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Islamic New Year (Hijri)

Islamic New Year (Hijri)

Awal Muharram, Al-Hijra or Hijri is the Islamic New Year.

Awal translates as ‘beginning’ in English and Muharram is the name of the first month in the Muslim lunar calendar. Muharram is the second most holy month of the Islamic year, after Ramadan. It begins at the first sighting of the lunar crescent after the new Moon in the month of Muharram. The crescent Moon is often visible a day or two after the new Moon, however, weather and other factors may delay the sighting. 

This holiday celebrates two important events in the Islamic calendar. Not only is the first day of Muharram New Year’s Day, but it is also the day that the Hijrah, which is the Prophet Muhammed’s historic journey from Mecca to Medina, began on the first of Muharram in 622 CE.

Prophet Muhammed relocated to Medina in modern-day Saudi Arabia because someone wanted to execute him. By doing so, the Muslims were freed from their suffering in Mecca. After the Hijrah, it was then declared by the Prophet in the Constitution of Medina, that Muslims are a universal brotherhood with a unique identity in faith and ideology.

Unlike the new year celebrations of other cultures, this new years’ time for Muslims is rather quiet. It is a time of introspection and a time for Muslims to reflect on the passing of time and their mortality. 

The celebratory customs between various Muslim groups may vary during this time, but they generally involve attending various religious activities, spiritual singing, sermons in public halls or mosques and reciting Quranic verses.

It is a public holiday in Muslim countries where schools, public places and businesses are closed.