The International United Hijri Calendar Congress which was organized by the Office of the President of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) in İstanbul and closely watched by the Islamic countries and world Muslims decided on the application of a single calendar all over the globe.
The issue was discussed at length for three days by the scholars, scientists, astronomers and decision makers from 50 different countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, United States, Qatar, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan.
At the closing session of the congress the participants voted for the application of a common calendar in the Islamic world. The participants were required to vote for a “single calendar”, a ”dual calendar” or vote “undecided.” After the voting it was made public that a majority of the participants voted for a single calendar.
After the voting President of Diyanet Prof. Dr. Mehmet Görmez declared “the congress has ruled for unity. It has decided for the application of a single calendar. May this bring blessings to the Islamic world.”
President of Diyanet Görmez said he believes with this decision which is the product of three years of hard work the 60 year old dispute in the Islamic world will come to an end and Muslims will celebrate their jubilations and joys at the same time and said the congress sends its spirit of unity and solidarity to the oppressed in Syria as a prayer.
Before reading the final communique of the congress to the world public opinion President of Diyanet Görmez has this statement to make;
“This meeting will end the 60 year old disputes in the Islamic world…”
Esteemed scientists and scholars, first of all I would like to thank each one of you on my behalf, on behalf of the Office of the President of Diyanet and Islam scholars for successfully concluding the work which has been carried out for the past three years. I thank the scientific task force, our scholars of Islamic law and astronomers for their efforts for the past three years. I hope that this meeting ends the 60 year-old disputes and especially the Muslims all over the world perform their prayers and religious services in unity, solidarity and together. This meeting will end the application where Muslims praying in the same mosque observe their Eid celebrations on different days.
“I send this spirit of unity as a prayer to our oppressed brothers and sisters in Syria…”
I send this spirit of unity of our Islamic scholars and scientists as a prayer to our oppressed brothers and sisters in Syria. I send the unity we have found here to our brothers and sisters in Felluce who are faced with tough times.. . May the Almighty carry the spirit of unity we have achieved here to Libya and Arakan. May Allah carry the spirit of unity and solidarity we have achieved here to all our Muslims brothers and sisters who have lost their unity.
The final communique and decisions taken at the united calendar that emerged from the congress read out by the President of Diyanet Görmez is as follows:
The International United Hijri Calendar Congress final communique
The International United Hijri Calendar Congress which was convened with a call by the Office of the President of Diyanet of the Turkish Republic was held in İstanbul between Shaban 21-23, 1437/May 28-30, 2016. Ministries of Islamic countries involved on the issue, Fatwa councils, representatives of various Islamic law councils, scholars, scribes and astronomers attended the congress. After the opening session on the first day of the congress took up the issue of Rijat al-Hilal (observing the moon through astronomy to determine the days of Eid and the start of the holy months) from the point of view of astronomy and Islamic law. After that the social and political aspects of using different calendars were discussed. On the second day the Scientific Council formed beforehand presented to the congress proposals for a Single Calendar and a Dual Calendar and after deliberations the Single Calendar proposal was adopted. A majority of the delegates at the congress adopted the following decisions and recommendations:
1. The congress has confirmed the decisions of the former congresses and Islamic law academies. Thus the basic principles and criteria adopted by the 1966 Mecmeu’l-Buhusi’l-İlmiyye, by the 1973 Kuwait, 1978 İstanbul Congress as well as the 1986 Mecmeu’l-Fıkhi’l-İslami (Islamic law Academy) of the Islamic Organization for Cooperation, the el-Meclisü’l-Urubbi li’l-ifta in 2009 and the ’l-Buhus (European fatwa and research Assembly) and the Rabıta Islamic Law Academy in 2012 have been confirmed. The most important principles and criteria among these are: The basic rule to determine the start of the lunar month is the sighting of the crescent whether this is done by the naked eye or through modern methods of astronomy. The sighting of the crescent in different places at different times which is called “İhtilaf-ı matalia” will not be valid. If the crescent is sighted in one place it will be accepted as having been seen everywhere.
2. The congress has adopted a single calendar to be used throughout the world. Thus everyone will use the same Hijri Calendar. The sighting of the crescent by the naked eye or by scientific astronomy instruments will be the basis of the calendar. It has been decided not to take account “İhtilaf-ı matalia” which has been adopted by the experts of Islamic law and Islamic Law academies. Besides this this calendar has taken into account the fact that religious texts and rules and accurate rules of astronomy do not contradict each other thus criteria based on astronomy and Islamic rules have been taken up together.
Advantages and results of the calendar which has been adopted
This calendar will offer important solutions to certain problems faced by Muslims and especially by Muslim minorities. One outcome is the fact that Muslims around the world will start fasting and celebrate special occasions like the Eids at the same time. In fact this has created awkward situations where different Muslim minority groups living in a country have celebrated Eid and have started fasting on two or even three separate days. The differences were so disturbing that at times the citizens of a country who stood for prayers of contemplation at Arafat on the ninth day of Zilhicce whereas back home people were on the seventh or eighth day of Zilhicce. This religion is a religion of Tawhid (unity of the Almighty). It regards unity and togetherness as a must and a factual necessity. A standard calendar that is pre-determined will allow Muslim minorities to observe Eid holidays. Besides it will erase notions that are being created that our religion is closed to science and in fact it is in harmony with science as Islam’s first verse that was revealed starts with “read” which emphasizes science and knowledge.
3. The congress offers Muslim minorities living in Europe, America and similar regions to work to unite their Eids, symbolic occasions as well as their views and feelings. It also offers the religious administrations of Muslim states to study this calendar and have faith in it as this calendar will achieve goodness and keep away evil and has no aim but to create unity of symbols and emotions.
4. The congress recommends the Office of the President of Diyanet of the Republic of Turkey to establish the following organs to carry out the decisions of the congress and thus offers
a) The creation of a scientific commission to prepare a calendar for ten years, have it printed and distributed throughout the world.
b) To establish a delegation that will take up observatory work and other issues and continue to study observing the moon through astronomy to determine the days of Eid and the start of the holy months.
c) The establishment of a commission to spread the culture of the Hijri Calendar that has been accepted and carry out training and public relations efforts.
1. The congress advices the religious authorities of the Islamic countries and persons and institutions responsible for religious affairs to adopt the calendar and work to create unity to determine the start of the lunar months.
2. The congress invites the calendar makers in the Islamic world to adopt this calendar to unite Muslims around this calendar which is an indicator of the civilization and identity of the Muslims and unites their emotions and thoughts.
3. The congress advices Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to apply the calendar and thus create unity among all Muslims. It is not religiously permissible for Muslims who live in the same country to quarrel about the days of Eid and when to start fasting. On the contrary they should adhere to the rulings of religious authorities like the European Research and Fatwa Council or the Office of the President of Diyanet in Turkey as our Prophet has declared: “The day you fast is the day when you all fast, the day you mark Eid is the day when you all celebrate together and the day you sacrifice (animals) is the day when you perform this ritual all together.”
4. The congress advices the units of the Office of the President of Diyanet of Turkey in Western countries and the European Research and Fatwa Council to be the authorities for the Muslim minorities living in Western countries on scientific and religious issues to create unity and solidarity among Muslims in Europe, protect their interests and avoid discord among them regarding the religious holy days and the start of the lunar months.
5. The congress advices the Office of the President of Diyanet of Turkey to present the calendar to the Presidency of the Islamic Cooperation Organization and thus convey it to the attention of all Islamic countries so that the calendar can be accepted as a single calendar for the whole Islamic world.