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The Islamic Hijri Calendar

The Islamic Calendar or Umm al-Qura is a lunar calendar – that is, it is marked by the moon’s orbit of Earth. It is also known as the Hijri Calendar because the Hijri years (corresponding with the year 622 CE), begin from the year in which the hijrah (migration) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), from Makkah to Medina took place. Year 1 Hijri marked the establishment of the first Islamic state in Medina and therefore holds significance for Muslims. It was actually the Caliph ‘Umar bin al-Khattab who instituted the Hijrah as the first Islamic Hijri year.

When does the Islamic New Year begin in 2023?

The 1st Muharram and beginning of the hijri new year will occur on the 19th July 2023 (subject to the sighting of the moon).

Each year, the beginning of the Um al-Qura calendar (Islamic New Year) is determined by the sighting of the Moon. The entire calendar and it’s religious and notable days are organised in line with the lunar calendar, and so moves forward approximately 11-12 days each year, while the Gregorian calendar runs on the solar year.

In Islam, the beginning of a new day begins at sunset time. Therefore, the first day of the Islamic New Year technically begins at sunset time  on the 18th July until sunset time on the 19th July 2023 (subject to the sighting of the moon).

What is the significance of the Islamic New Year?

While there are no prescribed days of worship for Muslims to observe on the 1st of Muharram, or hijri new year. Muslims may use it as a time to  reflect on the journey and struggle  of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the Muslims of his time. Many sacrifices and much hardship was endured in the lead up to the establishment of the first Islamic government and city, and around the Muslim world, it marks the beginning of the year and people’s annual plans.

How is the Islamic New Year celebrated?

There are no set customs or requirements for celebrating the Hijri new year, however, since Muharram is one of the sacred months ordained by Allah (SWT), when good acts are multiplied in reward, it is an opportune time for Muslims to incorporate acts of sadaqah Jariyah, nafl (voluntary) prayers, fasting and Qur’an recitation. The Islamic New Year is also a public holiday in many Muslim countries, and families use it as an opportunity to meet and reach out to loved ones, and to strengthen ties of kinship.

Virtues of the Islamic New Year

The beginning of the Islamic New Year is a time for reflection, commemoration and gaining Allah Almighty’s nearness. One of the greatest virtues of the Islamic New Year is that it offers the opportunity for deep reflection.

It’s a time to reflect on the last Islamic year in terms of decisions we made, our good and bad deeds, changes in our character and how well we think we have fulfilled the rights of Allah and sought to seek His pleasure.

We should use this as a basis to make improvements to our lives in order to become closer to Allah Almighty.

One of the most important things to reflect upon is our good and bad qualities- and we should work to correct anything in our manners and character that may be delaying us from gaining Allah’s pleasure.

In addition, as we reflect upon the hardships that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his family were faced with, and the sacrifices they made to ensure that Islam reached us, the Islamic New Year is a time to show gratitude for being Muslim and having the gift of Islam which illuminates our lives.

Send the gift of Salawat (salutations) to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as a gift on this special day.

Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of the night and day are signs for people of understanding, those who remember Allah while standing, sitting or reclining, and reflect in the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): “Our Lord! You have not created this in vain. Glory to you! Save us, then, from the chastisement of the Fire!”

Quran| 3: 190-191

What is Hijrah Sharif?

The Hijrah Sharif was the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from Makkah to Madinah in the year 622 CE.

It marks the beginning of the Islamic Calendar as it was such a significant event for the preservation of Islam.

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) migrated to Madina to escape brutal oppression and opposition in Makkah.

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was accompanied by his beloved companion Abu Bakr (RA).

During the Hijra Sharif the Prophet (PBUH), he asked his beloved cousin Iman Ali ibn Abu Talib (AS) to stay behind and return the possessions of all those who had entrusted them to him, ensuring that everything was returned to his enemies (Ibn Hashim), demonstrating his trustworthiness.

I saw in a dream that I was emigrating from Makkah to a land in which there are date palms, and I thought that it was Al-Yamamah or Hajar, but it turned out to be Madinah, Yathrib.

Hadith | Bukhari

May Allah accept our good deeds from the past year. Happy Islamic New Year!

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