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The Calendar in Pre-Islamic Mecca

In: Arabica
Author: Hideyuki Ioh1
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  • 1 Tokyo Jogakkan College, Department of International Liberal Arts
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In pre-Islamic times, pilgrimages were made to sanctuaries in various regions of Arabia. Feasts connected with idolatry and annual fairs were held at convenient seasons of the year. To keep all these events in order, a lunisolar calendar was used, and the calendar adjuster of the Banū Kināna was charged with intercalation (nasīʾ). They inserted a leap month according to the same cycle as the Jewish calendar. Though it was exceptional, in emergency situations (e.g. the war of Fiǧār), they would postpone a sacred month, set to guarantee the safety of pilgrims. In the first decade of hiǧra calendar, in fact, three leap months were inserted immediately after ḏū l-ḥiǧǧa of 1/623, 3/625, and 6/628. On the occasion of the pilgrimage lead by Abū Bakr in 9/631, the leap month was not inserted, and in the following year at the Farewell Pilgrimage, Muḥammad formally abolished intercalation. The day that Muḥammad arrived in Medina was, if the account reported by Ibn Isḥāq is correct, 28th June 622, and the battle of Badr was 2 months earlier than in the standard correspondence.

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