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Saturday Dec 2, 2023, Jumada-al-awwal 19, 1445 Hijri

Ramadan in Norway

08 July, 2015

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)

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The prime minister and his entourage would have experienced it for themselves in Oslo what a friend from Norway is facing in observing fasts there during the month of Ramadan. He says that the fast lasts for over 21 hours as the sun sets there around 11:10 p.m. and the Sehri is over by 1:15 a.m. leaving him a little over 2 hours to break his fast, offer Maghrab, Isha and Traveeh prayers and hurriedly partake whatever of Sehri he can, by which time the Fajar azaan is already being broadcast. 

This has put me to some serious thinking. Could such a lop sided affair happen in Islam – the perfect deen? A deen which is the best and universal, that could be practiced easily and effortlessly by everyone  in ANY part of the world. A deen which is the final and the ultimate till the day of the Judgement - Qiamat!  A deen which has been COMPLETED and would not need any additions/subtractions from it. There is something amiss somewhere! It is either Tauba Naoozobillah  in Islam or in the way we are practicing it.  Now it is part of our faith that nothing could be wrong in Islam for the Allah (swt) has Himself proclaimed in the Qura'n that He has completed our deen for us. And anything complete is complete in all respects, PERIOD.  So, we have to look for it into the way we are practicing Islam. It is here that something could be lagging somewhere in some respect. Let's, therefore, examine it a little pleeeeease albeit dispassionately, unemotionally, unbiasedly, logically, rationally, maturely and of course knowledgeably.

When would be the day and the night equal in Norway or for that matter around the world?  Even a kindergartener knows that – on the equinoxes. That is around 21st March and 23rd September. When does the sun complete its apparent path of the Zodiac circle of twelve 30° divisions and re-enters Aries (Burj e Hamal)  to start its next year's celestial journey? On the Spring Equinox, that is around 21st March.  What is Eid ul Fitr?  The Eid day after Ramazan or the 1st of Shawwal.  What isYom al Fitr?  The day the Fatir us Smawat wal Ard {Almighty Allah (swt)} created the skies and the earth.  Now would not the Yom ul Fitr – the first day that the Creator (swt) created the skies and the earth be perfect and perfectly balanced?! With the day and the night being (almost) equal, with the weather at its best and the most pleasant – no scorchi! ng heat or freezing cold, with the flowers and the fresh buds blooming in their best colours, with the animals and the earth once again coming to life. What could be the most suitable period to fast for a month than that -  from around February 20 to around March 20th – depending upon the appearance of the moon?

Now please I am fully aware of the Taqwa, Sabr, Bardasht, Imtehaan, but for Heavens' sake, what kind of Imtehaan is it for a poor labourer eking out his livelihood on daily wages basis to toil outdoors and observe fast too for 16 to 17 hours during the months of June and July in the sizzling and scorching heat of Multan, Bahawalpur, Siraiki belt, Mithi Thar, Nia Chor, Umer Kot,  Sibi, Jacobabad just to name only a few places in Pakistan leaving aside the Libyan Sahara and the Arabian deserts?!   He will simply die of heat exhaustion.  And his family and children will also die if he doesn't bring home some money in the evening for their food and survival. Surely, Islam doesn't want that to happen.

Then what is the answer? With all my humbleness and due respects to the highly exalted Ulema kindly allow me to say that our present Hijri Calendar which is purely Lunar in nature was not the calendar in use during the lifetime of the Rasoolullah (SAW) when the Fasting, Hajj and other Islamic Farz o Nawafal were ordained, It was Sun e Ibrahimi which was in vogue then and the Sun e Ibrahimi was a Luni-Solar calendar. According to that calendar the month of Ramadan did fall before the Spring Equinox, and the water did freeze during the months of Jamadi ul Awwal and Jamadi us Sani as the names of these month signify.

Could our highly learned scholars and the Islamic Ideological Council  please research in to just one matter,  that is;  what calendar was in use during the lifetime of the Rasoolullah (SAW) and even before?  And, was it a purely Lunar Calendar or was it a Luni-Solar Calendar?

Incidentally, the Jews are even today following the same Luni-Solar calendar called Hebcal  and which is 5776 year old in 2015-2016 AD. And their religious events (Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot etc.) like the religious events of ALL other major religions of the world (Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Zoroastrians, Bodhs, Confucius' etc.) fall exactly on the same day of the year, year after year even today.  Then why don't our Islamic sacred days fall on the same day of the year?!

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