Islamic New Year: Al-Hijra

The ‘new year’ in Islam is marked in a way which perhaps no other nation or community marks their own ‘new year’. In fact most, if not all civilizations, take this as a time of happiness and joy in which the people party and celebrate, committing sins most of the time. Yet in Islam, the marking of the beginning of the new year is usually quiet, unlike New Year’s celebrations associated with other calendars. Muslims gather in mosques for special prayers and readings.

The Islamic New Year, is also Al-Hijra  which is celebrated on the first day of Muharram, the month in which Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE (the Hijra). The holiday is also known simply as Muharram. On this day, people in Mosques might tell the story of the Hijra. Muslims also reflect on the passing of time and their own mortality.

 

Islam has a calendar based on the revolutions of the Moon. Thus, it is only 354 days long. Islamic New Year is celebrated on the first day of Muharram, the first Islamic month. Compared to Western calendars, the Islamic year goes 11 days backwards every year.

 

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