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Muslims Observe the New Year

Islamic New Year is a cultural event for Muslims all over the world.

Islamic New Year Date: November 15

Islamic New Year is a cultural event for Muslims all over the world.

The Islamic New Year falls on the first day of the Muharram month, the first month of the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar is a lunar-based calendar with 12 lunar months and 354 or 355 days, and it’s used by Muslims to determine the proper days to celebrate holy days and festivals.

History of the Islamic New Year

The Islamic calendar was first introduced by Umar ibn Al-khattab, companion of Muhammad, the Prophet. It was decided by 638 to use the Hijra as the main point of reference for the Islamic calendar. The first year of the Islamic calendar started in the year of the Hijra, the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. The current Islamic year is 1430 after Hijra (AH). On December 18, Muslims all over the world will enter into the year 1431 AH. Ras as-Sana is the name of the Islamic celebration of New Year, literally meaning Head of the Year. The Islamic New Year starts with the month of Muharram (meaning “forbidden”), a month during which it is forbidden to fight.

Islamic New Year Traditions, Customs and Activities

Muslims on this day gather in mosques for prayers of peace and listen to holy readings from the Quran. Most of the readings are about the Hijra, Muhammad’s flight from Medina to Mecca. The passage is broadcast on radios and televisions. The day is spent in reflection of one’s mortality and the passing of time, as well as honoring the Prophet Muhammad. The celebrations are quiet and in sober tones, nothing like the Westernized new year celebrations. Among younger Muslims there is a new trend to exchange New Year cards and gifts. For many Muslims however, like Shia Muslims, the Islamic New Year starts a month of mourning and celebrates the Battle of Karbala. It’s worth noting that Sunni Muslims do not celebrate New Year, as this is the day on which their first Caliph, Abu Bakr, died.

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