Islamic seasonal days of
celebration and holy days
The six most important Islamic holy days:
All dates are approximate, because they depend upon the method of
determining the timing of a new moon. Muslims in some countries determine
the date after the physical sighting of the new moon by eye. Other Muslims
use the astronomic calculations of the new moon.
Because the dates are based on a lunar calendar, they come earlier with each
year by about eleven days
Al-Hijra/Muharram is the MuslimNew Year, the
beginning of the first lunar month.
For Sunni Muslims, Ashura is a day of fasting that was originally observed by Jews to recall when God saved the Children of Israel from the Pharoah in Egypt. Muhammad made it compulsory for Muslims as well.
For Shiite Muslims, Ashura recalls an event circa 680-OCT-20 CE in Iraq when an army of the Umayyad regime martyred a group of 70
individuals who refused to submit to the Caliph. One of the martyrs
was Imam Husain, the youngest grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Mawlid al-Nabi is a celebration of the birthday of the
Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam in 570 CE. Sunni Muslims
observed it on the 12th of the lunar month of Rabi'-ul-Awwal in the
Islamic calendar. Shi'a Muslims celebrate it five days later. "The Mawlid
al-Nabi was first observed around the thirteenth century and was
preceded by a month of celebration. The actual day of Muhammad's
birthday included a sermon, recitation of litanies, honoring of
religious dignitaries, gift giving, and a feast. The festival spread
throughout the Muslim world and is celebrated in many countries today.
However, some conservative sects (e.g., the Wahhabiyah) consider the
celebration to be idolatrous." 2,3
Ramadan is the holiest period in the Islamic year; it is held
during the entire 9th lunar month of the year. This was the month in
which the Qura'n was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The first day of Ramadan is listed
above. It is a time at which almost all Muslims over the age of 12 are expected
to fast from sunup to sundown, unless they suffer from health problems
which would make fasting dangerous. More details.
al-Fitr (a.k.a. "'Id" and "Eid") is the first day of the 10th month
-- i.e. the day after the end of Ramadan. It is a time of rejoicing.
Houses are decorated; Muslims buy gifts for relatives. The words
" 'Id" and "Eid" mean fesival.
Id al-Adha (a.k.a. the Feast of Sacrifice
or Day of Sacrifice) occurs during the 12th month of the Islamic year.
This immediately follows the Hajj (pilgrimage
to Mecca). It recalls the day when Abraham intended to follow the instructions
of God, and sacrifice his son Ishmael. (This is not a typo; Muslims
believe that Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his elder son Ishmael;
Judeo-Christians believe that it was Isaac who was involved in the near sacrifice).
How the dates are determined:
The start of each lunar month occurs at the new moon. Unfortunately,
there are different Muslim traditions in various countries by which the
timing of the new moon is determined:
In some countries, including Bangladesh, Canada, India, Pakistan,
the UK, the U.S., and the West Indies, personal sighting of the crescent
moon is required.
In other countries, including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries,
North America, and
some European countries, the timing of the new moon is determined
In Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia, if the moon is two degrees above
the horizon and three degrees away from the son at sunset in their
country, a new lunar month is declared.
In Egypt, if the moon sets five minutes after sunset, a new moon has
begun. This date is often accepted by Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Thus the dates of observances and festivals may differ by a day or more
among the various countries.
Reasonable care has been taken to prepare this list. Sources often differ, so check
elsewhere if the precise date is important.
Sunni Muslim dates are shown. Shi'a Muslims celebrate Mawlid five days
later, on the 17th of the lunar month of Rabi'-ul-Awwal in the Islamic