Why do we count the age of Islam from the beginning of the Hijrah and not from the beginning of the revelation and the call?
I hope insha allah this question reaches u in good health.
My question is I have noticed when a non muslim asks
about the age Islam after prophet hood we as Muslims
answer only with the years after Hijrah, my question is
why do we always leave out the first 13 years of prophet
hood before Hijrah. I know the year of Hijrah was a great
year yet we all know that prophet hood started 13 years
before this so when answering why don’t we mention this
like now we are 1433 AH yet when answering why don’t
we say Islam after prophet hood is 1446 adding the 13
years before the period. insha allah you can explain why
we don’t add the first 13 years into our answer.
Praise be to Allah.
No doubt the years that the Prophet (blessings and peace of
Allah be upon him) spent in Makkah before the Hijrah
(migration to Madinah), when he was calling people to the
path of his Lord, enduring persecution and patiently putting
up with the annoyance and accusations of the foolish, could
is part of the age of Islam; indeed they are among the
greatest years of Islam because during this time the Prophet
(blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) was relying
completely upon his Lord, thinking positively of Him, and
patiently bearing persecution for His sake.
This is something that no wise person would doubt and no
one would deny it at all, whether he is Muslim or
But the reason why the people adopted the Hijri calendar as
a means of defining the year in which a particular event took
place, which is something that people need to do, is that this
date is the one that the Sahaabah unanimously agreed to
take as the beginning of their calendar. This decision was
made at the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be
pleased with him), because it is the actual date of the
founding of the Islamic state, when the Prophet (blessings
and peace of Allah be upon him) and migrated and settled
in Madinah, and the people gathered around him and
supported him, and he built the mosque, and other events
that followed the Hijrah. So the features of the Islamic state
began to develop and it took on a clear form geographically,
socially, militarily and politically. Before that the Muslims
did not have a state or any political system to unite them.
The Sahaabah (may Allah be pleased with them) reached a
unanimous decision in 16 AH – or, it was said, 17 AH or 18
AH – during ‘Umar’s caliphate, to make the Islamic calendar
begin with the year in which the Hijrah occurred. That was
because a case was referred to Ameer al-Mu’mineen ‘Umar
(may Allah be pleased with him) concerning a contract that
one man had with another, saying that what he owed him
became due in Sha‘baan.
‘Umar said; Which Sha‘baan? The Sha‘baan of this year we
are in now or of last year or of next year? Then he
summoned the Sahaabah and consulted them about
adopting a calendar from which they could determine when
debts became due and the like.
Someone suggested adopting the Persian calendar, but he
did not like that. Someone else suggested adopting the
Byzantine calendar, but he did not like that. Others
suggested dating it from the birth of the Messenger of Allah
(blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), or from the
beginning of his mission, or from his migration (Hijrah) or
from his death.
‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was inclined to
choose the date of the Hijrah because it is known when it
occurred, and they agreed with him.
The point is that they made the beginning of the Islamic
calendar the year of the Hijrah, and they made the first
month of the Islamic year Muharram, as was narrated from
them. This is the view of the majority of imams, so that
people could conduct their business on that basis, with no
See: al-Bidaayah wa’n-Nihaayah, 3/251-253
Al-Bukhaari narrated in his Saheeh (3934) that Sahl ibn Sa‘d
said: They did not start the calendar from the beginning of
the Prophet’s mission or from his death; they only started it
from the time of his arrival in Madinah.
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
The incidents that are connected to the life of the Prophet
(blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and that could
have been taken as the start of the calendar are four: his
birth, the start of his mission, his migration (Hijrah) and his
death. They thought it was best to start the calendar from
the Hijrah, because in the case of his birth and the start of his
mission, there would be uncertainty with regard to the exact
year. As for the time of his death, they chose not to use it
because remembering it would renew their grief. So there
was no choice left except the Hijrah. And they chose to
regard Muharram as the first month of the year rather than
Rabee‘ al-Awwal because the plan to migrate started to take
shape in Muharram. The oath of allegiance (bay‘ah) – that
was the precursor to the Hijrah – had taken place during
Dhu’l-Hijjah, and the first new moon after the oath of
allegiance and the decision to migrate was that of
Muharram. So it was appropriate to make it the first month
of the year. This is the best explanation I have come across as
to why the year starts with Muharram.
Al-Haakim narrated that Sa‘eed ibn al-Musayyab said:
‘Umar assembled the people and asked them what the first
day of the calendar should be. ‘Ali said: (It should start)
from the day when the Messenger of Allah (blessings and
peace of Allah be upon him) migrated and left the land of
shirk. So ‘Umar did that. End quote.
The one who says that the age of Islam started with the
Hijrah is referring to the calendar and what the people
agreed upon of creating a system so that people could know
the dates of events and define the times of contracts, the
dates of visits by delegations, and the like. This is something
on which the people agreed during the caliphate of ‘Umar
(may Allah be pleased with him) and it has remained so up
until the present day. The start of this calendar marks, as
‘Umar intended, the establishment of the (Islamic) state,
which only began with the Hijrah.
As for the beginning of Islam itself and people’s awareness
of it, we do not need to point out that this took place before
that time. Indeed the meaning of the word Islam in general
includes the religion that Allah approved for His slaves and
with which He sent His Prophets and Messengers. But this is
not what we are discussing here.
We do not believe that anyone could imagine that Islam only
began with the Hijrah and ignore the years of da‘wah during
which the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon
him) and those who were with him in Makkah strove to
establish the faith. No one would say this.
And Allah knows best.