The beginning of the Islamic lunar calendar
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 7th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan in 622 AD, the Islamic lunar calendar began. It was fixed in 638 AD, 16 solar years after the passing away of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), when confusion arose regarding the dates and years to be followed. During his caliphate Omar ibn Khattab, who had banned the written compilation of the Prophet’s hadith and even rejected the collection of the ayahs of the holy Qur’an in book form as Mus’haf after having deprived the Prophet’s divinely-decreed successor, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) of the political rule of the Muslim state, received a letter from the governor of Basra that the absence of any years on the correspondence he receives from Medina, make it difficult for him to determine which instructions were most recent.
He was clearly perplexed, and as usual the magnanimous Imam Ali (AS) came to his rescue by advising that the Islamic calendar should be dated according to the Hijra or migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina. Omar accepted the Imam’s advice, but as per the insinuation of Osman ibn Affan he fixed the date of the beginning of the Islamic year on the 1st of Moharram, in line with the pagan Arab custom of that time, even though the actual migration of the Prophet had taken place on the eve of Rabi al-Awwal.