Islamic New Year
The Islamic New Year, Al-Hijra, is celebrated by Muslims on the first day of the first month in the Islamic Calendar. This month is called Muharram. The exact day changes every year because the Islamic lunar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar (Western) year. This means that in 2008, there were two Islamic New Years – one on January 9th and another on December 29th. It also means that new year’s day for Muslims can be in the middle of winter or in the middle of summer. The exact date of the next Al-Hijra is not yet known. It is only predicted until there is a sighting of the new moon. Once that happens, governments in Islamic countries tell their citizens when the new year begins. Al-Hijra is the time when the Islamic prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers moved from Mecca to Medina, where they set up the first Islamic state. This happened in 622AD. Islamic years use the suffix AH (After Hijra) which means the year 2008AD is the Islamic year 1429AH. For Muslims, Al-Hijra is more of a time for personal reflection than parties and celebrations. They think about how to leave behind the bad things from the previous year and move ahead to live a better life in the following year. It is, therefore, a time when people make new year resolutions. A recent trend during Al-Hijra is for people to exchange gifts and cards, although this has not spread throughout the Muslim world.