Arabic Hijri Months | As-shuhur al-Hijriyah | الشهور الهجريّة hold profound cultural and religious importance for Muslims worldwide. Rooted in the Lunar Calendar | at-taqwīm al-qamrī | التقويم القمري, these months shape religious observances and cultural celebrations. This article delves into the significance, names, and cultural practices associated with the Arabic Hijri months.
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What is the Hijri Calendar?
The Hijri Calendar | at-taqwīm al-hijrī | التقويم الهجري, also known as the Islamic or Lunar Calendar | at-taqwīm al-islāmī ‘aw al-qamrī | التقويم الإسلامي أو القمري, follows the Lunar Phases | al-atwar al-qamriyah | الأطوار القمرية, setting it apart from the Gregorian Solar Calendar | at-taqwīm ash-shamsi al-mīlādī | التقويم الميلادي الشمسي. This calendar system originated during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) | Muhammad al-Nabi (Salla Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam) | (صلى الله عليه وسلم) محمد النبي, aligning the Islamic world with the cycles of the moon.
Significance of Hijri Months
Each Hijri month holds a special place in the hearts of Muslims. These months are not mere divisions of time; they are vessels of religious significance, marking events like the start of Ramadan and the pilgrimage of Hajj. The Hijri calendar is a tapestry of spirituality and devotion.
Names of Arabic Hijri Months
The Arabic Hijri months are a poetic journey through time. From the sacred Muharram to the festive Shawwal, each name carries centuries of history and devotion. Understanding these names provides insight into the cultural tapestry of Islam.
|3||رَبِيع ٱلأَوَّل||Rabi’ al-Awwal|
|4||رَبِيع ٱلثَّانِي||Rabi’ al-Thani|
|5||جُمَادَىٰ ٱلأُولَى||Jumada al-Awwal|
|6||جُمَادَىٰ ٱلثَّانِيَة||Jumada al-Thani|
|11||ذُو ٱلْقَعْدَة||Dhu al-Qi’dah|
|12||ذُو ٱلْحِجَّة||Dhu al-Hijjah|
- Muharram (المحرّم): It means “forbidden” and is considered one of the four sacred months in Islam. Fighting and warfare were traditionally forbidden during these months.
- Safar (صفر): Its name means “void” or “empty,” possibly because the pre-Islamic Arabs used to leave their homes and go on raids during this month, leaving the town empty.
- Rabi’ al-awwal (ربيع الأوّل): Translated as the “first spring,” it’s significant because, in this month, Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
- Rabi’ al-thani (ربيع الثاني): This translates to the “second spring.”
- Jumada al-awwal (جمادى الأولى): Means the “first of parched land” indicating the dry, arid conditions of the season.
- Jumada al-thani (جمادى الثانية): This translates to the “second of parched land.”
- Rajab (رجب): Rajab is considered a sacred month and is called the “month of Allah.” It is a time for prayer and reflection.
- Sha’ban (شعبان): Known as the “scattered” month, possibly because pagan Arabs used to disperse in search of water.
- Ramadan (رمضان): The most sacred month, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. It is a time for increased devotion, self-reflection, and community.
- Shawwal (شوّال): The name means “raised” and marks the end of the post-Ramadan fasting period known as Eid al-Fitr.
- Dhu al-Qi’dah (ذو القعدة): This means “the one of truce/sitting,” as during this month, traditionally, Arab tribes would refrain from fighting.
- Dhu al-Hijjah (ذو الحجة): The final month, known as the “month of pilgrimage.” It is during this month that the pilgrimage to Mecca | al-Hujj ila Makkah al-Mukarramah | الحج إلى مكة المكرمة occurs, one of the Five Pillars of Islam | Arkan Al-Islam al-Khamsah | أركان الإسلام الخمسة.
Some names of these months are often used with special attributive forms e.g:
- Muharram al-Haram مُحَرَّم الْحَرَام
- Safar al-Khair صَفَر الْخَيْر
- Rajab al-Fard رَجَب الْفَرْد
- Ramadan al-Karim or Al-Mukarram رمضان الكريم أو المُكَرَّم
- cha’aban almoadham شَعْبَان المُعَظَّم
What are the Sacred Months in Islam
- Muharram (المحرّم): The first month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is considered one of the Sacred Months | Al ashhur al-Hurum | ٱلأَشهرالحرم, and fighting is forbidden during this time.
- Rajab (رجب): The seventh month of the Islamic calendar. Rajab is also a sacred month, and Muslims are encouraged to engage in worship | Ibadah | عبادة and good deeds | Al’mal As-salihah | ٱلأَعمال الصالحة during this time.
- Dhu al-Qi’dah (ذو القعدة): The eleventh month of the Islamic calendar. Similar to Muharram, Dhu al-Qi’dah is a sacred month during which fighting is prohibited.
- Dhu al-Hijjah (ذو الحجة): The twelfth and final month of the Islamic calendar. Dhu al-Hijjah is the sacred month in which the Hajj pilgrimage takes place. Fighting is prohibited during this month, especially for those participating in the pilgrimage.
Importance of the Lunar Calendar
The lunar calendar’s importance extends beyond religious observances. It influences Islamic astronomy, guiding scholars and enthusiasts in the study of celestial phenomena. The waxing and waning of the moon symbolize renewal, aligning with the spiritual journey of believers.
Islamic Events in Hijri Months and Muslim Feasts (Holidays)
Ramadan, the ninth month, stands as a beacon of fasting, reflection, and communal worship. The Hajj pilgrimage, occurring in specific Hijri months, symbolizes unity and devotion, drawing millions of pilgrims to Mecca. These events are pivotal in the lives of Muslims, enhancing their faith and connection with the divine.
Muslim Feasts (Al-Ayyad Al-Islamiya) الأعياد الإسلامية
- Ra’so assana رأس السنة or awwal assana New Year’s Day of the Islamic calendar which comes from the Arabic word “hijra”, is named so for the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) from Mecca to Medina more than 1,400 years ago.
- Almawlid annabawi The Birth Of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)
- Eid al-Fitr (عيد الفطر) the “Festival of Breaking the Fast” also called Al Eid assaghir (العيد الصغير) which translates to “the small festival”, at the start of the month of Shawwal شَوَّال which marks the end of the fast of the holy month of Ramadan رَمَضَان
- Eid Al Adha also called Al’id Al Kabir which translates to “the great festival”, comes on the 10th of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah ذُو ٱلْحِجَّة.
The commonest greeting used during these festivals is “Aidukom Mubarak” or “Blessed Eid to you”
Comparison with the Gregorian Calendar
While the Hijri and Gregorian calendars share similarities, they differ in their foundations. The lunar nature of the Hijri calendar gives rise to unique cultural practices and festivals. Understanding these differences fosters mutual respect and appreciation among diverse communities.
FAQs about Arabic Hijri Months
How do Muslims determine the start of a new Hijri month?
The beginning of a new Hijri month is determined through moon sighting. Religious scholars and local communities actively engage in this practice, emphasizing the importance of visual confirmation.
Why are specific Hijri months more significant than others?
Certain months, like Ramadan and Dhu al-Hijjah, hold special significance due to historical events and religious observances. Ramadan, for example, is the month of fasting, while Dhu al-Hijjah hosts the Hajj pilgrimage