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Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Modest Contribution to Humanity

I have always felt inconvenienced by the discrepancy between the ubiquitous Gregorian calendar (solar) in use worldwide and the Hijri calendar (lunar) implemented to fix Islamic religious events. I have even undertaken some serious research to find out whether the inconsistency can ever be resolved. To my chagrin, I learned that practical solutions had been reached way in the past but that they had been refused on theological grounds. The Hebrew, Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, Persian and pre-Islamic calendars are all lunisolar and were able to resolve the discrepancies between the cyclical movement of the earth around the sun and that of the moon around the earth with some ingenious adjustment(s). These calendars are based on a combination of solar and lunar mathematics, thus the name “lunisolar”. The Persian calendar for example adds one month every 3 lunar years to compensate for the 11 days amiss. Studying the intricacies of these different calendars is very rewarding and I would leave it to the reader to do a little research on her own.
Since, as it seems, one cannot present a solution without coming in direct confrontation with the established religious institution, I chose to tackle a smaller yet very significant problem facing Muslims everywhere.
Sunday is, for Christians and non-Christians alike, the free day of the week in most parts of the world. Many countries have a two-day weekend (Saturday & Sunday). In most Arab countries, Friday is the day off and business as usual on Saturday and Sunday. In some instances, Sunday is the official day off while a one-hour break is given on Friday to observe the prescribed religious practice. The two-day weekend has been in dispute in the Islamic world due to the added nuisance of having either Thursday or Saturday as the second day off. One can only imagine the dilemma facing a business firm with international suppliers or clients and located in such a country. It might face four non-working days in a week, or at best three. I had nightmares during the execution of a project when a technical glitch popped up late on a Thursday afternoon or even on a Saturday morning. I wouldn’t be able to get support from the designer in Italy until Monday morning. Millions of devoted Muslims who live abroad, especially in the West, feel the tremendous burden of fully practicing their Friday ritual in the middle of an uncompromising working environment.
So here’s my solution, I’ll make it brief and I believe it would work if we approach the issue with an open mind.
Why don’t we simply hit the problem head on semantically. One Sunday morning, we wake up and make up our courageous mind and say it’s Al-Jom’a (الجمعة). Of course we would do it on midnight, but the idea is that starting from this day on, Sunday in English and all other languages means Al-Jom’a (الجمعة) in Arabic, pure and simple. In the process we have dropped two days into oblivion but so what! Al-Sabet (السبت) means Monday (Lundi, Lunedi, Montag and so on). It’s all really a linguistic game. We have simply redefined the translation of the names of the seven days of the week from Arabic to all other languages.
Al-Jom’a is Sunday. Muslims would not be offended at all. Their day off is still Al-Jom’a all over the world. Non-Muslims could care less, their day off is still on Sunday. Christians and Muslims share the same holy day, is that bad? Christians who live in Islamic countries go to church on the same day their compatriots go to the mosque. We all have a unified work week and the same weekend. What is called Thursday is Al-Thalatha' (الثلاثاء) now, Friday is Al-Arba’a (الاربعاء) and so on. Multilingual dictionaries will handle the transformations in their new editions and some day in the future the whole thing would be forgotten and of interest only to history buffs.
The Academy of the Arabic Language and the Organization of the Islamic Conference can make the announcement one happy day.
Case closed, problem solved.

19 comments:

The Syrian Brit said...

What a fantastic idea!.. If only real life was that simple!!.. Simple as your proposal might be, I have no doubt that somebody will come up with an argument why this proposal is a heresy..
I like the idea that, with your proposals, Friday will now be Al-Arb3a.. We have always maintained in Damascus that, in Homs, they don't function on Al-Arb3a because it falls on Friday!! (Apologies to non-Syrian reeaders.. This is a very Syrian joke!..)
Mind you, I used to find it very convenient to have the Christian quarters in Damascus remaining open on Friday!. It meant that you could always get things you desperately need, even on Friday

abufares said...

Hello Syrian Brit
Thank you for liking my idea. I know that it's too simple to be true but it's my personal opinion that the simpler the better.
I, too, agree that many would not tolerate such straight forward, albeit naive approaches to some of the problems we have. It's always safer to pretend that we don't have problems in the first place.
Whether I'm serious or not as far as this post is concerned is truly beyond the point.
Glad you've been here.

Shannon said...

I love it, but I really wouldn't mind having Friday off.

I can already hear the pain in the voices of Non-Arabic speaking students studying Arabic as a second language.

Student: "So are you telling me in Arabic Friday is really Sunday?"
Teacher: "Well, yes and no."
Student: "Is it too late to transfer to Spanish 101?"

Karin-1 said...

You caught me off-guard with this one! After having read it twice in order to get a grip of what exactly you mean, I started to like the idea! How on earth do you come up with such great ideas?? To make Friday "youm al-Arba'a" sounds real good to me ... and for EVERYONE to Sunday as "holy day" - NO opposition to that at ALL!
I like your "unorthodox" ideas a lot ... and am waiting for MORE!! ;-)

Omar said...

elegant solution abufares..

But what don't THEY change their Sunday to fall on OUR Friday... j/k

But I bet you this dumb argument will surely come up if you were to ever discuss it with a slightly religious person

Anonymous said...

Now that is the real brilliance of Abufares that I know :):):)
Abu Abdo

abufares said...

Hi Shannon
To change the translation of certain names wouldn't be that hard to swallow. Remember days of the week just have proper names. The teacher was confusing the students by telling them that these names have double meanings. She could always say that Friday as Al Jom'a is archaic and longer in use.

abufares said...

Hi Karin
I'm glad you approve. I mean let's face it, we will be solving a problem with this unorthodox approach without hurting anyone.
What's with the new Name: Karin-1 ??? Would it have the same translation?

abufares said...

Hi Omar
I'm sure this will be the question posed by the "serious" type.
In fact, we haven't changed anything. We just informed everyone that they've got their Arabic wrong. Our Jom'a is still a Jom'a and so is our Thalatha'.
We screw up much more than this almost every year when we don't agree on the 1st day of Ramadan or the Eid.
I think dropping 2 days off once and for all is much better than what they're doing right now.

abufares said...

Hi ABu Abdo
Thank you...
You know that they used to pop up much more often than now...
Degeneration of brain cells I guess...

Dubai Jazz said...

It is undoubtedly a revolutionary idea Abu Fares, an ingenuity of a bright mind! I once read that the mind of a genius is different because it questions the incontrovertible! Do they call that “Critical thinking”? I am not sure.......
I think it is going to be very hard to get Islamic consensus over this. I mean let's face it; we still can't make up our minds whether it is Sharia-complied to use satellites' observation technology to determine the first day of Ramadan and Eid.
However, the practical hardship doesn't lessen the creativity of this brilliant idea.
One thing I still don't get: are you suggesting that we re-define Juma's translation as Sunday (and the other days of the week respectively) or do we keep the same translation, but we just simply say that Islamic Friday coincides with Sunday elsewhere?
Anyway, it was a great reading, one of the most creative posts I've ever read.

abufares said...

Hi Dubai Jazz
You made me laugh a little, at myself...
I certainly never thought that I'm a genuis. I do get weird ideas from time to time but they are mostly in retaliation to the fallacies we've accepted with bliss and/or ignorance.
I meant that the whole 7 days would have new translations of course. I figure that as long as I'm going to present a crazy idea, it better be crazy all the way.
Thanks Dubai Jazz for believing in me, a little more than I believe in myself.

Karin said...

NO change of course .. BETA-blogger didn't allow me to post last time so I was forced to open another account .. SAME THING though!!!

Dubai Jazz said...

Well....after reading my comment, I acknowledge I was a little bit over the top. We architects get excited so quickly, the “Eureka!” syndrome seems to be predominant in our case!
Keep the good work Abu Fares, my admiration for your writing is genuine.

Through Gracepeace said...

تبرىء الكلمات في القلوب

ثم همس الرب في قلوبنا...
الكلمات تصل حيث لا يقدر السلاح

سألنا حكيم قريتنا، كيف ينزل الدفء
على النفوس والشيطان
قد ألقى بسمومه المفضلة
خوفاً ويأساً وكراهية
على القلوب البريئة
كما الرماد من محرقة السعادة

كيف تنام عيون الايمان
وسرير الأمل
تفترشه ملاءة القنوط الشاحب
وعيون الحنث الفاسدة
تنتهك حرمة الكلمات المقدسة
وتسعد باغتيال هدايا السماء

وسألنا :كيف يبتسم الخير
ويصفع الكره الفضيلة من وجه الخجل
و أتباعه يشوهون ويحرفون فى نفوس ضحاياهم
حتى يصل الاعتقاد
بأن الإثم فضيلة والقتل عدالة والكره هو الحب

تحدث الحكيم
بصوته الخفيض وقال
أن للشيطان أتباع
يغتسلون في أنهار النبيذ في حادي*
وبعشق السخرية الفارغ
يحصدون نفوساً مغشوشة جنيت بمنجل الانتحار

مستحيل أن يكون الطريق إلى الفردوس مرصوفاً
بجثث الأبرياء - عبر نهرٍ من الدم
اعتنقوا مد الحق وجزره الرائع في قلوبكم
تقبّلوا الشك والعار أينما كانوا
لكي تدركوا أن النفس تسعد بالعطف وليس بالانتقام

سطع صوته كالضوء وقال:
ابحثوا بشجاعة في أعماق قلوبكم
بلا نفاق ولا خداع ولا إجحاف
وحين تلمسوا الايمان هناك
ستنزل الكلمات الالهيه دواءً للقلوب
مثل مطر أبدي يجذبه البحر دائماً
حتى يرتفع ليملأ حرم النفوس
بودٍ عميق هادىء ويغدو سلاماً
على شواطىء العزم الالهي.


[أرض الموتى في الأساطير الاغريقية*

أبريل 2006

abufares said...

Thank you Karin & Dubai Jazz for providing me always with your support.
I appreciate your graceful presence here.

abufares said...

Dear through gracepeace said
"الصيف ضيعت اللبن"
مثل عربي

Black Hawk said...

mmm...!
Dear Abufares,
i guess we have a lot of inconsistency ,obstacles..between us and the others...i mean! the other world...or let me say that in particular...the American EMPIRE
and the their Slaves ( sorry for the word but i didn't find better)
..European countries..
..it is easy if it comes t calendar...what do u think about segregation against Arabs & muslims..?
let us remember this before other differences..
by the way ! don't be that optimistic...about the Academy of the Arabic Language and the Organization of the Islamic Conference..as they will never do anything! they are suffring from being without a benefit...i got boredom from..laughing on my self and others..when we talk about
conflicts! between cultres..
let us trying t change ourselves,
reach our progress and then !
no need for changing cleander..cuz they will respect it !
hope i didn't cause u a headache !
i am not Radical ! but i am sad from this...
& thanks again..
urs..

abufares said...

Hi Black Hawk
I guess we blew our chance to impose our calender when we could've.
I agree with your general idea though. I wish it could happen.