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Old Sunday, March 26, 2006
Yasir Hayat Khan's Avatar
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Arrow April Fools' Day Origins

IT has become tradition on the first of April to pull jokes of the harmless variety on those near and dear to us. We plot and we scheme, and often the yuks are funnier in our imaginings than how they play out in reality, but that doesn't stop us from sending the little kid in us out on a rampage. Even the most staid among us have been known to indulge in a practical joke or two, so beware of trusting anyone on that day.

How the custom of pranking on April 1 came about remains shrouded in mystery.

When the western world employed the Julian calendar, years began on March 25. Festivals marking the start of the New Year were celebrated on the first day of April because March 25 fell during Holy Week. The adoption of the Gregorian calendar during the 1500s moved the New Year to January 1. According to the most widely-believed origin for April Fools' Day, those who could be tricked into believing April 1 was still the proper day to celebrate the New Year earned the sobriquet of April fools. To this end, French peasants would unexpectedly drop in on neighbors on that day in a effort to confuse them into thinking they were receiving a New Year's call. Out of that one jape supposedly grew the tradition of testing the patience of family and friends.

But that's only one theory. Others are:
The timing of this day of pranks seems to be related to the arrival of spring, when nature "fools" mankind with fickle weather, according to the Encyclopedia of Religion and the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Country Diary of Garden Lore, which chronicles the goings-on in an English garden, says that April Fools' Day "is thought to commemorate the fruitless mission of the rook (the European crow), who was sent out in search of land from Noah's flood-encircled ark."

Others theorize it may have something to do with the Vernal Equinox.

Some think to tie in with the Romans' end-of-winter celebration, Hilaria, and the end of the Celtic new year festival.
Wherever and whenever the custom began, it has since evolved its own lore and set of unofficial rules. Superstition has it that the pranking period expires at noon on the 1st of April and any jokes attempted after that time will call bad luck down onto the head of the perpetrator. Additionally, those who fail to respond with good humor to tricks played upon them are said to attract bad luck to themselves.
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Old Sunday, March 26, 2006
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Arrow Concept of April Fool's Day vis-a-vis Islam

Now as regards the incorrect story circulating amongst the Muslims on the Internet saying that April Fool's Day is the celebration of the kufar over the conquest of Muslim Spain. I felt that it was necessary to clarify a few points in the interest of truth, inshallah.

Bismillah Al Hamdulilah was Salat wa Salam ala rasoolulah. Allahu Alim. In the Name of Allah, I praise Allah and ask for His Peace upon Muhammad, ameen. Allah Alone is The All-Knower.

To continue: Once again, Muslims are circulating a fabrication on the Internet trying to claim things which can easily be proven incorrect by Christians and non-Muslims who rejoice in watching us play the part of Everyday Fools.

The most recent story says that Christians could not conquer the Muslims there and sent spies to discover why. According to the story, they found that the Muslims there were on the 'Taqwah' (God Fearing and Pious) of Islam. Then the story says the Christians sent in alcohol and cigarettes which the Muslims used and lost their 'Taqwah' and then the Christians defeated the Muslims on April first and began celebrating 'April Fool's Day' ever since. This story is not correct in many aspects.

1.) First, let us consider the historic fact that Muslim Spain ended on the 12th of January in the Christian year of 1492 A.D. yet 'April Fool's Day was not heard of until over fifty years later. Once upon a time, back in 16th-century France, before computers, people celebrated New Year's Day on March 25, the advent of spring. It was a festive time. They partied steadily until April 1. In 1564, when the calendar reformed and became Gregorian, under the influence of Pope Gregory, King Charles IX proclaimed, perhaps
pompously, that New Year's Day should be celebrated on January 1st instead of in the spring. Diehard conservatives resisted the change (or perhaps didn't hear about it due to the absence of e-mail) and continued to celebrate New Year's from March 25 to April 1. During this period of spring festivity, the more flexible French mocked the rigid revelers by sending them foolish gifts and invitations to nonexistent parties. The victim of an April Fools' Day

prank was called a "poisson d'avril," or an "April fish," because at that time of year, the sun was leaving the zodiacal sign of Pisces. April Fools' Day hit its stride (avoiding the banana peel) in England in the 18th century, and was brought to colonial America by the English, Scottish, and French.

2.) Second, we should know that cigarettes were not even invented until AFTER the time of the fall of Muslim Spain (January 1492). According to the State College in Framingham, the Human Biology course by Dr. Roger Morrrissette, Ph.D., smoking of any kind did not exist in Spain until after it was brought back from the New World AFTER King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had come to rule Spain. This is from their website:

Introduction to Human Biology Framingham State College
Roger N. Morrissette, Ph.D.

I. The History of Smoking.

900: smoking is referred to on a Mayan stone carving.

1492: Columbus notes the natives of the New World smoke leaves.

1550: Spaniards begin cultivating tobacco in the West Indies to export to Europe.

1880: Tobacco use is widespread but people only use small amounts.

3.) Muslim Spain began to deteriorate at the time of Ibn Seenah and others who were beginning to use their logic in place of Divine Revelation of Allah. Some were very interested in the Greek and Roman philosophies and concepts and began to try to 'rethink' Islam much the same as some 'modernists' are doing today. It was right after this that Muslim Spain began to divide up into small kingdoms and fight against each other for control and gold. They employed mercenaries from amongst the Christians and killed and destroyed each other for a number of years. When the Christians came against them the first time, they appealed to the ruler of Maghrib (Morocco) across the Mediterranean Sea who sent troops to quell the attacks. He stipulated that the Muslims must stop fighting each other and go back to the Islamic system of rule under one leader. They did not do it. When they began fighting each other again, the Christians came in very strong against them and this time the ruler of Morocco refused to help them. They lost battle after battle against the Roman Christians and finally the last stronghold of Islam fell to the Christian King, Ferdinand, in January of 1492. [for details order the video "Muslim Spain"]

So regarding the email claiming that April Fools Day is a celebration of the take over of Muslim Spain, it is clear the whole thing is a made up lie. This is totally unacceptable and should be brought to the attention of the one who sent you this lie in the first place. A good Muslim would never accept to repeat lies and fabrications especially in presenting facts about the history of Islam.

If you have received such a letter it is your duty in front of Allah to write back to those who also received it and ask them to contact all of those on their lists and email the truth about this issue. And we should all fear a Day when we will stand in front of Allah and be asked about these matters.

If we don't do something about correcting the education of our beloved brothers and sisters in Islam, then everyday on the internet is MUSLIM FOOLS DAY.

Again, it is only Allah who has All Knowledge. May He forgive me my mistakes and guide us all to the right way, ameen.

Yusuf Estes
National Chaplain to World Assembly of Muslim Youth
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