Tacitus writes in chapter 11 of his Germania, and it is a fascinating observation:
“About minor matters the chiefs deliberate, about the more important the whole tribe. Yet even when the final decision rests with the people, the affair is always thoroughly discussed by the chiefs. They assemble, except in the case of a sudden emergency, on certain fixed days, either at new or at full moon; for this they consider the most auspicious season for the transaction of business. Instead of reckoning by days as we do, they reckon by nights, and in this manner fix both their ordinary and their legal appointments. Night they regard as bringing on day.”
Islam too recognizes not the solar but lunar cycles as the primary source for temporal management for Man. The waxing moon, the full moon, and the waning moon, carry deep signification.
The month can be either 29 or 30 days long. A lunar period runs from sunset to sunset. The date changes as the Sun sets.
The ambiguity at the end of the month is deliberate and when we combine this feature with the fact that the lunar months float throughout the seasons, we find with ourselves a way to frustrate the totalitarian imposition of fixed time, which has been one of the most glaring characteristics of the marketization of human societies.
And for the moon We have appointed mansions till she return like an old shrivelled palm-leaf.
Surah Ya Seen Verse 39
Lo! the vigil of the night is (a time) when impression is more keen and speech more certain.
Surah Muzzammil, Verse 6.
Translations: William Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall