The religion proclaimed by the prophets contain a great body of knowledge, touching, in one way or the other, all branches of learning, such as astronomy, physics, biology, psychology, history, civilization, politics and sociology. No individual, however gifted, whether drawing on the conscious or subconscious minds, has ever been able to produce such an all-embracing discourse, free from erroneous decisions, vain conjectures, unreal statements, miscalculations and unsound logic. But religious scriptures are admirably and miraculously free of such deficiencies. In their approach, reasoning and decisions, they encompass all of the human sciences. Over the centuries, succeeding generations have sifted through the finding of their predecessors, examined them, considered them from all angles, and often disproved and rejected what their forebears had considered truths as firm as rocks. But the truths, which are enshrined in religion, remain unchallenged to this day. So far, it has not been possible to point out a single error, or even discrepancy in them worth the name. Those, who have ventured to attack the bastions of religion have eventually been forced to fall back without scaling its battlements, for they, themselves, have finally been proved to be in the wrong.
At this point, I think it would be pertinent to give the gist of an article in which James Henry Breasted, an astronomer, has claimed, beyond all question of doubt, to have discovered a technical error in the Quran. He points out that, among the West Asian nations, age-old custom and the dominance of Islam in particular, gave currency to the lunar calendar, and that Muhammad (peace be on him) carried the difference between the solar and lunar years to the furthest extreme of absurdity. Breasted claims that he was so ignorant of the nature of the problems of a calendar that, in the Quran, he categorically prohibited the addition of inter-calary months. The so-called lunar year of three hundred and fifty four days lags behind the solar year by eleven days. This being so, during the course of each of its cycles, it exceeds the solar year by one year in every 33 years, and by three years in every century. If a religious practice such as fasting, (in the month of Ramadhan) falls at this time in June, then after six years it will fall in April. Now (in 1935 A.D.) 1313 years have elapsed since the migration which initiated the Hijri era. Each century of ours consists of 103 years according to the Lunar year of the Muslims. After 1313 years of the Solar Calendar, the Muslim Calendar records approximately 41 years more. In this way, the Hijri era of Muslims, at the time of this writing has reached upto 1354, i.e., according to the solar scale, there is an addition of 41 years in 1313 years. The Jewish church of the oriental countries have done away with this type of absurdity, and have adopted the practice of Intercalation, thus bringing its lunar calendar in line with the solar year. Because of this disparity, the entire West Asia has to suffer from this most antiquated practice of using the lunar calendar.
I shall not at this point go into the intricacies of the solar and lunar calendars. I would merely point out that the charge of ‘extremely absurd ignorance’ levelled against the Prophet of Islam is based upon a misunderstanding of the Qur’an, and is, therefore, without foundation. It is not ‘intercalation’ which is prohibited by the Quran, but the practice of nasa’ (9:37). Nasa’ in Arabic, means delay, i.e. to postpone, or place in a different order. For example, if an animal is drinking at a fountain and you take it away and put your own animal on its place so that it may drink first, this would amount to an unwarrantable seizure of a privilege. In Arabic, this act of placing animals in different order or replacing animals would be termed:
This interpretation of the expression has a direct bearing on the ordering of the Islamic calendar, with special reference to the four months out of the twelve designated as sacred by the Prophet Abraham (blessings on him). These months were known as Zu’l-Qa’dah, Zu’l-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab, during which fighting and bloodshed were totally prohibited. People could then travel about freely, knowing that they could carry on their trading in complete safety. They could also go on the Hajj pilgrimage without fear of brigandage.
However, at a later period, when rebellious tendencies were beginning to make themselves felt, among the Arab tribes, the latter devised the custom of postponement in order to evade this law.
Whenever any powerful Arab tribe was determined to do battle during the month of Muharram – which was a sacred month – the tribal chief would declare that they had deleted Muharram from the list of sacred months and had replaced it with the month of Safar, which was now to be regarded as sacred. This practice of tampering with the sacred months was called nasa’ and it is this practice which the Quran has called ‘an act more ignoble than infidelity,’ for it gave tamperers an undue advantage over others, who would obviously hesitate to fight during the sacred months.
Certain scholars have written that it was the general practice among Arabs to regard particular years as consisting of fourteen months instead of twelve. A commentator of the Quran, Abdullah Yusuf Ali, points out that: The intercalation of a month after every three years as practised by some nations in order to make an adjustment in the calculation of months does not come under the heading of nasa’, which is prohibited.
‘It also upset the security of the Month of Pilgrimage. In the verse (9:36) this arbitrary and selfish conduct of the pagan Arabs which abolished a wholesome check on unregulated warfare which is condemned.’
Another commentator, George Sale remarks: This was an invention or innovation of the idolatrous Arabs, whereby they avoided keeping a sacred month, when is suited not their convenience, by keeping a profane month in its stead; transferring, for example, the observance of Muharram to the succeeding month, Safar.
This clearly shows that, even in an age of ignorance, the Prophet of God said nothing that ‘smacked of ignorance’. Had his words emanated from his unconscious mind, he would inevitably have uttered such words as would have revealed such ignorance.
To be continued, Insha Allah…
THE LIMIT OF SCIENCE
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ARGUMENT