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Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Muharram (Arabic: محرم) is the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is one of the four months of the year in which fighting is prohibited. Since the Islamic calendar is lunar, Muharram moves from year to year when compared with the Gregorian calendar. Muharram is so called because it was unlawful to fight during this month; the word is derived from the word ‘haram’ meaning forbidden. It is held to be the most sacred of all the months, excluding Ramadan. Some Muslims fast during these days. The tenth day of Muharram is called Yaumu-l 'Ashurah, meaning, ‘the tenth day’, and it is a day of voluntary fasting. Fasting differs among the Muslim groupings; mainstream Shia Muslims stop eating and drinking during sunlight hours but do not fast until the evening. Sunni Muslims also fast during Muharram and on either the ninth or the eleventh day, the choice of which additional day being at the discretion of the individual.

Happy Islamic New Year

The Islamic New Year is a cultural event which some Muslims partake on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or emigration, Prophet Muhammad made to the city now known as Medina. Recently, in many areas of Muslim population, people have begun exchanging cards and gifts on this day.

However, not all Muslims take part in this event. Shia Muslims do not, since the month is observed as a month of mourning in honor of Imam Husayn_ibn_Ali, who was martyred in the Battle of Karbala on Muharram 10th. Sunni Muslims believe that this is the day that the first Caliph (Abu Bakr) died.

Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Muharram migrates throughout the seasons. The estimated start dates for Muharram are as follows (all future dates are estimates and depend on sightings of the new moon), though strictly speaking the month starts at sunset on previous day:

  • 1428 AH: 20 January 2007
  • 1429 AH: 8 January 2008 or 9 January 2008
  • 1430 AH: 29 December 2008
  • 1431 AH: 18 December 2009
  • 1432 AH: 7 December 2010
  • 1433 AH: 26 November 2011
  • 1434 AH: 15 November 2012