Bahá'í calendar

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The Bahá'í calendar, also called the Badí‘ calendar (badí‘ means wondrous or unique [1]), used by Bábism and the Bahá'í Faith, is a solar calendar with years composed of 19 months of 19 days each, (361 days) plus an extra period of "Intercalary Days". Years in the calendar begin at the vernal equinox, and are counted with the date notation of BE (Bahá'í Era), with 21 March 1844 CE being the first day of the first year, the year the Báb proclaimed his religion.[2]

The Bahá'í calendar's implementation has changed over time. Initially the calendar was first implemented and used by the Bábí faith and then adapted for use in the Bahá'í Faith, with some changes. However, the Bahá'í scriptures left a number of issues regarding the implementation of the calendar to be resolved by the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Bahá'ís, before the calendar could be observed uniformly worldwide. Until 20 March 2015 the calendar was locked to the Gregorian calendar with the new year always being March 21. However, on 10 July 2014 the Universal House of Justice announced provisions that will enable the common implementation of the calendar worldwide, beginning at sunset 20 March 2015. Since 21 March 2015 the calendar is no longer locked to the Gregorian calendar and the new year will start on the day of the vernal equinox.[3]

The period from 21 March 2015 to 20 March 2016 is the year 172 BE.

History[edit]

The Bahá'í calendar started from the original Badí‘ calendar, created by the Báb in the Kitabu'l-Asmá' and the Persian Bayán (5:3) in the 1840s.[4] An early version of the calendar began to be implemented during his time.[5] It used a scheme of 19 months of 19 days (19x19) for 361 days, plus intercalary days to make the calendar a solar calendar. The first day of the early implementation of the calendar year was Nowruz,[6] while the intercalary days were assigned differently than the later Bahá'í implementation. The calendar contained symbolic connections to prophecies of the Báb about the next Manifestation of God termed He whom God shall make manifest.[7]

Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, who claimed to be the one prophesied by the Báb, confirmed and adopted this calendar. Around 1870, he instructed Nabíl-i-A`zam, the author of The Dawn-Breakers, to write an overview of the Badí' calendar.[3] In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (1873) Bahá’u'lláh made Naw-Rúz the first day of the year, and also clarified the position of the Intercalary days to immediately precede the last month.[4][8] Bahá'u'lláh set Naw-Rúz to the day on which the sun passes into the constellation Aries. Bahá'ís interpret this formula as a specification of the vernal equinox, though where that should be determined was not defined.[8]

The calendar was first implemented in the West in 1907.[9]

The Bahá'í scriptures left some issues regarding the implementation of the Badi' calendar to be resolved by the Universal House of Justice before the calendar can be observed uniformly worldwide. On 10 July 2014 the Universal House of Justice announced provisions that will enable the common implementation of the Badi' calendar worldwide, beginning at sunset 20 March 2015,[10] coinciding with the completion of the ninth cycle of the calendar (see below).[11]

Before 2015[edit]

The Bahá'í calendar in western countries was synchronized to the Gregorian calendar, meaning that the extra day of a leap year occurs simultaneously in both calendars so there would be 4 intercalary days in most years, and 5 intercalary days during a leap year. The practice in western countries has been to start the year at sunset on March 20, regardless of when the vernal equinox technically occurs.

From Naw-Rúz 2015[edit]

In 2014, the Universal House of Justice selected Tehran, the birthplace of Bahá'u'lláh, as the location to which the date of the vernal equinox is to be fixed, thereby "unlocking" the Badí' calendar from the Gregorian calendar. For determining the dates, astronomical tables from reliable sources are used.[3][10][12]

In the same message the Universal House of Justice decided that the birthdays of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh will be celebrated on "the first and the second day following the occurrence of the eighth new moon after Naw-Rúz" (also with the use of astronomical tables) and fixed the dates of the Bahá'í Holy Days in the Bahá'í calendar, standardizing dates for Bahá'ís worldwide. These changes came into effect as of sunset on 20 March 2015.[3][13]

Years[edit]

Years in the Bahá'í calendar are counted from Thursday, 21 March 1844, the beginning of the Bahá'í Era or Badí‘ Era (abbreviated BE or B.E.).[14] Year 1 BE thus began at sundown 20 March 1844. Using the Bahá'í names for the weekday and month, day one of the Bahá'í Era was Istijlál (Majesty), 1 Bahá (Splendour) 1 BE. As detailed below, the names of the Bahá'í months and days reflect attributes of God.[15] William Miller's polemical work against the Bahá'í Faith claims that the date the calendar was to begin was 1850 CE though most sources agree the date was with the Declaration of the Bab to Mullá Husayn, on the evening of May 22, 1844 CE. (8th of ‘Aẓamat)[16] Because the Bahá'í definition of the day begins at sunset the observance overflows into the next Gregorian day of May 23. With the common implementation of the Badí‘ calendar it will be celebrated on 8th day of ‘Aẓamat which will tend to fall on Gregorian date May 23 or May 24 depending on the date of vernal equinox being March 20 or 21 respectively; and the observance will begin after the sunset of the preceding day.[10]

Months[edit]

The Bahá'í calendar is composed of 19 months, each with 19 days.[2] The Nineteen Day Fast is held during the final month of ‘Alá’ (2 March – 20 March), and is preceded by the intercalary days, known as Ayyám-i-Há. There are four intercalary days in a regular year, and five in a leap year.[17] The introduction of intercalation marked an important break from Islam, as under the Islamic calendar the practice of intercalation had been specifically prohibited in the Qur'an.[4] The month of fasting is followed by Naw-Rúz, the new year.

Until 2015, the calendar was effectively synchronized with the Gregorian calendar so that Bahá'í leap years coincide with common era leap years. In addition, the intercalary days include 28 February and 1 March, causing precise synchronization of the 19 months with the Gregorian calendar. After 2015, the number of the intercalary days will be set as needed to ensure that the year ends on the day before the next vernal equinox.

The names of the months were taken by the Báb from the Du'ay-i-Sahar, a Ramadan dawn prayer by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, the fifth Imam of Twelver Shi'ah Islam.[18][19] These month names are described as describing attributes of God.

In the Persian Bayan the Báb divides the months in four groups, of three, four, six and six months respectively.[20] Robin Mirshahi suggests a possible link with four realms described in Bahá'í cosmology.[21]

The days of the month have the same names as the names of the month - the 9th day of the month for example is the same as the 9th month - Asmá, or "Names". In the following table, the Gregorian date indicates the first full day of the month. The month begins at sunset of the Gregorian date previous to the one listed, after which time that month's Nineteen Day Feast may be celebrated.

Month Gregorian dates
(if Naw-Rúz falls on 21 March) [2][10]
Arabic name [2] Arabic script English name [2] Additional meanings in authorized English translations of Bahá'í scripture [21]
1 21 March
– 8 April
Bahá بهاء Splendour glory, light, excellence
2 9 April
– 27 April
Jalál جلال Glory majesty
3 28 April
– 16 May
Jamál جمال Beauty charm
4 17 May
– 4 June
‘Aẓamat عظمة Grandeur glory, majesty, dominion, greatness
5 5 June
– 23 June
Núr نور Light radiance, brightness, splendour, effulgence, illumination
6 24 June
– 12 July
Raḥmat رحمة Mercy blessing, grace, favour, loving kindness, providence, compassion
7 13 July
– 31 July
Kalimát كلمات Words utterance, the word of God
8 1 August
– 19 August
Kamál كمال Perfection excellence, fullness, consummation, maturity
9 20 August
– 7 September
Asmá’ اسماء Names titles, attributes, designations
10 8 September
– 26 September
‘Izzat عزة Might glory, power, exaltation, honour, majesty, grandeur, strength, sovereignty, magnificence
11 27 September
– 15 October
Mashíyyat مشية Will purpose, the primal will, the will of God
12 16 October
– 3 November
‘Ilm علم Knowledge wisdom, divine knowledge, revelation
13 4 November
– 22 November
Qudrat قدرة Power might, authority, dominion, celestial might, omnipotence, transcendent power, indomitable strength, all-pervading power, ascendancy, divine power
14 23 November
– 11 December
Qawl قول Speech words, testimony
15 12 December
– 30 December
Masá’il مسائل Questions principles, truths, matters, mysteries, subtleties, obscurities, intricacies, problems
16 31 December
– 18 January
Sharaf شرف Honour excellence, glory
17 19 January
– 6 February
Sulṭán سلطان Sovereignty king, lord, majesty, sovereign, monarch, authority, potency, the power of sovereignty, the all-possessing, the most potent of rulers
18 7 February
– 25 February
Mulk ملك Dominion sovereignty, kingdom, realm, universe
26 February
– 1 March
Ayyám-i-Há ايام الهاء The Days of Há
19 2 March
– 20 March
(Month of fasting)
‘Alá’ علاء Loftiness glory

Weekdays[edit]

The Bahá'í week starts on Saturday, and ends on Friday.[22] Like Judaism and Islam, days begin at sunset on the previous solar day and end at sunset of the present solar day. Bahá'í writings indicate that Friday is to be kept as a day of rest.[23][24] The practice of keeping Friday as a day of rest is currently not observed in all countries; for example, in the UK, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís confirmed it does not currently keep this practice.[25]

Arabic Name[2] Arabic Script English Translation[22] Day of the Week[2]
Jalál جلال Glory Saturday
Jamál جمال Beauty Sunday
Kamál كمال Perfection Monday
Fiḍál فضال Grace Tuesday
‘Idál عدال Justice Wednesday
Istijlál استجلال Majesty Thursday
Istiqlál استقلال Independence Friday

Holy days[edit]

There are eleven holy days in the Bahá'í calendar; on nine of these holy days, work is suspended.[26] There is no fixed format for any of the holy days, and Bahá’í communities organize their own commemorative meetings.[27] The Festival of Ridván, a twelve day festival that commemorates Bahá'u'lláh's announcement of prophethood, is the most holy Bahá'í festival to which Bahá'u'lláh referred as the "Most Great Festival."[28]

On the Islamic lunar calendar, the births of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh fall on consecutive days; the first and second day of Muharram, respectively.[27][29] The Universal House of Justice has decided to celebrate these Twin Holy Birthdays on the first and second day following the eighth new moon after Naw-Rúz, from March 20, 2015 onwards.[3]

Holy Days before March 20, 2015
Name[27] Gregorian Dates[27] Work Suspended[27]
Naw-Rúz (Bahá'í New Year) March 21 Yes
First day of Riḍván April 21 Yes
Ninth day of Riḍván April 29 Yes
Twelfth day of Riḍván May 2 Yes
Declaration of the Báb May 23 Yes
Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh May 29 Yes
Martyrdom of the Báb July 9 Yes
Birth of the Báb October 20 Yes
Birth of Bahá'u'lláh November 12 Yes
Day of the Covenant November 26 No
Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá November 28 No
Holy Days after March 20, 2015
Name[27] Dates on the Badí‘ Calendar [10] Number of Days after Naw-Rúz Dates on the Gregorian Calendar if Naw-Rúz falls on March 21
The observances begin at sunset so they begin the day before the dates given below and continue to sunset of the given date.
Time of celebration or commemoration[27] Work Suspended[27]
Naw-Rúz (Bahá'í New Year) Bahá 1 March 21 N/a Yes
First day of Riḍván Jalál 13 31 April 21 3 p.m. Yes
Ninth day of Riḍván Jamál 2 39 April 29 N/a Yes
Twelfth day of Riḍván Jamál 5 42 May 2 N/a Yes
Declaration of the Báb ‘Aẓamat 8 64 May 24 2 hours after sunset (on the 23rd) Yes
Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh ‘Aẓamat 13 69 May 29 3 a.m. Yes
Martyrdom of the Báb Raḥmat 17 111 July 10 12 noon Yes
Birth of the Báb First of the Twin Holy Birthdays; celebrated on the first day after the eighth new moon following Naw-Rúz (November 13, in 2015) N/a Yes
Birth of Bahá'u'lláh Second of the Twin Holy Birthdays; celebrated on the second day after the eighth new moon following Naw-Rúz (November 14, in 2015) N/a Yes
Day of the Covenant Qawl 4 250 November 26 N/a No
Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá Qawl 6 252 November 28 1 a.m. No

Cycles[edit]

Also existing in the Bahá'í calendar system is a 19-year cycle called Váḥid and a 361-year (19x19) supercycle called Kull-i-Shay’ (literally, "All Things").[22] Each of the 19 years in a Vahid has been given a name as shown in the table below.[22]

The 10th Váḥid of the 1st Kull-i-Shay’ started on 21 March 2015, and the 11th Váḥid will begin in 2034.[30]

The current Bahá'í year, year 172 BE (21 March 2015 - 20 March 2016), is year Alif (A) of the 10th Váḥid of the 1st Kull-i-Shay’.[30] The 2nd Kull-i-Shay’ will begin in 2205.[30]

The concept of a 19-year cycle has existed in some form since the 4th century BC. The Metonic cycle represents an invented measure that approximately correlates solar and lunar markings of time and which appears in several calendar systems.

Years in a Váḥid
No. Persian Name Arabic Script English Translation
1 Alif ألف A
2 Bá’ باء B
3 Ab أب Father
4 Dál دﺍﻝ D
5 Báb باب Gate
6 Váv وﺍو V
7 Abad أبد Eternity
8 Jád جاد Generosity
9 Bahá' بهاء Splendour
10 Ḥubb حب Love
11 Bahháj بهاج Delightful
12 Javáb جواب Answer
13 Aḥad احد Single
14 Vahháb وﻫﺎب Bountiful
15 Vidád وداد Affection
16 Badí‘ بدیع Beginning
17 Bahí بهي Luminous
18 Abhá ابهى Most Luminous
19 Váḥid واحد Unity

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Buck, Christopher and Melton, J. Gordon (2011). “Bahā’ī Calendar and Rhythms of Worship.” Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. By J. Gordon Melton, with James A. Beverley, Christopher Buck, and Constance A. Jones. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. (1:79–86.).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Smith, Peter (2000). "calendar". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 98–100. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Momen, Moojan (2014). The Badí` (Bahá'í) Calendar: An Introduction.
  4. ^ a b c Taylor, John (2000-09-01). "On Novelty in Ayyám-i-Há and the Badí Calendar". bahai-library.org. Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  5. ^ MacEoin, Denis (1994). Rituals in Babism and Baha'ism. Pembroke Persian Papers. Volume 2 (illustrated ed.). British Academic Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-85043-654-6. 
  6. ^ Mottahedeh, Negar (1998). "The Mutilated Body of the Modern Nation: Qurrat al-‘AynTahirah’s Unveiling and the Iranian Massacre of the Babis". Comparative Studies of south Asia,Africa and the Middle East 18 (2): 43. doi:10.1215/1089201X-18-2-38. 
  7. ^ Mihrshahi, Robin (2004) [1991]. "Symbolism in the Badi‘ Calendar". Baha'i Studies Review 12 (1). doi:10.1386/bsre.12.1.15. ISSN 1354-8697. Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  8. ^ a b Universal House of Justice (1992). Notes of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 178–179. ISBN 0-85398-999-0. .
  9. ^ Cameron, Glenn; Momen, Wendy (1996). A Basic Bahá'í Chronology. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. p. 165. ISBN 0-85398-404-2. 
  10. ^ a b c d e The Universal House of Justice (2014-07-10). "To the Bahá’ís of the World". Retrieved 2014-07-10. 
  11. ^ Nakhjavani, Ali (January 2015). "The ninth cycle of the Bahá’í calendar". The American Bahá'í: 23–27. 
  12. ^ For calculating the dates, data provided by HM Nautical Almanac Office in the United Kingdom is used by the Bahá'í World Centre. The World Geodetic System 1984 is used to determine the point of reference for Tehran.
  13. ^ Purushotma, Shastri Baha'is to Implement New Calendar Worldwide. Huffington Post. 14-07-2014.
  14. ^ Curtis, Larry (2004-03-06). "A Day in the Bahá'í Calendar". bcca.org. Archived from the original on 2 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  15. ^ National Spiritual Assembly of the United States (2006-03-05). "The Bahá'í Calendar". bahai.us. Archived from the original on 28 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-24. 
  16. ^ Bayat, Mangol (2000). Mysticism and Dissent: Socioreligious Thought in Qajar Iran. Modern Intellectual and Political History of the Middle East (reprint ed.). Syracuse University Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-8156-2853-8. 
  17. ^ Smith, Peter (2000). "Ayyám-i-Há". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 53. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  18. ^ Taherzadeh, A. (1976). The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 1: Baghdad 1853-63. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 116–7. ISBN 0-85398-270-8. 
  19. ^ Stephen N. Lambden. The Du'á Sahar or Supplication of Glory-Beauty (al-bahá')
  20. ^ Saiedi, Nader (2008). Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb. Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. pp. 327–328. ISBN 978-1-55458-056-9. 
  21. ^ a b Mihrshahi, Robin (2013). A Wondrous New Day: The Numerology of Creation and 'All Things' in the Badí' Calendar.
  22. ^ a b c d Effendi, Shoghi (1950). The Bahá'í Faith: 1844-1950. Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Committee. 
  23. ^ "Letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer". Bahá'í News (162, April 1943): 5. 1939-07-10.  In Effendi, Shoghi; Bahá'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Universal House of Justice (1983). Hornby, Helen, ed. Lights of Guidance: A Bahá'í Reference File. New Delhi, India: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 109. ISBN 978-81-85091-46-4. Retrieved 2009-03-15. III. Bahá'í: E. Miscellaneous Subjects: 372. Friday is Day of Rest in Bahá'í Calendar. 
  24. ^ Bellenir, Karen (2004). Religious Holidays and Calendars: An Encyclopedic Handbook (3rd ed.). Omnigraphics. p. 154. ISBN 0-7808-0665-4. 
  25. ^ National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom. Letter from the NSA to the Bahá’í Council for Wales Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  26. ^ National Spiritual Assembly of the United States (2006-03-05). "The Badi Calendar" (PDF). bahai.us. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-23. 
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h Smith, Peter (2000). "holy days". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 182–183. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  28. ^ Walbridge, John (2003-10-02). "Ridvan". Retrieved 2006-09-23. 
  29. ^ Taherzadeh, Adib (1987). The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 4: Mazra'ih & Bahji 1877-92. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. p. 334. ISBN 0-85398-270-8. 
  30. ^ a b c Bolhuis, Arjen (2006-03-23). "The first Kull-i-Shay' of the Bahá'í Era". Retrieved 2006-09-23. 

Further reading[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Keil, Gerald (2010). "Textual Context and Literary Criticism: A Case Study based on a Letter from Shoghi Effendi". Irfan Colloquia 11. Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia. pp. 55–98. ISBN 9783942426039. 

External links[edit]