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The Profound Significance of the Islamic Hijri Calendar: Connecting with Our Faith and History

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

As Muslims, we have long been accustomed to following the Islamic Hijri Calendar to observe essential religious events and practices, such as fasting during Ramadan, celebrating Eid, and embarking on the pilgrimage of Hajj. However, the Hijri calendar holds a much deeper religious and historical meaning. In this article, we will explore the origins of the Islamic calendar, the reasons behind its chosen starting point, and its pivotal role in connecting us with our faith and rich heritage.

  • When was the Islamic calendar introduced?

In the 17th year of the Hijra, two incidents occurred that highlighted the need to establish a reliable calendar for the Muslim Ummah. One involved a court case where confusion arose regarding loan repayment timelines, while the other was a letter expressing uncertainty about the intended months mentioned by Umar Ibn Al Khattab (RA).

  • Why does the Islamic calendar start with the Hijra?

During the meeting held to address the calendar issue, various suggestions were put forth, such as adopting the calendars of the Romans or Persians. However, it was unanimously agreed that the Muslim Ummah, having established its unique civilization, deserved a calendar that reflected its own history.

Ali Ibn Talib (RA) proposed that the year of the Hijra, the historic migration from Makkah to Madinah, should mark the beginning of the Islamic calendar. This decision symbolized the transformative journey of Muslims from a state of persecution to one of honor and strength.

  • Why does the Islamic calendar start with Muharram?

Usman ibn Affan (RA) proposed Muharram as the inaugural month of the Islamic year. This choice had dual significance. Firstly, Muharram was the month when the announcement of the Hijra was made after the Ansar took the Oath of Allegiance (Bay’atul Aqabah) in the preceding month of Dhul-Hijjah. This oath aimed to protect the Muslims who had migrated from Makkah to Madinah.

Secondly, since many Muslims would embark on the Hajj pilgrimage during Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram signified a fresh start after the expiation of sins through Hajj. Commencing the Islamic year with Muharram represented a rebirth and an opportunity to embark on a new spiritual journey.

'Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve (lunar) months in the register of Allah (from) the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred'. (Quran 9:36)

  • Why is the Islamic calendar important?

The Islamic calendar holds immense significance, not only in commemorating significant Islamic events but also as a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by early Muslims to preserve their faith. By migrating from Makkah to Madinah, they willingly sacrificed their wealth, familial ties, and comfort, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to Islam.

Through the Hijri calendar, Allah (SWT) teaches us the enduring battle between truth and evil. As Muslims, we are continuously engaged in this struggle, sacrificing our desires and worldly pleasures in pursuit of righteousness and, ultimately, Paradise.

The Islamic Hijri Calendar carries immense religious and historical significance. Its introduction, driven by practical challenges faced by the Muslim Ummah, highlights the importance of organizing time in alignment with our faith. By starting with the year of the Hijra and commencing with Muharram, the Islamic calendar encapsulates our collective history, sacrifices, and ongoing struggle for truth.

By embracing and connecting with the Hijri calendar, Muslims can deepen their understanding of their heritage and strengthen their spiritual bond with Allah (SWT). We should welcome the new Islamic year with self-reflection and resolution to draw closer to Allah (SWT), and strive for righteousness and success in this life and the Hereafter.

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