Islamic New Year 2023

Islamic New Year 2023

Islamic New Year, also known as Hijri New Year or Arabic New Year, is the first day of the Islamic lunar calendar year. The Islamic calendar also called the Hijri calendar, is based on the lunar cycle, with each month beginning at the sighting of the new moon. 

Significance of Islamic New Year 

The Islamic New Year is significant for Muslims as it marks the migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, known as the Hijra. This event holds great historical and religious importance in Islam, as it marked a new phase in the life of Prophet Muhammad and the establishment of the first Islamic state.

How Islamic New Year is Celebrated?

The Muslim New Year is not celebrated with the same festivities and traditions as the Gregorian New Year. It is typically observed with religious contemplation, prayers, and reflection on the past year. Some Muslims may attend special religious lectures or sermons at mosques, where scholars discuss the significance of the Hijra and its teachings.

Significance of the Islamic Calendar

The Islamic calendar, also known as the Hijri calendar, is a lunar calendar used by Muslims to determine the dates of religious observances, festivals, and events. It is based on the sighting of the moon and follows the lunar cycle, which is approximately 29.5 days long. 

The Islamic calendar is approximately 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar commonly used worldwide. As a result, Islamic months do not align with specific seasons and migrate through the solar year over the course of 33 years.

The Islamic calendar starts with the migration (Hijra) of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. This event marks the beginning of the Islamic era and is considered a significant turning point in Islamic history. The current Islamic year is denoted by “AH” (After Hijra) and is calculated by adding the relevant number of years to the Hijri year.

List of Islamic Months 

The Islamic calendar consists of 12 lunar months, each beginning with the sighting of the new moon. The names of the months of the Islamic year are as follows:

  1.  Muharram
  2. Safar
  3. Rabi al-Awwal
  4. Rabi al-Thani
  5. Jumada al-Ula
  6. Jumada al-Thani
  7. Rajab
  8. Sha’ban
  9. Ramadan
  10. Shawwal
  11. Dhu al-Qadah
  12. Dhu al-Hijjah

Islamic Year and Gregorian Year Difference 

While the Islamic calendar is lunar-based, it is approximately 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, which is solar-based. As a result, the Islamic New Year does not fall on the same date each year according to the Gregorian calendar. The exact date is always determined by the sighting of the new moon. Moreover, it can vary every year.

Importance of 1st Month of Islamic Year 

The first month of the Islamic New Year holds special significance for Muslims. The Islamic calendar begins with the month of Muharram, and it is considered one of the four sacred months in Islam, along with Rajab, Dhul-Qa’dah, and Dhul-Hijjah. Here are some key aspects regarding the importance of the first month of the Arabic New Year:

  • Historical Events: Muharram is a month that commemorates several significant events in Islamic history. One of the most notable events is the Battle of Karbala, which occurred in the year 680 CE. It was during this battle that Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and his companions were martyred. This event is mourned by many Muslims, particularly those who follow the Shia tradition, through various rituals and processions. 
  • Reflection & Repentance: The beginning of the Muslim New Year, specifically the month of Muharram, serves as a time for Muslims to reflect on their actions, seek repentance, and make positive changes in their lives. It is a month of introspection and renewal, encouraging individuals to evaluate their spiritual journey and strive for self-improvement. 
  • Fasting: While fasting during Muharram is not obligatory, it is highly recommended. Some Muslims choose to fast on the 9th and 10th days of Muharram, known as the Day of Ashura. Fasting on Ashura is believed to hold great reward and is considered a way to express gratitude and show solidarity with the struggles and sacrifices made by Prophet Moses (Musa) and the Children of Israel. 
  • Acts of Charity & Good Deeds: Muharram is also a month where Muslims are encouraged to engage in acts of charity and good deeds. Muslims are encouraged to help those in need, give to the needy and less fortunate, and perform acts of kindness and generosity. 

These actions are believed to bring blessings and rewards during this sacred month. It’s important to note that the significance and observance of Muharram may vary among different Muslim communities and sects. Practices and rituals associated with Muharram can differ, particularly between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Therefore, it’s always advisable to consult with local Islamic authorities or scholars for specific cultural and religious practices followed in your region.

History Behind the Karbala Battle in Muharram  

  • The Battle of Karbala is a significant event in Islamic history, particularly for Shia Muslims. It took place in the year 680 CE (61 AH) in Karbala, located in present-day Iraq. The battle was fought between the forces of Imam Hussein Ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and the army of the Umayyad caliph, Yazid I. 
  • Imam Hussein, along with a small group of his family members and companions, stood against a much larger opposing force. Despite being outnumbered, they were determined to uphold justice, resist tyranny, and preserve the true teachings of Islam. Tragically, Imam Hussein and his followers were brutally martyred during the battle. 
  • The Battle of Karbala is considered a symbol of sacrifice, courage, and steadfastness in the face of oppression. It serves as a reminder of the struggle for justice and the importance of standing up against injustice. For Shia Muslims, the commemoration of this event takes place during the month of Muharram, with particular emphasis on the 10th day, known as Ashura
  • During the month of Muharram, Shia Muslims engage in mourning rituals, processions, and gatherings to honor the memory of Imam Hussein and his companions. These practices vary in different communities and cultures, but they generally involve recitations of elegies, the retelling of the events of Karbala, and expressions of grief and sorrow. 
  • It’s important to note that the events surrounding the Battle of Karbala have historical and religious significance primarily within Shia Islam. Sunni Muslims also acknowledge the importance of Imam Hussein and express respect for his sacrifices, but the commemoration practices may differ. 

Final Verdict 

The Islamic New Year is determined by the sighting of the new moon and can vary from year to year. It typically falls in the month of Muharram, which is considered a sacred month in Islam. However, the exact date may differ based on regional moon sighting practices.

The first month of the Muslim New Year, Muharram, holds particular importance. It is a month of reflection, mourning (especially for Shia Muslims), and seeking forgiveness. The tenth day of Muharram, known as Ashura, has specific observances and historical events associated with it.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How is the Muslim New Year calculated?

The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. The new month begins upon the sighting of the new moon. The calendar follows a 12-month lunar year, which is approximately 354 or 355 days long.

Are there any specific celebrations for the Muslim New Year?

Unlike the Gregorian New Year, the Islamic New Year is not widely celebrated with elaborate festivities. It is observed with religious contemplation, prayers, and reflection. Some Muslims may attend special sermons or lectures at mosques.

Which is the first month of the Hijri New Year?

Muharram is the first holy month of the Muslim new year 2023. It is the 2nd holly month in the calendar of Muslims. After Ramadan, Muharram is the most sacred month for the Muslim community. 

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