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The Hijra refers to the moment when the Prophet Muhammad, along with his companions, left Makkah for the city of Medina. Driven from their homes by the status quo of Makkah, the Prophet Muhammad found in Medinah a welcoming people united by the Message. 

The newfound community founded by the Prophet was primarily based on solidarity and kinship and encouraged each individual to view their neighbours as siblings and to never leave the poor and the less fortunate to their fate.

This historic event is thus commemorated as a very special day when the Muslim community was born and the Islamic year began.

How is the Muharram date decided?

A year in the Hijri, Muharram or Islamic calendar involves 12 months and spans over nearly 354 days. So, when compared with the Gregorian calendar that follows the revolution of the Earth around the Sun, the Islamic Year falls short by 10 – 11 days. Naturally, the date for the Hijri New Year shifts from year to year and doesn’t sync with the Gregorian calendar.

The sunset ushers in a new day and hence a new year. Most Islamic institutes herald the first sighting of the crescent of the new moon as the start of the new year. Exceptions to this practice include several Islamic organizations and countries, such as Saudi Arabia, which rely on astronomical calculations to determine the date beforehand. Accordingly, there are differences in the Hijri new year dates from one place to another.

Muharram 2023 date and public holiday

As per the announcement made by the moon-sighting committee of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the first day of Muharram 1444H falls on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. The first day of Muharram is marked as a public holiday by the public sector.

How is Muharram 2023 celebrated in Saudi Arabia?

Muharram, The Islamic New Year or the Hijri or Arabic New Year, is observed as a public holiday in Saudi Arabia and other predominantly Muslim countries.

It is the start of the Hijri year with the month of Muharram according to the Islamic Lunar calendar. The epoch of the Islamic era is marked by the year of the flight – Hijra or Hegira, dated 622 CE (Common Era). It is when Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, migrated from Mecca to Medina with his disciples to evade a conspired prosecution.

There are no festivities traditionally being held on this day. Some Muslims mark the special occasion by partaking in the practice of voluntary fasting and prayer offerings.

Muharram is one of the four holy months of the Islamic calendar (Rajab, Dhul-Qa’dah, and Dhu’l-Hijjah are the others), standing as the second most venerated month to Ramadan.

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