Development of Literary
Tradition in Early Islam
Tradition in Early Islam
(Written on 8/21/20 - 2nd Muharram, 1442 - The post date does not reflect the actual date of this writing)
Origin of the Hijri Calendar
Sometime in 638 CE, Abu Musa Ashari (r.a), the Governor of Basra wrote: "Amir-ul-Mominin, we receive instructions from you every now and then, but as the letters are undated, and some times the contents of the letters differ, it becomes difficult to ascertain as to which instructions are to be followed." That set Hazrat Umar (r.a) thinking. In the meantime, he received from Yemen a draft for some money which was encashable in Shaban. Hazrat Umar (r.a) thought that the practice of merely mentioning the month in such cases was defective for one could not be sure whether the month referred to was of the current or the following year. Hazrat Umar (r.a) convened an assembly to discuss the introduction of calendar.
Someone suggested that the Roman calendar should be adopted but the Roman calendar dated from too remote a year and was difficult. Some suggested the Persian calendar called ‘Mahroz’, that too was rejected. The general opinion was that instead of adopting foreign calendar, the Muslims should have a calendar of their own. This was agreed to, and the point next considered was from when should such year begin? Someone suggested that the year should begin from the date of birth of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Some suggested that it should begin from the death of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Hazrat Ali (r.a) suggested that it should begin from the date the Muslims did hijrah (migrated) from Makkah to Madinah. After discussion, Ali's suggestion was agreed to. The Holy Prophet ﷺ had done hijrah (migrated) in the month of Rabi-ul Awwal, when the pre-Islamic Arabic year had already passed two months and eight days. Next the question arose from which month should the new Islamic year start. Some suggested the sacred month of Rajab, others suggested sacred Ramadaan, yet others suggested Dhul Hijjah. Hazrat Usman (r.a) suggested that as in Arabia the year started with Muharram the new Islamic year should also start with Muharram. This suggestion was accepted. The date was accordingly pushed back by two months and eight days, and the new Hijri calendar began with the first day of Muharram in the year of migration rather than from the actual date of migration.
The Significance of Hijrah
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَٱلَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَجَٰهَدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ يَرۡجُونَ رَحۡمَتَ ٱللَّهِۚ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٞ رَّحِيمٞ
(Al Quran 2:218) As for those who believed and those who migrated and carried out struggle in the way of Allah, they hope for Allah’s mercy: and Allah is Forgiving, Very-Merciful.
In this ayah (verse) the term walladheena hajaru means "and those who migrated" in which the term hijrah means "migration for the sake of Allah", refers to the early Muslims, known as muhajirun or "emigrants", who left their homes in Makkah to seek refuge in Madinah (then called Yathrib) to escape persecution and be able to live according to the teachings of Islam. Despite the fact that hijrah was a physical journey undertaken by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions, yet it does not deprive the term of its wider, spiritual meaning which is to abandon and leave everything that is contrary to what Allah has said and turn your heart towards Him with the intention to live a life of obedience to His commandments. As we begin the new Islamic Hijri year of 1442 A.H. the beginning of each new year reminds us of the wider meaning of hijrah or "migration" i.e. our opportunity to turn towards Allah ﷻ and submit to His guidance in the Quran and the Prophetic teachings so that we can hope for His mercy and forgiveness in this world and the hereafter.
1. www.Quran.com - English Translation Mufti Taqi Usmani
2. Muhammad Asad - Message of the Quran - Surah Al Baqara, Ayah (verse) 218, Note 203
3. Khalifa Umar bin al-Khattab - Islamic Actions and Social Mandates, Professor Masud-ul-Hasan - Islamic Publications, Lahore, Pakistan - http://www.alim.org/library/references/ContentSources?quicktabs_20=2#khalifa