Hijri or Gregory?
Some things are so fundamental to life, and the way we live out our lives that they become invisible due to their ubiquitousness; there is nothing that is more deserving of this attribute than time itself. It is not to state it too highly that humanity has in every age tried to define time according to its own measures, but it is to time that humanity has been perpetually and relentlessly measured. In Islam time is used to distinguish between the pious person and the sinner, as well as the successful from the loser. Even the dead are still subject to time as well, as is the unborn foetus. Time and its measures are so integral to our existence as humans and as Muslims it is clearly error, if not sinful, to attribute it to anyone else aside from Allah (SWT).
Allah (SWT) created the heavens, the earth and everything in between them. He created the day and the night so that we may seek our provisions during the daylight hours, and rest by way of sleep during the hours of darkness. This process occurs over a 24hour period and equals one complete revolution of the earth on its axis. Seven revolutions of the earth equals to a week, and 29-30 revolutions equates to a month cycle. A year is the time it takes for one complete orbit of the sun. This pre-arranged and ordering of planetary movement could only be attributed to the One who created and sustained it; Allah (SWT). If it is logical to attribute such miraculous work to its only possible Creator then how can it be correct to then attribute the creation to the creation itself? Legally, it would be deemed theft of proprietary right to pass off work as belonging to someone other than its true owner, so, why do we readily attribute the days and months to other than Allah (SWT)? This becomes even more absurd when Islam already comes with Sunnah names and labels for the very same things. Rather than follow these (listed below), we use names of false, Roman gods, such as ‘Janus’-the ‘opener of doors’, which we use for ‘January’.
The Islamic calendar begins with Muharram and continues on to:
- Rabi’ul Awwal
- Rabi’uth Thani
- Jumad al-Ula
- Jumad al-thaniah
- Dhul Qa’dah
- Dhul Hijjah
The days of the week are numbered, not named, except on the last two days of the week which are Jumuah and Sabt, Jumuah being the day of gathering for prayer and the very next day is called Sabt. These days and months can be found in either the Quran or the Ahadith, and the blessed Prophet (SAW) was known to have used these names throughout his lifetime. There is no dispute that using these names for our days and months was the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAW). In fact, all of our celebrations and calculations are still measured by the Hijri date and time system. The Hijri system expressly bases a Muslim’s timescale around his Deen and therefore will have the secondary purpose of being a remembrance or Dhikr reminding him, or her, of certain dates within Islam of either holy times (such as Ramadhan, and Hajj), or even places or battles central to Islam’s history. These months act therefore as a reminder of our Creator (SWT) and His Prophet (SAW).
One of the ways in which it has been easy for Muslims living in non-Islamic societies to reprogram themselves and move away from their identity is the adopting of the small and apparently irrelevant things such as expressing the days of the week and months according to their host nation’s culture. This is a tragic ill-thought out underestimation of the power of labels, symbols and icons. Names have a powerful effect on the way we view and interpret things around us even the names we do not overtly understand will subconsciously colour or perspectives. It will be these seemingly small insignificant things that will leave subconscious markers in our minds that can be a gateway to other more profound mental associations. This is especially the case with the minds of young children. If we understand that on such a small act like stepping outside of our homes we should remember Allah (SWT), then how much More significant must it be to call a new day or month by the name it was given by its Creator (SWT). The Sunnah itself is a reminder that in all that we do we should remember Allah (SWT) because it is us, the forgetful ones, who need reminding constantly of the ultimate reality, Allah (SWT).
The days of the week and month names used in Britain clearly manifest a pagan idolatrous past. Each day of the week is attributed to a different god; they are as follows:
- Monday from Old English M?nandæg = the day the Moon god should be worshipped;
- Tuesday from Old English T?wesdæg = Tiw’s day the one-handed Norse god;
- Wednesday from the Old English W?dnesdæg = Woden or Ood in the Germanic sense.Wodan is worshipped;
- Thursday from the Old English Þ?nresdæg = Thor’s day the Norse god of thunder;
- Friday from the Old English Fr?gedæg = Fríge’s day the Anglo-Saxon name for Venus
- Saturday from the Old English Sæturnesdæg = Saturn’s day the ritual worship of Saturn;
- Sunday From the Old English Sunnandæg = The worship of the sun as a god, the giver of life;
The Anglo-Saxon European Months of the year are just as littered with names of their gods, one example being January named after the Roman god of doorways Janus so called because this was considered the doorway to the New Year. Another example is the month of April from the Latin ‘Aprilis’ which means to open alluding to the spring opening up the earth, the renewing of the vegetation and the ending of the cold winter months. The month was attributed to Venus as she was seen as the goddess of virility with the power to regenerate.
The question remains; should we as Muslims use these overtly polytheistic, Shirk-infested references for the days of the week and months of the year? Some will argue that actions will be according to intention, and that therefore we do not intend to attribute them to other than Allah (SWT) so it is just fine. But, as mentioned earlier, attributing the creation to other than Allah is never going to be an empty or neutral act especially when you are in possession of the knowledge of such names as you are now having read this article. Knowledge is said to be a responsibility, and you are now responsible for what you do with what you have learnt from this discussion. The Prophet (SAW) never allowed converts to keep their own names if indeed the names were Shirk-based regardless of whether the person or others knew they were or not. So, this is an evidence that when it came to the attribution to other gods the minimum would be to remove or change such names. Therefore names used in such a way are not just left according to intention but are actively removed. Allah (SWT) mentions in a Hadith Qudsi that time is not separate from Him as the rest of the creation is, but states that He is time itself as we understand it, because it is He who changes the day and the night. In another Hadith it is mentioned that Allah (SWT) said:
‘Allah (SWT) said, ‘The son of Adam wrongs me for, he curses ad-Dahr (the time); though I am ad-Dahr (the time)…” [Sahih al-Al-Bukhari]
In the Quran, Allah (SWT) swears by time indicating that time is not just another part of the creation in Sura al-Asr Ayah 1. If indeed it were a part of the creation, Allah (SWT) would not have sworn by it thus placing it above himself.
If Allah states he is time and I then directly attribute time to a pagan deity, this cannot be devoid of stench of Shirk because I am declaring that Allah belongs to the creation, whether I intend this result or not that is the implication of using names other than those which are approved by Shariah.
In the event you are speaking with those who do not possess knowledge of the Islamic months and days it is a matter of communication but, within the Muslims themselves there should be no excuse in not using the Shariah names. And Allah knows best.
This is not intended to be a fatwa legally prohibited using the names we have become so accustomed to but an attempt to raise awareness about the meanings behind these words and the imperative to learn and use the Islamic names and teach them to our children. It is unacceptable for a Muslim to be completely oblivious to such things as so many of us are. Think about it, do you know what Islamic date it is today?
By: Salim Williams