Baháʼí calendar

The Badíʻ calendar used in the Baháʼí Faith is a solar calendar consisting of 19 months and 4-5 Intercalary Days, with new year at the northern spring equinox. Each month is named after virtues (e.g. Perfection, Mercy), as are the days of the week. The first year is dated from 1844 CE, the year in which the Báb began teaching.

Years on the calendar are annotated with the date notation of BE (Baháʼí Era). The Baháʼí year 178 BE started on 20 March 2021.

History

The Baháʼí calendar started from the original Badíʿ calendar, created by the Báb in the Kitabu'l-Asmáʼ[1] and the Persian Bayán (5:3) in the 1840s.[2] An early version of the calendar began to be implemented during his time.[3] It used a scheme of 19 months of 19 days (19×19) 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,[4] while the intercalary days were assigned differently than the later Baháʼí implementation. The calendar contains many symbolic meanings and allusions[5] including connections to prophecies of the Báb about the next Manifestation of God termed He whom God shall make manifest.[6]

Baháʼu'lláh, the founder of the Baháʼí Faith, who claimed to be the one prophesied by the Báb, confirmed and adopted this calendar. Around 1870, he instructed Nabíl-i-Aʻzam, the author of The Dawn-Breakers, to write an overview of the Badíʿ calendar.[7] In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (1873) Baháʼu'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.[2][8] Baháʼu'lláh set Naw-Rúz to the day on which the sun passes into the constellation Aries. Baháʼís 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 Baháʼí scriptures left some issues regarding the implementation of the Badíʿ 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 Badíʿ calendar worldwide, beginning at sunset 20 March 2015,[10] coinciding with the completion of the ninth cycle of the calendar (see below).[11] Before that time, the Baháʼí calendar was synchronized to the Gregorian calendar by starting the year at sunset on March 20, regardless of when the vernal equinox technically occurs, meaning that the extra day of a leap year occurred simultaneously in both calendars. The intercalary days always stretched from 26 February to 1 March, automatically including the Gregorian leap day so that there were 4 intercalary days in a regular year, and 5 in a Gregorian leap year.[12] The Universal House of Justice selected Tehran, the birthplace of Baháʼu'lláh, as the location at which the time and date of the vernal equinox is to be determined according to astronomical tables from reliable sources.[7][10][13] These changes, which "unlocked" the Badíʿ calendar from the Gregorian calendar, came into effect at the start of year 172 BE.[7][14]

Significance

As the name Badíʿ (wondrous or unique) suggests, the Baháʼí calendar is indeed a unique institution in the history of human culture. Sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel notes that the 19-day cycle creates a distinctive rhythm which enhances group solidarity. (Zerubavel argues that the 19 day cycle is more properly defined as a week, rather than a month, because it bears "no connection whatsoever" to the lunar cycle.) Furthermore, by finding the closest approximation of the square root of the annual cycle, Baháʼís "have managed to establish the most symmetrical relationship possible between the week and the year, which no one else throughout history has ever managed to accomplish."[15]

Years

Years in the Baháʼí calendar are counted from Thursday 21 March 1844, the beginning of the Baháʼí Era or Badíʿ Era (abbreviated BE or B.E.).[16] Year 1 BE thus began at sundown 20 March 1844.

The length of each year is strictly defined as the number of days between the opening and closing days of the year, with the number of intercalary days adjusted as needed. The year ends on the day before the following vernal equinox.

Vernal Equinox

The first day of each year (Naw-Rúz) is the day (from sunset to sunset) in Tehran containing the moment of the vernal equinox. This is determined in advance by astronomical computations from reliable sources.[10]

Since the Gregorian calendar is not tied to the equinox, the Gregorian calendar shifts around by a day or two each year, as shown in the following table.[17]

Baháʼí YearGregorian date
corresponding to Naw-Rúz
17420 March 2017
17521 March 2018
17621 March 2019
17720 March 2020
17820 March 2021
17921 March 2022
18021 March 2023
18120 March 2024
18220 March 2025
18321 March 2026
18421 March 2027

Months

The Baháʼí calendar is composed of 19 months, each with 19 days.[18] The intercalary days, known as Ayyám-i-Há, occur between the 18th and 19th months.

The names of the months were adopted by the Báb from the Du'ay-i-Sahar, a Ramadan dawn prayer by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, the fifth Imam of Twelver Shiʻah Islam.[19][20] These month names are considered to be referring to attributes of God.

In the Persian Bayan the Báb divides the months into four groups known as "fire", "air", "water" and "earth" - which are three, four, six and six months long respectively.[21] Robin Mirshahi suggests a possible link with four realms described in Baháʼí cosmology.[5] Ismael Velasco relates this to the "arc of ascent".[22]

In the following table, the Gregorian date indicates the first full day of the month when Naw-Rúz coincides with 21 March. The month begins at sunset of the day previous to the one listed.

MonthUsual Gregorian dates
(when Naw-Rúz coincides with 21 March)[18]
Arabic name [18]Arabic scriptEnglish name [18]Additional meanings in authorized English translations of Baháʼí scripture [5]
121 March
– 8 April
BaháبهاءSplendourglory, light, excellence
29 April
– 27 April
JalálجلالGlorymajesty
328 April
– 16 May
JamálجمالBeautycharm
417 May
– 4 June
ʻAẓamatعظمةGrandeurglory, majesty, dominion, greatness
55 June
– 23 June
NúrنورLightradiance, brightness, splendour, effulgence, illumination
624 June
– 12 July
RaḥmatرحمةMercyblessing, grace, favour, loving kindness, providence, compassion
713 July
– 31 July
KalimátكلماتWordsutterance, the word of God
81 August
– 19 August
KamálكمالPerfectionexcellence, fullness, consummation, maturity
920 August
– 7 September
AsmáʼاسماءNamestitles, attributes, designations
108 September
– 26 September
ʻIzzatعزةMightglory, power, exaltation, honour, majesty, grandeur, strength, sovereignty, magnificence
1127 September
– 15 October
Mas͟híyyatمشيةWillpurpose, the primal will, the will of God
1216 October
– 3 November
ʻIlm علمKnowledgewisdom, divine knowledge, revelation
134 November
– 22 November
QudratقدرةPowermight, authority, dominion, celestial might, omnipotence, transcendent power, indomitable strength, all-pervading power, ascendancy, divine power
1423 November
– 11 December
QawlقولSpeechwords, testimony
1512 December
– 30 December
MasáʼilمسائلQuestionsprinciples, truths, matters, mysteries, subtleties, obscurities, intricacies, problems[note 1]
1631 December
– 18 January
S͟harafشرفHonourexcellence, glory
1719 January
– 6 February
SulṭánسلطانSovereigntyking, lord, majesty, sovereign, monarch, authority, potency, the power of sovereignty, the all-possessing, the most potent of rulers
187 February
– 25 February
MulkملكDominionsovereignty, kingdom, realm, universe
ic26 February
– 1 March
Ayyám-ul Háايام الهاءThe Days of Há
192 March
– 20 March
(Month of fasting)
ʻAláʼعلاءLoftinessglory

Ayyám-i-Há

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 Qurʼan.[2]

The number of the intercalary days is determined in advance to ensure that the year ends on the day before the next vernal equinox. This results in 4 or 5 intercalary days being added. These days are inserted between the 18th and 19th months, falling around the end of February in the Gregorian calendar. The number of days added is unrelated to the timing of the Gregorian leap year.

Significance in the Baháʼí Faith

The annual Nineteen Day Fast is held during the final month of ʻAláʼ. The month of fasting is followed by Naw-Rúz, the new year.

The monthly Nineteen Day Feast is celebrated on the first day of each month, preferably starting any time between the sunset on the eve of the day to the sunset ending the day.

Days in a Month

The nineteen days in a month have the same names as the months of the year (above), so, for example, the 9th day of each month is Asmá, or "Names".[24][25]

Weekdays

The Baháʼí week starts on Saturday, and ends on Friday.[26] Like Judaism and Islam, days begin at sunset and end at sunset of the following solar day. Baháʼí writings indicate that Friday is to be kept as a day of rest.[27][28] 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 Baháʼís confirmed it does not currently keep this practice.[29]

Arabic Name[18]Arabic ScriptEnglish Translation[26]Day of the Week[18]
JalálجلالGlorySaturday
JamálجمالBeautySunday
KamálكمالPerfectionMonday
FiḍálفضالGraceTuesday
ʻIdálعدالJusticeWednesday
IstijlálاستجلالMajestyThursday
IstiqlálاستقلالIndependenceFriday

Cycles

Also existing in the Baháʼí calendar system is a 19 year cycle called Váḥid and a 361 year (19×19) supercycle called Kull-i-S͟hayʼ (literally, "All Things").[26] The expression Kull-i-Shayʼ was used frequently by the Báb.[30] It has its origins in Sufism and the significance of the numbers 19 and 361 were possibly already associated by Ibn Arabi (1165 – 1240).[30]

Each of the 19 years in a Vahid has been given a name as shown in the table below.[26] The 10th Váḥid of the 1st Kull-i-S͟hayʼ started on 21 March 2015, and the 11th Váḥid will begin in 2034.[31]

The current Baháʼí year, year 178 BE (20 March 2021 – 20 March 2022), is year Abad of the 10th Váḥid of the 1st Kull-i-S͟hayʼ.[31] The 2nd Kull-i-S͟hayʼ will begin in 2205.[31]

The concept of a 19-year cycle has existed in some form since the 4th century BCE. 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 NameArabic ScriptEnglish Translation
1AlifألفA
2Bá'باءB
3AbأبFather
4DálدﺍﻝD
5BábبابGate
6VávوﺍوV
7AbadأبدEternity
8JádجادGenerosity
9BaháبهاءSplendour
10ḤubbحبLove
11BahhájبهاجDelightful
12JavábجوابAnswer
13AḥadاحدSingle
14VahhábوﻫﺎبBountiful
15VidádودادAffection
16BadíʿبدیعBeginning
17BahíبهيLuminous
18AbháابهىMost Luminous
19VáḥidواحدUnity

See also

  • List of observances set by the Baháʼí calendar
  • Baháʼí Holy Days
  • Baháʼí Faith
  • Calendar
  • Intercalation (timekeeping)
  • 19 (number)
  • Zoroastrian calendar

Notes

  1. In a provisional translation of selections from the Báb's Kitabu'l-Asmáʼ, Bahá'í scholar Stephen Lambden adds "objectives", "propositions" as alternative translations for "questions".[23]

References

  1. Lambden, Stephen (2018). Kitab al-asma' – The Book of Names. Lambden states that the "source did not, however, give precise details about where the calendral materials were located in the Kitab al-asma'."
  2. Taylor, John (2000-09-01). "On Novelty in Ayyám-i-Há and the Badí calendar". bahai-library.org. Retrieved 2006-09-24.
  3. MacEoin, Denis (1994). Rituals in Babism and Baha'ism. Pembroke Persian Papers. 2 (illustrated ed.). British Academic Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-1-85043-654-6.
  4. 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.
  5. Mihrshahi, Robin (2013). A Wondrous New Day: The Numerology of Creation and 'All Things' in the Badíʿ Calendar.
  6. Mihrshahi, Robin (2004) [1991]. "Symbolism in the Badíʿ Calendar". Baha'i Studies Review. 12 (1). doi:10.1386/bsre.12.1.15 (inactive 31 May 2021). ISSN 1354-8697. Archived from the original on 2018-12-02. Retrieved 2012-05-01.CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of May 2021 (link)
  7. Momen, Moojan (2014). The Badíʻ (Baháʼí) Calendar: An Introduction.
  8. Universal House of Justice (1992). Notes of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-0-85398-999-8..
  9. Cameron, Glenn; Momen, Wendy (1996). A Basic Baháʼí Chronology. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-85398-404-7.
  10. The Universal House of Justice (2014-07-10). "To the Baháʼís of the World". Retrieved 2014-07-10.
  11. Nakhjavani, Ali (January 2015). "The ninth cycle of the Baháʼí Calendar". The American Baháʼí: 23–27.
  12. Smith, Peter (2000). "Ayyám-i-Há". A concise encyclopedia of the Baháʼí Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6.
  13. For calculating the dates, data provided by HM Nautical Almanac Office in the United Kingdom is used by the Baháʼí World Centre. The World Geodetic System 1984 is used to determine the point of reference for Tehran.
  14. Purushotma, Shastri Baha'is to Implement New Calendar Worldwide. Huffington Post. 2014-14-07.
  15. Zerubavel, Eviatar (1985). The Seven-Day Circle. New York: The Free Press. pp. 48–50. ISBN 978-0029346808.
  16. Curtis, Larry (2004-03-06). "A Day in the Baháʼí Calendar". bcca.org. Archived from the original on 2 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-24.
  17. Baháʼí Dates 172 to 221 B.E. (2015 – 2065; prepared by the Baha'i World Centre) Archived 2015-12-22 at the Wayback Machine (pdf)
  18. Smith, Peter (2000). "calendar". A concise encyclopedia of the Baháʼí Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 98–100. ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6.
  19. Taherzadeh, A. (1976). The Revelation of Baháʼu'lláh, Volume 1: Baghdad 1853–63. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 116–7. ISBN 978-0-85398-270-8.
  20. Stephen N. Lambden. The Du'á Sahar or Supplication of Glory-Beauty (al-Baháʼ)
  21. 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.
  22. Velasco, Ismael (2004) Symbolism in the Badí' Calendar," by Robin Mihrshahi: Review.
  23. Lambden, Stephen (2020). The Kitab al-asma' (Book of Names) of the Bab II: Select Excerpts in Translation..
  24. Momen, Wendi (1989-02-28). A Basic Baha'i Dictionary. George Ronald Publisher. ISBN 978-0853982302. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  25. Philippine Bahá’í Community (ed.). "The Bahá'í Calendar and Holy Days". Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  26. Effendi, Shoghi (1950). The Baháʼí Faith: 1844–1950. Wilmette, Illinois: Baháʼí Publishing Committee.
  27. "Letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer". Baháʼí News (162, April 1943): 5. 1939-07-10. In Effendi, Shoghi; Baháʼu'lláh; ʻAbdu'l-Bahá; The Universal House of Justice (1983). Hornby, Helen (ed.). Lights of Guidance: A Baháʼí Reference File. New Delhi, India: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. p. 109. ISBN 978-81-85091-46-4. Retrieved 2009-03-15. III. Baháʼí: E. Miscellaneous Subjects: 372. Friday is Day of Rest in Baháʼí Calendar.
  28. Bellenir, Karen (2004). Religious Holidays and Calendars: An Encyclopedic Handbook (3rd ed.). Omnigraphics. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-7808-0665-8.
  29. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of the United Kingdom. Letter from the NSA to the Baháʼí Council for Wales Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  30. Ignác Goldziher (1850-1921), cited in le Baron, V. RosEN (1921). Der Islam, Zeitschrift fur Geschichte und Kulter des Islamischen Oriens. 11.
  31. Bolhuis, Arjen (2006-03-23). "The first Kull-i-Shayʼ of the Baháʼí Era". Retrieved 2006-09-23.

Further reading

Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • Keil, Gerald (2008). Time and the Baháʼí Era. UK: George Ronald. ISBN 978-0-85398-527-3. OL 25615805M.
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