The Islamic calendar is called the Hijra calendar (At-takwim Al-hijri).

The Islamic year is abbreviated “AH” in Western languages. “AH” is the latinised Anno Hegirae or “in the year of the Hijrah”.

The Hijrah is a central event in Islam that subsequently led to the founding of the first Muslim city-state in Madinah (The City).

When a Believer is no longer able to live his life according to his Islamic beliefs in his place of domicile, he then ‘migrates’ or hijrah to a more hospitable place.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) migrated to Madinah when the idol-worshippers of Makkah persecuted him for preaching that there is nothing worthy of worship except The One True God.

The year of the Hijrah of the Prophet (pbuh) was fixed as the first year of the Islamic era.

The determination of the beginning of the Islamic year took place during the reign of Caliph Umar (Ra), in 638 CE (16AH)

It removed the confusion caused by the conflicting dating systems at that time.

The Julian day of the first day of the first month (Muharram) of the first year of the Hijri calendar was Friday 16 July, 622.

The Hijri calendar begins “in the year of the hijrah”, and not on the first day of hijrah.

The first day of Muharram is a public holiday in many Muslim countries. Activities are organised to increase knowledge of Islam.

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This conforms to Allah’s command that time should be reckoned by the moon. [10:5]

It consists of six 29-day months and six 30-day months, for a total of about 354 days.

The Islamic lunar year is 10 or 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year.

Thus a month in the Islamic calendar does not always fall in the same season.

The fasting month of Ramadan can fall in summer as well as in winter month.

The months drift backward over the seasons, returning to their staring points after about 22 lunar years.

Among many Internet sites that provide calculators for converting Gregorian dates into Islamic dates and vice versa are: and

Though the crescent moon and the star are often used as shorthand to represent Islam, they are not holy symbols of Islam.

There is no place for holy symbols, images or statues in the pure monotheism of Islam.

The new moon marks the beginning of a month in the Hijri calendar.

The month begins when the thin crescent moon (hilal) is sighted in the western sky, after sunset on the 29th or the 30th day of the foregoing month.

As weather and pollution hinder visibility, some favour the use of calculated dates while others support the use of calculation only to negate erroneous sightings, and not to replace correct sighting.

The slight differences in printed Islamic calendars are due partly to the absence of a global criterion for first visibility.


By Divine decree, there are twelve month in the Islamic Hijri year. [9:36]

Muharram (The Sacred Month)

Safar (The Traveling Month)

Rabiul Awwal (The First Spring)

Rabiul Thani (The Second Spring)

Jumadul Awwal (The First Dry Month)

Jumadul Thani (The Second Dry Month)

Rajab (The Month of Respect)

Sha’ban (The Dividing Month)

Ramadan (The Month of Great Heat)

Shawwal (The Month of Hunting)

Dhul Qa’dah (The Month of Rest)

Dhul Hijjah (The Month of Pilgrimage)

Four of the 12 months are sacred: Rajab, Dhul Qa’dah, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram.

Warfare is prohibited during these months except in self-defence. [9:36]

This prohibition is regarded as Allah’s way of honouring these months, even though transgression is forbidden during all times.

The Islamic day begins at sunset and not at midnight as in the Gregorian calendar.

Thus Friday night in in the Islamic day is Thursday night in the Gregorian day.


The important dates in the Hijri calendar are:

1 Muharram (Islamic New Year),

10 Muharram (Day of Ashura),

27 Rajab (Israa’ and Mi’raj)

1 Ramadan (first day of fasting),

The last 10 days of Ramadan, which include Laylatul Qadr or the Night of Power,

1 Shawwal (Eidul Fitr),

8 to 10 Dhul Hijjah (Hajj),

9 Dhul Hijjah (Day of Arafah) and

10 Dhul Hijjah (Eidul Adha).

Though the first day of Muharram is commemorated as “Hijrah day,” this historic event began on Thursday 26 in the month od Safar AH 1 (9 September 622) of that year when the Prophet (pbuh) left his home in Makkah and hid in the Cave of Thawr for three days before journeying to Madinah.

The hijrah of the Prophet (pbuh) has come to symbolise the tests one endures in the struggle to hijrah from the false worship of created things to the true worship of The Lord of all created things.

This is the Truth of Islam that the Islamic Hijri calendar symbolises.

By Dr Y Mansoor Marican, Ph. D