As in other Islamic countries, Hijri, “Islamic New Year”, is a public holiday and a big event. The first day of the first month, called “Muharram”, is a time of remembrance and of reflection on the past year and even on the more distant past. Muharram is the second most holy month of the year to Muslims, only Ramadan being considered holier.
|2020||20 Aug||Thu||Islamic New Year|
|2021||10 Aug||Tue||Islamic New Year|
The beginning of the Islamic year, historically, is based on the flight (“hijra”) of Muhammad and early Muslims to Medina from Mecca in 622 CE. They fled due to resistance to the Islamic religion, but eventually returned and converted the city.
Muslims use a calendar that has 12 months, like the Gregorian, but that only has 354 days. Thus, being 11 days shorter, the date of Islamic New Year moves 11 days earlier on the Western Calendar. However, the exact beginning of Hijri is based on local moon sightings, so you never know 100 percent for sure when it will come.
Muharram is also a time when Muslims, especially Shia Muslims, remember the tragic martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram, 61 AH. Also on 10 Muharram, Sunni Muslims remember the deliverance of Moses and the Israelites from Pharoah.