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Published in the 16-30 Apr 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Unified Islamic Calendar

Syed Shahabuddin's reply to my plea for a unified Islamic calendar was at best a very pathetic response to a very genuine issue – a typical response that you get when you mention embracing new technology and plain and simple logic (like making a phone call to the Committee in Delhi if you haven’t sighted the moon in Bangalore). People shy away, become defensive, brush away the suggestions as "a futile quest" or even an "obsessive hunt for an elusive unified calendar". But he did like making a scathing attack on the religiosity of his fellow Muslims. Well scored sir!

For those (Americans or indeed Indians) who think that this is only about Eid, think again, for we Muslims do a lot more than just celebrate Eid according to the calendar. How do you arrive at the 27th night of Ramadhan for Lailat-ul-Qadr, which is when it is most likely to be? Think of the people travelling during Ramadhan in the absence of a unified calendar and many more practical reasons!

The moon completes its revolution around the earth in exactly 29.5 days, an astronomical phenomenon as certain as the day after night until the day of the Qiyamah. Yes it will not be seen at the same moment in time by all the peoples around the Earth yet, the dates can be same throughout the world, just like it happens with the Gregorian calendar — 30th March 2004 will fall on a Tuesday for all who follow the calendar!

I thank him for the invitation to India, but I do that already and base my writings on my visits and harsh as it may sound, the slum clusters along the Yamuna, the state of affairs in the various mosques in Delhi, the quality of education imparted in Urdu medium schools and those run by Muslims and the insecurity among Muslim traders hiding their religious affiliations in order to carry on their trade tells me that a lot more needs to be done for the community rather than harp on about a non-issue which he seems to be fixated with! 

Arshad Khalid, London

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