The Islamic New Year, which starts with the month of Muharram, the 1st month in the Islamic calendar, holds deep historical and religious significance for Muslims. It symbolizes a fresh beginning, a time for self-reflection, and an opportunity for spiritual growth. The first day of the month is also called Maal Hijrah, Awal Muharram, Islamic New Year, and sometimes the Arabic New Year. It is one of the four sacred months in Islam. r
The month of Muharram has significant dates, such as the Day of Ashura, which is the 10th day of the month of Muharram. You can read more about the significance of fasting on Ashura in our other article.
The first day of the month of Muharram will most likely be on the 19th of July, 2023. The exact date will depend on the sighting of the first moon of Muharram in different parts of the world. As the day is the Islamic calendar starts at sunset, if the moon is sighted on the 18th of July, the Islamic New Year will start on 18 July 2023 at sunset. It will also be the start of the new Islamic year, 1445H.
The Islamic New Year is celebrated differently from the New Year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are no countdowns or anything of those sorts, but more of a solemn occasion where it is celebrated by 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 at the 1st of Muharram, it holds significance to Muslims around the world, specifically the Day of Ashura on the 10th of Muharram. Another Significance of the month of Muharram is that it is considered one of the 4 sacred months in the Islamic Calendar, as referred to by Prophet Muhammad SAW as the 'Sacred Month of Allah'. In Surah At-Tawbah, there is a reference to the 4 months that are sacred:
إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّهُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثْنَا عَشَرَ شَهْرًا فِى كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوْمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ مِنْهَآ أَرْبَعَةٌ حُرُمٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ ۚ فَلَا تَظْلِمُوا۟ فِيهِنَّ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ وَقَـٰتِلُوا۟ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ كَآفَّةً كَمَا يُقَـٰتِلُونَكُمْ كَآفَّةً ۚ وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلْمُتَّقِينَ
[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 (Makkah).
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 with the years that have passed since the migration from Mecca to Medina. For example, this year, 1445H means that it has been 1445 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 dependent on the sightings of the moon.
The Hijri Calendar consists of around 355 days which is around 11 days shorter than the Gregorian Calendar.
The Islamic Year consists of 12 months in the Hijri Calendar, starting from the month of Muharram to Dhul Hijjah. Each month starts with the sighting of a new moon.
Here are the months of the Hijri Calendar in order:
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar and holds significance for Muslims as a month of reflection, renewal, and voluntary acts of worship. It is considered an important month and an opportunity for spiritual growth as it is considered one of the four sacred months in Islam.
Whether Muharram is recognized as a public holiday depends on the country and its majority Muslim population. In some countries with significant Muslim populations, such as certain parts of India, Pakistan, and Iran, Muharram is observed as a public holiday. However, in most countries, it is not a recognized public holiday.
Muharram lasts for approximately 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the new moon. On the tenth day of Muharram, known as Ashura, where Muslims are will practice fasting.
From all of us at HalalTrip and CrescentRating, we wish you a blessed Maal Hijrah 1445H.
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.