The Islamic New Year happens on the first day of the Muharram, which is the first month of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic Calendar is a lunar calendar. Hijri New Year is what the Islamic New Year is also known as. This first auspicious day is what marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year.
The Islamic New Year along with being the beginning of another chain of months is also laden with lot of cultural reference and enigmatic sagas. Some believe that the Islamic New Year or the Al Hijra more of a historic and literary anecdote than a religion laden one.
The Islamic New Year is never celebrated on fixed dates. The dates of the Islamic New Year differ each year according to the Gregorian calendar. The reason for the dates varying each year is because the Islamic year is always shorter by more or less at an approximation of 10 to 12 days than the western Gregorian calendars. In 2017, the Islamic New Year or the Al-Hijra will be joyously celebrated on the September 20th Wednesday and September 21st Thursday specifically and consecutively.
The Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year celebrates and talks about a momentous journey which is written down in history. The occasion upholds the great prophet Muhammad’s migration and journey from Mecca to Medina. In June 622 CE from Mecca to Yathrib this migration took place. Yathrib later on came to be known as Medina. This migration was made under duress. It was forced to be made to get away from the tyranny and coercion along with extreme violence set on them by the Quraish, who were the non Muslim tribes, who were then residing in Mecca.
The Quraish then were dominant. Being the pre dominant tribe they would in no way let Muhammad and his ardent group of followers not only propagates but also practice their religion. Thus the Prophet Muhammad was forced to take flight from Mecca with only his best friend and his closest aide Abu Bakr on the back of camels. They went and reached Medina in Saudi Arabia, where they could finally practice and also propagate their religion independently without hindrance and in peace.
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Thus the coinage of the word al Hijra is from the saga of this escape of Muharram, which is known as Hijra.
the first month of the Islamic calendar and also the first day of that month is known as the Al-Hijra or Muharram or the Islamic New Year. This is the month that is most recommended by the Prophet Muhammad for fasting.
The Islamic calendar is a lunar based calendar and has 354 days in all which are again divided in 12 months.
Some Islamic New Year Facts –
- Muharram is the holiest month after Ramadan as per the beliefs of the people of Islamic faith.
- This is the month that Muhammad recommended for fasting
- The Islamic method of counting dates and days was initiated by Umar ibn Al-Khattab, who was a friend of the Prophet Muhammad.
- The Islamic calendar is based on lunar calculations.
- There are similarities between this celebration and the Day of Ashura.
- The Muslim parents recount the tale of Muhammad’s escape to their children on the New Year evening.
The Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year is different for Shia and Sunnis
There are two sects prominently prevalent amongst the Muslims in the world. These are the Shis and the Sunni. the significance of The Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year vastly varies from the Shia and the Sunni Muslims one sect it is a joyous occasion and for the other a moment of sadness. The Shia Muslims spend the first 10 days of the New Year in mourning that is almost half the month there is no festivity. They only don outfits in the color of black. During this phase, visit the mosques to offer their prayers and participate in gatherings. They remind themselves of the tragic life and sorrowful death of Muhammad’s grandson. They grieve for the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad and who was brutally killed in 680CE at Karbala. The tenth day of this incident and this month is known as the Ashura.
For the Sunni Muslims on the other hand, it is the tenth day of the New Year which is the most important. It is on this day that Moses is believed to have led the ancient Israelites in a flight out of Egypt in his ark. Amongst the Sunni communities, there are some people who keep a fast during this specific period and also fats in the hours when the light of the day is about to end.
The basic difference in the beliefs of the Shias and the Sunnis are that the Shias believe that these New Year celebrations are of somber in nature as Muhammad had to slightly flee from Meccas. But To the Sunnis, the Muharram is not a sad and serious occasion at all, as they on this date celebrate Moses’ departure from Egypt with everyone for a calm and peaceful life.
Most of the Muslim families as per traditions recount to all their young children the tales about the terrible journey and risks undertaken by Muhammad while he escaped from his followers and those who coerced and tortured him.
The Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year is till date not generally celebrated in a formal manner as a holiday, but various communities have their own set of rituals and celebrations to go with it and observe the day.