Call it Maal Hijrah, Awal Muharram, Islamic New Year, and sometimes the Arabic New Year. This year, 2021, Muslims around the world will celebrate the Islamic New Year and enter Muharram from 9 August 2021 to 10 August 2021 at sunset. This is the start of the year 1443H in the Islamic Hijri calendar. This day also marks the start of the month of Muharram. Highly regarded as the second holiest month in the Islamic Hijri Calendar, only after the month of Ramadan.
The month of Muharram has its significant dates such as the day of Ashura, which is the 10th day in the month of Muharram. You can read more about the significance and of fasting on Ashura in our other article.
The Islamic New Year is celebrated differently from the New Year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are no countdowns or anything of those sorts, it is more of a solemn occasion where the occasion is celebrated through doing good deeds and gratitude. Muslims around the world will usually take it as a chance for self-reflection, attending sermons, religious gatherings, Quran recitations, and more. Most will be trying to reap the benefits of the month of Muharram by doing as many good deeds as they can from the start.
Even if there are no specific celebrations held during Maal Hijri or the Islamic New year, the month of Muharram holds significance to Muslims around the world. Specifically like the day of Ashura on 10th Muharram. Another Significance of the month of Muharram is that it is considered as one of the 4 sacred months in the Islamic Calendar, as referred by Prophet Muhammad SAW as the 'Sacred Month of Allah'. In Surah At-Tawbah, there is a reference to 4 months that are sacred:
[Surah At-Tawbah, 9:36]
"Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion [i.e., way], so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him]."
According to the Prophet SAW, the month of Muharram is one of them. As said in the hadith:
As Narrated by Abu Bakr RA:
The Prophet SAW said, "Time has come back to its original state which it had when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth; the year is twelve months, four of which are sacred. Three of them are in succession; Dhul-Qa'da, Dhul-Hijja and Al-Muharram, and (the fourth being) Rajab Mudar (named after the tribe of Mudar as they used to respect this month) which stands between Jumad (ath-thani) and Sha'ban."
[Sahih al-Bukhari, 4662]
Another significant way to celebrate the month is through fasting:
Abu Hurairah Narrated:
The Messenger of Allah said: "The most virtuous fasting after the month of Ramadan is Allah's month Al-Muharram."
[Sahih (Darussalam), Jami`at-Tirmidhi, 740]
The Islamic New Year is a great time for us to look at the Hijri Calendar. The term "Hijri" comes from the Arabic word "Hijrah" which translates to departure or migration. This relates to the time when Prophet Muhammad SAW along with his companions migrated from Mecca to the oasis town of Yathrib, known today as Medina. This migration was due to the Prophet SAW facing an intent of assassination in Mecca.
The history of the migration of the Prophet SAW and his companions is directly related to the Islamic Hijri Calendar as it is the epoch in the calendar. Coinciding to the number of years that have passed since the migration from Mecca to Medina. For example, this year, 1443H means that it has been 1443 years since the migration taken by our Prophet SAW with his companions.
The main difference between the Hijri Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar is that the Hijri Calendar is a Lunar-based calendar while the Gregorian Calendar is Solar-Based. This is the reason why Islamic event dates differ every year on the Gregorian Calendar. The timing or day of the events on the Hijri Calendar is also dependant on the sightings of the moon.
In respect to this, the days advance after sunset (maghrib) something different from the Gregorian Calendar.
The Hijri Calendar consists of 345 to 355 days per Islamic year which is around 11 days shorter than the Gregorian Calendar.
With 12 months in the Hijri Calendar starting from the month of Muharram to Dhul Hijjah. Each month starting with the sighting of a new moon.
Here are the months of the Hijri Calendar in order:
From all of us at HalalTrip and CrescentRating, we wish you a blessed Maal Hijrah 1443H.
May this new year bring us a lot of peace, happiness, and health, and may Allah SWT shower his blessings on us! Ameen!
Let us follow the advice of our beloved Prophet (SAW) and may Allah (SWT) give us ease and guidance to perform our ibadah and forgive our sins. In Shaa Allah.