Al – Hijra or the Islamic New Year is celebrated on the first day of Muharram that’s the month during which Prophet Muhammad emigrated in 622 CE from Mecca to Medina.
The Islamic years start their counting from this day in 622 CE. Al – Hijra falls on different dates each year. This day is involved with only a few rituals and religious observances much unlike the Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha.
This day is taken to be the first day of the Islamic New Year and is generally dated based on the lunar calendar. Some Islamic institutions and countries however take the help of astronomical calculations to fix the date. Any day of the Islamic calendar is considered to start from the hour of sunset of that day to the hour of sunset the next day.
Sighting of a new moon would commence the first day of the Islamic New Year or 1 Muharram. Because of the fact that the solar Gregorian year precedes the lunar Islamic year by at least eleven to twelve days, this is the reason Al – Hijra doesn’t fall on the same day of the Gregorian calendar every year. The Gregorian date of Al – Hijra in the year 2017 is 22nd of September which corresponds to the Islamic Year 1439 AH.
About The Festival
In the Islamic calendar, a year is made up of 354 days spread along a time span of 12 months. The first month of their year is the month of Muharram that’s the month of remembrance and considered to be the most sacred month of the year. The first day of this month is known as Al – Hijra and during this Muslims abstain from activities like fighting. An important historical Islamic event had taken place on the first day of this month that’s the Al – Hijra day back in 680 CE.
On this day, the Battle of Karbala had taken place in Iraq (current name) which had allowed the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, Husayn ibn Ali and his army to come into the city. This day is a public holiday in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and even more. It’s not a nationwide public holiday in places like Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States of America.
On this day, the Muslims come together in mosques and confer special prayers to God. They also listen to special percept readings from their holy book the Koran. New Year celebrated by them is nothing of a pomp and splendor sort of an event but rather more of a sober and somber festival. On this day, people pay homage and respect to Prophet Muhammad and his tale of life including his “hijra” or journey from Mecca to Medina is heard everywhere including its broadcast on the radio.
This festival has been turned into a more commercial type now rather than the religious significance and has started involving modern ways of celebrating like exchanging New Year cards and gifts with loved ones. Muslims are divided into two sects – the Shia Muslims and the Sunni Muslims. The Shia’s don’t take part in the New Year celebrations as they consider this time to be the occasion of mourning.