Friday, April 13, 2007

Hijrah Calendar

What is the Hijrah Calendar?

Muslims do not traditionally "celebrate" the beginning of a new year, but we do acknowledge the passing of time, and take time to reflect on our own mortality.

Muslims measure the passage of time using the Islamic (Hijrah) calendar. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the Hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Madinah (approximately July 622 A.D.).

The Islamic calendar was first introduced by the close companion of the Prophet, 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab. During his leadership of the Muslim community, in approximately 638 A.D., he consulted with his advisors in order to come to a decision regarding the various dating systems used at that time.

It was agreed that the most appropriate reference point for the Islamic calendar was the Hijrah, since it was an important turning point for the Muslim community. After the emigration to Madinah (formerly known as Yathrib), the Muslims were able to organize and establish the first real Muslim "community," with social, political, and economic independence. Life in Madinah allowed the Muslim community to mature and strengthen, and the people developed an entire society based on Islamic principles.

The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in many Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.

12 Lunar Months Each Year

The Islamic year has twelve months that are based on a lunar cycle. Allah says in the Qur'an:

"The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) - so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth...." (9:36).

"It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory, and the moon to be a light of beauty, and measured out stages for it, that you might know the number of years and the count of time. Allah did not create this except in truth and righteousness. And He explains His signs in detail, for those who understand" (10:5).

And in his final sermon before his death, the Prophet Muhammad said, among other things, "With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumaada and Sha'ban."

Islamic months begin at sunset of the first day, the day when the lunar crescent is visually sighted.

The lunar year is approximately 354 days long, so the months rotate backward through the seasons and are not fixed to the Gregorian calendar. The months of the Islamic year are:

1. Muharram ("Forbidden" - it is one of the four months during which it is forbidden to wage war or fight)

2. Safar ("Empty" or "Yellow") is named so because the Arabs used to leave their homes during that month as they used to set out to fight their enemies. It is also said that they used to leave their homes to escape summer heat.

3. Rabia Awal ("First spring") is named so because it usually coincides with the spring time.

4. Rabia Thani ("Second spring") is named so because it usually coincides with the winter time.

5. Jumaada Awal ("First freeze") The Arabs named it so because water gets frozen at winter time, and that coincides with the time of Jumada al-'Ula.

6. Jumaada Thani ("Second freeze") is named so because it coincides with winter time.

7. Rajab ("To respect" - this is another holy month when fighting is prohibited)

8. Sha'ban ("To spread and distribute")

9. Ramadan ("Parched thirst" - this is the month of daytime fasting)

10. Shawwal ("To be light and vigorous") The name Shawwal is derived from the Arabic word 'tashawwala' , which refers to the scarcity in she-camels' milk.

11. Dhul-Qi'dah ("The month of rest" - another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

12. Dhul-Hijjah ("The month of Hajj" - this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

Islamic Month
Gregorian Dates

January 20 - February 18, 2007

February 19 - March 19, 2007

Rabia Awal
March 20 - April 17, 2007

Rabia Thani
April 18 - May 17, 2007

Jumaada Awal
May 18 - June 15, 2007

Jumaada Thani
June 16 - July 14, 2007

July 15 - August 13, 2007

August 14 - September 12, 2007

September 13 - October 12, 2007

October 13 - November 10, 2007

November 11 - December 10, 2007

December 11, 2007 - January 9, 2008


Islamic New Year (1428H)
1 Muharam
20 Jan 2007

Prophet Muhammad's Birthday
12 Rabiulawal
31 Mar 2007

Israk Mikraj
27 Rejab
11 Aug 2007

Nisfu Syaaban
15 Syaaban
28 Aug 2007

Beginning of Fasting (1428H)
1 Ramadan
13 Sept 2007

Nuzul Al-Quran
17 Ramadan
29 Sept 2007

Hari Raya Aidilfitri
1 Syawal
13 Oct 2007

Hari Raya Aidiladha
10 Zulhijjah
20 Dec 2007

Please Note:

Although calendars is for planning purposes, they are based on estimates of the visibility of the lunar crescent, and the Islamic month may actually start 1-2 days earlier or later than predicted.

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