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By Miftaudeen Raji

The Muslims all over the world have marked the arrival of the new Islamic year 1444,which is known in Islam as the Hijri calendar.

The new year, according to the Islamic lunar calendar, is welcomed by the sighting of the new crescent moon. Here is some few things you should know about the Islamic new year:

What is Hijri?

Hijri is an Arabic word, which comes from “hijra.” Historically, Hijra symbolises the migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina more than 1,400 years ago due to fierce hostilities waged by the idolatrors against the Muslims.

In Islam, the Hijri calendar has 12 months, just like the Gregorian calendar. The first month in the Islamic year is named Muharram, while the twelfth is known as Dhul-Hijjah.

A Hijri month alternates between 29 and 30 days, making the Hijri year about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian, with one year coming to 354-355 days.

The Hijri calendar marks notable universal dates for the Muslims. One of such dates is the beginning of the fasting holy month of Ramadan; Eid al-Fitr celebration marking the end of 29 or 30 days of fasting; as well as the start of the Hajj pilgrimage and Eid al-Adha otherwise known as Eid-el-Kabir Sallah festival.

Prophet’s migration and the conquest of Mecca:

Following his historic migration with Muslims to Medina with a view to having more favourable environment to practise the religion of Islam, the Prophet actually returned to Mecca in 629 CE.

This return of the Prophet and Muslims to Mecca could be described as an emotional homecoming, after the conquest of the city.

This homecoming is what is referred to, in Islam till today, as The Conquest of Mecca (Arabic: فتح مكة, romanized: Fatḥ Makkah).

The Conquest of Mecca refers to the capture of the town of Mecca by Muslims led by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in December 629 or January 630 AD (Julian), 10–20 Ramadan, 8 AH.

The conquest laid to rest the raging wars between the Muslims and the Quraysh tribe.

The Quraysh were a grouping of influential Arab clans that historically inhabited and controlled the city of Mecca and the Kaaba, the holy house of Islam built by Prophet Ibrahim. Although the Prophet was born into the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe, many of the Quraysh staunchly opposed Muhammad.

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar and is also considered to be the second holiest month after Ramadan.

History and significance:

The migration of Prophet Muhammad and Muslims happened in 622 CE. The Prophet returned to Mecca in 629 CE after the conquest of the city. The new year will be known as 1444AH (Anno Hegirae or the year of the Hijra) which signifies that it has been 1,444 years since the Prophet’s migration to Medina.

The first month in the Islamic year, Muharram is regarded as a time for reflection and penance. The Islamic New Year provides Muslim faithfuls with an opportunity to be hopeful about the future and underscores reflection on the good and bad that have been done in the past.

The first ten days of Muharram are considered to be a sacred time of remembrance for Muslims as the death anniversary of the Prophet’s grandson Hussein is marked during the period.

Hussein died at the Battle of Karbala on the 10th day of Muharram. Also known as Ashura, fasting is encouraged for Muslims around the world.

Celebration of New Islamic year:

There are actually no big celebrations held on this significant day of Muslims, but countries like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates announce a public holiday on the occasion.

Some countries of the world including Nigeria also mark the significance of the day by declaring a public holiday.

Meanwhile, a global peace campaign group and NGO based in Nigeria, Muslim Awareness International (MAI) organises a yearly event called Aqsa Day on that holiday to enlighten and educate the public on the happenings in the Muslim worlds as well make presentation on the significance of Hijirah and the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

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