Umm-Al-Qura calendar
Islamic New Year

Upon the appearance of the crescent moon on Tuesday 18 July 2023, celebrations are set to break out in celebration of the Islamic New Year (otherwise known as the Hijri or Arabic New Year). The new year commences with the sacred month of Muharram, which can be a period of reflection and mourning for many Muslims.

Detailed below is an introduction to the holiday, including its origins and how individuals choose to celebrate it worldwide.

The Islamic Hijri Calendar and its Origins

The Islamic Calendar is a lunar calendar, meaning it’s marked by the moon’s orbit of Earth, and it’s also known as the Hijri Calendar. This is because the Hijri year starts from the year in which Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) migration (hijrah) from Makkah to Madinah took place. In fact, the first year of Hijri is signified by the establishment of the original Islamic state in Madinah.

Ultimately, the lunar calendar is used to calculate the dates of significant observances and religious feasts; however, majority-Islamic countries still tend to be governed by the solar Gregorian calendar. Since the lunar calendar is around 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, the time of Islamic months will shift slightly year on year.

Significance of the Islamic New Year

Although the 1st of Muharram is deemed a time of reflection, it’s not technically recognised as a prescribed day of worship. Despite this, many Muslims will take this as an opportunity to reflect on the struggles faced by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as well as any personal losses they’ve experienced. For Islam to reach where it is now, the Prophet (PBUH) endured much hardship and faced many sacrifices. Therefore, Muslims are dedicated to showing their appreciation for this struggle as the new year commences.

When is the Islamic New Year?

As previously mentioned, the Hijri Calendar doesn’t coincide with the solar Gregorian calendar, meaning the time of the Islamic months differs on a yearly basis. Every year, the days of the Islamic Calendar move forward by roughly 11-12 days. The next Islamic New Year will fall on Tuesday 18 July 2023.

Celebration of the Islamic New Year

As formerly touched on, the Islamic New Year and Muharram don’t come with any fixed requirements or customs. Despite this, Muharram is one of the four sacred months in Islam, meaning the rewards from good deeds are multiplied during this time. Consequently, many Muslims take the new year as an opportunity to recite more Qur’an, fast, say additional prayers, and give Sadaqah.

Observing Muharram

From Arabic, “Muharram” translates to “forbidden”, as fighting and warfare during this month are forbidden by the Qur’an. The same applies to the three other sacred months, and, instead, each should be recognised as a time to engage in extra prayer and spend time with family.

In celebration of the beginning of Muharram and, consequently, the new year, commemorative foods are often shared. These include special saffron rice that is distributed to mourners in Garmsar, Iran and a milky drink called doodh ka sharbat that is consumed in Hyderabad, India. This is done in honour of the thirst that al-Hussein experienced during the fatal battle.

The Islamic New Year differs greatly from the secular new year, as it isn’t considered a time for extravagant merriment. Instead, it should be treated as a reminder of the passage of time and how this relates to the rich Islamic history, as well as the resilience of Muslim people.

Donate to UKIM in the Islamic New Year

As previously mentioned, the Islamic New Year is a time in which the resilience of Muslim people should be recognised. Muslim people across the globe are struggling to survive, and your donations could make a huge difference to their well-being. Donate to UKIM to allow a struggling Muslim to see another year.

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