One unique thing about islamic calendar is that it did not commence with something less significant. With divine guidance, it started with the sacrifice of the early muslims and the triumph of truth over evil. That is hijrah.
In ordinary terms, hijrah was a journey between Makkah and Madinah, about 300 miles apart; a migration that changed the situation of the early Muslims for better. It marked the beginning of an era, a civilization, a culture and a turning point for Muslims in history.
Some would argue that there is no special religious ceremony to mark the new year. Yes! But it is one of the appreciated developments which will continue to be new every twelve lunar months; especially with the need for a shift to Islamic calendar for the Muslim Umah.
However, Hijrah as a principle that is integral to islam, should not be relegated to a mere date; its celebration should be loud and be seen to impact positively in the lives of Muslims. Essentially, the celebration should remind us about the meaning and significance and make us to be focused on the need for absolute compliance.
The meaning of the word hijrah is often translated as “flight or migration”. It is also used to mean leaving an environment for a better environment, even though it may involve some difficulties. In this context, Allah says: “And lot believed him. [Abraham] said, “indeed, I will emigrate to [the service of] my lord.
Indeed, he is the exalted in might, the wise.” (Ankabut Q29: 26) in some other places, like in Baqara, Anfal and At-Taobah, the word is used together with eeman and jihad. “Those who believe, and migrate, and struggle in the cause of Allah, as well as those who give (them) asylum and aid, these are (all) truly believers: For them is the forgiveness of sins and a provision most generous.”(Al-Anfal 8 : 74) this shows the importance of the word has in the activities of Muslims.
Its denotative meaning however, is much more dynamic and active in the lives of Muslims. It means “to leave, to move, to shun and to quit”. It is used for cases like dumping an idea or habit and turning a new leaf. It means a total and radical departure to a new way whether as an individual or as a group.
We should use this occasion to remind ourselves not only about the movement of early Muslims from Makkah to Madinah but to do what is required of us now and at all times.
Let the leaders and politicians including those who lead in offices at all levels do hijrah from the path of corruption to righteousness, let the followers move away from sin to virtues, let us all shun all acts of division and strive to harmony and unity; and let us dump what can incur the wrath of Allah to what will earn us His pleasure.
Ashurah: The hijri calendar is not just a sentimental system of time reckoning and dating religious events. The beginning of hijrah and the 10th of Muharram have much deeper religious and historical significance.
Some of the historical events that took place in Muharram particularly on the tenth of the month which is called the day of Ashurah suggests that there is more to it than a mere date.
On that day, Allah chose Adam (as) to be father to all human beings after forgiving him. He raised Prophet Idris (as) to heaven on that day; rescued Prophet Nuh (as) with the believers in his ark on mount Judi. Jacob reunited with his son; Allah saved Prophet Ibrahim from the burning fire (as) on that day; forgave Prophet Dawud (a.s).
It was also on the tenth of Muharram that Allah (SWT) returned Prophet Sulaiman’s (a.s) kingdom to him. Allah (SWT) also relieved Prophet Ayyub (a.s) of his afflictions on that day. Allah raised Prophet Isa (Jesus, a.s) to heaven on that day. Allah made Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) to marry Khadijah (r.a) and of course the much talked about hijrah from Makkah to Madinah occurred on that day.
Besides, scholars have continued to point out that Allah would have created the heavens and earth including the pen (al-qalam) on that day.
Apart from the pomp and festivity of celebrating either the new hijri year or the ashurah day, even if we have to argue that there was no foundation or evidence for its celebration, it is a time for reflection, a time for sacrifice and a time and opportunity to change from bad deeds and move to acts that will earn the pleasure of Allah.