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South Carolina Muslims Reflect on New Hijri Year

CHARLESTON – As the Islamic New Year approaches, many Muslims in Charleston, South Carolina, are using the occasion to pause and reflect on their faith and life.

“Hijrah for us is not only that physical migration that took place 1,440 years ago,” Shamudeen, the imam of the Central Mosque of Charleston, told The Post & Courier.

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“It’s a constant process. It’s a mentality. It’s a philosophy. It’s something we live by. Hijrah is something we constantly do. We want to avoid, stay away from the wrong things and do the right things. It’s a state of mind.”

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 from Makkah to Madinah, known as the Hijra.

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In fact, Muslim 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.

This year, this holiday begins at sunset on Sept. 11. Muslims will transition from 1439 AH to 1440 AH.

The occasion is not widely recognized like `Eid Al-Fitr, which follows Ramadan, or `Eid Al-Adha, with the annual hajj season.

“The `Eid’s or the Prophet’s birthday, those are the things that have religious significance,” College of Charleston Asian studies professor Dr. Garrett Davidson said.

“They are times when families get together. The Islamic New Year, there’s really not a tradition. It doesn’t have the same significance.”

Anticipating the new Hijri year, imam Shamudeen finds a spiritual lesson on his usual biking journeys across the Ravenel Bridge where he enjoys a cool breeze, a spectacular view of the Cooper River and the architecture of the cable-stayed bridge.

“The purpose of a bridge is to connect two things. We’re attempting to build bridges between Muslims and Christians, Jews and other faiths,” Shamudeen said.

“There’s always an opportunity if a person stops and thinks, to reflect.”