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The Timing of the Fasting Month of Ramadan (3): Ramadan within the Historical Accounts of the Muhammadans


The Timing of the Fasting Month of Ramadan (3): Ramadan within the Historical Accounts of the Muhammadans

Published in September 29, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy


1- History of Arabs/Muhammadans is filled with proofs that the lunar month of Ramadan is the one when which fasting takes place. Historical accounts were written as per years, months, and sometimes the days as well, using the lunar calendar only for centuries since the Abbasids until the 19th century A.D., and never using the solar calendar at all. Historians adopted the notion that the events of the Hijri year begins with the first month decided by the caliph Omar, the month of Muharram, and ends with the last month of Zu Al-Hijja. Of course, historians were no omniscient men; rather, they used to record and chronicle events they heard of about rulers, leaders, famous scholars of fiqh, and natural disasters. Historians rarely recorded events related to common people unless disasters or calamities occurred. Typically, historians focus on the capital cities of caliphates; e.g., Ibn Al-Jawzy focuses on Baghdad of the Abbasids, whereas Al-Makrizi focused on Cairo the capital of the Mamelukes. We have published an article years ago about the methodology of Al-Tabari in writing historical events day by day within every lunar month, and we have provided examples of how he used to chronicle events of the 30 days of Ramadan in detail in many cities; the same analysis is adopted by us within our book titled "The Egyptian Society within the Application of Sharia during the Era of the Mameluke Sultan Qaitbay" and our book on fasting within the historical analysis of accounts about this act of worship in the Middle-Ages.      

2- Typically, historians who write events day by day within the lunar calendar summarize and copy from the books of other previous historians, and events they witnessed and wrote are used by historians of the later eras. This is why the last volumes of historians' books are bigger than the earlier volumes, as they contain events they had witnessed during their lifetimes. This applies to Ibn Al-Jawzy, Al-Makrizi, Ibn Hajar, Ibn Al-Sayrafi, and Ibn Katheer.  

3- In all books of Arab historians, the lunar calendar (of the Hijri year) is used and never the solar one (of the Anno Domini), reflecting the events of the Muhammadans as historians heard of some events and witnessed some of them in cities where they lived within the Arab Empire.

4- Of course, events occurring during the lunar fasting month of Ramadan were emphasized: as Ramadan contains the Night of Decree, viewing the crescent, social and political events, etc. For instance, within the Mameluke Era, the three-volume Al-Bokhary book was recited once every Ramadan in groups from cover to cover during the whole 30 nights of Ramadan, and these recitals were attended by notable figures and courtiers along with the sultan and famous scholars of fiqh and the judges of court, especially the four supreme judges representing the four main Sunnite doctrines.    

5- We refer readers to our writings about Ramadan in history during the Middle-Ages; we include these new pieces of information in the points below.


Firstly: Ramadan during the Fatimid Era:

 Personally, we consider Al-Makrizi as the greatest historian of the Middle-Ages; he even summarized the history of the Fatimid Era written by Fatimid historians, especially Al-Misbahy. Al-Makrizi used the lunar calendar years, months, and days within his historical accounts of the events he witnessed. Let us quote what he writes about the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim Biamralla who was enthroned in 386 A.H.  

1- (... He was Abou Ali Mansour Ibn Al-Aziz Biella Abou Al-Mansour Nizar Ibn Al-Moezz Ledine-Allah Abou Tameem Maad; he was born in the palace in Cairo in Thursday night of 23th day of Rabei Awwal at the ninth hour in 375 A.H. ... He was enthroned as caliph and the Fatimid army swore fealty to him after the noon prayers on Tuesday, the 18th  day of Ramadan in 386 A.H. as his procession moved with pomp and splendor to the palace in Cairo, after touring its streets, before the sunset prayers...). We notice the meticulous way of recoding the timing of events. 

2- (... In 393 A.H., Wednesday, the 10th day of Ramadan, a male son was born to the caliph Al-Hakim, and he made a huge banquet in Cairo to all the Cairene people within the sunsets of Thursday and Friday to celebrate the event and to receive congratulations from his subjects and notables, courtiers, judges etc. ...).

3- (... In 398 A.H., in the first day of Ramadan, the caliph Al-Hakim commanded a huge banquet at sunset inside the palace with his military leaders, judges, courtiers, and retinue members whose names are...).

4- (... In 399 A.H., during Ramadan, people fasted once they saw the crescent, each ate the breakfast meal at sunsets at his own expense, and no disputes over seeing the crescent occurred this year, and people performed congregational prayers in mosques, especially long ones after the night prayers ... and funerary prayers were performed for the dead, and people strove to perform many good deeds during the holy month to seek to please Allah ...).

5- (... In 404 A.H., during Ramadan, the caliph Al-Hakim prayed as imam with congregations in dour separate mosques in Cairo: the Cairo Fatimid mosque, the Amr Ibn Al-As mosque, the mosque near Al-Fotoh Gate in the Cairo Wall, and the mosque of Rashid, and he donated large sums of money for charity, and implored the Almighty to bless the successor, whom he loved as Moses loved Aaron ... Within the 4th day of Ramadan, the caliph Al-Hakim moved with his procession of pomp to be the imam of the congregational prayers in a new mosque called Al-Anwar near Al-Fotoh Gate ...).

6- (... In 404 A.H., during Ramadan, Al-Hakim made several banquets at sunset for the Cairene people in many mosques, and those who refused the invitation of the eccentric caliph were put to death by the decree of Al-Hakim ...).

7- Al-Makrizi writes the following about the successor of Al-Hakim, his son Al-Zahir: (... He was Abou Al-Hassan Ali the son of Al-Hakim Abou Ali Al-Mansour ... He was born in the Fatimid palace in Cairo at the third hour at night, on the Wednesday of the 10th day of Ramadan in 395 A.H., and he received fealty sworn by all people within three hours on the first day of Al-Adha feast after the congregational prayers in 411 A.H., when he was 16 years and 3 months old, taking the title Al-Zahir ...). We notice the meticulous way of recording the timing of events. Al-Makrizi says the following about the death of Al-Zahir: (... He died in an orchard outside Cairo on the 15th of the lunar month of Shabaan, in 427 A.H., and he was 31 years, 11 months, and 5 days old, and he ruled for 15 years, 8 months, and five days, and his caliphate was filled with events ...).


Secondly: Ramadan in the history book titled (Al-Muntazim) authored by Ibn Al-Jawzy:

 Ibn Al-Jawzy died in 597 A.H., and he began writing the volumes of his seminal book (Al-Muntazim) by copying and summarizing from the books of Al-Tabari and other previous historians, and then, he chronicled events he witnessed during his own lifetime to guide other historians who would emerge in later eras. Ibn Al-Jawzy was the most famous story-teller of narratives and hadiths (as he authored so many of them) and he was an influential scholar of the extremist Ibn Hanbal doctrine. In the last volumes of (Al-Muntazim), he records his own sermons and lectures (attended by thousands of people, as per his own account) and the events of Baghdad where he lived. Let us quote below some of his accounts of events that occurred during Ramadan.

1- (... In 570 A.H., on the 25th of Shabaan a madrassa was granted to the State, which was the house of Nizam Eddine Abou Nasr, and the one appointed to head it was Abou Jaffer Ibn Al-Sabbagh who had is keys, and guards moved around the madrassa till it opened its gates to receive disciples, in a celebration attended by the supreme judges and notable fiqh scholars of Baghdad ... the very first lessons of fiqh were taught there days later, and rivalries and debates began as usual between the fiqh scholars of the Ibn Hanbal school and the Abou Hanifa school ... this went on within the days of Ramadan, even disputes occurred about the locations of the breakfast meals in sunsets in mosques amidst the crowds, as each scholar desired to gather the largest number of people around him ...).

2- (... In 571 A.H., on the Friday 14th of Shabaan, the caliph in Baghdad was given a strange gift, a rarity: a calf born with two heads and necks and one stomach ... During Ramadan of the same year, a madrassa was dedicated only to the notable fiqh scholars of the Ibn Hanbal school and doctrine, by the decree of the caliph, and before the daily lessons during Ramadan ended, it came to pass that on the 27th of Ramadan, a Friday, the caliph fell ill as a result of long hours of fasting, and congregations and throngs people invoked Allah in piety and fear to grant him the best of health for the protection of the caliphate and welfare of Baghdad ... and the sun eclipsed at noon for about one hour ...).

3- (... In 572 A.H., in the month of Muharram, people in Baghdad listened to sermon delivered by the caliph at one of the gates of his palace, to celebrate Ashura (the 10th day of Muharram) from the deep night till the break of dawn, and many people were sorry to miss this speech delivered by the caliph, as many desired to submit their complaints for him to settle their disputes ... on the 12th of Muharram, our daughter got married within a ceremony procession that carried her to her husband's house, with expensive clothes and extravagant trousseau ...). (... on a Monday, 11th of Ramadan, the caliph, merchants, and judges as well as the masses heard our sermon and admired it very much, and the supreme judge Zahir Eddine praised our person before the caliph ... A wealthy merchant was stabbed to death by his male black slave by night in the middle of Ramadan, and the murderer's flight was interceded by his greed, as he desired first to take the money left by his dead master in a tavern in Anbar, Iraq, but the tavern owner suspected the matter and notified the authorities, and men found the dead body of the merchant, an a neighbor bore witness that he heard the scream of pain uttered by the merchant before he died, and thus the judge commanded his men to put the black slave to death by being crucified ... on Thursday, 21st of Ramadan, a male slave stole 1000 dinars from his master and fled from Baghdad, instead of sending this sum to some merchants, and the slave was never to be found ... In the second half of Ramadan, the weather was so hot and unbearable, and it turned fine only after Ramadan ended ... A six-month-old male baby had strangely four teeth appearing inside his mouth during Ramadan in one day! ... On Monday, 25th of Ramadan, we delivered a sermon that lasted from the afternoon prayers to the sunset prayers, and other fiqh scholars disputed and debated with us about many issued till midnight ...).

4- (... In 573 A.H., on the 5th day of Ramadan, a landlord hosted our person to deliver a long sermon to his guests and so many people gathered to hear our person, but the landlord had to receive limited number of them and closed the gates of his house ...).

5- (... In 574 A.H., the caliph attended the debate between our person and other fiqh scholars regarding many issues ... on a Saturday, the 1st day of Ramadan, we delivered a lecture in the madrassa directed and headed by ourselves in a district in Baghdad, and a huge crowd decided to gather to hear our person, and many corrupt ones and sinners wept and declared their repentance on that day after hearing our sermon ... a charlatan came to Baghdad in Ramadan, claiming that his sword and knife never cut through his own flesh! ... A Shiite man came to Baghdad during Ramadan to sell books that contain their corrupt doctrine and verbally abuse of the blessed companions of the Prophet Muhammad, telling lies and slanders about them, and he was arrested and had his tongue and right hand cut off, and then he was carried to the Baghdad hospital, but the masses kept beating him and the wounded man ran away to the riverside to swim and flee from them, but they had beaten him to death and they burned his corpse and throw it to the river, and people claim that...). We notice that the brutal masses did such a crime during Ramadan! May God punish those murderers in Hell!


Thirdly: Ramadan in the history book titled (Al-Solok) authored by Al-Makrizi:

 We quote some lines from his accounts of the year 843 A.H., during Ramadan, as Al-Makrizi chronicles the events of his era that he witnessed in Cairo, Egypt.

1- (... the first day of Ramadan was a Friday, wheat was sold in return for 333 dirhams for the ton, a large sack of flour for 110 dirhams, a feddan of fodder for horses for 2000 dirhams, and mutton meat was scarce and never to be found in markets, and so was honey and ghee, though the Nile flood made crops plentiful this year ...).

2- (... On the 11th day of Ramadan, the secretary-general of Aleppo was dismissed from his post by the Mameluke sultan and he was replaced by a military leader, and the dismissed one received the reward of 6000 dinars ...).

3- (... On the 18th day of Ramadan, the governor of Cairo hired 100 men to serve him during his processions of pomp, and the Mameluke sultan banned any Mameluke leaders to walk in their processions at night, as rumors were strong about the disputes and rifts among the Mameluke leaders in the military and the retinue men and courtiers ...).

4- (... The sultan attended every night the recital of Sahih Al-Bokhary in Al-Jabal Citadel, an event attended also by the four supreme judges and so many other notable fiqh scholars and sheikhs, and the sultan granted each of the attendees bags of dirhams ... the number of attendees was more than any other previous Ramadan ...).

5- (... On the 28th of Ramadan, the governor of Cairo, the prince Alaa-Eddine Ibn Al-Tablawi was made by the sultan as the supreme military leader after the death of the previous one, Nasser-Eddine Muhammad the prince of Tabar ...).

6- (...  The prince Qataj died on the 18th of Ramadan, a Monday, and he was among the Mamelukes of Al-Nasseriyya who served his master and got promoted till he was made a prince, and he ruled over many cities like Aleppo and Damascus, and he left large sums of money after his death, because he was so miserly and greedy and hoarded money all the time and rarely spent any of them ... Nasser-Eddine Muhammad the prince of Tabar died in the night of 28th of Ramadan, and people mourned him for his chivalry, courage, and generosity ...).


Fourthly: Ramadan in the history book titled (Ajaaeb Al-Athar) authored by Al-Jabarty:

 (... Sunday, 1st of Ramadan, 1236 A.H. ... scholars and sheikhs of fiqh went to Al-Muqattam hill to see the crescent of Ramadan, along with a procession of the Muhtasib (i.e., head of the policemen) and his men, and merchants, heads of groups of craftsmen, and judges, etc., and they saw the crescent after four hours after the night prayers ... this Ramadan was uneventful, except that soaring prices made the masses eat the worst type of food items, but nothing serious occurred in Cairo this time and no one died ... the 1st day of Shawwal in 1236 A.H. was a Tuesday, and on the 3rd day, horsemen came from Najd to Cairo with notable Wahabi scholars on camels to visit the ruler ...)       


  We cannot possibly ignore, omit, or disregard such historical narratives and accounts (about Ramadan and any other social or political events) that depend on the lunar calendar by these historians who never used (or even knew) the solar or A.D. calendar at all.

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