alquran.com/English/show_article.php?main_id=17284), the query is raised about the timing of Ramadan, as some persons claim within some websites that Ramadan is to be fasted only in September (i.e., in summers only), as its name literally means "hot weather" and they claim to have calculated the timing of the sacred month of fasting as per the solar calendar instead of the lunar one. Would this strange view, if applied, make their fasting acceptable to God or not?!

 

Firstly: we begin with the important question: is their fasting acceptable to God this way or not:

1- Let us suppose that a man performed prayers regularly for 30 years, but he discovered suddenly that he used to perform the afternoon prayers minutes before their timing, or that he never prayed toward the direction of the Kaaba (i.e., the Qibla), and the question is now as follows: were his prayers rendered nullified and annulled? The answer is simple: Of course not. The reason: the Quranic legislative purpose of prayers (and all acts of worship) is to attain piety (see 2:21). Thus, all that is required simply is to perform prayers within concentration, piety, and the fear of our Lord God, while preserving piety between times of prayers all day long, and indeed, during our lifetimes. It is part of piety to worship God in ways He ordains in the Quran, NOT as per personal whims. God pardons any unintentional mistakes: "...There is no blame on you if you err therein, barring what your hearts premeditates. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (33:5).     

2- We assert the above about prayers, for instance, because some persons online claim that the daily prayers are only three instead of five, and we, among many other Quranists, have refuted such falsehood; yet, some persons claim that the Quran mentions only three prayers and insist that this way, they are 'true' Quranists! These persons insists on changing God's Quranic sharia as per their whims, and make these three prayers as pivotal point in their creed! Such controversy (stirred years ago) is very strange; if the number of the daily prayers had been a source of controversy during Muhammad's lifetime, why Arabs did not ask him about their number and timings? Arabs used to pose many questions to Muhammad repeatedly, and he used to wait till answers are provided in the Quranic revelation, as we have asserted in our book titled "The Quran: Sufficient as a Source of Islamic Legislation" (found in English on this link: http://www.ahl-alquran.com/arabic/book_main.php?main_id=92), and these questions NEVER included the timings or number of daily prayers, things known very well from the religion of Abraham inherited by Arabs through Ishmael. It is funny that some persons insist that the daily prayers are three instead of five; why on earth stir such a useless controversy that never existed before throughout the centuries?! Logically, it is better to be in the safe side by adhering to the five daily prayers; why no one ever thought of making them ten (or more) instead of five?! Some other persons online have denied the five prayers altogether, and they wrongly assume that (prayers) means solely to read the Quran to be in contact with God's Divine Will. Those who deny the five daily prayers (or making them less than five) are sinners who will face their biggest ordeal on the Last Day. Let us remember this verse: "Say, "Have you considered? If it is from God and you reject it-who is further astray than he who is cutoff and alienated?"" (41:52).      

3- The same points above regarding prayers apply to fasting during the lunar month of Ramadan. Let us suppose that a man kept fasting Ramadan for 30 years but he discovered that he was fasting the wrong months based on wrong calculations. The fasting of this man is accepted by God as long as he adhered to piety during this fasting; he will not be judged based on unintentional mistake. Even if some people would consider that the timing of Ramadan is controversial, it is better to be in the safe side to fast Ramadan as determined now by most people. Ramadan is the month when the Quran was revealed inside the heart of Muhammad within the Night of Decree / Night-Journey, and God ordains the fasting of this month. There is no controversy regarding the fact that Ramadan is a month of the lunar calendar known to Arabs centuries before Muhammad was born. Those who claim that fasting must lie in September are intentionally changing God's sharia laws by inventing new rules/laws as per their whims; they intentionally forget the fact that fasting of Ramadan is based solely on the lunar calendar. One can fast as a voluntary act of worship any day all year round, but Ramadan fasting is obligational duty imposed by God in the Quran; this month is a lunar month and no one can deny this fact.            

4- This means that tawatur (i.e., passage of traditions and rituals) is an important and vital issue, and we have tackled it within our book in English about pilgrimage titled "Pilgrimage between Islam and the Muhammadans" (on this link: http://www.ahl-alquran.com/arabic/book_main.php?main_id=90). We maintain that tawatur is OK only in cases when it does not contradict the Quran. Let us remember that the Quranic sharia laws aim to correct the Abraham's religion notions distorted by Arabs (gentiles) and People of the Book (Jews + Christians). Distortions do NOT imply that the change was radical; it was rather partial, and the Quran corrects any distortions. This means that there are parts of tawatur within Abraham's religion that are correct. The distortions were related to dedicating religion and worship to other sanctified/deified mortals and sites/items as well as tombs. The other distortions were linked to making acts of worship as ends in themselves and not as means to attain piety. Thus, they lost piety in prayers and followed their whims and desires (see 19:58-60). The Quran commands Muhammad, Arabs, and the People of the Book to follow the monotheistic religion of Abraham; i.e., to dedicate acts of worship only to God. Of course, the Quran brings new sharia laws linked to prayers (e.g., ablution, Tayammum, and prayers of fear) and others linked to pilgrimage and when not to fast Ramadan in certain cases. God in the Quran calls people to use the Quran as the only criterion to judge any tawatur or inherited traditions, notions, or practices that came from the ancestors/forefathers. Yet, most people have refused to do so and continued to stick to distortions. Thus, any tawatur that agrees with the Quran and never contradicts it is OK to be followed as part of God's sharia. Those persons who invent new 'religious' laws (e.g., making daily prayers as three not five) are contradicting the Quran, and this verse applies to these sinners: "Or is it that they have partners who issue for them religious laws never authorized by God? Were it not for the conclusive decision, it would have been settled between them. The unjust ones will have a painful torment." (42:21).            

5- The chronic ignorance of the ignoramuses of the Muhammadan clergymen has negatively influenced some of those who claim to be Quranists; those clergy know nothing about the Quran, and some of those sinners who claim to be Quranists while violating the Quranic laws assume they have better knowledge of the Quran more than the mob among clergymen of the Muhammadans; thus, these 'amateurs' who have no research skills or background that would allow them to research the Quranic text the right way adopt strange ideas to prove to themselves that they are 'geniuses' who are better than Wahabi Sunnite ignoramuses and sheikhs. Sadly, they follow their whims and desires by annulling Quranic sharia and inventing new 'religious' laws! This is no innovative thinking at all! They are victims of Satan who misguides them: "He said, "Because you have lured me, I will waylay them on Your Straight Path. Then I will come at them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left; and you will not find most of them appreciative."" (7:16-17).    

6- Eventually, each of us will be held responsible on the Last Day for his/her deeds and belief; those who believe in God and the Day of Resurrection must prepare their defense of their deeds and their notions/stances regarding religion.  

 

Secondly: various calendars worldwide at the time when the Quran was revealed in the 7th century A.D.:

1- Within the 7th century A.D. and the centuries after it, humanity knew many types of calendars: the solar and the lunar ones as well as the one following stars, and some of the calendars underwent some changes or modifications.

2- The Maya civilization had their own two types of calendars five centuries B.C., one secular calendar and another one for religious purposes, based on stars. And both types of calendars are so precise that they are still impressing the whole world till now. 

3- In Arabia and around it before and after the revelation of the Quran, many nations knew many types of calendars as follows.

3/1: In the Nile Valley, ancient Egyptians with their millennia-old civilization had their own solar calendar (still adopted as the Coptic one now) used within agricultural activities like harvesting, flood of the Nile, climate, and so one, and when Egyptians converted to Orthodox Christianity, they refused to worship the Roman emperor as a deity, and Diocletian the pagan emperor persecuted them so severely that in 284 A.D., they revived the Pharaonic solar calendar and re-named it as the Coptic calendar of martyrs.       

3/2: Within Mesopotamia, the Babylonian calendar combined between the solar and lunar calendars, and the beginning of the year was in the spring season. This calendar has been adopted by the Israelites, the Syriac Christians, and Assyrians, with slight modifications, and until now, the Levantine people use the months of this Babylonian calendar: (Tammuz, Nisan, Kanoon, Elool, Tishrin, etc.).      

3/3: The solar calendar is more commonly used now but altered to begin in the year when Christ was born, and this A.D. solar calendar uses the months made by the Romans who spread this calendar throughout their empire, and Christianity helped to make it the popular calendar used by Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Byzantines, etc. 

3/4: The lunar calendar has been adopted by Arabs from the era when they embraced the religion of Abraham through his first-born son Ishmael, and this has been their religious calendar until the present moment. The only modification applied to this calendar is making it have a new mark of beginning; i.e., the year when Muhammad immigrated to Yathreb. This change has been introduced by the caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab when the Arab empire took form and its diwans/divans of the governments of each country needed a unified calendar to register and record data, especially in relation to monthly pensions granted to some persons or families in certain tribes and to the poor, and this means that the population had to be counted within a census in each country, etc. This was also important to impose taxes and tributes on males among 'non-Muslims' and not on children, women, and Christian clergymen, apart from taxes imposed on all merchants, peasants, workers, etc. annually. This made the lunar calendar important for religious and secular reasons within the Treasury of Arab empire and caliphs (both the pre-Umayyads and the Umayyads, etc.)     

 

Thirdly: the Arab lunar calendar within the civilization of Arabs and Muslims/Muhammadans:

1- The lunar calendar is thus very important for religious and secular reasons within the Arab civilizations of the Muhammadans, especially when Arab scientists studied astronomy and wrote history books based on the dates of the lunar-months calendar within each year. We have explained this within our articles on methodology of historians like Al-Tabari and our book titled "The Egyptian Society within the Application of Sharia in the Era of the Sultan Qaitbay". More details will be mentioned in later articles following this article you are reading now. 

2- Arabs were pioneers in recording history and in the field of astronomy during the Middle-Ages. 

3- Before the obscurantist ignoramuses o the Sunnite Ibn Hanbal doctrine scholars dominated religious and cultural life in most Arab cities and wrote down their fiqh, hadiths, and Sunna, Arabs had advanced knowledge within many fields: astronomy, geometry, engineering, geography, chemistry, medicine, etc.  

4- The calendars of all types are linked directly to the field of astronomy; Arabs at first studied all things related to astronomy by the ancient Indians, Persians, and Greeks, and they added more aspects of knowledge in that field following such studies; even Europeans who begin their renaissance translated these Arabic books of astronomy (and other fields of science) into their languages, and this benefited European travelers and seamen a lot when they discovered new continents and lands. Damascus of the Umayyads and Baghdad of the Abbasids became centers of scientific knowledge about astronomy; even the cultured and learned Abbasid caliph Al-Maamoun (who was a veritable foe of fiqh scholars and hadiths-inventors as he opposed obscurantism) established in both cities two observatories to study celestial bodies.         

5- Within the field of astronomy, many Arab/Muslim scientists had advanced knowledge of it and they imparted this knowledge to others worldwide as their books were translated into European languages. Their list include the following names.

5/1: Al-Khwarizmi who invented algebra and logarithms had written books on astronomy as well, including the book titled "Zij al-Sindhind" with the astronomical tables of the movements of the five planets known at the time and the movements of the sun and the moon.   

5/2: Ahmed Ibn Abdullah Al-Marwazi wrote "The Book of Bodies and Distances" about astronomy and he estimated (in 825 – 835 A.D.) that the moon's diameter is 3037 KM, which is near the real diameter know to us now.

5/3: Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Katheer Al-Farghani was an astronomer whose books were translated in Europe into Latin; in 850 A.D., he wrote about the estimated diameter of the Earth and the way the sun moves in the galaxy.  

5/4: Muhammad Ibn Jabir Al-Battani who died in 853 A.D. wrote astronomical tables for the movements of the sun and the moon and how to calculate the emergence of crescents of the lunar months and when to expect solar and lunar eclipses, and he wrote about the solar calendar as well.

5/5: Within the 10th century A.D., Abdul-Rahman Ibn Omar Al-Sufi wrote a book about the 48 stars known at the time in the galaxy, about their shapes, colors, and light emitting from them, and he was the first one to see what are known today as the Large Magellanic Clouds and Andromeda.

5/6: Ibn Younis used the astrolabe to measure the points of the movements of the sun and when to expect solar eclipses, and his findings were used for centuries in Europe. 

5/7: The Persian Muslim astronomer Abou-Mahmoud Khojandi calculated accurately the axial tilt. 

5/8: The Egyptian Muslim astronomer Ali Ibn Radwan spotted in 1006 A.D. the most bright stars and described them in detail in his books, and he wrote about planet Venus and the moon. 

5/9: The Persian Muslim astronomer Al-Biruni rejected the notion that the Earth is the center of the universe, and he proved that the Earth is moving; in 1031 A.D., he finished his astronomical encyclopedia titled "The Masoodi Canon", an extensive book on astronomy with unprecedented findings and astronomical tables, and he discovered that the distance between the Earth and the sun is more than the estimations made by Claudius Ptolemy.    

 

Lastly:

1- Even these above points, which prove how many Arab/Muslim scientists had advanced knowledge of astronomy, has been eclipsed by the false Sunnite hadith about Ramadan: (to fast when the crescent is seen in the sky); it is clear that fasting of Ramadan has been based on astronomical calculations known for centuries by Arabs before and after the revelation of the Quran. This false hadith about the crescent is refuted within a previous article of ours written years ago.  

2- What we focus on is the fact that the lunar calendar has been known and applied before by Arabs, during, and after the Quran was revealed; this is why the Quran talks about Ramadan in a way that shows Arabs knew about it. The Quran was revealed within an environment of people who fasted typically during this lunar month before the Quran was revealed, as this has been a part of the religion of Abraham just as other acts of prayers; e.g., prayers and fasting.  

3- We continue this topic in the next article. 


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