Islamic New Year 2018 falls on the September 11 which is a Tuesday. It is also known as the Hijri New Year or Arabic New Year. It marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year. The New Year starts with first day of Muharram. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar and is different from the Gregorian calendar. Thus, the day can differ from year to year.



History Of The Islamic New Year

On the day Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina, the Islamic New Year is celebrated. The day signifies escape from the oppressive non-Muslim tribe of Mecca, Quraish. They had inflicted pain and violence on the Prophet and his companions. He escaped with his companion, Abu Bakr on camel back. In Medina, they recovered and grew spiritually.

This event occurred in 622 AD. As this marks the journey of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina, it is a day of self-evaluation and offers a chance to change one’s ways for the better.

Celebrations On The Occasion Of Islamic New Year

Muslims who follow Sunnah of Mohammed are called Sunni Muslims and observe the day to remember the rescue of the people of Israel from the Pharaoh by Moses. Sunnis may fast on this day, most probably on the tenth day.

Shia Muslims spend the day mourning; some may even flog themselves to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali. Muslims might fast on the 10th day of this month, from sunrise till sunset. Bubur Asyura is a traditional dish cooked on this day. It is basically sweet rice and is shared by family members or even friends during breakfast.

Muslims can gather in mosques to welcome in the New Year. Other religious activities include, spiritual singing and recitation of the holy book, Quran. Special prayers and sermons are held in halls and mosques.

Variation In Celebrations Of The Islamic New Year

The different sections of Islamic religion – Shia and Sunni, celebrate it in different ways. The difference in culture is what makes the celebrations different. Tradition of fasting can differ between the two communities. Here are some variations in the celebration:

  • Fasting on the tenth day of the month of Muharram, this is known as the Day of Ashura. This is usually done to mourn the death of Husayn ibn Ali, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
  • Some mosques offer free meals known as Nazar, from the 9th to the 11th day of the month of Muharram.
  • Shia Muslims, in Iraq, head over to Imam Husayn Shrine, for a pilgrimage. Imam Husayn Shrine is the site of Husayn ibn Ali’s grave.
  • Condolence Theater known as taziya (ta’zieh) may be performed in Iran.
  • Similar events occur in South Asia. These are known as marsiya, tabuik or tabut, noha and soaz.
  • The battle of Karbala may be re-enacted through different plays.
  • In the countries, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Hussay or Hosay are events that are attended various people belonging to different cultures.
  • In Afghanistan, India, Bahrain, Iraq, Pakistan and Lebanon, Shia Muslims take part in remembrance parades known as matham or matam. During this time, men gather in large groups for ritualistic chest beating. Some might also beat themselves using metal chains on handles.

Historical Event Taking Place During The First Month Of Muharram

Like the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calendar also has 12 months, but the year has fewer days. The Islamic calendar has 354 days instead of 365 days. Muharram is the month if remembrance and is supposed to be a sacred month of the year. The historical event that made the month auspicious was the Battle of Karbala.

  • Karbala, presently in Iraq, is the place where the battle happened in the year 680 CE. On the first day of the month of Muharram, grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, Husayn ibn Ali, entered the city with his full army.
  • The Seventh day marks the day on which, Husayn ibn Ali was restricted from accessing water.
  • The Tenth day marks the death of Husayn ibn Ali and Ahl al-Bayt, his clan.

Facts Of The Islamic New Year

  • Muharram is the first month of the Islamic Lunar Calendar
  • It is the Holiest month after the moth if Fasting called Ramadan
  • The method of Islamic dating was created by a friend of the Prophet, Umar ibn Al-Khattab.
  • The Islamic Calendar is based on the lunar cycle. It contains 12 months and around 354.36 days altogether.
  • Parallels run between the Islamic New Year and the Day of Ashura, on which Moses freed the people from the Pharaoh. Similarly, Prophet Muhammad crossed the dessert from Mecca to Medina to escape Quraish nobles. Both were oppressive in nature.
  • Islamic Calendar is abbreviated as A.H. or Anno Hegirae.