I’m wishing my brothers and sisters – a belated productive and Khair [Good]-filled New Year! 1441 Hijri.
Yesterday was the beginning of the New Year, 1441! That’s right, 1441
years have passed since the Prophet Muhammed (SAAW) made his historic
hijra (migration) from Makkah to Yathrib, setting up the first Islamic
State and society, to be known simply as “The City” (Al-Madinah).
Now while Muslims are not commanded to celebrate the new year of the
lunar calendar used by the Prophet Muhammed (SAAW), a new calendar year –
as any event that occurs upon Muslims, should be used to reflect on our
relationship with our Creator, Allah (SWT), through our personal
rituals, our personal development as His servants, and our relationship
with the Ummah.
Most Muslims today would greatly benefit from reflection upon the origins of the Hijri calendar.
You see, the Christians celebrate their New Year based upon a
Gregorian calendar they borrowed from the Romans but setting their
dating system based around the estimated birth of Jesus to represent the
first year of time for Christians.
So old Christian calendars usually had “BC” (before Christ) to
represent years before Jesus was born, and “AD “(Anno Domini – Latin:
“the year of our lord”) to represent after.
After the 17th century, Christians started to change AD to CE
(“Christian Era”), but it has now increasingly been referred to now as
representing the term “Common Era” – which signifies how universalist
the West views itself after it “influenced” (through military conquest
and imperialism) other tribes and nations around the world to adopt its
The Jewish calendar was based on the famous estimated (guessed)
calculations of Rabbi Jose ben Halafta in 160 “CE” of the beginning of
Creation(!), with the current Jewish year being 5779 AM (Anni Mundi,
year of the world).
However, the Hijri dating system is quite different in marking its
start point. As much as many post-colonial Muslim pundits and
state-appointed scholars today wish to shy Muslims aware from
remembering the world project of Muhammed (SAAW) and the intrinsically
connected political-spiritual message of Islam – the hijri calendar is a
yearly reminder that Islam isn’t, and never was, a part-time project
limited to rituals, recitation and Jummah, but a comprehensive guidance
You see, the Islamic calendar was arranged by Caliph Umar (RA), with
the agreement (ijma) of the other sahabah (Companions of the Prophet
Muhammed [SAAW]), that the beginning of the Islamic era, started not
with the Prophet Muhammed (SAAW)’s birth, nor with the first revelation
of the Quran, nor its completion.
The first date of the Islamic era was the arrival of the Prophet
Muhammed (SAAW) at Yathrib, beginning the era of the Islamic state of
Al-Madinah, and the collective work for the Islamic world project to
spread the message of Tawheed, and the cause of justice and mercy to
Muslims should think seriously about this. The companions of the
Prophet Muhammed (SAAW) didn’t think the Islamic era started with the
birth of the Prophet (SAAW) or the first revelation of the first verse
of the Quran! Instead, they considered that the Islamic era only truly
began, with the creation of the first Islamic state and society where
the law of Allah (SWT) was the highest, and the worldview and objectives
of the state were the calls to Islam and establishment of God’s justice
and mercy politically and social amongst human beings.
In fact, while there was a Prophet of Islam, but no society and state
organised around his teaching, the companions still considered that to
be an era before the *establishment* of Islam.
This is evidenced by the fact that Jahilliyah isn’t tied to the
presence of revelation, but the presence of political and social
organisation of a people specifically under that revelation. The Prophet
Muhammed (SAAW) is reported to have said:
“whoever dies whilst there was no Bay’ah (allegiance) on his neck (to a
Khalifah), he dies a death of Jahiliyyah (ignorance).'” [Sahih Muslim]
The classical scholar, Al-Maaziri said the hadith is “With regard to bay’ah being given to the leader of the Muslims”.
Imam Nawawi also said: “What is narrated in the ahadeeth narrated in
the books of Sunnah about bay’ah refers to giving allegiance to the
Muslim leader, such as when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) said: “Whoever dies and did not make an oath of allegiance
(to the Muslim leader) has died a death of jahiliyyah.”
Jahiliyyah, therefore, isn’t merely ignorance about Islam, it is also
anarchy – a society where the people are collectively organised by
ignorance of Islam (even if many of the people are individually
believers). This led many Muslims thinkers to consider “the time of
jahilliyah” to be essentially, a time of anarchy. A time where the
commands of Allah (SWT) are no longer operates as an organising force
for society, and the cause of Islam is no longer the purpose of politics
– leaving society and politics with no purpose and therefore it
becoming only an arena for power struggles and egos – and society left
for competition and fighting and bickering to advance and protect
“street credit”, “family/tribal reputation” and gaining “respect’
Muslims today live in such a time as we have no establishment of
Islam as the highest reference point for our global Muslim society, and
no leader we have selected to be the successor to the Prophet Muhammed
(SAAW)’s political role (i.e. a Caliph) to unite our affairs, our
defences and our resources and advance them in the cause of Islam.
Seeing as the Islamic era wasn’t set at the birth of the Prophet
Muhammed (SAAW), nor the beginning of him being informed of his
prophethood (SAAW) via the first revelation of the Quran, but rather the
beginning to the time of Islam and end of the era of Jahiliyyah
(pre-Islam) was the establishment of Islam as the highest reference
point for a society and state and a society united under a leader to
organise their efforts and advance the cause of Islam (“not national
interest”)- the question we must ask ourselves is, in which era do we
choose to live in? An era of Islam? Or in the eras like the time before
the establishment of Islam (Jahiliyyah)?