The dates after the Hijrah, when given according to the
Arabian Calendar, can usually be calculated exactly according to other
Calendars, but it is not possible to synchronize exactly the earliest dates of
the Arabian Calendar with the dates of the Christian Calendar, and for two
the first place, there seems to have been some discrepancy between the Calendars
in Madinah and in Makkah.
the second place, the Arabian Calendar was roughly luni-solar, before the years
of the Farewell Pilgrimage (Dhu al Hijjah, 10 H. i.e. March 632).
The Pagan Arabs were in the habit of counting months by the
appearance of the moon, but irregularly intercalating a month once in about
three years to bring the calendar up into conformity with the seasons.
They did not do it on any astronomical calculations or on
any system, but just as it suited their own selfish purposes, thus often
upsetting all the old-established conventions about the months of peace and
security from war and thus getting an unfair advantage for the clique in power
in Makkah over their enemies (see
note 1295 to 9:36).
Unless exact mathematical calculations are applied and
reduced to a well-established system, there is apt to be confusion, and this can
well be taken advantage of by arbitrary cliques in power.
After the Holy
Prophet’s adoption of the purely lunar calendar for ecclesiastical purposes,
there is no confusion. Every date after A.H. 10 is exactly convertible into a
corresponding date in any other accurate calendar. Wustenfeld’s and other
Comparative Tables of Muslim and Christian dates may therefore be relied upon for
dates after A.H. 10, but much caution is necessary in synchronization foe
Mawlana Shibli, in his Sirah al Nabi, Vol I, p124 (edition
of 1336 H., 1918 C.),
adopts for the Prophet’s Birthday the date 20th April 571, following Mahmud
Pasha. They go the basis of an astronomical event, the total eclipse of the sun
that was visible in Madinah on the day that the Prophet’s son Ibrahim was taken
to the mercy of Allah. But there is no agreement among the authorities as to the
exact date either by the Christian or the Arabian Calendar. Shibli, following
Mahmud Pasha, takes the date of the eclipse to be the 7th November
632. Muir (Life, ed. 1923, p. 429), assumes some date in June or July 631.
L. Caetani (Chronographica Islamica, A. H. 10) gives the date of the eclipse
or 5th July 631, which he synchronizes with the 28th or 29th
of Rabi 1, A.H. 10, but the quotes authorities for the death of Ibrahim as on
the 16th June 631, synchronizing it with the 10th of Rabi
10. there is something wrong here, as the death and the eclipse occurred on the
Waqidi gives the month as Rabi 1, A.H. 10, and gives Ibrahim a life of
15 months. But if Abu Dawud and Bayhaqi are correct, Ibrahim lived only 2 months
and 10 days, and as his date of birth is given in Dhu al Hijjah A.H. 8, the date
of death according to these authorities would be in Rabi 1, A.H. 9. on a review
of all the authorities I feel inclined to accept the date for the eclipse and
death of Ibrahim as 28th or 29th of Rabi 1, A.H. 10 i.e. 4th
or 5th July 631. but this cannot be asserted with certainty.
French work of reference, Lart de verifier les dates, Paris
1818 (Vol. I, p. 310), gives the date of the solar eclipse as the 3rd
of August 631, 2:30 P.M. and according to the system adopted in that book, the
corresponding Hijrah date would be the 28th Rabi 2, A.H. 10.
Even if this particular date was certain and exact, a
certain amount of uncertainty remains in counting dates backwards. Most
authorities assume a purely lunar year of 254 days for working backwards.
Probably the Muslims in Madinah counted in this way even before the lunar year
was fixed exactly in A.H. 10. but the mass of Pagan Arabs in Makkah and
elsewhere probably were all the time intercalating a month roughly once in three
years, as has been stated before, until their power was utterly destroyed by the
conquest of Makkah; and therefore precise exactitude in pre-Conquest date or in
the counting of people’s ages in years before 8-10
A.H. is unattainable.
See a note on this subject in MKargoliouth’s Life of the
Prophet (p. xix. Of the 3rd edition) and in Muir’s Life (p. x. of the
The date of the actual Hijrah as given in Caetani may be
accepted as September-October 622, being in the month of Rabi 1 if the ninth of
that month would be accepted as the date of departure from the cave of Thawr,
the best synchronized date would be the 22nd of September 622 C. but as the first month
of the Arab year was (and is) Muharram, the Hijrah year 1 is counted as
beginning on the 15th or 16th July 622 (1 Muharram A.H.
The formal adoption of the Hijrah era in official documents date from the
Khalifah of Umar-from the year 17-18 H. according to Tabari.
Sir Wolseley Haqig’s Comparative Tables of Muhammadan and
Christian Dates (London, Luzac, 1932), gives in a handy form three comparative
Tables which enable the synchronization of Hijrah years from A.H. 1 to A.H.
The main table for these years was printed earlier at the end of S.
Haim’s New English-Persian Dictionary, Tehran, 1931. the exact title
of Wustenfeld’s German Tables is: Wustenfeld-Mahler, Vergleichungs-Tabellen,
Leipzig, 1926 (2nd edition).