Things You Must Know About Al Hijri – The Islamic New Year

The word ‘Hijri’ originated from ‘Hijra,’ which means migration in the Arabic language. It refers to the time when Prophet Mohammed made his journey from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. This particular occasion resulted in the establishment of the first Muslim community based on Islamic teachings. Hence, it is considered the beginning of the Islamic era and celebrated as Hijri New Year. This year, Islamic New Year celebrations will begin on the evening of Friday, 30th August and commemorate on the evening of Saturday, 31st August. The dates may vary in different countries depending upon the sighting of the moon.

How the Islamic New Year is celebrated?

The Islamic New Year begins on the first day of the first month of the Islamic calendar, which is called Muharram. This day is an official holiday in some Muslim countries, but a regular working day in others. People usually celebrate this day by attending prayer sessions in the mosque and spending time with their friends and family. It is considered as the period of self-reflection, remembrance, and gratitude.

People also use this day to make resolutions, which they try and keep all year long. The traditions and customs for Muharram vary for Shia and Sunni Muslims. For Shia Muslims, it marks the beginning of the 10 days of mourning that leads to the day of Ashura. They practice chest-beating or even the act of flogging themselves during this time. However, Sunni Muslims regard Ashura as a day of respect and gratitude towards Prophet Moses but they do not participate in the ritual.

Read further to know 10 interesting facts about the Islamic calendar:

  • The Islamic calendar (Hijri calendar) differs from the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is based on astronomical calculations while the Hijri calendar is based on the sighting of the moon.
  • The Hijri calendar has 12 months but only 354 days in a year as compared to 365 days of the Gregorian calendar.
  • The Islamic calendar counts time from the 622 AD of the Gregorian calendar, as it was the year when Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina. The current Islamic year is 1440 AH.
  • Each numbered year is designated either as ‘H’ or ‘AH.’ The ‘H’ stands for ‘Hijra’ and ‘AH’ stands for the Latino Anno Hegirae, which translates to in the year of Hijra.
  • A surprising fact states that the Islamic calendar was not used until 638 AD. When Abu Musa Ashaari complained to the officials of the Calif Umar that correspondence lacked dates, they decided to start counting the Islamic era from the time of the Hijra.
  • These four months in the Islamic calendar are considered sacred by Muslims- Muharram, Rajab, Dhul Qi’dah, and Dhul Hujjah.
  • The seventh month of the Islamic calendar is Rajab, which means ‘to respect.’ During this period, people abstain from fighting.
  • The 8th month of the Hijri calendar is Sha’ban, which means dispersed or scattered. In ancient Arabia, it was marked as the time when people would disperse in search of water.
  • The tenth month of the Islamic calendar is Shawwal, which means ‘to be light and vigorous’ or ‘to lift or raise.’ This used to be the time when she-camels would normally be carrying a fetus.
  • A new rule-based variant of the Hijri calendar called the Tabular Islamic calendar has been introduced recently. This calendar works by the arithmetic rules rather than by the astronomical calculations. It has a 30-year cycle that includes 11 leap years consisting of 355 days and 19 years of 354 days.

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