Hijri New Year and The Significance of Awal Muharram

What is Hijri New Year?

Whether you know it as Hijri New Year, Islamic New Year, Awal Muharram or Maal Hijrah, these terms mark the same occasion than happened more than 14 centuries ago. The term “Hijri” is derived from the Arabic word Hijrah which means migration, specifically the historic migration of Prophet Muhammad PBUH and his companions from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE.

Hijrah alleviated the sufferings of Muslims in Mecca. The Prophet needed to relocate because there were intentions to execute him. When the Prophet emigrated to Medina with his companions, Muslims were indirectly saved from further persecution by the disbelievers. Hence, Prophet Muhammed PBUH and his companions chose to sacrifice material comforts and worldly gains in order to uphold their religion, which is highly admirable. 

When is Hijri New Year?

Image credit: David Spender

Muslims around the world are marking the Islamic New Year on August 30, when the new moon at sunset is seen. This will also correspond to 1442H (H for Hijrah).

The first year in the Islamic calendar corresponds to the year 622 AD, and Muharram is the first month of the calendar. Muharram is also the second holiest month of the Islamic year after Ramadan.

What is the difference between the Hijri and Gregorian calendar?

Image credit: György Soponyai

The Gregorian solar calendar has 365/366 days while the Islamic year has a minimum of 354 days. Since the Hijri calendar follows the lunar calendar according to the moon’s revolutions, it is consistently shortened by 11 days on a yearly basis.

Who celebrates the Hijri New Year?

The Hijri calendar is the official calendar adopted in many predominantly-Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. In other secular countries, Muslims refer to the Gregorian calendar more and consult the Hijri calendar to mainly determine important religious dates and events. 

Image credit: Evgeni Zotov

The day represents a period of self-reflection and historical awareness. Muslims also take this time to read the Quran and attend special prayers and sermons held in mosques. Prayers and fasting also build up towards the tenth day of Muharram, better known as Ashura.

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a blessed Muharram!

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