Maal Hijrah - Islamic New Year
By Mufti Taqi Usmani
The Islamic year consists of twelve months: (1) Muharram, (2) Safar, (3) Rabi Awwal, (4) Rabi Thani, (5) Jumada Awwal, (6) Jumada Thani, (7) Rajab, (8) Sha`ban, (9) Ramadan, (10) Shawwal, (11) Dhul- Qi dah, (12) Dhul- Hijjah.
Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, its year is 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year. This means that Muslim months fall in different seasons. For example, Ramadan and Haj can fall in the summer as well as in the winter. It takes about 33 years for the Islamic dates to rotate through the solar seasons.
The most important dates in the Islamic calendar are: 1 Muharram (Islamic New Year); 10 Muharram (Day of `Ashura ); 27 Rajab (Israa and Mi`raj); 1 Ramadan (first day of the month of fasting); the last ten days of Ramadan, which include (Laylat Al-Qadr); 1 Shawwal (`Eid Al-Fitr); 8 - 10 Dhul-Hijjah (Haj); 9 Dhul-Hijjah (Day of `Arafah); 10 Dhul-Hijjah (`Eid Al-Adha).
The Hijra, historically speaking, is the central event of early Islam, the turning point in Islamic history that led to the foundation of the first Muslim state. Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. The Holy Quran says, "The number of the months according to Allah is twelve (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified."
Characteristics of Muharram:
1. Fasting During the Month
The Noble Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: 'The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadan are those of the month of Muharram."
2. The Day of 'Ashurah'
The 10th day of Muharram, Ashurah, is the most sacred among all its days. It is established through a number of authentic ahadith that fasting on the day of 'Ashura' is Sunnah.
According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of 'Ashura' should either be preceded or followed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th.
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