Through this article, we try to draw the attention of Muslim parents and educators to the importance of Islamic calendar as a main factor in connecting our youths and unifying the ummah.
Islam is a religion of social connections that bind us together. That social relationship impacts us on the most intimate level. Our salaah (prayers) is offered as sentient individuals, yet if observed in congregation, receives a greater blessing and reward. Similarly, we alone circumvent the Ka’bah calling on our Lord, yet the strength and beauty is that this is a shared human experience with literally millions of fellow pilgrims.
Social & Cultural Connectivity
Instances of Ibadah (worship) are not the only signs that our collective efforts are more important for realizing our human potential. The Islamic calendar – the Hijri calendar is a communal experience of historical, social and cultural connectivity for the Muslim community. Through this instance that began our calendar, the Muslim community went from being small band of Believers to being a world religion whose tenets surpass politics, culture or even ethnicity. The act expanded the social reality of Muslims.
The social environment of any people depends on the nature of the shared interactions amongst the people. Through the Islamic calendar, Muslims share beliefs, values, knowledge and time – without the instance of necessarily being in the same space, because through the Islamic calendar we share instances of world-wide collective Ibadah ( worship) and celebration.
For our youth, adherence to the Islamic calendar is similar to interacting with social media, because the shared experience of the Eid, Ramadan or Ashura reaches across the globe like the internet. Its immediacy and permanence has existed for more than 14 centuries.
With such a highly interactive circumstance as part of our reality as Muslims, it is essential that parents and schools nurture and grow the understanding, appreciation and use of the Islamic calendar. Social acceptance is extremely important to youth not just because they are looking for inclusiveness, but also because youth are seeking a healthy sense of the definition of themselves.
As Muslim parents and educators, we seek to provide an environment for our Muslim youth that nurtures their innate inclination to God-Consciousness as well as a definition of themselves as Muslims. The social environment that youth reside in influences and molds their sense of self and community.
For instance, many youth will connect on the internet to play live role playing games, massive multi-player on-line games like World of War Craft, real time strategy games like Star Craft, first person shooter like Halo or Call of Duty or sports games like Fifa and Madden. What is important about these internet games is that the people playing them are interacting in real time around the globe. The players are different nationalities, ethnic groups or political affiliations, yet they all enjoy this time together. It is a shared interaction that produces a gaming community.
The Islamic calendar offers a global shared interaction and connects us as an ummah. Dates on the calendar are in real time. Th to honoring the Hijri calendar is a conviction incumbent upon both parents and educators. Our existence as Muslims is connected to the reality of generating a starting point and then appreciating what comes and came after as the ummah of Muhammad (PBUH).
Parents & Teachers Have a Role
As time is linear, we can think of it as rope. The fibers are bound and twisted together to produce this instrument that stretches, connects, tightens and holds. Indeed, the Hijri calendar has the same qualities for us Muslims. Just as a rope can be used in many ways, parents and educators must be creative in using the Islamic calendar.
Certainly, no home or school should be without a Hijri calendar. The observance of important dates on the Hijri calendar is not just to take note or build anticipation, but also to make these dates common knowledge and practice. Teachers can write the Hijri date on the board at school each morning and require students to note both the Hijri and Gregorian date if needed. School events can be announced by Hijri dates and included alongside the school calendar.
At home, events may be related through the Hijri calendar as well. For instance, when my own children were born, their birth dates were noted not just as Gregorian dates, but also Hijri dates as well. Wedding invitations, graduations and upcoming events can be relayed through the Hijri calendar so that keeping track of time in this manner becomes both common and natural to our children.
In addition, both parents and educators can note that the date or observance on the Islamic calendar is a global event, which draws our youth into the concept that they are intertwined with the rest of the Muslim world and thus intimately stronger and part of a communal experience that binds us together – through time.
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.” Quran (al Im’ran 3: 103)
First published: November 2014.