Buya Hamka: Calendar as a Guide for Fasting, Sign that the Quran is in Line with Science
MUHAMMADIYAH.OR.ID, JAKARTA – The command to fast during Ramadan and the provision of the fasting time are mentioned on Surah Al-Baqarah verse 183 and 185 respectively.
Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard ˹to distinguish between right and wrong˺. So whoever is present this month, let them fast. But whoever is ill or on a journey, then ˹let them fast˺ an equal number of days ˹after Ramadan˺. Allah intends ease for you, not hardship, so that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim the greatness of Allah for guiding you, and perhaps you will be grateful (Al-Baqarah verse 185).
In Tafsir (the commentary) of Al-Azhar Volume 1, the Muhammadiyah scholar Buya Hamka explained that the determination of the command to fast during Ramadan does not need to be debated as to which is correct, using either rukyat (sight) or hisab (calculation).
The determination of Ramadan on the verse uses the word “syahr” instead of “qamar” or “hilal.”
“Syahr” means “month” as a time indicator, while “hilal” or “qamar” means “moon” as a celestial object.
“It is sufficient for those who fast by sighting the crescent moon or calculating the beginning of Ramadan by hisab,” wrote Buya Hamka.
“Thus, it is not possible for everyone to firstly see the moon and perform fasting, or to excel in calculating to begin fasting. As long as they have witnessed or understood that the month of Ramadan has begun, they should fast,” said Buya Hamka.
According to Buya Hamka, the use of the word “syahr” as the determinant of the fasting time also indicates that the Quran is a revelation of Allah in line with science and technology. For example, in determining the “syahr,” Islam does not place rukyat as the main guide compared to hisab.
Buya Hamka took an example of Muslims living in the North or South Pole. Night or day in the polar regions can last for six months continuously, making rukyat impossible. Therefore, they can determine the beginning of the month through hisab (calculation).
“People there still use calendars or almanacs, so Muslims there, as long as they believe, can find out the beginning of Ramadan. They must fast. How to fast? Make good ijtihad because Islam has flexibility!” said Buya Hamka.
“A friend of mine from the Indonesian Embassy who once lived in Scandinavia told me that during the five daily prayers, he still prayed. In Ramadan, he fasted even though the sun never appeared for many months. We asked how it could be. He answered that his watch remained to tick. He prayed by looking at the clock, and he fasted by looking at the day’s cycle in the almanac because he believed,” wrote Buya Hamka.