Gregorian Calendar vs. Hijra Calendar, which one is preferable?

Batanes to Tawi-tawi

Julmunir I. Jannaral

JANUARY 1, 2021 the New Year in Gregorian calendar has passed already and so as Muharram 1, 1441 the Islamic New Year or Amun Jadid that is equivalent to August 31, 2019. Therefore the next Amun Jadid will be on Muharram 1, 1443 equivalent to August 9, 2021.

If in the last Amun Jadid, only few among us Muslims or non-Muslims have greeted one another with Happy Amun Jadid unlike what we usually do during New Year like in January 1, 2021. I hope many of us this coming August 9, 2021 will start greeting one another either personally or in Social Media like Facebook with Happy Amun Jadid.

Be that as it may, we in the Philippine Muslim Today through the initiative of our Editor-in-Chief, Dean Masiding Noor Yahya we have started to popularize both Calendars hoping it will serve as a Name Recall to our readers.

Thus like today that is Friday, January 8, 2021we have placed in the Front Page of this First Muslim Digital Online National Newspaper the equivalent date that is also Friday, Jumada Al-Awwal 24, 1442.

One may asks why it is called Hijra and when was the start of the Islamic Calendar.

Hijra started at the time when Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his followers migrated in 622 CE (Common Era) from Makkah to Madina (Yathrib) in order to escape persecution.

622 CE is the era used in the Islamic lunar calendar to begin counting composed of 12 months starting with Muharram; Safar; Rabi’ al-awwal; Rabi’ al-thani, Rajab, Sha’aban; Ramadan; Shawwal; Dhu al-Qi’dah; and Dhu al-Hijjah.

Again, Aleem Said Ahmad Basher, an alumnus of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt at the same time the Religious Adviser of the Philippine Muslim Today told this Columnist among the 12 lunar months in the Hijra calendar some months are favored over all other months, like Ramadan because it is the month of mercy, the month when Qur’an was revealed, and the month of forgiveness. Thus he said these four months (Muharram, Rajab, Dhu al-Qi’dah, Dhu al-Hijjah) are favored in the Islamic
tradition and are called the Sacred Months.

Aleem Said said the sanctity of these months was established long time ago, even before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The four sacred months were known since the time of Prophet Ibrahim (Peace be Upon Him).

Asked what is really the main purpose of the sanctity of these months, the Al-Azhar alumnus said it was to ban battles and make the Hajj journey, the pilgrimage towards the Kaabah safe.

Likewise, the Muslim calendar, also called Hijra calendar or Islamic calendar, dating system used in the Muslim world for religious purposes. However most countries especially here in the Philippines since time immemorial as the only Catholic country in Asia used the Gregorian for Civil purposes. It is also based on a year of 12 months, each month beginning
approximately at the time
of the New Moon.

Aleem Said also explained this event, known as the Hijra, is commemorated in Islam for its role in the founding of the first Muslim community (ummah).
In the West, this era is most commonly denoted as AH (Latin: Anno Hegirae in parallel with the Christian (AD), Common(CE) and Jewish eras (AM) and can similarly be placed before or after the date. In predominantly Muslim countries, it is also commonly abbreviated H (“Hijra”) from its Arabic abbreviation. Years prior to AH 1 are reckoned in English as BH (“Before the Hijra”), which should follow the date.

Because the Islamic lunar calendar has only 354 or 355 days in its year, it slowly rotates relative to the Gregorian calendar year.

The year 2021 CE corresponds to the Islamic years AH 1442 – 1443. AH 1440 corresponds to 2018 – 2019 in the Common Era.

Now going back to the question, which one is preferable Gregorian Calendar vs. Hijra Calendar? As cited earlier, for Civil purpose, it is preferable to use the Gregorian Calendar; and Hijra Calendar is preferably used for religious purposes.

In view of this topic on Gregorian and Hijra Calendars, many Muslims are having questions whether it is not forbidden in Islam or haram to extend Christmas or New Year’s greetings to others whether Muslims or non-Muslims.There are divergent of opinions.

My fraternal sister in the Alpha Sigma Phi-1845 said there are People particularly the fanatic Muslims who don’t celebrate Christmas or New Year saying that these are the practices of the Christians.

And so Prof. Farida Ibrahim, who teaches at the Cotabato City State Polythecnic College (CCSPC) has this question, if we Muslims are prohibited to greet or celebrate Christmas, does it follows that we are prohibited too to receive Christmas bonus during December?

There is no categorical answer to this question since every Muslims and non-Muslim government and private employees are mandated by law to receive their Christmas bonuses.

However, Aleem Said, who is a more practical and lenient Islamic scholar said, there is no harm in extending Christmas greetings or New Year’s greetings as long as it is for the purposes of socialization and not for religious purposes.

Now going back to the topic on Amun Jadid or Muslim New Year, another fraternity brother also in the Alpha Sigma Phi-1845 admitted that Amun Jadid seems to be not on the agenda of the Muslims unlike the New Year celebrated on January 1 of the Gregorian calendar.

Antonio Yunos-Ijin, a retired employee of MSU-TCTO in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi said for the people to recall the celebration every time Amun Jadid comes every month of Muharram in the Hijra calendar, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) now headed by Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan should intiate the printing of thousands of Hijra calendar and distribute it free to all the people in the five component provinces like Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

I can recall the forerunner of NCMF that was the Ministry of Muslim Affairs (MMA) headed by the late Admiral Romulo M. Espaldon used to print thousands of copies of Hijra calendar to be distributed free to the people in Mindanao though there was No ARMM yet and usually distributed in bulk to the different Masjids and Madrasa for free citculation.

PostScript: As Managing Editor and Columnist of Batanes To Tawi-Tawi, I welcome Atty. BAYAN G. BALT with his column My Legal Point as an added source of legal fountain.

I have not met yet Atty. Balt in person. But I have heard his name long before as among the legal luminaries of the Bangsamoro Region.

His maiden column in the Philippine Muslim Today touched on the topic of extension of the term of Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) by Congress from the year 2022 to 2025.

He said the Congressional extension of the BTA’s term does not cover extension of the term of its officials (Members of Parliament).

Atty. Balt emphasized that it is crystal clear that public office like the BTA is an office or instrumentality of the government. He added it is distinct and separate from the members of the parliament and other officials holding said office.

Otherwise, stated the power of Congress to pass a law extending the term of the BTA exclude the power to extend the powers to extend the term or appointments of its members.

“Any law to the contrary will violate the principle of separation of powers; simply the power to appoint is an executive fiat and cannot be exercised by Congress which is simply passing a law,” Atty. Balt emphasized.

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