Mumbai: The crescent pronouncing the beginning of Muharram-ul-Haram - the first month of the Islamic calendar is sighted in India, according to the reports coming from various moon sighting committees in different parts of the country.
"Reports confirming sighting of the new moon of Muharram ul Haram has been received from different parts of Maharashtra today i.e. Wednesday October 14, 2015. In Malegaon, the new moon has been sighted by the masses", office of the Central Hilal Committe in Malegaon said while talking to ummid.com.
"It is hence declared that the Islamic New Year 1437 will begin in India from Thursday October 15, 2015, and Youm-e-Ashura will be celebrated on Saturday October 24, 2015", he added.
Shahid Faizee, who keeps track of the new moon every month, confirmed to ummid.com that the new month of Muharram-ul-Haram has been sighted by a large number of people in Malegaon.
"The sky was totally clear in Malegaon and hence a large number of people sighted the new moon soon after the Maghrib prayers Wednesday", he said.
Today being the 29th day of Zul Hijjah - the last month of the Islamic Calendar, special arrangements were made for sighting of the new moon.
Reports of moon sighting have also been received from Hyderabad, Lucknow, Patna, Kolkata and Guwahati in Assam.
Based on lunar system, new month in the Islamic Calendar begins with sighting of the moon on 29th of the ongoing month. If moon is sighted on 29th day, new month begins from the next day, else the next day is counted as 30th day and the new month begins a day later.
Morocco and other states in the Gulf have already announced commencing of the Islamic Hijri Year 1437 from Wednesday October 14, 2015.
The Islamic Calendar was started 1436 years before by the second Caliph Omar ibn Khattab. Before that Muslims in their respective provinces, following the Arab tradition of the time, were used to count the days and months – with sighting of the new moon and counting the days thereafter without following any particular calendar or dating system.
After the Islamic State spread beyond Arab land to new areas, the defects in the system began to surface and the need for a better and accurate calendar was felt.
"The Caliph, the Supreme Head of the Islamic State, was used to issue all the Guidelines and Pronouncements to the Governors of various Islamic Provinces from Madinah. Things were actually working fine", Rehnuma, a student of Islamic studies, explains.
"But confusion arose when contradictory orders started reaching far away provinces at the same time. Since these orders were not carrying any date, it became very difficult for the Governors to find out which one of the orders was the latest and supposed to be followed with", she adds.
To overcome the confusion, Caliph Omar finally decided to introduce the Islamic Calendar and asked the people for their opinions and suggestions on the matter.
Consequently, various historical events, including the year when Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was born, the year of the Prophethood, the time of Migration and the time when the Prophet had died, were proposed by the people.
"However unanimity surfaced for the year that coincided with the migration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from Makkah as the commencing year of the Islamic Calendar. For, it was the migration of Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) from Makkah to Madinah that had resulted Islam nurturing into the new heights and spreading to the whole Arab lands, and also to the surrounding States", Rehnuma says quoting from the history.
"Moreover", she says, "Moharram al-Haram was also associated with many historical events and the month has always been considered as one among the four most respected and sacred months since centuries. These features only added strength to the selection of Moharram al-Haram as the first month of the Islamic calendar".
The Islamic Calendar thus introduced and adopted some 1,436 years ago, soon became popular, and also became part and partial of the calendars in every Muslim household.