The Hijri calendar continues to be widely used by Muslims around the globe to determine important days on which they observe the annual fasting, to attend the major pilgrimage, Hajj, and to celebrate other Islamic holidays and rites.
Here are a few facts about the Hijri calendar that Muslims ought to know about.
1- Umar Started the Hijri Calendar
Umar, companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) initiated the use of the Hijri calendar over others used during his time.
This was done when Muslim lands expanded far and wide and a complaint of a debt reach Umar. They knew the month but were confused over the year.
2- Hijrah was the Starting Point
It was then decided that the starting point for this calendar would be the Hijrah (migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah).
The key reason as to why the Hijrah was chosen over other significant Islamic events was because it was considered the paramount event that established the Islamic nation.
3- Hijri Calendar vs. Lunar Calendar
The Hijri calendar differs from the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is based on astronomical calculations, with each year adding up to about 354.37 days. Whereas the Hijri Calendar is based on the sighting of the moon.
4- Meaning of Acronym ‘AH’
Each numbered year is designated either “H” for Hijrah or “AH” for the Latin Anno Hegirae (in the year of the Hijrah) Hence, the current year is referred to as 1440 AH.
5- The 4 Sacred Months
There are 4 months in this calendar which are considered sacred by Muslims.
Muharram, Rajab, Dhul Qi’dah and Dhul Hijjah.
6- Meaning of Sha’ban
The 8th month of the Hijri Calendar, Sha’ban literally means scattered or separation.
In ancient Arabia this month marked the time of year when Arab tribes dispersed to find water.
7- Meaning of Shawwal
The 10th month, Shawwal, literally means to raise or lift.
As this was the time when she-camels would normally be carrying a fetus.
8- Days of the Hijri Calendar
It has 354 days in a year. As opposed to the 365 days of the Gregorian calendar. This means that you are a year older as per the Hijri Calendar after around every 33 Gregorian years.
9- Tabular Islamic Calendar
A new rule-based variant of the Hijri calendar has come into the foray recently, which is called the Tabular Islamic calendar.
This calendar is worked on by arithmetic rules rather than by observation or astronomical calculation. It has a 30-year cycle with 11 leap years of 355 days and 19 years of 354 days. In the long term, it is accurate to one day in about 2,500 years.