Manchester Muslims Mark New Hijri Year with Drive-in Ceremony

Members of the Greater Manchester Muslim community marked the new hijri year in a unique drive-in-cinema style event while maintaining safety procedures.

Mohebban Al Mahdi Youth Foundation (MYF) hosted the 10-day event at the AJ Bell Stadium car park.

The ‘Muharram Drive-In Mujalis Series’ came as COVID-19 pandemic forced new health guidelines that had some noticeable effects on many Islamic occasions such as Ramadan and hajj.

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For many, the event has been the first religious festival they were able to celebrate with their community this year after both `Eid Al-Fitr and `Eid Al-Adha were held indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We really appreciate what the organizers have done to set this up,” Muhammad from Cheetham Hill told Manchester Evening News.

“We had plans to commemorate this event before this, we were always going to teach our kids how the Islamic new year is brought in.

“But it wouldn’t have been the same when you see how people come together to commemorate it in person. It’s different from when you do it yourself at home.

“COVID has changed everyone’s life, not just how we work, shop or go to school but even our religious gatherings.”

Serving Community

During the event, Qur’an recitations and English lectures were held by special guest Imams. They touched on issues affecting the community such as social justice, domestic abuse, and racism.

One of the organizers, Dawood Jafree, said: “We’re really proud that we’ve been able to cater to the community.

“This is the biggest event that we host. It’s the largest event that for the Muslim community too, specifically the Shia Muslim community.

“We saw the rise of so many drive-in cinemas and thought, why not use it a different context, but still as safe for families to be able to come to listen and learn?

“We wanted to provide the community of Greater Manchester, and the rest of the Northwest with a one of a kind experience where people can come and still feel engaged with their community and feel safe.”

“This is run by the youth of our community. We’re talking about things that are impacting the community as a whole. We want to make a change in our community.”

The Hijri New Year is the day that marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year. This first day of the year is the first day of Muharram.

The Hijri calendar started in the year 622 AD with the emigration of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Madinah, known as the Hijra.

In fact, Muslims use this lunar Hijri calendar to calculate times of prayers, fasting, Hajj and other religious celebrations. While some determine the new month by moon sightings, most Islamic countries follow astronomical calculations.