Islamic calendar

This article is about the lunar Hijri calendar. For the solar calendar whose first year is fixed to the Hijra, see Solar Hijri calendar.
Islamic Calendar stamp issued at King Khaled airport (10 Rajab 1428 / 24 July 2007)

The Islamic calendar, Muslim calendar or Hijri calendar (Anno Hegirae or AH, Arabic: التقويم الهجري‎‎ at-taqwīm al-hijrī) is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days.

It is used to date events in many Muslim countries (concurrently with the Gregorian calendar), and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper days on which to observe the annual fasting, to attend Hajj, and to celebrate other Islamic holidays and festivals.

The first year was the Islamic year beginning in AD 622 during which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred. Each numbered year is designated either "H" for Hijra or "AH" for the Latin Anno Hegirae ("in the year of the Hijra"); [1] hence, Muslims typically call their calendar the Hijri calendar.

The current Islamic year is 1438 AH. In the Gregorian calendar, 1438 AH runs from approximately 3 October 2016 to 21 September 2017. [2]

Months

Four of the twelve Hijri months are considered sacred: Rajab (7), and the three consecutive months of Dhū al-Qa‘dah (11), Dhu al-Ḥijjah (12) and Muḥarram (1). [3] As the lunar calendar lags behind the solar calendar by about ten days every year, months of the Islamic calendar fall in different parts of the Gregorian calendar each year. The cycle repeats every 33 years.[ citation needed]

No. Name Arabic Meaning Note
1 Muḥarram مُحَرَّم forbidden A sacred month, so called because battle and all kinds of fighting are forbidden (ḥarām) during this month. Muḥarram includes ‘Āshūrā’, the tenth day.
2 Ṣafar صَفَر void Supposedly named thus because pre-Islamic Arab houses were empty this time of year while their occupants gathered food. Another account relates that they used to loot the houses of their enemies after defeating them in battle, leaving nothing behind.
3 Rabī‘ al-awwal رَبيع الأوّل the first spring Also means to graze, because cattle were grazed during this month. Also a very holy month of celebration for many Muslims, as it was the month the Prophet Muhammad was born. [4]
4 Rabī‘ ath-thānī رَبيع الثاني the second spring
5 Jumādá al-ūlá جُمادى الأولى the first of parched land Often considered the pre-Islamic summer. Jumādá may also be related to a verb meaning "to freeze" and another account relates that water would freeze during this time of year.
6 Jumādá al-ākhirah جُمادى الآخرة the last of parched land
7 Rajab رَجَب respect, honour This is the second sacred month in which fighting is forbidden. Rajab may also be related to a verb meaning "to remove", so called because pre-Islamic Arabs would remove the heads of their spears and refrain from fighting.
8 Sha‘bān شَعْبان scattered Marked the time of year when Arab tribes dispersed to find water. Sha‘bān may also be related to a verb meaning "to be in between two things". Another account relates that it was called thus because the month lies between Rajab and Ramaḍān.
9 Ramaḍān رَمَضان burning heat Burning is related to fasting as in empty stomach one's worldly desire will burn. Supposedly so called because of high temperatures caused by the excessive heat of the sun. Ramaḍān is the most venerated month of the Hijri calendar. During this time, Muslims must fast from pre-dawn till sunset and should give charity to the poor and needy.
10 Shawwāl شَوّال raised She- camels would normally be in calf at this time of year and raise their tails.
11 Dhū al-Qa‘dah ذو القعدة the one of truce/sitting This is a holy month during which war is banned. People are allowed to defend themselves if attacked.
12 Dhū al-Ḥijjah ذو الحجة the one of pilgrimage During this month Muslim pilgrims from all around the world congregate at Mecca to visit the Kaaba. The Hajj is performed on the eighth, ninth and the tenth of this month. Day of Arafah takes place on the ninth of the month. Eid al-Adha, the "Festival of the Sacrifice", begins on the tenth day and ends on sunset of the twelfth, and during which war is banned.

Length of months

Each month of the Islamic calendar commences on the birth of the new lunar cycle. Traditionally this is based on actual observation of the crescent marking the end of the previous lunar cycle and hence the previous month, thereby beginning the new month. Consequently, each month can have 29 or 30 days depending on the visibility of the moon, astronomical positioning of the earth and weather conditions. However, certain sects and groups, most notably Dawoodi Bohra Muslims and Shia Ismaili Muslims, use a tabular Islamic calendar (see section below) in which odd-numbered months have thirty days (and also the twelfth month in a leap year) and even months have 29.