The Islamic New Year is also known as the Hijri New Year. It is that auspicious day that marks the beginning of the new Islamic calendar.
Some believe that the Islamic New Year or the Al Hijra is literally a cultural enigma along with a religious one. It is celebrated on different days each year according to the Gregorian calendar, as the Islamic year is always shorter of 10 to 12 days than the western calendars.
In 2016, the Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year will be celebrated on the October 2nd or 3rd.
The Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year celebrates and commemorates Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina. This migration took place in the month of June 622 CE from Mecca to Yathrib, which was later renamed as Medina.
This flight was made to escape the oppression and violence unleashed by them by the Quraish, the non Muslim tribe residing in Mecca. They were the pre dominant tribe and wouldn’t let Muhammad and his bands of followers practice their religion.
Thus Muhammad fled Mecca with his best friend and closest confidante Abu Bakr on camel back. In Saudi Arabia, Medina, they could practice their religion freely and in peace.
The word al Hijra comes from this escape of Muharram, which is known as Hijra.
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar and the first day of it is known as the Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year. This is the month that is most commended by the Prophet Muhammad for fasting.
The Islamic calendar is moon based and has 354 days in all divided in 12 months.
The Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year is different for Shia and Sunnis
For the Shia and the Sunni Muslims, the significance of The Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year is different. For the Shia Muslims, the first 10 days of the New Year is spent in mourning. During this phase they only wear black outfits, visit mosques and participate in mournful gatherings. They remind themselves and mourn of Husayn ibn Ali, who was the grandson of Muhammad and was martyred in 680CE at Karbala. The tenth day is known as the Ashura.
For the Sunnu Muslims however, the tenth day of the New Year is the most significant. it is on this day that Moses led the ancient Israelites our of Egypt in his ark. There are some among this community who fast during this specific period and in the hours that the daylight is done. To the Sunnis, the Muharram is not a solemn occasion as they commemorate Moses’s flight from Egypt with everyone for a better and peaceful life.
All Muslim families traditionally tell their younger ones about the ordeal undertaken by Muhammad while he fled his oppressors
The Al-Hijra or the Islamic New Year is not generally celebrated in an official manner as a holiday, but different communities have devised various rituals to observe the same.
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