Severity in deen?

Riaz Jafri

ALLOW me to request all at the very outset to please read it very dispassionately without giving to undue emotions and sensibilities. Just think rationally, logically, practically and pragmatically, please. My doctor advises me to drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day, more during the scorching months of May, June and July. Whereas during Ramzan we are forbidden to drink even a sip of it from dawn to dusk even when it falls in the severest of the summer months.
Can anyone – anyone – please tell me Honestly and Truthfully that can a labourer toiling outdoors survive after keeping 16/17 hours long fasts for 30 days at a stretch in say, Multan, Bahawalpur, Saraeiki Belt, Cholistan and Thar Parkar, etc. in Pakistan and Islamic countries like Libya, Tunis, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE etc just to name a few?
If not, there seems to be something amiss somewhere. On the one hand we believe Islam to be the most scientific religion and that there is no severity in practicing Deen (la ikra fiddeen). And, on the other there is something in it that could completely dehydrate a person and even cause his/her death!
Islam is a perfect and the most preferred deen of Allah that He has chosen for us. Nothing can, therefore, be wrong in it, for, it is Perfect. Period. Now, if we cannot follow (practice) it at times, then the chances are that there is something wrong with the ‘time’ and not the deen. In other words we shouldn’t be fasting when it is not possible to fast. Now, staying indoors or sleeping during the daytime and working at night, as is practiced in some Arab countries during Ramazan, is not the answer to it. One doesn’t have to alter one’s normal routine to practice one’s religion. Has it been ordained so in the Holy Book anywhere? So, we have to look for the answer somewhere else.
One such obvious possibility is that fasting would pose no severity of any kind if Ramazan were observed during a month near equinox, when the season is at its best and the days and nights are equal, say from February 21 to March 21 (of course subject to the appearance of new moon closest to these dates). Surprisingly, the duration of the day and night all over the globe would be almost equal and there shall not be a 21-hour fast in the Scandinavian countries as it is now. (The Norwegian Muslims cannot offer even their Traveeh in the remaining three hours or so that they are left with after Iftari till Fajr, in which period they have to offer Maghrab, Isha, Traveeh, have Sahoor and offer Fajar, which they cannot.)
Could it be that the Ramazan during the life of Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to fall around the Spring Equinox as Sunnat-i-Ibrahimi was in practice then and it was a Luni-Solar calendar. This Sunnat-i-Ibrahimi allowed a Leap Year or Intercalary year every three years or so in which a 13th lunar month was added. This addition of one month to 12 lunar months brought the lunar calendar in step with the Solar calendar and kept the so created luni-solar calendar from drifting throughout the year from season to season. This practice of adding 13th additional month after every three years or so is still followed by the Jews and many other nations practicing luni-solar calendar, resulting in their all important religious days falling around the same time of the year always like Christmas, Yom-Kapur, Nauroz, Besakhi, Lohri, Holi etc. etc., unlike the days of the Hijri calendar that rotate throughout the year.
May I request the Islamic Ideological Council, through your esteemed paper, to do some research as the what calendar was in vogue at the life time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and was a 13th intercalary month added in that calendar to keep it in step with the seasons of the year.
— The writer, retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Rawalpindi
Email: [email protected]

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