Friday, February 16, 2007



Sectarianism has recently become a burning issue which has been a thorn in the body of the Muslim Ummah for over thirteen centuries. We are witnessing the calamitous tendencies to tear this Ummah apart by promoting sectarianism. This is a major and serious cause that is contributing to the decline and rapid retardation of the Muslims. At the root of the problem are people and organizations that are benefiting from it directly and indirectly. In addition to those beneficiaries are the narrow minded and ignorant extremists who are being used and encouraged to further tear the Ummah apart without them realizing the grave error that they are causing to Islam. Unfortunately, there are many ignorant Muslims amongst us who want to use sectarianism for short term political gain and in the meantime to further tear apart the Muslims and encourage violence and promote hatred between the various sects. Then there are those ignorant extremists who think that they can impose their way of thinking on others by “the edge of the sword” believing that they have been empowered by the Almighty to spread their unfounded religious thinking on others. Their derailed mentality of “my way is the only way” is in complete contradiction to God’s demand of the believers that “there is no coercion in matters of faith.” This trend has lead to further destabilize the Ummah and veer the Muslims to side albeit non-issues. This is happening in front of our very eyes throughout the Muslim World. We witness the daily carnage of Muslims of different sects killing each other irrespective of their gender or age. Every one of them thinks that he or she is doing service to Islam and in the mean time winning their way to paradise. It has become mandatory on those of us who see this calamity to point out this tragic case of ignorance and the complete misunderstanding of the issues.
It is a well known fact that people are enemies of what they are ignorant of. To expose the ignorance that has led us to this state of affairs is at least a first step towards the clarification that Islam has nothing to do with this mess and perchance to alleviate the animosity and make the adherents to the various sects realize that sectarianism has no fundamental Islamic foundation. As will be shown in the present discourse, sectarianism is non-existent in the basic teachings of Islam. It has no basis, neither in the Quran nor in the Sunnah. This tragedy has been brought up by the ignorant Muslims upon themselves and it is the duty of every well meaning Muslim to document that Islam has nothing to do with this state of mind.
Islam, from the beginning, was very much against this trend as was very clearly mentioned in the Quran and exemplified by the deeds and actions of the prophet Mohammad. In fact the Quran warns us not be trapped in the quagmire of sectarianism. This was made clear in the following revelations which must be understood in the context of the clear prophecy of the following verses of our present situation:
First and foremost, Allah says in the Holy Quran
3:103 "And hold fast altogether onto the bond with Allah and do not draw apart from one another and remember the blessings which Allah has bestowed upon you.
And in 6:159 "Verily, as for those who have broken the unity of their faith and have become sects, you have nothing to do with them."
Also in 6-51 "And know this is the straight way leading to me, follow it then, and follow not other ways lest they cause you to deviate from His path."

The above two verses are as clear prophetic reference to the state of the Muslims to-day as any prophecy can be. The Muslims have blindly followed the path of others and have clearly deviated from the straight path of Allah and have become divided into sects. The above two verses provide us with as clear a condemnation of all sectarianism arising out of people's intolerance, mutually exclusive claims to be the only true exponents of Quranic teachings and to wrongly assume that they are the one and only true sect that is following the Quran and the Sunnah of the prophet!

It is tragic to realize that what has contributed to this schism is the mere fact that the Muslims have committed a grave error in calling themselves names other than Muslim. This grave error has precipitated this alienation between one Muslim individual and another who happen to prefer the interpretation of one scholar of the teachings of the Quran over another scholar. Instead of welcoming these differing opinions to arrive at a suitable solution to their particular needs, they have so blindly adhered to these interpretations and, through their ignorance, have elected to look at these interpretations as “cast in stone” of an otherwise one man’s opinion versus another.

Let us not forget that to call ourselves any name but Muslims is wrong. We are tampering with a basic tenet of the name of the religion to which we all belong and that is Islam. Therefore, by definition, we are Muslims and none other than Muslims. This is what Allah called Adam, Noah, and Abraham. In fact all of the prophets are Muslims.
In chapter 2 verse 128:
Oh our sustainer, make us surrender ourselves onto Thee, and make out of our off-springs a community that shall surrender itself unto Thee.
In chapter 2 verse 132:
And this very thing that Abraham did bequeath unto his children, and so did Jacob: Oh my children behold, God has granted you the purest faith; so do not allow death to overtake you without having surrendered yourselves unto Him.
In chapter 2 verse 135:
And they say,” Be Jews or Christians and you shall be on the right path, Say Nay, but ours is the creed of Abraham, who turned away from all that is false, and was not of those who ascribed divinity to none but God.”
Chapter 2, verse 136 specifically states” We believe in God and that which has been bestowed upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed to Moses and Jesus, and that which has been vouchsafed to all the other prophets by their sustainer, we make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto him that we surrender and are Muslims.
Since we are the followers of His prophets from Adam to Mohammad, henceforth, logically we can only call ourselves Muslims and nothing else.
The name of “His” religion is Islam “religion to God is Islam.” It is the name He gave to all of his revelations to mankind. Who are we to have the audacity to call ourselves any other name but Muslims? I submit to you with all humility that all other callings other than Muslims are foreign to the true spirit of Islam and unacceptable and should be fundamentally rejected by all well-meaning Muslims.

The Muslim is unknowingly promoting divisiveness among Muslims by calling himself or herself a name that is foreign to the fundamentals of Islam. This situation fits exactly the definition of a Buda’a. Let us refresh our memory with the definition of a Buda”a. Any innovation to the fundamentals of Islam is called a Buda”a. By calling ourselves names other than Muslims is an unacceptable and damaging innovation to the fundamentals of Islam and must be rejected outright. Let us recall that innovations that do not cause a problem to the Islamic principles are acceptable and are encouraged. But we are all witnesses to this innovation “of calling ourselves names other than Muslims” which has precipitated a grave schism and damage to the Muslims. It does not take much reflection to realize that if any innovation that qualifies to be a Buda’a, then this is it.

If we want to be true to our claim that the right path for a Muslim to follow is that of the Quran and the Sunnah, then surely by calling ourselves the same name as that which our prophet used to go by must be the right path. However, if we were to call ourselves a name that our prophet never used throughout his lifetime and is non-existent in all of the Quran, this must surely be wrong. The companions of the prophet who led an exemplary Islamic way of life never called themselves names that the Muslims of to-day are calling themselves with!

By insisting on calling ourselves by our true and only name given to us by God almighty, we have in a stroke eliminated from our midst that factor which has fostered divisiveness and sectarianism. It has greatly contributed to our downfall and our present predicament.
Rather than calling ourselves names other than Muslims, we can be free of the artificial bondage to one school of thought and have the liberty and freedom to choose, from the various available opinions and interpretations of our well meaning and pious scholars, solutions that best fit our case and particular need.

A Muslim, because of his or her lack of knowledge in the fundamentals of Islam or in its applications to his or her daily life, may have found it necessary to seek direction and advice from people that are more knowledgeable than he or she is in that particular aspect of religion. There are many well meaning and knowledgeable scholars who dedicated their lives to explain and interpret the Quran and give their opinion as to how it can best be applied. For their effort, these scholars are greatly appreciated. We are constantly in need of more scholarship and more scholars in this dynamic and changing world that we live in and for future generations to come. By definition, it follows that we cannot and must not blindly affiliate ourselves to one or the other scholar or school of thought as being the one and only one whose interpretation and opinions are the only ones in the field. The opinions of these scholars and their interpretations are, by definition, time dependent unlike the fundamentals of the religion in the Quran and the Sunnah. Affiliation or following must not lead a person to call himself or herself by the name of that particular scholar or by that school of thought that he or she has affiliated himself or herself to. Our allegiance is only to God and the prophet and not to the scholars. This misguidance is unacceptable and leads to damnation as has indeed led the Muslim community into now!
Yes we need our scholars to busy themselves with explaining the new situations that confront us such as biotechnology, stem cell research, the environment and other topics that come up with the march of time. We are in need of more of these scholars at all times because our times are constantly changing and every day there is something new and wonderful as is explicitly mentioned in the holy Quran , 55: 29, “ Every day He manifests Himself in yet another wondrous way.” We are in dire need to have these new discoveries and events to be explained to us in the context of the wondrous creation. We will appreciate the Muslim scholars and their differing opinions on the various subjects to give us choices within the boundaries of the vastly spacious concepts of the fundamentals of Islam that are meant not only to serve and guide the Muslims from the time of the prophet to our present and for future generations. Islam, the submission to the will of God, is the one and only message that was revealed to mankind from the time of Adam and until the Day of Judgment.
Prophet Mohammad complimented the scholars and had said" the differing opinion of the scholars of my people is a blessing." This is how these different opinions of our well meaning scholars should be viewed, as a scholarly advise feeding into and within the stream of Islamic thought and jurisprudence which is a dynamic source that should keep up with the changing times and can only be limited by the wide confines of the basic boundaries of Islam which our creator has defined for us to lead us into the straight path which is His Path. Since the time changes and the scholars change, consequently and out of necessity, the differing opinions of the scholars change. Every day is yet another wondrous way. The differing opinions of the well-meaning scholars should be, of necessity, of consultative nature only and should not be viewed as the only opinion in town. The Muslims are free to choose from these differing interpretations to fit their understanding of Islam to enable them to live a life that is compatible with Islamic Principles and in keeping with the changing times. After all, Allah says that “there is no compulsion in religion,” after it has been made abundantly clear what the basic tenets of the religion are. To lead a proper Islamic way of life, we follow in the footsteps of our prophet who was only a Muslim and did not call himself any other name.

The path of Muslims who submit to the will of Allah is the straight path that God had advised us to do. Let us follow it and do not follow other paths as He so kindly admonished us. “Say this is My straight Path, therefore follow it." By following the straight path of our creator we will be doing the Muslims and ourselves a great service. We would be laying the foundation for unity that our creator has meant for us when He invites us to hold tight to His rope and not to be divided. We will, when we all call ourselves by the same name, have undermined the schism that has been the main cause for unrest in the last 1350 years. By calling ourselves Muslims only, we would be protecting the community from schisms and weaknesses that we can ill afford.

We have arrived at the moment of truth in our history. The status quo of blind following is no longer acceptable. This blind following has been directly responsible for the sectarian wars of attrition. It has led the Muslims to be divided and backward. The rest of the world is marching forward and we, Muslims, are still attacking other Muslims who are offering their prayers in the sanctity of God’s places of worship and slaughtering each other in the name of sectarian affiliations and accusing the followers of other sects to be unbelievers who qualify to be slaughtered. Somehow the perpetrators are led to think that these crimes will make them secure their places in Paradise! What atrocities are committed in the name of religion? This is total ignorance of what religion is all about. It is really disgraceful.

Religion’s major function is to show us how we can get along with each other through tolerance and understanding. It does not give us the right to pass judgment on others to say who qualifies to live in peace and left unharmed and who does not qualify for this privilege. As things stand now, these ignoramus are in effect making themselves play the role of God who alone has the right to judge as to who goes to hell and who goes to heaven. It is not our business to serve a death sentence onto others and to have appointed ourselves as the judge and the policeman at the same time! This is also known as Lynching! Isn’t it time that we wake up to reality and take charge of our destiny? It may still be possible. Let us be realistic and tolerant and know what our assigned role is as human beings who claim to be Muslims! It is our duty as vicegerents of God on earth to improve the world we live in and cooperate to bring about harmony, tolerance, and peace in this world. This is what religion is all about.

Dr. Abdullatif Aljibury
Danville, CA.
February 15, 2007.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Hijab is not a Muslim woman’s dress code

What has occupied Muslims and non Muslim about this controversial topic of hijab as the proper dress for a Muslim woman turns out to be a non-issue from a true Islamic point of view. There is no connection between hijab as is mentioned in the Quran and the woman dress code as is clearly advocated in the Quran. The subject matter is treated in a purely rigorous Islamic methodology using the Quran and the authenticated Sunnah of the prophet (pbuh) as the main sources of information regarding this matter. It is neither a fundamentalist nor a moderate Muslim approach. It is purely an Islamic approach aimed at reaching the truth with regard to this issue that has become of great concern in our time. It can no longer be brushed aside, but has become a very sensitive and a dangerous issue to say the least. It is the sincere desire of the authors of this article that the readers will approach this issue with an open mind and without prejudice to allow for the truth to finally come out. The truth of the matter turns out to be, as will be shown in this article, that hijab as is used in the Quran, has nothing to do with the Muslim woman’s dress code. The dress code for a Muslim woman has been clearly shown in the Quran, as we shall see also later on in this article, to be very flexible and in keeping with the changing times and circumstances that take into consideration the social growth of the society.

Wisdom and logic have been mandated on us by our creator as the way to deal with matters of controversy. (1) 16:125

ادْعُ إِلِى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

Allah admonishes us to “invite to the way of Allah with wisdom and proper calling and argue with them in the most gracious manner…” To begin with let us see what connection there is, if any, in the Quran between hijab and the dress code of a Moslem woman. There are seven places in the Quran where the word hijab has been mentioned. We will scrutinize each and every one of them to see if there is any connection at all. The verses are:

1- Verse 7:46

وبينهما حجاب وعلى الأعراف رجال يعرفون كلا بسيماهم ونادوا أصحاب الجنة أن سلام عليكم لم يدخلوها وهم يطمعون

In this verse God tells us about the way the people who inhabit paradise are separated from those who inhabit the hell fire, there is a barrier or an obstacle that separates the two.

The word hijab is used here to clearly mean an allegorical physical or spiritual barrier between those who were endowed with knowledge and discernment of truth and goodness and those who denied the truth.

2- Verse 17:45

و إذا قرأت القرآن جعلنا بينك و بين الذين لا يؤمنون بالآخرة حجابا مستورا

In this verse God tells the prophet (pbuh) that whenever he recites the Quran God places a barrier which provides protection between him and those who do not believe in the hereafter.

Here again God uses the word hijab to mean a barrier to protect the prophet while reciting the Quran from those who do not believe in the hereafter. There is no connection here between the word hijab and a dress or clothing. Here the word hijab is used to mean either a physical or a spiritual barrier for protecting the prophet from the non-believers while he was reciting the holy Quran.

3- Verse 19:17

فاتخذت من دونهم حجابا فأرسلنا إليها روحنا فتمثل لها بشرا سويا

Here God informs us about the story of the Virgin Mary when she withdrew from her family and kept herself in seclusion from them while God had sent her an angel of revelation to bestow upon her the gift of a son.

In this verse the word Hijab is used to mean a place of seclusion which has nothing to do with a dress or a garment.

4- Verse 33:53

وإذا سألتموهن متاعا فاسألوهن من وراء حجاب ذلكم أطهر لقلوبكم

In this verse God is teaching the believers at the time of the prophet some manners and etiquettes of how to communicate with the wives of the prophet in difference or reverence thereof. God says that you who have attained faith whenever you want to ask the wives of the prophet for anything that you need then you should ask them from behind a screen such that it will deepen the purity of your hearts.

The word hijab is used here to mean something that intervenes between two things or conceals or shelters or protects the one from the other. From the context it implies a barrier, or an obstacle or a screen, physical or abstract that should be observed whenever the believers had to address the wives of the prophet in consideration of their sanctity and the reverence that is due to the mothers of the believers.

The word hijab as it is used in this verse refers to a barrier or a screen which could be either of a physical or abstract nature that should exist between the believers and the wives of the prophet in difference to their sanctity and reverence as mothers of the believers.

5- Verse 38:31

فقال إني أحببت حب الخير عن ذكر ربي حتى توارت بالحجاب

This verse refers to the setting where Prophet Solomon (pbuh) proclaims that, while the horses were running before him, that he loves the love of goodness that brings him closer to God, as the steeds raced away disappearing into the cloud or the veil of dust into the distance. This is part of the story about the love of Prophet Solomon’s love to horses and how that love never deterred him from remembering the love of the Supreme Being.

Here, again, the word hijab refers to a cloud of dust that was raised by the horses and made them disappear as they were racing away from Prophet Solomon. There is no connection between hijab as it is used in this verse and the inkling of a dress or garment. The word hijab means here a cloud of dust that is kicked up by racing horses which made them disappear behind this dust of cloud.

6- Verse 41:5

وقالوا قلوبنا في أكنة مما تدعونا إليه وفي آذاننا وقر ومن بيننا وبينك حجاب فاعمل إننا عاملون

The rendering of the word hijab in this verse is the same as in the above mentioned verse 7:46 which means a barrier either physical or abstract that separates between the non believers and those who deny the truth and the messenger.

7- Verse 42:51

وما كان لبشر أن يكلمه الله إلا وحيا أو من وراء حجاب أو يرسل رسولا فيوحي بإذنه ما يشاء إنه علي حكيم

God declares that He is not to speak to a mortal person unless through an inspiration or from behind a veil or by sending a messenger to reveal the message.

It is quite clear from this verse and all the above six verses that there is no connection at all between the word hijab as it is used in the holy Quran and a dress or a garment.

Having exhausted the references to hijab in the Quran and having found out that there is no connection between it and the dress or garment for a Muslim man or women, let us see what our creator has instructed us on the dress code for the Muslims. There are, in total, three verses in the Holy Quran that address this issue.

The first verse that addresses this issue is verse 7:26

يا بني آدم قد أنزلنا عليكم لباسا يواري سوآتكم وريشا ولباس التقوى ذلك خير ذلك من آيات الله لعلهم يذكرون

God is telling us, the children of Adam, that He has bestowed upon us from on high the knowledge of making garments to cover your nakedness and as a thing of beauty; but the garment of righteousness or of being conscious of God is the best garment of all. These are some of God’s signs that they (children of Adam) may take to heart.

This is as clear a statement as any that the best garment to have is that of being righteous and conscious of God in our behavior and in our dealings and when coming into contact with others. No other garment that we may wear can substitute for this essential ingredient of what every Muslim, man and women, must wear and put on to appear before the others. There is no mention in this verse the extent of coverage of the garment that God has instructed us to use to cover our naked bodies for either men or women. The reference to be noted here is that these garments are also meant to be worn for beauty which means that the garments are meant to look beautiful. It is in the opinion of the writers that God is encouraging us to wear garments that are neat and beautiful and not ugly or drab looking as is the case nowadays in some Arab or Muslim cultures. These garments are a far cry from what God has clearly meant the garments to be. They are meant to show some beauty and neatness and not the exact opposite!

The second verse that addresses the covering of the bodies in the Quran is 24:31

وقل للمؤمنات يغضضن من أبصارهن ويحفظن فروجهن ولا يبدين زينتهن إلا ما ظهر منها وليضربن بخمرهن على جيوبهن ولا يبدين زينتهن إلا لبعولتهن أو آبائهن أو آباء بعولتهن أو أبنائهن أو أبناء بعولتهن أو إخوانهن أو بني إخوانهن أو بني أخواتهن أو نسائهن أو ما ملكت أيمانهن أو التابعين غير أولي الإربة من الرجال أو الطفل الذين لم يظهروا على عورات النساء ولا يضربن بأرجلهن ليعلم ما يخفين من زينتهن وتوبوا إلى الله جميعا أيها المؤمنون لعلكم تفلحون

God is ordering the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity and not to display their charms in public beyond what may decently be apparent. Hence let them draw their khimar over their bosoms. And let them not display more of their charms to any but their husbands and their fathers or their husbands fathers or their sons or their husbands sons or their brothers or their brothers sons or their sisters or their women folk or those whom they rightfully possess or children that are yet unaware of women’s nakedness; and let them not swing(strike) their legs in walking so as to draw attention to their hidden charms, and always you believers turn to Allah in repentance that you may attain success.

The first thing to note in this verse is that God is ordering the believing women to lower their gaze and be mindful of their chastity and not to display their charms in public beyond what may be decently apparent. The operative word here is decency. It means that a believing woman should not show of her charm more than what is normally acceptable as being decent. To be sure, decency is a relative thing. It can change in time and place and what may have been decent at some times in the past may not be decent at present and vice versa. The same goes from one location and the other. There are, however, some minimum standards for decency that are applicable to all times and localities. One of these minimum standards is what God is telling the believing women to use their khimar to cover their bosoms. He is definitely telling the believing women that showing their bosoms are out of the range of decency. To assist us in determining other minimum standards is to look into what the khimar was covering at the time of this revelation. The word khimar was a kind of a shawl that used to be placed on top of the head and goes down to cover the upper part of the back. It was used as a means to cover part of the head and the back as well as to enhance the feminine charm at the time. Apparently, the Khimar was worn such that it would leave the bosom exposed. So in this verse God is ordering the believing women to extend the khimar to cover their bosoms. Nothing is mentioned here in covering the entire head or the face.

The word Khimar is very critical since part of it should be used by the order of God to cover the bosom that was previously exposed by the women of that period to attract attention. The word Khimar is an Arabic word that means a piece of cloth which is not a total garb or dress that was used to cover the hair either totally or partially and the upper body from the shoulders and down. It is closest to what is now known as a shawl. The word Khamra which has the same root as Khimar means an intoxicant since both words mean cover. Khimar covers an object, while Khamra covers the state of mind.

In this verse God is asking the believing woman to use their Khimar to cover their bosoms and not their heads nor any other parts of their body that appear normally whose exposure is necessary to allow the believing woman to carry out her tasks. The matter of covering the whole hair, the face, the neck is definitely not mentioned in this verse. The only reference to this issue is what of these parts of the body is regarded within the realm of decency. The deliberate vagueness of the phrase is, in the opinion of the writer, to allow for all the time and place changes that are necessary to accommodate for the social changes and growth that is necessary to allow the believing woman to function as an important part of the society. Here we must be truly thankful for God’s grace in his infinite wisdom to show us the proper path to follow under various times and different circumstances. What God is telling the believing woman is not to show more that what is decently acceptable of her charms in public.

It is, perhaps, worth emphasizing here that in this verse God does not accept that a believing Muslim woman covers her entire body, from head to toe with or without eye holes which is most emphatically un Islamic. God is granting the Woman the right of appearance of parts of her body and is advising the believing women not to over emphasize or extend the appearance of those parts of her body that are necessary to allow her to carry out her tasks above socially acceptable standards of decency.

The third verse in the Quran which also addresses the dress code for a Muslim woman in Islam is verse 33:59

يا أيها النبي قل لأزواجك وبناتك ونساء المؤمنين يدنين عليهن من جلابيبهن ذلك أدنى أن يعرفن فلا يؤذين وكان الله غفورا رحيما

God tells the Prophet (pbuh) to inform his wives, daughters and the women of the believers that they shall draw over themselves some of their outer garments when in public so that they would be recognized ( with decent cover) and not to be harmed, and God is all forgiving and a dispenser of grace. Here again we notice, the infinite mercy of the creator, that he has allowed through the deliberate vagueness of the term ( Yudninah) which means some covering of their bodies so as to appear with decency in public and be recognized through their decent garments so that they would not be harmed.

As we can understand, it is God’s intention that the vagueness of the term allows us the freedom to keep up with the changing times and the changing social environments. The only requirement as to the length of the Muslim woman’s garment is to be socially recognizable as decent. There is no specific mention as to the length of the dress whether it is to the knees or below the knees or to the ankles or how much above the ankles. It is left for the time and the local circumstance to determine how decent the length of the Muslim woman’s dress to be. This we should be quick to add that it is up to the believing woman’s determination that the best way to show her appearance in public is when she can reflect her inner righteousness and consciousness of God at all times and for all to see and recognize.

Therefore, in order for a Muslim woman to be known and recognized as she walks in the streets are for her to wear a garb that she be recognized as such and not to wear something to hide under and consequently cannot be distinguished from others in order to command the respect of those who are bent on evil desires. How does one distinguish between a Muslim Woman from a woman of desire when they are both covered from head to toe?

It is apparent that Hijab as a dress code has nothing to do with Islam or with the Quran. The word has somehow crept into the culture to indicate foreign and restrictive attire to the Muslim women. The drab looking coverings from head to toe that seems like a walking prison is not Islamic as we have clearly shown in the above mentioned verses from the Quran.

God wants the believing woman to decently cover her body and not to show publicly parts of her body more that what is socially recognizable as decent. God has given her the freedom to appear neat and respectable in public and not to draw undue attention to herself or to her attire. She should also take into consideration the requirements of the time and the environment in which she lives. Above all, the best dress that a Muslim woman can wear and show in public is her righteousness and her being conscious of God in her social behavior whether at work or in her leisure. That, in a nutshell, is the dress code of a Muslim woman. That is what the Quran teaches us and we must be thankful to God for showing us the right path.

Ramiz Suleiman

Sidon, Lebanon &

Dr. Abdullatif Aljibury

Danville, California.



A unified lunar calendar is urgently needed for the following important reasons:
• Our religious duty demands from us that we work towards unifying the Muslims worldwide by celebrating our Islamic holidays at the same times.
• Present day circumstances dictate that we know before-hand the exact dates of our holidays for timely planning of our schedules.
• The celebration of the religious events by Muslims on different days prevents the U.S. authorities from making these occasions official holidays.

A case in point is the last Eid. It was celebrated by some on Wednesday January 11 2006 rather than Tuesday January 10 2006. The discrepancy arose because the Muslim scholars of Northern California decided to make the first day of the Eid on Wednesday based on the citing of the crescent moon in order to be in compliance with the Hadith which uses the sighting as a means for determining the start and end of Ramadan,” fast on seeing it- meaning the crescent- and break the fast on seeing it.”

To depend on eye sighting alone to determine the religious events is unreasonable and does not fully conform with either the Quran or the Hadith or to the true traditions of Islam. A witness who claims to have seen the crescent moon is relating at best a presumptuous event. However, the scientific instrumentations are relating a certainty. Scientific calculations are conclusive, whereas a witness for an event is presumptuous and presumption may not agree with certainty.

The solution to the perennial problem of starting the fast of Ramadan or celebrating our Eids on two and sometimes three different days can be found in the Holy Quran and the Hadith. Our creator had informed us in the Holy Quran, 55:5, that the sun and the moon run their appointed calculable courses. Also, verses 3 & 4 of the same chapter tell us that God has created man and imparted unto him intellect and articulate speech and the ability to reason. Further, when our prophet ( pbuh) was asked what was his Sunnah? He replied," knowledge is my capital, intellect is the origin of my religion… science is my weapon..." A direct consequence of the above is that knowledge, intellect and science are mandated upon us.

The exact scientific calculations for the new moon gave January 1 2006 to correspond to the first day of the lunar month of Thul hijjah. Furthermore, our prophet says in an authentic tradition that “The pilgrimage is Arafat.” This year, the pilgrims stood at Arafat on Monday which unequivocally makes the first day of the Eid Al Adha Tuesday the tenth of Thulhijjah. This is in complete compliance with the Quran and the Hadith.

Based on the above and the fact that millions of pilgrims stood at the House of Allah (swt) declaring it to be the true Eid, It is definitely improper for a group of Muslims to take an intransigent position which contravenes our most hallowed traditions and lead others to assign a different day for Eid Al Adha. This must not be repeated. It is unethical and plain wrong. Let us pray that we shall all celebrate, from now on, on the same day. This is eminently doable and, with all humility, here is how.

1- It is obvious that our creator’s choice to use the lunar months for His yearly calendar and for the assignment of the religious events, 2:55," The number of months to God are twelve months," is very significant. In this choice, He has made the knowledge of these events accessible to all. Finally, as we shall see, God has graciously shown us in the Quran and through the Hadith of the prophet, that there is nothing that should prevent us from using knowledge and whatever means available, to arrive at a correct determination of the timing of the lunar months.

2- When Allah (swt) directed the Muslims to use eyesight to determine the appearance of the new moon, it was the best means available to the Muslims at the time of the revelation. Since the Muslims, to day, are scattered all around the world, using the criterion of sighting the new moon by direct observation leads to various contradictory outcomes depending on the location of the observer as well as the geographical, topographical and meteorological conditions. This has resulted, in the event being celebrated on different days in the same country! Furthermore, the moon may be geometrically observable in one part of the world but not in a different part of the world on the same day.

3- When the Quran and Sunnah recommended using sighting of the new moon, it did not limit the location of the sighting anywhere around the globe. This is a direct consequence of the universality of Islam. Henceforth, when a Muslim sees with his or her naked eye or with the help of modern scientific instruments the crescent moon in any point on our planet earth, then all the Muslims anywhere in the World must believe in his or her witnessing of the event. History shows us that the Muslims used to follow this principle.

4- One of the Hadiths of the prophet said- from Albukhari according to the son of Omar- that we are illiterate community who do not write nor calculate, and say that the month is so and so…meaning sometimes it is twenty nine days and sometime it is thirty days. The Hafith ibn Hajjar who explained Albukhari, said that what the prophet meant by calculation was the calculation of the planets and their movements. At the time of the prophet it was obvious that the Muslims did not know much about the calculation of the movements of the planets. That was the reason the prophet had linked the decree
Of when to fast and when to break the fast to observation- in order to lift the embarrassment of ignorance from the Muslims who were not able to calculate the run of the moon.

5- Fiqh dictates that cause accompanies the result when it exists and when it does not. Therefore, when the Muslim community emerged from its mathematical backwardness and became aware of the existence of calculable sun and moon orbital movements, then it became incumbent upon the Muslims to use these new methodologies to arrive at the results more accurately and with more convictions, especially when the new methodologies do not conflict with the older modalities.

6- Allah ( swt) has hinted to us in the Quran that these planetary bodies move in a systematic way and their movement is conducive to calculations. We now know that the occurrence of a new moon is universal and occurs on the same day throughout our earthly planet, see below! The criterion to use the new moon as a means to determine a new lunar month would then eliminate the uncertainty and confusion in pinning down the occurrence of a new lunar calendar month in relation to the Gregorian calendar. The new moon is an occurrence at a certain instance in time and therefore is independent of the means of its perception. The new lunar month starts the next day of the visible appearance of the new moon before sunset, that event marks the start of the first day of the new lunar month.

All of the above dictates that once we all agree to use calculation to determine the advent of a new moon, then, we would have once and for all solved the problem of the assignment of a new lunar month and at the same time we are, also, adhering to the Quran and the Sunnah

To give a real example let us take the case in point which is the advent of the Islamic lunar month of Thul Hijjah 1427. This is based on the sun and moon data from the US naval Observatory for the location of Danville, California.
• The new moon was born on December 30, 2005 at 7; 12 p.m. pacific standard time.
• The moon rose on December 31, 2005 at 8:22 a.m. pacific standard time.
• The moon set on December 31, 2005 at 5:40 p.m. pacific standard time.
• The sun set the same day at 4:59 p.m. pacific standard time.
It is therefore clear from the above numbers that, on December 31, the moon was visible to the eye for a period of about 40 minutes. Hence both the application of the Quranic and Hadith criteria as well as the exact scientific calculations all agree with each other completely as they should. The result is that the first day of the lunar month of Thul Hijjah is January 1 2006. This result forces us to use calculations as the preferred means for forming the unified Islamic lunar calendar. For those Muslims who live far away and do not have access to the Islamic calendar can still use the method of eye sighting to follow the Islamic events. We have shown that there is no conflict and the old as well as the new method are compatible, except that the new method is more accurate and hence more reliable.

To demonstrate the uniqueness of the occurrence of the new moon, let us list the time and date of the occurrence for Thul Hijjah, 1426 Hijrah at a few locations around the Globe:
• In Mekkah, The New moon was born on 31 December at 11:12 local time which is 03:12 Universal time on the same date.
• In London, The New moon was born on 31 December at 03:12 Universal time.
• In San Francisco, The New moon was born on 30 December at 7:12 p.m.(19:12) pacific standard time which is 31 December at 03:12 Universal time
• In Honolulu, The New moon was born on 30 December at 4:12 p.m.(16:12) Aleutian standard time which is 31 December at 03;12 Universal time.
Furthermore, the period of visibility of the new moon in Mekkah was 16 minutes, in London was zero, in San Francisco was 40 minutes and in Honolulu was 57 minutes or almost an hour. So the evidence in favor of using the criterion of the birth of a new moon is overwhelming. What is needed is a dedicated effort to bring it to fruition with God's help and blessings.

It is the sincere wish of the writer of this document that the idea of a unified lunar calendar be adopted by the community as it is the best means available that satisfies both the traditional as well as the scientific method for arriving at a compatible and correct calendar. It is hoped that once and for all Muslims, all over the globe, will celebrate and observe their religious events all at the same time wherever they may be.

Al Aljibury,
Danville, CA

January 24, 2007 5:39 PM

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Islam We Know

This is a blog to exchange ideas about Islam as we know it. Islam is a beautiful religion and it is our duty to pay back what we learned about it.