Ramadan Seasonal Cycle: Fasting in Winter Again?
Gone are those days when our 90s generation was used to have the suhur meal
while its freezing and snowing outside.
We were raised during our first years of Ramadan to fast the holy month in
Memories of praying the Taraweeh prayer at the mosque were always linked with
shivering and wearing heavy coats.
The years passed gradually to find ourselves celebrating the coming of our
holiest Islamic month in sweaty and hot conditions. The stories of grandma
about fasting in summery and sunny days were a matter of no more than catchy
stories. But by the passing time, the stories came true.
No more than seven or eight years ago, the North Hemisphere's Muslims were
used to perform the rituals of the holiest month of Ramadan in bearable
weather conditions. This was the case for nearly three entire decades, since
about 1987. The majority of the one billion and a half Muslims, and most of
the regions of the Islamic World that lie mostly in the North Hemisphere of
Planet Earth were used to welcome a wintry month of Ramadan.
Is there a reason for this strange switching? Will Ramadan return again to be
a winter month? Are they the seasons which are revolving, or is it Ramadan
itself? Such questions twinkled to find a satisfactory answer.
Revolving of Ramadan Around the Seasons
Starting from 2006-2007, Ramadan which is a month in a Lunar Calendar called
the "Hijri Calendar," began to coincide with hot weather in the North
The holy month of Muslims started to overlap with "June Solstice"; this
astronomical event which takes place annually to mark the peak of the South
Hemisphere's winter, and the peak of the summer season in the North
Muslims use the Hijri Calendar for dating religious events and determining the
proper days of religious rituals. Since the Hijri calendar is one of the Lunar
Calendars, meaning that it depends on the Moon phases for time keeping, so
normally its date calculations would be different from other systems of
calendars like the Solar Calendars and Lunisolar Calendars which depend on
other methods of calculations.
Because the Hijri Calendar is between 10 and 12 days shorter than the
Gregorian Calendar which is used as an international civil year, the Hijri
year begins 10 to 12 days earlier every Gregorian year.
Once every 33 or 34 Hijri years, (aka once every 32 or 33 Gregorian years),
the beginning of the first month of the Hijri Calendar, -month of Muharram-;
coincides with one of the first ten days of January. Subsequent Hijri New
Years move backward through the Gregorian Calendar back to the beginning of
January again, passing through each Gregorian month from December to January.
A Hijri year will be entirely within a Gregorian year of the same number in
the year 20874, after which year the number of the Islamic year will always be
greater than the number of the concurrent civil year. The Hijri year of 1429
occurred entirely within the civil calendar year of 2008. Such years occur
once every 33 or 34 Hijri years (32 or 33 Gregorian years).
Furthermore, since the weather seasons on Earth depend on the Sun and its
apparent position, but not the Moon. And since the Gregorian year is a Solar
calendar that depends on the Sun for its date calculations, so we always find
June marking the Summer Solstice.
This means that the month of June of the Solar Gregorian Calendar and the
month of Ramadan of the Lunar Hijri Calendar overlap with each other every 32
to 34 years.
Based on this, Ramadan will return again to coincide with the winter of the
North Hemisphere in nearly 2024 God willing.
And now till our holiest month returns again to coincide with our chilly
season, let's enjoy its blessings and benefit from its barakat; as Allah
Almighty informed us in His Qudsi hadith: ''Every good action is rewarded by
ten times its kind, up to seven hundred times, except fasting, which is for
Me, and I reward it.'' (Narrated in the Sunan of Tirmidhi and the Muwatta of
Imam Malik, from Abu Hurayra, with variants in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud,
Nasa`i and Ahmad).
So let's hope and pray that fasting in such hard conditions will bring to us
insha'Allah more blessings from Allah, the Lord of the heavens and the worlds.