Unseen Islamic State Treatise on Calendars: Full Text, Translation & Analysis
14 November 2015
By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
This treatise of the Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-Eftaa' (Research & Fatwa-Issuing
Department), previously unseen in the outside world, concerns the question of
whether one can use 'Miladi' dating, best known in its current and most
widely used form as the Gregorian calendar. In short, the conclusion is that
the Islamic State must ultimately erase all traces of Miladi dating as it is
a system of dating associated with the disbelievers, in particular the
Christians. On the basis of the principle that one must not imitate the
disbelievers, one should not use Miladi dating. Rather, the system to be
followed is the 'Hijri' dating, which begins from the time of the migration [hijra]
of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina [c. 622 CE] and follows the Arabic lunar
However, as with the concept of tribal organization of society, there is some
clash between reality and theory. As Miladi dating has become so widespread,
one often finds Miladi dating used in Islamic State administrative documents,
but the convention is that it must be written after the Hijri dating, usually
in the form of Hijri date, corresponding to the relevant Miladi date. This
practice is briefly alluded to at the end of the treatise.
Even so, one can find exceptions to this convention in the corpus of
available Islamic State documents. For example, for academic year 2014-2015
in Ninawa province primary schools, the Miladi dating is used for exam
timetables without mention of Hijri dating (Specimen 2E). This may partly
have to do with the fact that the Islamic State considered the 2014-2015
academic year transitional in nature in terms of bringing the education
systems in the territories it controls in line with its ideology through
securing repentance of teachers and staff, issuing a new set of textbooks
In terms of the analogy with tribes, in theory Islamic State ideology demands
that tribal identity must be done away with, but because a major tribal
rebellion within the heartlands of the Islamic State's territory would pose
an existential threat to its rule, in practice the Islamic State must display
a degree of pragmatism, and in this regard even has a bureaucratic department
(Diwan al-Asha'ir) to deal with tribal affairs in areas such as Raqqa and
Deir az-Zor provinces in Syria.
Keeping true to major ideological influences, Ibn Taymiyya features
prominently among theologians and commentators cited in this treatise.
I have translated the entire text below, inserting explanatory notes in
square brackets and occasional hyperlinks where appropriate. Note that the
page numbering on the original counts the cover of the mini-book as the first
page. I have followed this numbering.
Al-Buhuth wa al-Eftaa' Committee
Ruling on working by Miladi dating
Al-Buhuth wa al-Eftaa' Committee
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds and good tidings be upon those who
fear Him, and there is no enmity except upon the wrongdoers. And God bless
our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.
As for what follows:
The reckoning of months and days is something people need to keep track of
their religious and worldly affairs, for the religious in knowing the entry
and exit of the month, like the month of Ramadan and the month of Dhu al-Hijja,
and to know the distinguished days like Arafat and Ashura, and for reckoning
days determined in law like the length of a woman's waiting period after the
death of her husband, and the like; and for worldly affairs in knowing the
days and months to keep track of appointed days for work, salaries and other
things besides those.
In the contemporary eras the Crusaders have succeeded in appointing
idolatrous tyrants loyal to them to whom they have entrusted the
implementation of their plans, including making the Muslims follow these
disbelievers. Among such matters is the replacement of the Hijri dating with
the Miladi dating.
Indeed the Ummah of Islam is an ummah of Truth, sovereignty and will, and it
is not content with being followers of the disbelievers, the enemies of God
and His Messenger (SAWS), and thus finds that the Companions, may God be
pleased with them, when they realized the important of dating, put in place
an Islamic dating system and did not assent to the dating of the
Thus the Miladi dating that the Muslims have adopted in our time must be
removed and Islamic dating must take its place.
For we do not consider it permissible to use Miladi dating for affairs.
The lines of evidence here are numerous and the following will suffice:
The evidence from the Book: the Almighty has said: "And thus We have revealed
it as Arabic legislation, and if you should follow their whims after what has
come to you of knowledge, you will have no ally or helper before God" [Qur'an
Ibn Taymiyya (may God have mercy on him) said: "And following them in what
they specify from their religion and the dependencies of their religion is
adherence to their whims; but also it becomes following their whims in
matters besides that" (Iqtida' al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem- p. 99).
And the Almighty has said: "And whoever opposes the Messenger after what has
been made clear to him from guidance and follows a path besides that of the
believers, We will turn him to what he has turned, and We will confine him to
Hell" [Qur'an 4:115]. And the path of the believers is the path of the
Companions, may God be pleased with them.
And the Almighty has said: "Thus We detail the verses and thus the path of
the criminals is clarified"- [Qur'an 6:55].
As for the Sunna, you will find it filled with the order to differ from the
Jews and the Christians even in dress and appearance. For example, what al-Tirmidhi
narrated and deemed of sound authenticity: "Dye grey hairs and do not imitate
And in the two Sahih collections: "Differ from the mushrikeen: trim the
moustache and let the beard grow."
Similarly one must differ from them in acts of worship: "Differ from the
Jews, for they do not pray in their sandals or shoes"- narrated by Abu Dawud.
And likewise in fasting on the day before Ashura' there is differing from the
Jews [cf. here, Specimen Q]
And likewise has come the prohibition on the general principle of imitation
and agreement as well as the obligation of differing from them in a number of
hadiths, including: what Ahmad narrated on authentic transmission: "Whoever
imitates a people is one of them."
And it has also been narrated on the authority of Shaddad bin Aws: that the
Messenger of God (SAWS) said: "The sparks of this Ummah will surely follow
the customs of those who came before them- the people of the Book- just as
one arrow resembles another."
Al-Bukhari said: "The section on dating, from where did they begin to
On the authority of Sahl bin Sa'ad: he said: "They did not reckon from the
sending [beginning of prophetic mission] of the Prophet (SAWS) or from his
death. They have only reckoned from his coming to al-Medina [the Hijra]."
And Ibn Hajr said about dating: "That was in the Caliphate of Omar. And al-Suhaili
affirmed that the Companions took dating by the Hijra from the Almighty's
words- "Truly a mosque founded on piety from the first day" [Qur'an 9:108]-
because it is well known that it is not the first of the days absolutely, but
rather it has been indicated as having been added to something implied, as it
is the first time in which Islam was glorified, and in which the Prophet
(SAWS) worshipped his Lord safely, and beginning from the building of the
mosque, the opinion of the Companions has agreed on the beginning of dating
from that day."
And Ibn al-Athir said: "And the known truth is that Omar bin al-Khattab- may
God be pleased with him- ordered to place dating and the reason for that is
that Abu Musa al-Ash'ari wrote to Omar that "letters come to us from you
without dating." So Omar gathered people for consultation. Some of them said:
"Chronicle from the sending of the Prophet (SAWS)." Others said: "From the
migration of the Messenger of God (SAWS)." And Omar said: "Rather let us
chronicle from the migration of the Messenger of God (SAWS) for his migration
is the division between Truth and Falsehood." Al-Sha'abi said: and Muhammad
bin Sirin said: "A man came up to Omar, and said: "Devise a system of
dating." And Omar said: "On what basis am I to chronicle?" He said: "It is
something the non-Arabs do in distinguishing such and such month from such
and such year." So Omar said: "Fine, so I will chronicle." And they agreed on
the Hijra, and then said: "Which of the months?" So they said: "From
Ramadan." But then they said: "But Muharram is the departure of the people
from their Hajj [Hajj is performed in Dhu al-Hijah- the preceding month] and
is the month of sanctity." So they agreed on it" (al-Tashabbuh al-Munhi Anhu-
And al-Qurtubi [medieval Qur'an commentator] said in commenting on the
Almighty's words: "Indeed the number of months with God is twelve in the book
of God from the day He created the heavens and the earth"- Surat al-Tawba
Ayat 36 [Qur'an 9:36]:
"This verse shows that rulings on acts of worship and other things besides
them are construed such that it should be according to the months and years
that the Arabs have acknowledged, not those considered by non-Arabs, the
Byzantines and Copts even if there is no addition to the 12 months, because
they constitute a variety of numbers of days, some exceeding thirty and
others falling short, while the months of the Arabs do not exceed 30 days
even though some fall short of that."
And the Sheikh of Islam Ibn Taymiyya said as well: "As for non-Arabic talk
and the naming of their months with non-Arabic names, Abu Muhammad al-Karamani-
the one called Harb [a Hanbali scholar]-said: "The section on calling months
in Persian: I said to Ahmad [ibn Hanbal: founder of Hanbali school of
jurisprudence]: "[Did you know] the Persians have days and months that they
call by names that are not known?" He really hated that and in that regard
narrated a hadith from Mujahid: that he regarded it as makruh [hated: i.e.
disliked but not absolutely forbidden] that the words 'Adharmah' and 'Dhi Mah'
should be said- Persian names of months. I said: "What if it is the name of a
man by which I am to call him?" He hated that." (Iqtida' al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem-
And Ibn Taymiyya also said: "The predecessors [people of al-Salf] continued
to hate altering the rituals of the Arabs even in dealings, and that is-
speaking in a language besides Arabic- except out of need as Malik [founder
of Maliki school of jurisprudence], al-Shafi'i [founder of Shafi'i school of
jurisprudence] and Ahmad specified in that matter. Indeed Malik said:
"Whoever speaks in a language besides Arabic in our mosque, expel him from
it"- (Collection of Fatwas- 255/32).
The Companions- may God be pleased with them- gathered and engaged in
consultation when they saw the need for dating, and they never suggested a
scenario of adopting Miladi dating, but rather agreed that the Muslims must
have a system of dating differentiating from others besides them, and that it
should be a system of dating for the Ummah of Islam. And no one is allowed to
violate it, and it is not allowed to bring a system of dating besides what
they put in place. Had it been permissible to deal in Miladi, there would
have been no need for the Companions to gather to choose one besides it.
And what is in the Miladi dating from religious symbols signifying the
glorification of the birth of al-Masih [Christ], which has not come to be
distinguished in our law from the rest of days, is not hidden.
Similarly it is not hidden: what is in adopting Miladi dating regarding
imitating the disbelievers, educating people on the basis of following the
disbelievers, and glorifying the feast days of the disbelievers and their
innovative systems of dating.
As for the one who invokes necessity, there is to be no concession to him in
that regard, for the Hijri system of dating is the one considered authentic
on which the Ummah has relied since the convention of the Companions- may God
be pleased with them.
As for the one who has resisted the renewal of the religion and the
establishment of the Caliphate, people must refer [him] back to the features
of Islam and what has been the precedent set upon it that it [the Caliphate]
should truly be upon the Prophetic methodology. For on the authority of Abu
Huraira (may God be pleased with him): that the Messenger of God (SAWS) said:
"The Jews are divided into 71 sects, the Christians similarly 72 sects, and
my Ummah will be divided into 73 sects. All of them will be in Hellfire
except one." They said: "Which one is that?" He said: "The Jama'at." And the
Prophet (SAWS) clarified the meaning of the Jama'at by these words of his:
"What my Companions and I belong to today."
The Almighty has said: "They ask you about the new moons. Say: 'These are
markings of time for the people.'" [Qur'an 2:189].
The Almighty has said: "The number of months with God is twelve in the Book
of God from the day He created the heavens and the earth, of which four are
sacred. That is the correct religion. So do not wrong yourselves in them and
fight the mushrikeen as a whole just as they fight you as a whole. And know
that God is with the pious" [Qur'an 9:36].
According to all that has been presented, it is not allowed to deal in Miladi
dating as it truly constitutes imitating the disbelievers and following the
path of disbelief that it has been obliged to differ from outwardly and
inwardly, so the Islamic State must be independent from the customs of the
disbelievers, and follow the Sunnah of the Amir al-Mu'mineen Omar bin al-Khattab
and educate the new generation on the Sunnah and do away with signs of
And the first principle- and God knows best- is that this calendar must be
forgotten and not inserted even alongside the Hijri one but rather must be
done away with entirely in our dealings such that there should be no trace of
it, because the Miladi calendar is connected with the religious cause among
them, and that is the birth of al-Masih- so they claim- despite the fact it
is not established that he was born on this date. Also its use takes
precedence over the reckoning of the Islamic Hijri dating, leading to the
connection of the generations of the Muslims with the dating of the
Further, their dating is solar and the month among them may be 31 days or 28
days, and it is well known that establishment of the entry and exit of the
months in our law is connected with the observation of the new moon, just as
the Almighty said: "They ask you about the new moons. Say: 'These are
markings of time for the people and the Hajj." And the lunar months do not
exceed 30 days, and do not fall below 29 days, as made clear by our Prophet
(SAWS). For on the authority of Ibn Omar (may God be pleased with them both):
'The Prophet (SAWS) said: "The month is like this, this and this"- meaning 30
days- and then he said: "Like this, this and this"- meaning 29 days, at one
time 30 days and at another time 29 days'- [transmitted by Muslim in Fasting:
Section on the Obligation of Fasting in Ramadan according to Observation of
the New Moon 1080].
And one of the researchers established an error in the Miladi dating, and
recorded that in the American Washington DC University!
But some of the contemporaries have allowed for it to be used alongside the
Hijri date for necessity following on from and not the original with the
presentation of the Hijri date. And it is written after it thus:
Corresponding to such and such Miladi.
And God's peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and praise be to
God the Lord of the Worlds.