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F. A. Shamsi

here can hardly be any doubt that the calendar in v o g u e a m o n g the
Arabs at the advent of Islam - which will hereafter be referred to as the
Arabian Calendar - was luni-solar in character!"* and that the vaguely
lunar Hijrah calendar in v o g u e a m o n g the M u s l i m s w a s adopted n o earlier
than 8 A.H. (In fact, according to all writers w h o say that Jahili Arabs used to
h a v e a luni-solar calendar o r that they used to practise Nasi', the Arabian
calendar was abrogated on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage in Dim
al-Hijjah 10 A.H.)

It would therefore seem at first sight that the date of Hijrah must have been
recorded as per the calendar then in v o g u e a m o n g the Arabs. This view is
strengthened w h e n it is considered that the date on which there is almost a
consensus, viz., M o n d a y 12 RabV al-Awwal, cannot be, as pointed out by
al-Bayruril, a date in Hijrah calendar. On the usual system of computation,
12 RabV al-Awwal in year 1 A.H. falls on Friday and can, on reasonable
a s s u m p t i o n , b e m a d e to fall on the previous T h u r s d a y or the f o l l o w i n g
Saturday, but it cannot be m a d e to fall on either the previous or following
Monday on any reasonable system of computation.

W e have three proposals regarding what the Arabian calendar m i g h t h a v e

been in which 12 RabV al-Awwal in the year of Hijrah is a M o n d a y .
H o w e v e r , in an earlier article "The D a t e of Hijrah"*, w e c a m e to the
conclusion that although the Hijrah calendar, or a vaguely lunar calendar in
continuity with it, did not exist at the time of Hijrah, the dates which have
been recorded for the event of Hijrah by early Muslims Scholars nevertheless
b e l o n g to the Hijrah calendar, that the P r o p h e t reached Q u b a ' (in the
highlands of Yathrib), a couple of miles from al-Madinah (in the lowlands of
Yathrib), on M o n d a y 8 RabV al-Awwal (corresponding to 20.9.622 A.D.),
and c a m e to al-Madinah four days thereafter on Friday 12 RabV al-Awwal,
and that the report of "Monday 12 RabV al-Awwal", which cannot with
certainty be attributed to any narrator of the 1st century Hijrah, arose because
of an unfortunate juxtaposition of the day of arrival in Yathrib with the date of
arrival in al-Madinah (due in all probability to the confusion between the
terms, "al-Madinah" and "Yathrib").

* Islamic Studies, XXIII. 1983, pp. 189-224 and 239-323).

140 Islamic Quarterly

A s stated above, there is considerable, I should say, conclusive, evidence to

show that the Arabs used to have a luni-solar calendar which remained in
vogue among the Muslims till 8 A . H . / 6 3 0 A.D. and among the pagans
officially till 9 A.H./631 A.D.i, and that the dates of some events in the life
of the Prophet Muhammad as recorded by early Muslim scholars belong to
that luni-solar calendar and not to the vaguely lunar calendar in use among the
Muslims (i.e. the Hijrah ealendar)2 But what precisely was the nature of that
calendar we do not know with any degree of certitude. The only competent
early writer known to have treated of this subject, abu al-Rayhan Muhammad
b. Ahmad al-Bayrunl3 (362/973-ca. 443/1051), is, in the first instance, too
late a writer to be accepted as an original source of information, and, in the
second, as pointed out by Perceval, is too vague, hesitant and inconsistent in
his reports concerning the Arabian calendar to be supposed to have narrated
that which he had learned from tradition as to what the Arabs actually used to
d o rather than to have put forward mere conjectures as to what the Arabs
might have been wont to do 4 . Scholars therefore have been reduced to
divining the nature of the Arabian calendar by recourse to various stratagems,
such as combining the suggested etymology of the names of the months and
presumed correspondence between the months and seasons of the year with
reports regarding the frequency of intercalations, or, taking the reported dates
and days of two or more events and the reported interval or intervals between
them and working out the possible number of days between pairs of such
events, etc.

The first serious attempt to reconstruct the Arabian calendar was made by
Perceval. His point of departure was the fact that Bijjah al-Wida' took place
in March 6 3 2 A.D., in the spring, wheras originally, when the names of
months were adopted and an intercalary calendar was established, which he
inferred to have happened simultaneously from the statement of al-Mas'Qdl
and others that the names of months were adopted about 2 0 0 years before
Hijrah, and the statement of al-Bayruril et al who says that embolism was
adopted about 2 0 0 years before Islam, the system adopted must have been
that hajj should come in or near the season of autumn.5 The only explanation
that seems possible, namely, that the Arabian system must have been faulty

and must have been such that in about 2 0 0 years their year would be in
advance of the solar year by about 6 months was adopted by Perceval.6 H e
found that if the system were to intercalate a month once every three years, as
suggested (according to Perceval) by two of the earliest writers who treated of
this subject, Abfl al-Fida' and al-Mas'udi, then in 2 1 9 years - and it s o
happens that Muhammad Charaksi states that the 10th year of Hijrah was the
220th year since the institution of Nasi' (intercalation) - the Hajj would
retrogress from September to March. 7 N o w , since 2 1 9 years make exactly
7 3 cycles of 3 years each and since it may be taken for granted that year 10
A.H. began on 9.4.631 A.D., Perceval found the Epochal day to correspond
to 21.11.421 A.D.8 The calendar worked out on this basis, Perceval found
to be confirmed by other considerations: (i) According to Procopius, while
addressing a group of Roman commanders at Daras in 541 A.D., Belisarius,
the Roman Commander o f the East said that they were nearing the time o f
summer solstice, a time when the Arabs devoted two months to the practice of
their religion and refrained from all bellicose acts.9 In the year 129 Arabian
o f Perceval's calendar, the 10th of Dim al-Hijjah fell on 22.6.541 A.D.10,
just about the day of the summer solstice; (ii) The Hajj must have been
originally scheduled for the autumn; as per Perceval's calendar, it fell in the
autumn during the first 5 0 years; (iii) According to Ibn Isbaq, the Prophet
arrived in al-Madinah as an immigrant in the middle of (actually, on 12) RabV
al-Awwal at a time when the heat was inconvenient; according to Perceval,
this happened in early July 1 1 ; (iv) Allied troops besieged al-Madinah in
Shawwal 5 A.H. at a time when it was very cold; according to Perceval's
calendar, this happened in the January-February period 12 ; (v) In the 220th
year of the Arabs (corresponding to 6 3 1 - 3 2 A.D.), the Hajj, on Perceval's
assumption, should come in the beginning of spring; the Farewell Hajj was
actually made in early March 632 A.D 1 8 .

It may here be mentioned in support of Perceval that many Muslims scholars

implicitly hold the view that in 10th A.H. the Dhu al-Hijjah of the Muslim
calendar coincided with the Dhu al-Hijjah of the Arabian calendar^. This
view is based on two reports: (1) Early Muslims report that in 9 A.H. the
Hajj was made in (Muslim) Dhu al-Qa'dah™, and that that is why (a) the
Prophet did not make Hajj that year and made it the following year, as the
Hajj that year fell in Dhu al-Hijjah^ and (b) the Hijjah al-Wida' is called 'the
correct pilgramage 16 '; (2) On the occasion of Hijjah al-Widd', the Prophet
said that the times had revolved back to the disposition of the day o f
creation 1 7 , which the commentators including Mujahid, al-Zamakhshan
(d.528-1144), al-Razl (d.606-1209-10), al-Khazin ( 6 7 8 / 1 2 8 0 - 7 4 1 / 1 3 4 1 ) ,
and Mahmud al-Alusi (d. 1270/1853-54), say means that the Hajj was made at
its proper season, i.e., in the month which ought to have been the month of
Dhu al-Hijjah w
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This was a very fine effort at rediscovering the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar.
But w e have to reject it, and together with it the proposed date of Hijrah
(28.6.622 A.D.) 1 ? on the ground that (1) the Arabian system could not have
been that of intercalating a month once in every three years, (2) It was not the
Pagan month of Dhu al-Hijjah which corresponded to the Muslim month of
Dhu al-Hijjah in 10 A. D., and (3) The dates of numerous events, including
such impotant events as the battles of Badr and Uhud, according to Perceval's
calendar, cannot be the actual dates of those events.

(1) That the Arabian system of intercaltion could not have been that o f
intercalating a month once every three years is evidenced by the following

(a) Al-Mas'udi (d. ca. 346/957) and Abu al-Fida' (672/1273 - 732/1331)
state that the Arabs used to intercalate a month once every three years,
and al-Mas'udi is certainly a much earlier writer than al-Bayrflnl.
But, al-Mas'udi and AbQ al-Fida' wrote 'popular' works for the
general reader and hence such a rough statement sufficed for their
purposes. There is no competent writer on record as having made
such a statement in a work written for qualified students. On the
contrary, we have writers earlier than al-Bayrurii and even earlier than
al-Mas'udi who state that the Arabs used to intercalate once in two or
three years, for example, Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhl20 (d.272/886), quite
a competent scholar. Moreover, Mujahid (21/642 - 104/722), a very
early writer, says that the Arabs used to make the hajj in every month
of the year for two years and used to call that month Dhu al-Hijjal^.
This statement implies that a month used to be intercalated once every
two years and the hajj made in the intercalary months. This again is a
layman's statement for laymen. But this shows that there is little
reason to suppose that the Arabs used to intercalate a month every
fourth year or that al-Mas'udi and Abu al-Fida' are the earliest writers
to have broached this subject

(b) The system of intercalating a month once every three years, as noted
by Perceval, is so defective that in a mere 2 0 0 years the calendar year
would be in advance of the solar year by six whole months. N o w ,
the Holy Qur"an, which objects to the system of intercalation, charges
the pagans only with the commission of the sin of making a sacred
period/month non-sacred and non-scared period/month sacred. The
Qur'an does not say that the pagans' system was faulty. On the
contrary, it say that it enhances the unbelief of the polytheists (in the
prophethood)22. Surely, so faulty a system as that of intercalating a
month every fourth year (i.e., the last year of every cycle of 3 years)
which had made Safar (meaning autumn) to c o m e in early summer,
Ramadan (implying scorching heat) to c o m e in the winter, 'umrah

(which, according to Perceval himself, must originally have been

scheduled to be made in the spring) to be made in the autumn.fall in
the spring, could hardly have sustained the pagans' belief in their

(c) When w e take into consideration all the relevant reports, especially
those o f Mujahid, Ibn Kunasah (123/74 - 207/823), A b a Ma'shar
al-BalkHi (d.272/886), al-Bayrun1 and Abu 'AH al-MarzQql (d. 4 2 1 /
1030), the picture that emerges is as follows: The Arabs had taken a
very accurate valuation of a lunation and a tropical year, they used to
notionally add about 10.83 days to a lunar year of 12 months; when
the sum of such a notionally added number of days amounted to a
lunation, it was actually added as the thirteenth month of a year; and,
in intercalary years, the hajj used to be made in the intercalary

(d) Even apart from the reports that the Arabs used to intercalate only
when the progression amounted to a month, there is evidence to show
that the Arabian years had retained their original character intact up to
the time of the Prophet (i.e. that they used to begin in the autumn);
hence, the Arabian system of intercalation could not have been what
Perceval had taken it to be. For, in the Sirah litrature, whenever
Ramadan or fasting (in Ramadan) is mentioned, the accompanying
circumstances (if also mentioned) made it clear that it was then the
time of summer. For example, the first revelation is said to have
come to the Prophet in the month of Ramadan at a time when he was
engaged in religious devotion (tahannuth) in a cave atop a hill near
Makkah 2 4 ; the battle of Badr was fought in Ramadan on a very hot
day and the corpses of some of those who had been killed putrified in
a few hours before the time of sunset 25 ; the conquest of Makkah took
place in Ramadan and at that time it was very hot 2 6 ; according to a
Companion, on one occasion in the month of Ramadan they travelled
with the Prophet and it was then so hot that the Companions shielded
their heads with their hands if they found nothing else and some o f
the Companions swooned when they stopped to take rest 27 .

(e) Perceval has mentioned certain circumstances which seem to support

his view.

(i) The first of these is a report in Procopius which shows that in 541
A.D. the two months of Dhu al-Qa'dah and Dhu al-Hijjah must
have begun near the time of the Summer Solstice. But, this report
is quite compatible with the view that the Arabian system was
adequate and that in 540 A.D., as originally, the Arabian year had
begun in the autumn. Originally, as Perceval himself held, the
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hajj must have been scheduled for the August - September period
and hence Dhu al-Qa'dah must have corresponded to July -
August. Besides, there would be normal progression o f some
days up to 28 days. Hence, if Dhu al-Qa'dah in 541 A.D. came
soon after the Summer Solstice, then there should be nothing
surprising about it. In other words, the report in Procopius is
compatible both with Perceval's view of the Arabian system and
the view that the Arabian system was to intercalate a month only
when the progression amounted to a month.

(ii) The second circumstance is the fact that in Perceval's calendar,

the month of Dhu al-Hjjah falls in the autumn during the first 5 0
years. But on the assumption that the Arabs intercalated a month
only when the progression amounted to a month, the month of
Dhu al-Hjjah would always fall in the autumn. The latter view
is in consonance with the retention of the names of the months,
where on Perceval's v i e w one has to explain why the names
were retained when the meaning of the names became discordant
with the seasonal placements o f the months, in spite o f

(Hi) The third circumstance is that according to Perceval's calendar,

the Prophet reached al-Madinah on 28.6.622 A.D. which agrees
with the report that the heat at that time was inconvenient. At the
lava tract with no trees about, the sun would be scoching even
half-an-hour after sunrise on the 24th of September in
al-Madina. W e have seen in our earlier article (The Date of
Hijrah) that there is reason to believe that the RabV al-Awwal
mentioned in connection with the Hijrah is the RabV al-Awwal,
of year 1 of the Hijrah calendar and not that of the Arabian
calendar. Thus no need arises for a calendar w h o s e RabV
al-Awwal in the year of Hijrah falls in the summer.

(iv) The fourth circumstance is that according to Perceval's calendar,

the month of Shawwal in the 5th year of Hijrah corresponds to
the January - February period, and it is reported that when the
allied troops besieged al-Madinah in Sltawwal in the 5th year of
Hijrah, it was very cold. N o w , the month of Shawwal 5 A.H.
(computationally) begins o n 6.3.626 and ends o n 3.4.626 A.D.
I believe that the Shawwal of the reports about the siege of
al-Madinah is the Shawwal o f the Hijrah calendar. The trench
was obviously dug some time before the allied troops arrived; on
our v i e w that would be in February. That a strong, cold wind
blew in al-Madinah on or about the 1st of April does not sound
improbable to me especially when w e see that the intensity of the
c o l d w i n d w a s regarded as s o m e w h a t extraordinary

phenomenon. However, on the whole, Perceval's date seems to

be in better accord with the report of icy winds than that of the
Hijrah calendar. But Ibn Ishaq quotes a verse reportedly recited
by Sa'd b. Mu'adh, a short time after the seige had begun 2 8 , and
translated by Guillaume as follows:
Wait a little! let Hamal see the fight.
What matters death when the time is right?"2?

Hamal is the name o f a sign of the zodiac, namely, Aries. The

sun enters Aries on or about the 21st of March. The meaning of
the verse is that soon the sun will enter Aries and that sign will
march with the sun and thus see the fight, and that this would be
a propitious time to die if one must. This verse shows that on
the day it was recited, the time of vernal equinox was
approaching. If so, then the view that the Shawwal in question
is the month of Shawwal 5 A.H. becomes more acceptable than
the view that it corresponded to the January-February period.
The siege was lifted in Shawwal, in the last few days o f that
month, probably on the 29th of Shawwal.

(v) The fifth circumstance mentioned by Perceval is the fact that 10

Dhu al-Hijjah in year 2 2 0 of his calendar falls on 9.3.632 A.D.
and there is no doubt that the Farewell Hajj took place in early
March 6 3 2 A.D. If this Hajj had been an Arabian Hajj, then
some such calendar as the one proposed by Perceval would have
to be regarded as the Arabian calendar. But w e shall see that
there is very reason to believe that the Farewell Pilgrimage took
place at the time of an Arabian Umrah, i.e. in the Arabian month

(f) Finally, it is difficult to suppose with Perceval that 4 0 0 years after

Hipparchus and 3 0 0 years after Ptolemy, the Arabs, w h o yearly
visited the Arabs of Roman Syria and Iranian Hijrah (both of whom
had solar calendars) would adopt so inaccurate a valuation for the
solar year as to deem it sufficient to intercalate a month only every
fourth year. Our disbelief increases when we consider the fact that,
as is evidenced by the Qur'an (10:5 and 17:12), the Arabs used to
determine the number of years from the lunar mansions, in all
probability in terms of the 'heliacal settings' of a given mansion, that
of Aries.30.

(2) The view that the Pagan and Muslim months of Dhu al-Hijjah had
coincided in 10 A.H. is based on evidence furnished by early reports to
the effect that (i) the mixed Hajj (performed by the pagans as well as by ^
the Muslims led by Abu Bakr) in 9 A.H. was made in the Muslim month *
1 A
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of Dhu al-Qa'dah, and that this is why the Prophet did not make the Hajj
at the first opportunity, although its observance was obligatory for all
Muslims, (ii) the Hajj in 10 A.D. is called the correct Hajj, because it
was made in the (Muslim) Dhu al-Hijjah (10 A.H.), the month appointed
by God for this purpose, and that, (iii) the Prophet stated on the occasion
of the Hajj in 10 A.H. (called Hijjah al-Wida' or the Farewell Pilgrimage,
because this was the last Hajj he made) that the times had revolved back
to the position of the Day of Creation. Let us examine the evidence at
some length:

(i) According to all narrators, the Prophet desired to g o on pilgrimage

after his return from TabQk in Ramadan 9 A:H. but preferred to keep
away from the ensuing Hajj because that was to be attended by the
pagans who were wont to perform objectionable rites such as going
round the Ka'bah in state of near nudity; so the Prophet send Abfl
Bakr instead as the leader of the Muslim pilgrims; the ensuing Hajj
was a "mixed Hajj", both the Muslims and the Pagans making it, each
group according to its own rites; an announcement was made at this
Hajj that the Pagans would not be allowed to make a Hajj after that
year, and, the next year, the Prophet came to Makkah and made the
Hajj, a Hajj attended by the Muslims only. W e also have exegetes
who say that the Hajj Abu Bakr (i.e. the Hajj at which Abfl Bakr led
the Muslims) was made in Dhu al-Qa'dah, and that this was why the
Prophet had preferred not to make that Hajj. N o w , it is clear that the
latter is not a datum but an inference from the former the exegetes
wondered why, if the Hajj be obligatory for all Muslims, the Prophet
should fail to make a Hajj at the first opportunity, and, knowing that
the Arabs used to intercalate months s o that what should have been
regarded as Dhu al-Hijjah used sometimes to be regarded as Dhu
al-Qa'dah, concluded that Abu Bakr's Hajj must have been made in a
month other than (the Muslim) Dhu al-Hijjah, and since the Prophet
made the Hajj the very next year, concluded that the Hajj Abfl Bakr
must have made in Dhu al-Qa'dah. However, Ibn Kathlr offers an
argument which, at least prima facie, is conclusive against this view.
Ibn Kathlr wants to know how, in that case, God could have held the
day of the Hajj to be 'the day of great Hajj' (yawm al-Hajj al-Akbar)
since, not having been in Dhu al-Hijjah, the Hajj Abu Bakr could not
be regarded as a Hajj at all. 3 1 W e feel that the assumption that the
Hajj Abu Bakr fell in (the Muslim) Dhu al-Qa'dah is an unnecessary
assumption although it could turn out to be true. For, a definitive
chronology of events during the Medinese period of the Prophet's life
yet remains to be worked o u t As it is, an explanation is already there
in the early reports, vis., that the Prophet did not choose to make the
Hajj Abfl Bakr because that was to be attended by the pagans. This
we feel, is the correct explanation (we shall revert to it presently).

(ii) That the Farewell Pilgrimage was made in Dhu al-Hijjah 10 A.H. is
so well attested, and that Year 10 A.H. commenced on 9.4.631 A.D.
is so well founded, that Perceval and others who base themselves on
these facts must be granted this point. But from these facts it does
not at all follow that the pagans' Dhu al-Hijjah coincided with the Dim
al-Hijjah of the Muslims, i.e. with Dhu al-Hijjah 10 A.H.

(iii) On the view that the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar was luni-solar in
character, the Prophet's well known statement that the time had
revolved back to the point of origin, clearly implies that the Hajj that
year was being made in the month appointed for it. From this,
however, the further conclusion that this was also the pagan Dhu
al-Hijjah follows only from dubious assumptions. This question is
interwined with the question concerning the Arabian calendar, a
question into which it is impossible for us to g o in our present state of
study. All I wish to d o here is to offer an alternative explanation,
which appears, at least to me, to be a more satisfactory explanation
that the traditional one.

We know very little about the nature of the pre-Islamic Arabian

calendar beyond the fact that it was a luni-solar calendar, twelve
lunations ordinarily and thirteen lunations occasionally constituting a
year. But the little w e do know includes the morally certain
proposition that the Arabian year used to commence sometime in the
autumn, in all probability very close to the day of the autumnal
equinox, and hence that the 'Umrah used to be made in the spring. 3 2
N o w , for the Muslims, there is only one form o f obligatory
pilgrimage, the Hajj; what is called Umrah is, so to say, a minor and
voluntary pilgrimage, an off-the-season substitute for the Hajj. For
the pagans, there must have been two radically different kinds of
pilgrimage. For, they not only had two different nouns for them in
their language, al-Hajj and al-'Umrah, they used to have different
verbs for going on a pilgrimage to make a Hajj or an 'Umrah, Hjja an
i'tamara;33 they used to put on different kinds of ihrams and chant
different talbiyahs on those occasions; 3 4 and, they used to regard the
making of the 'umrah in the season for Hajj as among the greatest o f
all s i n s . 3 5 This means that the rites performed on these two
occasions must have been radically different. But in Islam the rites
are basically the same except that some extra rites are performed on
the occasion of the Hajj. In short, what used toj be radically different
for the pagans and used to be made at opposite cardinal points has
become for the Muslims almost the same thing. This consideration
alone suffices to lead to the surmise that what must have coincided in
10 A.H. were the months of the Muslim Dhu al-Hijjah and pagan
148 Islamic Quarterly

Rajab (the pagan month for 'Umrah) and that the Hajj Abfl Bakr was
a Hajj for the Muslims while it was an 'Umrah for the Pagans. When
one considers the traditions relating to the 'Umrah al-Hudaybiyah,
'Umrah al-Qaalyah, the Hajj Abfl Bakr and Hajjah al-Wida', and
desires to determine which of these was what (whether an "Umrah or
Hajj, and whether a simple Hajj / 'Umrah or an 'Umrah
-leading-to-Hajj, etc.) and recalls that the pagan 'Umrah could not be
made in the season for Hajj, one is irresistibly led to the view that a
confusion of Umrah with Hajj was taking place. This view becomes
established when one recalls that the Prophet was asked about the
Umrah during the Hajjah al-Wida' and replied that the Umrah had
for ever entered into the Hajj. 36 This tradition not only establishes
that some Umrah or Hajj turned into the other, it also helps establish
that it was an Umrah of the pagans which had been turned into a
Muslim Hajj. In short, what for the pagans would have been an
Umrah in the spring o f 6 3 2 A.D. turned into a Hajj made in what,
for the Muslims, is Dhu al-Hijjah 10 A.H. which would have been
the Rajab of a certain pagan year.

If so, what is our explanation for the Prophet's statement that the
times had revolved back to their point of departure? The explanation
for the Prophet's statement is quite simple: in pursuance of the
command contained in verse 9:36, the Arabian calendar had not
merely been abolished, it had been recast ab initio into a lunar
calendar by imposing a cycle of 12 months as constituting a year.
Suppose that the first intercalation was made after 3 6 months. In that
calendar, the 37th month would be the intercalary month and the 38th
month would be al-Mulyaram (i.e, Safar al-Awwal), i.e. the 1st
month of the 4th year of their era. But, when in what became
Ramad&nlShawwal 8 A.H. the calendar was recast, the 37th month
became the 1st month of the 4th year and the 38th became Safar
al-Akhir or simply Safar, i.e. the 2nd month of the 4th year. We
have reason to believe that, when the Arabian calendar was recast into
lunar mould, it was assumed that 100 or 101 months had in all been
intercalated so that what was Jornada al-Ula of the 8th (pagan) year of
Hijrah became Ramaddn/Sfiawwal 8 A.H. Thus the Muslim Hajj in 8
and 9 A.H. (probably made in Dhu al-Hijjah, 8 and 9 A.H.) really
coincided with the pagan Umrah and so did the Muslim Hajj in 10
A.H. except that the pagans were not allowed to make their Umrah,
the Hajj Abfl Bakr having been their last Umrah at which it had been
announced that Umrah (in the pagan sense) would not be allowed
after that year. This not only explains the Prophet's statement in
question but, also verifies our assumption that the pagans' Rajab and
Muslim Dhu al-Hijjah coincided in 8 and/or 9 and/or 10 A.H. We
also see that the reason for the Prophet's failure to make the Hajj on
the first opportunity is to be attributed l e s s to the possible

circumstance that the Hajj in question was made in (the Muslim) Dim
al-Qa'dah than to the circumstance that it was a Hajj only for some
and not for all those who attended it. Let us recall that the Hajj Abfl
Bakr was a 'mixed Hajj' at which the Muslims performed their o w n
rites and the pagans likewise performed their o w n rites (i.e., the
pagans made it an Umrah, and the Muslims made it something very
close to the pagan Hajj), and that (iii) an announcement was made
during the Hajj Abfl Bakr that after that pilgrimage no person other
than a Muslim would be allowed to make the Hajj (i.e. there will no
more be a pagan Hajj or pagan Umrah).

(3) It may be pointed out that the dates of such very important events as
the Ba'thah and the battles of Badr and Uhud just cannot be dates in
Perceval's calendar, although the reported dates of these events must
belong to the Arabian calendar.

(a) According to Perceval, the Ba'tlwh took place (i.e. the first revelation
came) on 2 3 . 1 2 . 6 1 0 A . D . 3 7 N o w , while Muslim scholars give
different dates for it, they are all agreed that it happened on a
Monday. But 2 3 . 1 2 . 6 1 0 A.D. is a Wednesday. Moreover, one
would like to know what the Prophet was supposed to be doing in a
Cave at the top of a hill on the 23rd of December, for all reporters are
agreed that the Prophet was in the Cave of Hira' (which is at the top
E of the hill now called Jabal al-Nflr) at the time when the revelation
I came to him for the first time.38 And if the Prophet had been asleep
in the Cave before Gabriel came to him with Verses 96:1-5 as U b a y d
b. U m a y r b. Qatadah al-Laythi reportedly states, 3 ? then the date of
2 3 December becomes almost impossible: if it was during daytime
that the Prophet was asleep then it must have been the period o f
summer when siesta is taken (and this will agree with the reports that
the first revelation came in Ramadan and that Ramadan used to be a
summer month); if it was the time of night, as stated by U b a y e d b.
Umayer, then Dr. Amir Ali's wonder that "a sagacious man of forty
had chosen a cave on a hillside for meditation during a night of desert
winter!" would be shared by us all.

(b) According to Perceval's calendar, the Battle of Badr (17 Ramadan in

the second year o f Hijrah) took place on 24.1.624 A.D. N o w , there
is almost a consensus that this battle was fought on Friday (though
Monday also been mentioned); but 2 4 . 1 . 6 2 A . D . i s a Tuesday.
Secondly, the day of 24.1.624 must have been quite cold. But, from
all accounts the battle must have been fought on quite a hot day. 'Abd
allah b. Mas'fld (apud Ibn Sa'd) reported that it was a hot day, and it
seems, the corpses of those w h o had been killed in the battle
putrified the same day. 4 0 Thirdly, the Makkan troops had rushed to
150 Islamic Quarterly

Badr to protect their commercial caravan returning to Makkah from

Syria. It is well known that the trade caravans of the Arabs used to
go to Syria in the Say/XSpring-cum-Summer); 41 hence the caravan in
question could not have been returning in the month of January.
Finally, the battle took place in Ramadan. According to Perceval
himself, at least originally, Ramadan must have been a midsummer
month. If their system was not faulty, and w e have given reasons to
believe that it could not have been at least as faulty as Perceval had
taken it to be, then Ramadan should still have been a summer month.

(c) The battle of Uhud is unanimously reported as having taken place in

the month of Shawwal in the 3rd year of Hijrah. From all accounts,
it was very hot and the battle began very early in the morning and
lasted for a few hours; but, in the 3rd year of Hijrah according to
Perceval's calendar, the month of Shawwal begins on 17.1.625
A.D., and, hence whether the battle took place on the 7th or the 11th
or 14th according to Perceval's calendar, this battle would have been
fought in January, in the season of winter. In al-Madinah, if not also
in Arabia in general, it is quite cold in the second half o f January.
Moreover, there is a consensus that this battle was fought on
Saturday. The most probable dates are those of 7th, 11th and 14th,
but in Perceval's calendar, the 7th and 14th of Sliawwal 2 1 3 Arabian
are Wednesdays and the 11th is a S u n d a y 4 2

(d) Many other instances of discordance between reported days and dates
and the days and dates in Perceval's calendar, as well as between
reported seasons and the seasons indicated by Perceval's calendar,
can be cited. T o cite just one such example, there can be no doubt
that the conquest of Makkah took place in Ramadan in the 8th year of
Hijrah according to the Arabian (not the Muslim calendar). Now, this
event took place, as stated earlier, at the height of summer. But
Ramadan 218, i.e., Ramadan in the 8th year of Hijrah, of perceval's
calendar spans the period from 23.11.629 to 22.12.629 A.D.

In conclusion, we have to say that although the date of Hijrah proposed by

Perceval, 28.6.622 A.D., is in itself acceptable inasmuch as it is a Monday
and falls in the summer, it is to be rejected because (a) Perceval's calendar is
to be rejected, and (b) since he takes the 12th of Rabi'al-Awwal in the year of
Hijrah to have been a Monday, his date encounters the same difficultieswhich
the date of Monday 12 Rabi' al-Awwal was seen in an earlier article to
involve. 4 3


Dr. Hamidullah, like many of his Muslim and Western predecessors, believes
that the pagan and Muslim months of Dhu al-Hijjah coincided in 10 A . H . 4 4
He further accepts al-Suhayfi's statement that there is practical unanimity that
Yawm 'Arafah in 10 A.H. (i.e. 9 . 1 2 . 1 0 A.H.) fell on a Friday 4 5 . In
addition, he takes it for granted that (1) the Prophet arrived in al-Madinah on
Monday 12 Rabi' al-Awwal in the year of Hijrah, the battle o f Badr took
place on Friday 17 Ramadan ended in the 2nd year of Hijrah, the Battle of
Khandaq ended on Saturday 29 Shawwal in the 5th year of Hijrah, that (ii)
the dates of Hijrah, Badr and Khandaq are dates in the Jahili luni-solar
calendar, (iii) 9 . 1 2 . 1 0 A.H. corresponds to 6.3.632 A.D., and that (iv) 4
months were intercalated in the first 10 years after Hijrah, two of these
months between Badr and Khandaq and two months between Khandaq and
Hijjah al-Widd'46. On this basis, Dr. Hamidullah arrives at the conclusion
that the luni-solar year of the Arabs in which the Prophet migrated must have
commenced on Sunday 21.3.622 A.D. and the Prophet must have arrived in
al-Madinah on Monday 31.5.622 A.D. (corresponding to 12 Rabi' al-Awwal
of the pagan calendar). 47

We cannot accept Dr. Hamidullah's view for the following reasons:

(1) The v i e w that the pagan and Muslim months of Dhu al-Hijjah had
coincided in 10 A H . , we saw, is based on reasonable inferences from
early reports, but that a different view (viz. that Dhu al-Hijjak.L0 A.H.
corresponded to pagan Rajab) is by far more compatible with those
reports and coheres with many other reports which it would be difficult
to explain on the view that Dhu al-Hijjah 10 A.H. corresponded to
pagan Dhu al-Hijjah. For example, there is ample evidence to s h o w
that the Arabian years must have commenced sometime in the autumn,
and Perceval too had to concede this point. This coheres with the other
view and has to be explained on the view held by Perceval and Dr.
Hamidullah. Perceval's explanation w e have found reason to reject.
Dr. Hamidullah, so far as I am aware, has not cared to broach the
subject. Thus, in the absence of an explanation for this fact, w e have to
152 Islamic Quarterly

hold that his view is incompatible with it. Despite my best efforts, I
have not come across a single piece of evidence in support of the view
that the Arabian years may have commenced in the spring, except for
this very questionable inference that the Hajj Abfl Bakr was a hajj also
for the pagans and Hijjah al-Widd', if the pagans had been allowed to
attend it, would have been a hajj for them too. W e say questionable
because the confusion about an occasion being the occasion for hajj or
for 'umrah or for both is much too clear in the early reports; moreover,
in some reports the word of '"id" has been used instead of 'hijjah'.

(2) According to Dr. Hamidullah, the Prophet reached al-Madinah on

Monday 12 RabV al-Awwal of a certain year of the pagan Arabs,
corresponding to 31.5.622 A.D. N o w , 31.5.622 A . D . corresponds to
14 Dhu al-Qa'dah in the year preceding 1 A.H. i.e., in the Hijrah
calendar, in the year preceding the year of Hijrah. W e have discussed
al-Bayhaqi's statement quoted by Dr. Hamidullah and concluded that it
would not be at all reasonable to hold that the Prophet had migrated in
any year (in Hijrah calendar) except year 1 A.H. 4 8 a .

(3) Dr. Hamidullah's dates for Ba'thah (in one paper 22.11. 609 A.D., and
in another paper 2 8 . 1 . 6 1 0 A.D.) and Badr ( 1 8 . 1 1 . 6 2 3 A . D . , and
16.12.623 A.D.), like those of Perceval, conflict with the reported
seasonal phenomena. Ba'thah and Badr both must be placed in the
season of summer, but, according to Dr. Hamidullah, these are placed
in the season o f winter.

(4) Dr. Hamidullah takes the Arabs as having intercalated 4 months during
the 10 (luni-solar) years of the Prophet's Medinese life. On any
reasonable system of intercalation, 3 or 4 months would be intercalated
in a period of 10 years. However, it is not clear as to why Dr.
Hamidullah should believe that the year of Hijrah was not embolismic
nor as to why he should hold that 2 months were intercalated between
the battles of Badr and Khandaq (which makes year 2 and 4
embolismic) and another 2 months between Khandaq and Hijjah
al-Widd' (presumably years 6 and 9 being embolismic). N o w this
arrangement does not yield a very satisfactory system. In no system
worth the name can 3 months be intercalated in any period of 5 years.
(If years 2, 4 and 6 were embolismic, then 3 months were intercalated
in a period of 5 years.).

The fact is Dr. Hamidullah had been endeavouring to determine the

nature of the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar by a conjunction of two
circumstances, (i) the reported correspondence between days o f the
week and dates of events like the birth, ba'thah, hijrah and the death of
the Prophet and of the battles of Badr and Khandaq and (ii) the
astronomical data regarding the lengths of a lunation and a solar year.

He did not at all take into consideration how a Luni-solar calendar

works nor the reports about the nature of the Arabian calendar. Hence
he was obliged to resort to the method of taking correspondence
between days and dates in conjunction with the equalizing number of
the lunar and solar revolutions. N o w , since most dates are disputed, he
was reduced to accepting dates which appeared to fit in with his chosen
method. In his two papers published in the Journal of Pakistan
Historical Society only 6 months apart, he takes different dates for the
same events 4 8 . Thus, in the first of these papers, he takes 27 Ramadan
in the 13th (luni-solar) year before Hijrah as the date Ba'thaJi, and in his
second paper he takes 17 Ramadan as the date thereof. Similarly, he
takes the siege of Khandaq to have been lifted on 30 Shawwal in his
first paper (without realizing that Shawwal is given only 29 days) and
on 2 9 shawwal in his second paper. In his first paper he takes the
luni-solar year of Hijrah to have commenced on Monday 22.3.622
A.D. and in his second paper to have commenced on Sunday 21.3.622
A.D. Consequently, the dates he works out in the Julian calendar are
different in these two papers:

Event 2nd Paper 1st Paper

Birth 9.9.569 17.6.569

Ba'thah 28.1.610 22.11.609

Badr 16.12.623 18.11.623

Death 8.6.623 25.5.623

(5) Dr. Hamidullah accepts Monday 12 RabV al-Awwal as the date of

arrival in al-Madinah without taking into consideration the other
reported dates, nor does he bother to consider such details as the fact
that the Prophet came to al-Madinah (for the first time after migrating
from Makkah) after having stayed with Banu 'Amr b. 'Awf for s o m e
days in Quba'. In particular, he assigns no reason for not accepting the
date of 8 RabV al-Awwal 1 A.H. as the date o f arrival, which is a
Monday and has the authority of al-Sha'bl and for which al-Bayrflrii
and Mahmfld Pasha had argued, and which, as we saw in our earlier
article ("The Date of Hijrah"), accommodates the tawatur in the reports
regarding both the day of Monday and the date of 12 RabV al-Awwal
inasmuch as it allows for 4 days' stay from Monday to Thursday in
Quba' before arrival in al-madinah (proper) as stated by numerous
154 Islamic Quarterly

Dr. Hashim Amir Ali has propounded contrary theories in his various works
relating to the nature of the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar. In any work
devoted to this question his views would have to be considered in some
detail. However, here we are only concerned with the date of Hijrah. Hence,
we propose to take up the view he has presented regarding the date of Hijrah
in his latest and most substantial work, The Reconstruction of Islamic

According to Dr. Hashim Amir Ali, it is absurd to suppose that, after the
second covenant of 'Aqabah, the Prophet would allow the sacred period to
expire before embarking upon his migration. H e holds that the exodus of
Makkan Muslims started immediately after the second 'Aqabah (in the
remaining days of Dhu al-Hijjah) and that the Prophet himself left his house
"in the last few nights of Dhu al-Hajj, perhaps on the N e w Year's Eve, the
night preceding the 1st of Muharram (13th September, 6 2 2 J.C.) late in
the evening" and that the Prophet reached al-Madinah "on the 8th o f
TishrilMuharram corresponding to the 20th of September, 6 2 2 J.C."
(According to him, the Jewish civil year and the Arabian year in question
commenced on the same day.) He further holds that as a result of the
reconstruction of the Islamic chronology during Umar's caliphate by the
removal of the intercalary months, the actual Muharram was turned into RabV
al-Awwal of the reconstructed (i.e. the Hijrah) calendar. 50

In the first place, Dr. Ali is not certain about the date of departure from
Makkah (proper), for, he begins by taking the last few nights of Dhu
al-Hijjah, then he doubtfully opts for the 1st of Muharram. Secondly, by
adding the clause 'late in the evening' he confuses the issue. A s far as the
Muslim and the Arabian/Jewish calendars are concerned, the day commences
with sunset. So, if he means to say that the Prophet left his house on 1
TishrilMuharram, it means that he left after the sunset with which 1
TishrilMuharram commenced. If so, what does 'late in the evening' mean? If
he means the evening of 13 September 6 2 2 A.D., and if he supposes the
Prophet to have left after sunset on 13.9.622 A.D. then 1 TishrilMuharram
would 'correspond' not to 13.9.622 A . D . but to 14.9.622 A . D . and 8
TishrilMuharram would correspond to 21.9.622 and not to 2 0 . 9 . 6 2 2 A.D.

However, if he takes 13.9 622 and 20.9.622 A.D. to 'correspond* to 1 and 8

TishrilMuharram respectively, then the evening in question would have to be
that of 12.9.622 and not 13.9.622 A . D . Thirdly, Dr. Ali commits an
incomprehensible blunder. He supposes that 1 and 8 Tishri o f the Jewish
year in question correspond to 13.9.622 and 20.9.622 A.D. whereas in fact,
3 and 10 Tishri 'correspond' to 13.9.622 and 20.9.622 A.D., respectively.
The blunder is incomprehensible because, even if Dr. Ali was not capable of
determining the correspondence himself, he could have consulted some book
on the subject, and what is even more amazing, in his 1954 paper, he had
approved of Mahmud Pasha's argument on the basis of the correspondence
between 8.3.1 A.H. and 10.1.4383 (Mundi) and their correspondence with
20.9.622 A . D . 5 1

Finally, it is to be observed that even before al-Bayrflnl's time some scholars

had been of the v i e w that the Jewish and the Arabian years used to run
parallel to each other and hence that the Jewish 'Ashdr and the Arabian
'Ashilrd' used to fall on the same d a y 5 2 , but, the main principal o f the
Arabian calendar, as given by al-Bayrflril and Imam Fakhr al-Dln al-Razl
(viz., that an intercalation was made when the lunar 'year' was in advance of
the solar year by one whole lunar month), 5 3 is not compatible with the
principles of the Jewish calendar (inasmuch as intercalations in the Jewish
calendar are permissible, nay, often made, when the advance amounts to less

than 2 9 days) 5 4 . Even to a layman it should have been clear that the Arabs
would have to be said to have adopted the Jewish (civil) calendar, if their year
used to be concurrent with the Jewish (civil) year. But while it has been said
that the Arabs had learnt the art of intercalation from the Jews, not one scholar
has ever said that the Jewish calendar, except for the names o f the months,
was in vogue among the Arabs.

A s far as Dr. Ali's conjecture that the Prophet reached al-Madinah in the
month of al-Muharram (in the Arabian calendar) is concerned, I for one find it
quite attractive, but I find little reason to suppose that the second covenant of
'Aqabah took place in the Arabian Dhu al-Hijjah; in fact, I find greater
justification for the supposition that the covenant took place in the Arabian
Rajab. In a report carried by Imam al-Bukhari, 'A'isha says that after some
Muslims had migrated to al-Madinah, Abu Bakr prepared for al-Madinah but
the Prophet asked him to wait and gave him to understand that the t w o
migrate together, whereupon Abfl Bakr fed two of his camels for four months
(in preparation for the expected migration) 55 . This means that more than four
months had intervened between the final convening and the Prophet's
departure (for, the Muslims are said to have migrated after this covenant); if
so, the covenant must have been made during or following the Umrah in the
year preceding the al-Muharram in which the Prophet came to Yathrib. The
fact is, w e know very little about the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar, and in our
present state of knowledge, rather, ignorance, it is simply absurd to base any
156 Islamic Quarterly

argument on such supposed correspondences, n o matter how attractive. For

example, in the case just discussed, even if we assume with Dr. Ali that the
Prophet migrated during the sacred period some time after the pagan hajj and
hence that RabV al-Awwal, 1 A.H. (the month of Hijrah, i.e. of arrival in
Yathrib, in the Hijrah calendar) corresponds to a portion of the sacred period,
w e cannot decide whether al-Muharram or the intercalary month of the pagan
Arabs is to be taken to correspond to RabV al-Awwal in year 1 o f Hijrah

In any case, Dr. Ali accepts the date of 8 RabV al-Awwal, 1 A.H. as the date
of arrival in Yathrib, worked according to him, from the pagan date of 8
al-Muharram. Thus, insofar as the date of arrival (in the Hijrah calendar) is
concerned, he is in agreement with our conclusion, even though he gives
erroneous correspondences with the dates in the Jewish and Christian


W e now come to Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi, an author whose work has been the
the most extensive study of the chronological problems in the Sirah literature,
and who has presented a solution which is viable. Hence the date of Hijrah
worked out by him deserve earnest consideration.

Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi surmises that the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar was
based on the principle that the year was to begin with the N e w Moon nearest
to the Autumnal Equinox and that intercalations were invariably made after
Dhu al-Hijjah, but the intercalary month was sometimes the 13th month of a
year and sometimes the first month of the following year. 5 6 According to
Burnaby, the Jewish calendar, before the Jewish adopted their present
calendar in 358 A.D., had probably worked on the principle that the
ecclesiastical year was to begin with the N e w Moon (or the conjunction of the
sun and the moon) nearest to the Vernal Equinox 5 7 (and hence the civil year
used to commence with the N e w Moon near the Autumnal Equinox) and since
abfl al-Rayban al-Bayrflril (362/973-ca. 443/1051) says that the Arabs had
learnt the art of intercalation from the Jews, Moulvi Ishaq Al-Nabi's v i e w
appears to be viable. Moreover, there is almost conclusive evidence to show
that the Arabian year must have commenced close to the day of Autumnal
Equinox. 5 '

However, there are numerous grave objections against the principle that the
Arabian year used to commence with the new moon nearest to the Vernal
Equinox as proposed by Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi.

(1) Not only has earlier writer ever stated this to have been the Arabian
practice, but there is in fact no suggestion in the entire literature to this
effect. True, the early reports that w e have on the subject of the
(pre-Islamic) Arabian calendar are vague and indefinite, and are often
incompatible with one another. Hence w e cannot take any of these
reports as truly authentic. Even so, no writer so much as hints at the
above principle.

(2) The principle as presented by Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi, is two vague to

serve as principle. Firstly, he does not say what the 'New Moon' is
supposed to mean - whether it means the conjunction of the sun and the
moon, or whether it means the crescent moon visible in the western sky
after sunset. At one place he states that the astronomical year of the
pagan Arab astronomers had nothing to do with the sighting of the new
m o o n , 6 0 which implies that the Arabs must have based their
calculations on the commuted N e w Moon, that is, presumably the
conjunction of the two luminaries. But, in practice, he takes the
(computationally) visible crescent moon, for all his proposed Arabian
months commence with the (computed) Muslim months. 6 1 Thus he
may be taken to have considered that the Arabs used to give 30 days to
certain months and 2 9 days to the others. But in that case, Moulvi
Sahib would have to indicate how many days were to be given to the
intercalary months: Were these to have 3 0 or 2 9 days always or
sometime 29 and sometimes 30 days, and if so, on what principle? But
he says nothing in this regard. Nor does his practice reveal any
principle other than that the pre-Islamic Arabs used to follow the rule to
be established by the Muslims! Secondly, he takes the day of the
autumnal equinox as a unit nearest to which to determine the
commencement of the the year. But a day is too long a period to be
taken as a unit for the purpose in hand. One would have to take the
point of the Autumnal Equinox as the point of time in relation to which
the question of commencement of a year would have to be determine.
Thus a month which, on this precise principle, should have been the
13th month of a given year could become the first month of the
following year on the vague principle presented by Moulvi Ishaq

(3) AbQ al-Rayhan al-Bayrurii (362/973-ca. 443/1051) is too late a writer to

be taken as an authority on the pre-Islamic calendar of the Arabs, and,
as Perceval points out, appears to be too uncertain and wavering to be
taken as having known all the relevant facts about the Arabian calendar.
However, being only too keen to import knowledge to others, he may
158 Islamic Quarterly

be taken to have stated nothing but the truth to the extent it had been
possible for him to ascertain the truth. N o w , al-Bayrflrii states that
Qalammas used to intercalate a month when the difference between the
solar and the lunar years amounted to a whole lunar month, and he
quotes verses from a pre-Islamic poet to that e f f e c t 6 2 This principle is
incompatible with the principle suggested by Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi, for,
on the latter principle, an intercalation would quite often have to be
made before the difference in question amounted to a whole month. 63

(4) Another objection is as old as Perceval. Arguing against the v i e w of

Silvestre de Sacy that the pagan Arabs might have had two calendars, a
vaguely lunar calendar like the Muslim one and another a luni-solar one,
perceval. pointed out that the passage from al-Maqrizi was a verbatim
copy from al-Bayrflrii Athdr, except for al-Maqrizi's error in attributing
to the people of al-Madinah what al-Bayrflrii had attributed to the
Indians, and, that 'umrahs and hajjs could have been made in terms of
about one calendar. 64 Even if one were to assume - and Moulvi Ishaq
al-Nabi would have to suppose - that while 'umrahs and hajjs were
made in accordance with the Makkan (i.e. the luni-solar) calendar, the
Medinese (and/or other) Arabs used to have a vaguely luner calendar of
their own, one would have to account it at least surprising that no single
writer of the early Islamic period should mention the existence of two
such calendars nor should there be a single pre-Islamic verse praising or
denouncing one of the two calendars.

Even so, let us now consider Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi's dating of the migration
of Prophet Muhammad.

Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi takes the meeting in Dar al-Nadwah to have taken place
on Thursday the first of RabV al-Awwal in what he calls the "Meccan
calendar", corresponding to the first of Jumada al-Ula, 1 A.H. (which he
calls the "Medinese calendar") and to the 11th of November 6 2 2 A.D., and
the Prophet to have left his house at midday the same day, to have gone to
Abfl Bakr's house, and, in his company, to have left for the Cave of Thawr
almost immediately. 6 5 (Moulvi Sahib had actually given Friday 2 RabV
al-Awwal - in the text as well as in his summary of the details of events - as
the day on which the Quraysh had probably assembled and the Prophet had
departed for the Cave, but, later on, he change it to Thursday 1 RabV
al-Awwal claiming but not citing a report to that effect.) 6 6 Even if w e
connive at the inexactitudes, this entry implies that contrary to Moulvi Ishaq
al-Nabi's v i e w that the Prophet left for the Cave during day time, he would
have to leave after sunset on Thursday the 1 lth of November, for, only after
the actual or mean sunset on 11.11.622 A.D. does the Arabian day of Friday
commence. Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi takes the Prophet to have stayed in the

Cave for 3 days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and to have left the Cave for
Medina on Monday the 5th of Meccan RabV al-Awwal&, reaching Quba' on
Monday the 12th of Meccan RabV al-Awwal corresponding to 12 Jumada
al-Ula 1 A.H. and the 22nd o f November 6 2 2 A . D . 6 8 reaching Quba' on
Monday the 12th of Makkan RabV al-Awwal corresponding to 12 Jumada
al-Ula 1 A.H. and the 22nd November 6 2 2 A.D. 6 8

It is to be noted that the days of the Meeting and departure from the house
(Thursday), leaving the Cave (Monday), and reaching Quba' (Monday), are
the same as those held by us in an earlier article 48 to be the only possible
ones. A s such his v i e w is tenable as far as the days o f the week are
concerned. But his dates are not acceptable for the following reasons.

(1) Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi offers no explanation for reports contrary to his
construction. In fact, he does not even mention reports contrary to his
view. For example, he does not say that Ibn Hajr al-'Asqalarii reports
no less a person than Abfl Bake b. Hazm as having stated that the
Prophet left Makkah on the 26th of Sqfar.W

(2) Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi assumes that the fast of 'AshOrd' commanded by
the Prophet was the fast of the Makkan 'AshOrd', i.e. of the 10th of the
Makkan al-Muharram, which often used to coincide approximately with
the Jewish 'Ashdr (i.e. came a day or two before or after it) and that
this coincidence took place in the 2nd 'Makkan' year of Hijrah and not
the first "Makkan' year. 7 0

N o w at one place Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi holds that the 2nd 'Makkan'
year of Hijrah commenced on Saturday the 1st of October 623 A.D. 7 1
and at another place on Sunday the 2nd of October 623 A . D . 7 2 But
while the so-called Makkan'As hard' fell on Monday/Tuesday the
10th/l lth of October 623, the Jewish 'Ashdr fell on Saturday the 10th
of September 6 2 3 A.D., one whole month earlier. 73 This means either
that Abfl Mflsa al-Ash'ari and Ibn 'Abbas were mistaken about the
identity of Yawm AshUrd' on which the Prophet commanded fasting,
or, that the Prophet commanded Muslims to fast on both the Jewish
'Ashdr and the 'Makkan"/f,s/tiJr<r and did s o not because the t w o
happened to coincide but probably because in respect o f one of these
two he desired to persevere with the Qurayshite practice and in respect
of the other one because he thought that the Muslims had a greater right
to observe what one of his predecessors (i.e. Moses) had done than
those who claimed to be the Prophet's followers, but did not act upon
his teachings. In either case, Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi's calendar fails to
account for the traditions regarding the fast of 'AshOrd'.
160 Islamic Quarterly

(3) Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi claims that burd means a woolen sheet of cloths
which is wrapped round the body or used instead o f a quilt while
sleeping, and that since 'Ali is reported to have covered himself with the
Prophet's burd the night the Prophet had come to the Cave of Tltawr, it
follows that the night in question must have been cool enough that for
that. 74 N o w , in the first instance, the burd is not necessarily woolen.
Burd primarily means a striped garment and includes the variegated
kind called washl and the kind called aksiyah, which is wrapped round
the body. 7 5 Secondly 'Ali may be thought of as having slept in the
open, in the courtyard of the Prophet's house. Even in September a
sheet of cloth would be required to cover oneself there, if one to sleep
in the open. Thirdly, as Dr. Hashim Amir Ali claims, 'Ali's sleeping in
the Prophet's bed appears to have been concocted by some reporters.
Dr. Ali's claim is based on a special consideration relating to his
proposed calendar. But there are justifiable reasons to doubt the story.
Even if w e assume that the Prophet knew that no harm would come to
'Ali, and thus the moral objection is removed, the story does not make
much sense. We are told that the elders of the Quraysh decided to kill
the Prophet, surrounded the Prophet's residence at night, kept guard the
whole night after having assured themselves that the Prophet was
asleep, and discovered only in the morning that it was 'Ali and not the
Prophet w h o had lain in the bed. The Quraysh had decided a surprise
nocturnal attack as is clear from all the reports. In fact, Ruqayyah, a
cousin o f 'Abd Allah (the Prophet's father), w h o appears to have
brought to the Prophet the new of Qurayshite elders' decision, uses the
word baydt, a surprise noctural attack. If so, why did they not attack at
night., why did they not try to kill the Prophet at night? Finally, the
question is: what was the end to be achieved by imperilling the life of
'AH? The Prophet did not g o away to al-Madinah straightway and
hence no question of gaining time arises.

Thus w e see that there is no reason to believe that the night in question
was a winter (or November) night. On the contrary we have positive
testimony that it was still warm at the time of the Prophet's migration.

(a) U m m Salamah, who was finally allowed by her clan to join Abfl
Salamah in al-Madinah, must have left Makkah only a few days
before the Prophet, for, Abu Salamah is said to have migrated
about a year before the Prophet's Hijrah, 76 and U m m Salamah is
said to have remained separated from her husband for a whole
year. 7 7 N o w , it is also reported that during the great part of the
journey she travelled at night and halted during daytime. 7 8 The
Arabs do so during the summer and not the winter.

'Ali, w h o left Makkah a few days after the Prophet's departure

and joined him while he was still living in Quba', is also reported

to have travelled during the night and to have halted during the
day. 7 *

The Prophet can himself be said to have travelled at night for

most of the time during his journey from Makkah to al-Madinah.
A b u Bakr, while (reportedly) recounting the story of his
migration with the Prophet, stated that on leaving the Cave they
had travelled for the whole night and the following day till noon
and that after a short halt the Prophet had enquired if the time for
the journey had arrived. 80 This clearly shows that, at the time of
Hijrah, the time for travelling used to be late in the afternoon,
nearly the whole night, and some part of the morning. This
inference is considerably strengthened by the verses quoted by
Ibn Isbaq: "God, the Lord of men, give the best rewards to the
two companions who rested in the two tents of U m m Ma'bad
(i.e. the Prophet and Abu Bakr)" 80 . They came with good intent
and went off at nightfall. 81

(b) The Prophet, while on his way to al-Madinah from Makkah, met
al-Zubayr b. al-'Awwam and Talbah b. U b a y e d Allah, w h o
were returning from Syria in company with trading caravans. 8 2
N o w w e know that the Arabs used to g o to Syria for trade during
the summar and to Yemen during winter. Thus even September
appears to be too late a time for Arabs traders to be returning from
Syria. The month of November therefore seems to be most
unlikely a time for them to have been returning from Syrian
trading ventures.

(c) 'Abd Allah b. Salam is reported to have been in his family

palmgrove picking dates for his family at the time the Prophet
came to Quba' (or from Quba' to al-Madinah). 8 3 According to
Burckhardt, as stated by Perceval, the season for harvesting fruits
in Hejaz comes to an end in early September. 8 4 Gathering the
last fruits on the 20th of September makes much more sense than
does doing so on the 22nd November.

(d) U r w a h b. al-Zubayr (apud Ibn Isbaq) reported 'Abd al-Rabman

b. U w a y m as having stated that a number of his clansmen had
told him that they went to the outskirts of their lava tract to await
the Prophet's arrival; they did s o after the Morning prayers and
remained there till there was no more shade left when they used to
return to their houses; and that this had happened during the hot
season. 8 5 Al-Madinah is not without shade and ordinarily so hot
in the morning on the 22nd of November: it is just like that on the
20th of September.
162 Islamic Quarterly

(e) On the day the Prophet came to al-Madinah it was shadeless and
hot enough, according to o n e report, only an hour after sunrise,
for Abfl Bakr to have to provide shade to the Prophet with his
m a n t l e . 8 6 This, again accords better with the date of 20th
September than with the date of 22 November.

(f) According to al-Ya'qubl, at the time when the Prophet migrated

to al-Madinah his daughter, Zaynab (wife of al-'As, a rich
merchant), was at al-Ta'if. 87 It is the practice of the well-to-do
Makkan to go to al-Ta'if to spend the summer there. Although it
is by no means impossible or difficult to suppose that Zaynab
was in al-Ta'if in the middle of November, her being there in the
first week of September would be only too natural and require no
explanation while her being there in the middle of November
would require an explanation.

(g) As'ad b. Zurarah is reported to have come to the Prophet in

Quba' after the sunset on Wednesday night. 8 8 This could have
been because of the reported enmity between a l - A w s and
al-Khazraj. But even after he had c o m e under the protection of
Sa'd b. Khaythamah on Wednesday, he is reported to have
visited the Prophet twice every day: at dawn and at sunset. 8 ?
There appears to be no other reason for it than the circumstance
that at that time it was too hot to come to Quba' from al-Madinah
during the day. This again agrees better with late September than
with late November.

(h) According to a report carried by al-Samhfldl, on reaching Yathrib

and alighting at Kulthum b. al-Hidm's, the Prophet called for
fresh dates (rufab).90 On the 20th of September fresh dates
would be available in Yathrib. But one wonders if it would be
reasonable for a guest to ask his host for fresh dates on the 22nd
of November.

(i) Above all, we have a report from 'A'ishah carried by al-Bukhari

from al-Zuhri on the authority of U r w a h b. al-Zubayr in which
A'ishah states that one day while they were sitting in Abfl Bakr's
house in the scorching midday heat, a time at which the Prophet
used not to visit them, the Prophet came to them and informed
Abfl Bakr that he had been permitted (by God) to migrate, and
soon thereafter the two left for a cave in the hillock of Thawr.9!
This accords better with the date of 13 September than with 11

(4) All those writers who mention the year of Hijrah in the Alexandrine

calendar g i v e the year 9 3 3 Alexandrine.? 2 N o w , this year began on

1.10.621 A.D. and ended on 30.9.622 A.D. If this could have been
taken as a basic datum, it would alone have sufficed to reject Moulvi
Ishaq al-Nabi's dating. But, we have no reason to take it as a datum.
T h i s y e a r must have been c o m p u t e d from a date in the
Arabian/Muslim/Iewish calendar. However, it is clear that whatever that
might have been, it must have been a date in the Arabian/Jewish/Muslim
calendar corresponding to some date between 1.10.621 and 3 0 . 9 . 6 2 2
A.D. Thus, even though it may not by itself enable us to reject Moulvi
Sahib's dating, it presents a serious presumption against his proposed
date of Hijrah.

We thus c o m e to the conclusions that (1) the calendars proposed by Perceval,

Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah and Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabi 'Alawi could not
possibly have been the calendar in vogue among the Arabs at the advant of
Islam, (2) the month of Rabi' al-Awwal in the year of Hijrah in which the
Prophet is unanimously said to have come to al-Madinah as a migrant is
beyond any reasonable doubt the month o f Rabi' al-Awwal , 1 AH.,
although there is equally good reason to believe that the Hijrah calendar did
not then exist, and that (3) despite considerable apparent conflict among early
writers in dating the event of Hijrah, w e have every reason to believe that the
Prophet reached the oasis of Yathrib on Monday 8 Rabi' al-Awwal, 1 A.H.
(20 September 6 2 2 A.D.), having left his house in Makkah on Thursday 2 6
Safar (9 September 622 A.D.) and the Cave of Thawr on Monday 1 Rabi'
al-Awwal, 1 A.H. (13 September 622 A.D.), that he came to al-Madinah for
the first time on Friday 12 Rabi' al-Awwal, 1 A.H. (24 September 622) after
his migration from Makkah, and that in all probability he came into residence
there on Monday 2 2 Rabi' al-Awwal, 1 A.H. (4 October 622 A.D.).


la. S e e "The 'Year' in the Qur'an", Islamic Studies, xxv (1986), pp.

lb. In our view the Muslim calendar was established in circa December 629
A.D. but the Pagan Arabs were allowed to retain their calendar till ca.
March 631 A.D. although Makkah had in the meantime been conquered
on 8.6.630 A.D. However, it seems that despite its abolition by the
Muslim government the Arabian calendar remained in use at least among
historians for very many years till U m a r saw to it that it went out of use.

2 . For example the dates of the gfiazawdt (expeditions) of Badr (Friday 17

Ramadan in the second year of Hijrah, Uhud (Saturday 7 or 11 or 15
Shawwal in the third year of Hijrah), Conquest (on or about Friday 20
Ramadan in the eight year of Hijrah) and Hunayn (middle of Shawwal in
the eight year of Hijrah), on which there is a consensus among early
narrators cannot belong to the Hijrah calendar because of the seasonal
details reported concerning these battles and because, in most of these
cases, days and dates are incompatible with one another in the Hijrah

3 . Kitdb al-Athdr al-Bdqlyah, reprint, Leipzig, 1923, pp. 11-12, 6 0 - 6 3 , 1 4 1 ,

325, 330, et passim.

4 . Perceval, "Notes on the Arab Calendar Before Islam", (tr. Nobiron),

Islamic Culture, x x l (1947), pp. 135-153), see, p. 145.

5 . Perceval, op. c i t , pp. 135 and 146.

6 . Ibid., p. 146.
165 Islamic Quarterly

7 . Ibid., p. 146-150.

8 . Ibid., p. 147.

9 . Perceval, op. c i t , p. 152.

10. Op., loc. cit.

11. Op. c i t , p. 152. But, in Perceval's calendar it is actually 28.6.622 A.D.

which corresponds to 12 Rabi' al-Awwal, 21.1 Arabian. One wonders
how Perceval could commit such a mistake. However, this does not
affect his argument since late June i s equaly hot in Hejaz. Moreover,
28.6.622 A.D. is a Monday, and there is no doubt about Monday having
been the day of the Prophet's arrival in Yathrib.

12. Op. c i t , p. 152.

13. Mujahid, Tafslr Mujdhid, Kuwait, 139/1976, p. 267; Al-Zamakhshari,

Kashshdf, Beirut, n.d., vol. II, pp. 2 4 4 and 269; Fakhr al-Dln al-Razl,
Al-Tafsir al-Kablr, Egypt, 1357/1938, vol. x., p. 220; Al-Khazin,
Tafslr al-Khdzin, 1317 A . H., vol. II, p. 236; Mahmfld
al-Alflsi, Rub al-Ma'ani, Egypt, n.d., vol. x, p. 93; Ibn al-Jawzl, Zdd,
al-Maslr, Damascus and Beirut, 1384-5/1964-5, vol. Ill, p. 3 9 4 (quoting

14. See, e.g., Tafslr Mugdhid, p. 266; Kashshaf, pp. 2 4 4 and 269; Al-Tafsir
al-Kablr, vol. xv, p. 220; Tafslr al-Khdzin, vol.11, p. 236; Rah
al-Ma'dnl, vol. x, p. 93; Zdd al-Maslr, vol.III, pp. 3 9 4 - 3 9 5 (quoting
al-Mawardl); Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, Al-Durar fi Ikhtisar al-Maghdzl wa
al-Siyar, Cairo, 1 3 8 6 / 1 9 6 6 , p. 2 8 6 (quoting 'Ikrimah b. K h a l i d
al-Makhzflml). {But Muhammad b. al-Sa'ib al-Kalbl (quoted verbatim by
al-Azraql, Akhbdr Makkah, Makkah, 1352 A.H., vol. I, p. 120) holds
that the Hajj Abu Bakr took place in Dhu al-Hijjah)

15. Al-Bayrflrii, by implication; see, Athdr, p. 63: The Prophet waited (to
make the hajj) till the time of the Farewell Pilgrimage. Also Mujahid, by
implication; see, Tafslr Mujahid, pp. 266-267.

16. E.g. Al-Bayrflrii, Athdr, p. 63. Al-Kalbi (apud al-Azraqi, Akhbar, p.

120) calls it al-hajj al-tamm (the complete hajj).

17. S e e . e.g., Tafslr Mujahid, p. 267; Ibn Hisham, Slrah reprint,

Frankfurt, 1961, p. 968; Al-Waqidl, Kitdb al-Maghdzl, Oxford, 1966, p.
1112; Al-Bukhari, Kitdb Jdmi' al-Sqhlh, Leiden, 1862-1902, vol. Ill, p.

18. Tafslr Mujahid, p. 267; Kashshaf, p. 269; Al-Tafslr al-Kablr, vol. xv, p.
220; Tafslr al-Khazin, vol. II, p. 236; Rah al-Ma'dni
al-Maslr, vol.II, pp. 394-395.

19. That is, the date of arrival in Yathrib.

2 0 . Apud Mabmfld Basha, Natd'ij al-Aflidm fi Taqwim al-'Arab qabla

al-Isldm (tr. Abmad Dhakl), Egypt, 1305 A H . , p. 53.

21. Tafslr Mujahid, p. 266.

22. Verse 9:37.

23. See, e.g., Al-Zabldl, Tdj al-'Aras, Kuwait, 1385/1965, vol. I, pp.
4 5 6 - 4 5 7 ; Tafslr Mujahid, p. 266; Ibn Hablb, Kitdb al-Munammaq,
Hyderabad (Deccan), 1384/1964, pp. 273-275; al-Bayrflrii, Athdr, pp.
11, 12 and 62; al-Marzflql, Kitdb al-Azminah wa al-Amkinah, Hyderabad
(Deccan), 1332 A.H., vol. I, p. 86. S e e also, "The Meaning of Nasi':
An Interpretation of verse 9:37", Islamic Studies, X X V I (1987), pp.

24. Sirah, pp. 151-153.

25. Al-Tabaqdt al-Kubrd, Beirut, 1376/1957, vol. D, p. 23.

26. Sahib Muslim, ed. M.F. 'Abd al-Baql, 1374-5/1955, 13:16 (=p. 789),
by implication; Al-Waqidi, Maghazi, pp. 801-802, and 864. The Battle of
Hunayn took place a fortnight later. According to all indications, this
battle took place in a very hot season.

27. Sahib Muslim, 13:16 (=p. 788) and 13:17 (=p. 790).

28. Sirah p. 679 (reading hamal J*» instead of jamal J** as actually printed
in the Sirah, following the Egyptian edition and Musannaf Ibn Abl
Shaybah). Ibn abi Shaybah also carries the same report; see, Musannaf
Ibn Abl Shaybah, Karachi, 1406/1986, vol. XIV, pp. 408-409. The
verse said to have been recited by Mu'adh, as published, is however as
follows in Ibn Abi Shaybah:

29. Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, reprinted, Karachi, 1968, p.

167 Islamic Quarterly

3 0 . See, e.g., Ibn Qutaybah, Kitdb al-Anwd', Hyderabad (Deccan),

1375/1956, pp. 7 and 103-104; Athdr, pp. 6 2 and 325.

31. Al-Qur'dn, verse 9:5; Ibn Kathlr, Tafslr al-Qur'an al-'Azlm, Cairo,
1375/1956, vol. II, p. 357.

32. Their year began with the month called Safar al-Awwal (called by us
al-Muharram) and was followed by Safar al-Akhir, there is every reason
to believe that these were two autumn months, e.g., that "Safar" means
autumn and "Safriyah" means autumnal rains. Moreover, the Arabs
divided the year into four seasons, Rabi' (autumn), Shita' (winter), Sayf
(spring) and Qayz (summer), and counted them in the given order, in the
Qur'an itself, in Surah Quraysh, "riblah al-shita'" precedes "rihlah
alsayf'. Furthermore, the Arabs are said to have divided the apparent
lunar path into 28 mansions and to have begun the count of the mansions
with al-Sharafdn which has its setting at the time of autumnal equinox,
and to have taken the period of mansion to be the time between its setting
and the setting of the next mansion. Moreover, there are indications that
two consecutive setting of al-Sharafdn marked the period of a year. Even
the sheep and goats born in various seasons were counted in the order,
"Safari, Shitawl, Dafal, Qayzl, and kharafi". W e learn from the Qur'an
that the Arab used to determine the number of years from (the revolutions
of) the lunar mansions, and since al-Sharafdn is the first of them and
since the period of a mansion was marked be settings of mansions, it is
reasonable to infer that their year began with the setting of al-Sharafdn;
in fact, the Anwa' writers d o set out the year as the settings o f the lunar
mansions beginning with al-Sharafdn. Finally, there is just no contrary
report or indication in the entire literature against the v i e w that the
Arabian years began in the autumn close to the autumnal equinox.

33. From the two verses of the Qur'an in which the words 'umrah and
i'tamara occur it is clear that the relationship between the two was not
that of a general and a particular concept; on the contrary, it is clears that
there was a contrast between the two. See, verses 2:158 and 196.

34. Sahih Muslim, (vol. II) pp. 870-871.

35. See, e.g., Akhbdr Makkah, vol. I, p. 125; Al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol. I, p.
3 9 6 (cf. vol. Ill, p. 17); Kitab al-Munammaq, p. 275.

3 6 . Al-Bukharl Sahih, Vol. I, p. 397; Sahih Muslim, (vol. H), p.888. In

fact, the Prophet is reported to have been angered by the people (i.e. by
the Muslims) on the occasion of Hijjah al-Wida' and to have stated that
he had given a command but the people were confused and that had he
known beforehand what he had c o m e to know afterwards he would have
made it an 'umrah instead of a hajj. (Sahih Muslim, pp. 8 7 9 and 888:
reported from 'A'isha and Jabir b. 'Abd Allah).

3 7 . Perceval, op; c i t , p. 150, Footnote.

3 8 . E.g., Sirah, pp. 151-153; Tabaqat, vol. I, p. 194.

39 Sirah, p. 152.

4 0 . Tabaqat, vol. U, p. 23.

4 1 . I b i d , vol.1, p. 75; Qutaybah, Ta'wll Mushkil al-Qur'dn, Cairo, 1973,

p.413; Al-Taban, Tafslr al-Tabarl, Egypt, 1329, part xxx, p. 199.

4 2 . Maghazi, pp. 199 and 206; Tabaqat, vol. n , p. 36; Ibn Sayyid al-Nas,
Vyan al-Athr, Cairo, 1356 A.H. vol. II, p. 2; Ibn Kathir, Al-Biddyah
wa al-Nihdyah, Egypt, 1351 A H . , vol. IV, p. 9; Al-Samhudi, Wafd
al-Wafd bi-Akhbdr Ddr al-Musfafd, ed. 'Abd al-Hamid, Egypt, ca.
1374/1955, p. 282; Al-Qasjallarii, Kitdb al-Mawdhib al-Ladunyah,
1326/1907, vol. I, p. 92. Even Sir Richard Burton, w h o visited
al-Madinah in 1853, says that the battle of Uhud was fought on Saturday
11 Shawwal in the 3rd year of Hijrah; see his Personal Narrative of
Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Makkah, reprint, N e w York: n.d., vol. I,
p. 4 2 3 . Perceval: op. c i t , p. 150 (year 2 1 3 Arabian o f Perceval begins
with 26.4.624; giving 3 0 and 29 days to the months alernately, w e arrive
at 17.1,625 A.D. as corresponding to the 1st day o f the 10th month of
that year).

4 3 . "The Date of Hijrah'" Islamic Studies, XXIII (1984), pp. 291 and

4 4 . "The Nasi', the Hijrah calendar and the need of preparing a new
concordance for the Hijrah and Gregorian eras", Journal of the Pakistan
Historical Society, XVI (1968), pp. 1-18; see, p. 12 and footnote 1 on

4 5 . "The Concordance o f the Hijrah and Christian Eras for the life time of the
Prophet", Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, X V I (1968), pp.
213-219; see, p. 216.

4 6 . Ibid., pp. 217 and 219. (see also The Nasi', etc. p. 10.)

4 7 . Ibid., p. 219.

48a "The Date of Hijrah" Islamic Studies, X X m (1984), pp. 304-305.

48b Compare p. 10 with p. 219 (1968 volume of the Journal quoted).

4 9 . Patna, 1977. *^S

5 0 . See, pp. 4 8 - 4 9 , 1 7 - 1 8 , 9 and 55, and 44-48.

169 Islamic Quarterly

51. "The First Decade in Islam", The Muslim World, X L I V (1954), pp.
126-138; see, p. 137.

52. Al-Bayrflrii, Athdr, p. 330.

53. Athdr, p. 62; Al-R3zl, Tafslr, vol. XVI, p. 50.

54. The calendar actually in use among the Jews has the following ordo
intercalations (C standing for a c o m m o n year and L standing for


(See, Burnaby, Elements of the Jewish and Muslim Calendars, London,

1901, p. 26, quoting Maimonides, "Kid. hach"., vi, section xi, p. 370.)
The Jews take a lunation to comprise 29 days 12 hours 4 4 minutes and
3.3 seconds, and a solar year to comprise 365 days 5hours 55 minutes
and 2 5 . 4 3 8 5 seconds. (These values are really those obtained by
Hipparchus, one of the greatest astronomers of antiquity.) On this basis,
the 8th Jewish year of a (minor) cycle of 19 years, after the expiry of the
normal 12 months, makes an advance of 27 days 23 hours 25 minutes
and 56.66 seconds, i.e., that of less than 28 days; but, they make it
embolismic so that their 8th luni-solar year (computationally) ends 1 day
13 hours 18 minutes 3.33 seconds after the 8th solar year. (On the
principle of intercalating a month only when the progression amounts to
a whole month, the 8th year would be a non-embolismic one, and the 19
years' cycles would have to have the order of

55. Al-Bukhari, Sahib, vol. Ill, p. 38.

56. Ishaq al-Nabl 'Alawl, "Waqe'at-e-Sirat-e-Nabawi men Tawqiti Tadad

awr uska Hall", Burhan, LIU, pp. 13-14 and 19.

5 7 . S. B. Burnaby, op. c i t , p. 10.

58. Athdr, p. 12.

59. For example, in the Qur'an, Surah Quraysh, Shita' = winter or

autumn-cum-winter precedes Sayf = spring or spring-cum-summer,
according to all writers, including Ibn Qutaybah, al-Mas'udi and
al-Bayrflrii, the Arabs used to divide the year into four seasons, Autumn,
Winter, Spring and Summer, and began the count with the season of
Autumn; the sequence of months and the suggested etymologies of
month-names sugest that the year began with the a u t u m n - i n fact,
al-Mubarram and Safar are reported to have been called Safar al-Awwal
and Safar al-Akhir, and "Safariyah" is said to mean autumnal.

60. Isbaq al-Nabl, op. cit., LII, p. 349, and LIII, p. 15.

61. Ibid., LIII, pp. 2 0 - 2 2 et passim. It may further be mentioned that in

numerous c a s e s he appeals to the actual sighting of the moon see,
e.g. LIII, pp. 268 and 272. Thus it seems that what he had in mind
w a s the computed day of sighting the new moon. If so, then he
ought not to have resorted to actual sightings. The fact is, he w a s
not clear in his mind on this question.

62. Athdr, pp. 11 and 12.

63. This may be seen by a simple calculation. Taking a solar year to

comprise 3 6 5 - 2 4 2 mean solar days and the average number of days
between two successive new moons (i.e. conjunctions of the sun and the
moon) to be 29.53 mean solar days, and assuming that a non-embolismic
Arabian year used to comprise 3 5 4 days, the difference between the
Arabian and the solar year would amount to 11.242 days. N o w ,
assuming that year 1 (or a certain year) commenced with the point o f the
autumnal equinox, the 24th Arabian month would end 2 2 . 4 8 4 days
before the point of autumnal equinox and the 25th month (if given 29.53
days) would end 7 . 0 5 4 days after the equinox; on M o u l v i Ishaq
al-Nabl's principle, year 2 would have to be embolismic since 7.054 is
less than 22.484 and the 25th month would be the intercalary month,
whereas on the principle reported by al-Bayrflrii, year 2 would be a
non-embolismic year and the 25th month would be the first month of
year 3. In general terms, on Moulvi Isbaq al-Nabl's principle, a year
would sometimes commence before, sometimes on, and sometimes after,
the day of the autumnal equinox, but on the principle* reported by
al-Bayrflnl, a year must begin on or before the day of the equinox and
never after the day of the equinox. _.' •Z

64. Perceval, op. cit., pp. 142-143.

65. Burhdn, LIII, pp. 204-205 read with p. 370.

66. Ibid., pp. 2 0 4 and 208. For the change, see, p. 370. (He appears not to
have found any report, for, even in a later work, he does not cite any
report; on the contrary, he gives Thursday as only probable. See,
Nuqush (Lahore), Rasal Nambar, vol. JJ, p. 153.)

67. Ibid., pp. 205-206.

68. Ibid., pp. 206-207.

69. Fath al-Barl, Cairo, 1398/1978, vol. xv, p. 98. (For numerous other
examples, the report cited in "The Date of Hijrah", Islamic Studies,

i , &

171 Islamic Quarterly

XXIII, pp. 189-93, may be compared with the reports mentioned by

Moulvi Ishaq al-Nabl.)

7 0 . Burhdn, LIII, pp. 7 - 1 2 and 209.

7 1 . Ibid., p. 15.

7 2 . Ibid., pp. 2 0 and 211.

7 3 . See, e.g., Burnaby, op. c i t , p. 302.

74. Burhdn, LIU, p. 207.

7 5 . See, e.g., Taj al-'ArOs, Kuwait, vol. VII, 1389/1970, p. 413; Lisdn
al-'Arab, Beirut, 1373/1955, vol. Ill, p. 87; Lane, Arabic-English
Lexicon, Lahore, 1978, vol. I, p. 184.

76. Ibn Ishaq says that Abfl Salamah migrated to al-Madinah a year before
the pledge of al-"Aqabah. See, Sirah, p. 314; cf. Ibn Kathir, Al-Biddyah
wa al-Nihdyah, Egypt, 1932, vol. HI, p. 169.

7 7 . Sirah, p. 315-316.

7 8 . Ibid., pp. 315-316.

7 9 . Ta'rikh al-Ya'qflbl, vol. II, p. 41.

80. Al-Bukharl, Sahih, vol. U, p 408; Muslim, Sabih Muslim, Hadith no.
2009. Cf. Ahmad b. Hanbal, Al-Musnad, Egypt, 1949, Hadith no. 3.

81. Sirah, p. 330, Guillaum's translation; see, The Life of Muhammad, p.

225. The translation is not very faithful, but the verses (especially in Ibn
Sa'd's version) do imply that the Prophet left U m m Ma'bad's
encampment in the evening, and so does 'Abd al-Malik b. Wahb
al-Madhhaji's account (apud Ibn Sa'd) of the departure from Qudayd;
see, Tabaqat, vol. I, p. 232.

82. Ibn Sa'd, Xabaqdt, vol. HI, pp. 173 and 215; AI-Bukhari, Sahih, vol.
Ill, p. 40; Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, 1341 A.H., vol. Ill, p. 11; Fath
al-Bari, vol. X V , p. 93.

83. Sirah, p. 353 (Ibn Ishaq narrates from 'Abd Allah himself via a member
of his family. Cf. Tabaqat, vol. I, p. 236, and Al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol.
Ill, p. 42, carrying a report from Anas which is at variance with Ibn
Ishaq's report in one circumstance, namely, that according to Anas this
happened when the Prophet reached the house of Abu Ayyub whereas in

Ibn Ishaq's report 'Abd Allah hears about the Prophet's arrival in Banu
'Amr b. 'Awf.

84. Perceval, op. c i t , pp. 143.

85. Sirah, pp. 333-334. Cf. Al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol. Ill, p. 40.

86. A l - S a m h u d i , W a / t f al-Wafd bi-Akhbdr Dar al-Musfafd, ed. 'Abd

al-Hamld, Egypt, Ca. 1374/1955, (vol. I), p. 245.

87. Ta'rlkh al-Ya'qObl, Beirut, 1960, vol. II, pp. 41-42.

88. Wafdal-Wafa, p. 249.

89. Ibid., p. 250.

90. Ibid., p. 245.

91. Al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol. Ill, pp. 38-39. Cf. Sirah, p. 327.

92. E.g. Khalid b. Yazld (d. 90/708) apud al-Bayruni {Athar, p. 302);
A l - K h a w a r i z m l apud Ibn 'Abd al-Bar (Al-Istl'db fl Ma'rifah
al-Ashab, ed. al-Bajdwl, Cairo, n.d., vol. I, p. 32: Ibn 'Abd al-Barr only
attributes the date of 20th of Aylul, but since he reports al-Khawarizmi as
having taken it as corresponding to 8.3.1 A.H., it is o b v i o u s that
al-Khawarizmi took it to belong to 933 Alexandrin); Al-Mas'udi, Muruj
al-Dhahab, Egypt, 1367/1948, vol. II, p. 285; Mughalta'i, Kitdb
al-Islidrah ild Sirah al-Musfafd wa Atliar min ba'dih min al-Khulafa, MS
Beyezit 5236, folio 15-B; Al-Maqrlzl, lima' al-Asma', Cairo, 1941, vol.
I, p. 44.


A Review of Islamic Culture


E D I T O R : Dr. A. A. M u g h r a m
(Director General Islamic Cultural Centre)

Editorial A d v i s e r C. Le Gai E a t o n M . A . (Cantab.)

Volume X X X I I (Number 3)

T H I R D Q U A R T E R 1988