12 lunations.

Surely, the number of months according to Allah is twelve (as written) in the Book of Allah on the day He created the heavens and the Earth, of which there are Four Sacred Months. That is the right faith. So, do not wrong yourself therein. And fight the Mushriks all together, as they fight you all together, and be sure that Allah is with the God-fearing.

holy qur’an surah at-tawbah ayat 36

However, unlike the 12 month Gregorian calendar, the Islamic year is not counted by the number of revolutions of planet Earth around the sun, but by the revolutions of the moon and the moon around planet Earth. Confused yet?

The Islamic 12 month calendar is based on lunar months. A lunar month is the time that it takes the moon to pass through each of its phases – new, half, full. The moon rotates once around its axis in approximately the same time that it takes for the moon to orbit once around planet Earth. (NASA says that it takes the moon around 27.3 days to complete a revolution but 29.5 days to move through the synodic phases). Every person on Earth sees the same phases of the moon although depending on where you are, the moon could appear ‘upside down’ compared to the other side of earth.

It is He Who causes the dawn to split forth, and has ordained the night for repose, and the sun and the moon for reckoning time. All this is determined by Allah the Almighty, the All-Knowing.”

holy qur’an surah al-an’am ayat 96

Earth takes approximately 365 and 1/4 days (one year) to make a complete revolution around the sun. A lunar month (or lunation) takes approximately 29.5 days (or between 29 and 30 days) to complete one revolution, so that a lunar year comprises approximately 354 days.

The solar calendar is an annual cycle around the sun (I have yet to look at why the months are of varying lengths) while the lunar calendar is the monthly cycle of the moon’s phases (synodic months).

So, the time difference (or epact, a term describing this specific time difference) is usually 11 days. Each year, the Islamic months start 11 days earlier than the year before (when we compare it to the solar calendar). Over an elapse of 33 years, there will be a lag of one year between solar and lunar calendars as a result of consecutive epacts.

And the sun runs its own course; unchanging. That is the decree of the Almighty, the all-Knowing. And the moon we have measured for its mansions (To traverse) till it returns like the old dried curved date stalk. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, or the night out-strip the day. They all float in their orbits.

Holy qur’an surah yasin ayah 38-40

Ramadan Reflections 20:1441AH – a socially distanced Eid

In Barbados, the mosques remain closed, and although most workplaces are open for business with social distancing rules (physical distancing & masks & sanitising of spaces), the traditional prayer sites remain closed to congregations except for the publication/broadcast of religious services, weddings & funerals (with limited numbers). Even the beaches are open for limited hours morning and afternoon.

The Barbados Association of Thelogians has issued a guideline with respect to the performance of Eid salaat at home (a minimum of 4 mature males must be present for the salaat folllowed by a short Eid kihutbah to be performed) If the minimum isnt met, then do not pray the Eid prayer. This is of the Hanafi fiqh, but other fiqh conditions and prohibitions are respected. Strangely enough, or maybe simply, enough, in Trinidad, 2 viewpoints of the Hanafis have come forth – one for the Eid salaat at home, and the other saying simply, no, it is not to be performed at all, although one can pray the nafl salaat. In both countries, the Islamic faith organisations have encouraged adherents to observe the rules and guidelines of the country – in Barbados, traditional visits to the graveyard after the Eid salaat have been warned against.

We remain socially distanced in person, but it does not prevent getting together on online platforms to greet each other, and see the meals and treats (if any) prepared. Those who are sequestered in homes are blessed, but so are those who are alone – say farewell with sorrow to this Ramadan, many have not lived to see it at all, and many have not seen all of it, pray that we see another Ramadan, and celebrate this Eid ul Fitr – clean your surroundings, dress your bed, make ghusl, pray Fajr, recite Qur’an, eat something sweet, perform Eid salaat if you follow that school of thought, or if not, pray some nafl salaat during the course of the morning, prepare a different meal, dress your selves in your finest clothing, try a new activity (should we go to the beach this year?), make contact with your friends, family, near or distant, say Alhamdulillah and if you have performed the Eid salaat, then greet:

 Taqabbal Allaahu minna wa minkum (May Allaah accept (this worship) from us and from you). It was narrated that Jubayr ibn Nufayr said: When the companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) met one another on the day of Eid, they would say to one another: “Taqabbal Allaahu minna wa mink (May Allaah accept (this worship) from us and from you).”

Ramadan Sip for Iftar

Our Muslim ladies group ran a weekly Healthy Halal competition with a different competition each week.

Week 1 – healthy suhoor

Week 2 – healthy iftar

Week 3- healthy beverage

Week 4- healthy dessert

I had neither interest nor inclination for entering until we cut into a watermelon with fervour, anticipating its juicy bites for iftar one night. It happened to be the week of the healthy beverage competition. Lo and behold! A pale pinkish white pulp revealed itself and we stood there flabbergasted. A little distressed even. Alhamdulillah. I left it atop the counter and went on with other iftar items. Next morning it hit me, google I did for watermelon and cucumber juices, and came across several- cucumber watermelon lemonade, etc. And Agua FRESCA, a Mexican non alcoholic drink made from fruit juices. A tweak or two, and watermelon pulp, unpeeled but seeded cucumber, and juice of two limes blended, chilled, poured into the watermelon rind vessel, garnished with fresh mint leaves, and an iPhone or two, some manipulation to get 2 photos in one with the recipe and a hadith, and the entry was made. I didnt win, but I may have come 2and, this was a social media type contest, so while it called for creativity in presentation etc, it really boiled down to likes by some friends and some strangers.