Date: 12-25-02 21:52 PST
I found the following article on the internet, giving an
explanation of the Muslim calendar, followed by a list of
the Muslim holidays. I thought it was interesting, so I decided
to share it with all of you.
(---, if any of this information is incomplete or incorrect,
please add any necessary corrections).
Islam is a universal religion founded in Saudi Arabia by the
Prophet Muhammad, following the first revelation of the Qu'ran
to him by the Angel Gabriel in 610. The Muslim holy scripture
is the Qur'an. Muslim holy tradition is also reflected in
the Hadith. The Muslim creed is: "There is no god but
God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God." Muslims recognize
the one Deity to have a multitude of names and attributes.
They pray 5 times daily facing Mecca. Muslims also attend
Mosques for prayer, Qur'anic readings, and Qur'anic interpretation
on Fridays. Muslim denominations include the Sunni, the Shi'a,
and the Sufi. The main difference between the Sunnis and the
Shi'ites relate to the recognition of different successors
to Muhammad. Sufis are the mystics of Islam.
The Islamic year is a lunar year, not grounded in the solar
year. The Islamic year and Islamic months begin at the first
sighting of the New Moon. Islamic days begin and end at sundown.
In calculating the beginning of the year and the months, some
Muslims use the sighting of the New Moon at their own location;
other Muslims use the sighting of the New Moon in Saudi Arabia.
Consequently, because Saudi Arabia is 8 hours earlier than
North American Eastern Standard time, some Muslims will observe
the holiday on the day before the date celebrated here.
New Year - The First of Muharram marks the
new year. The date fluctuates (in the Gregorian calendar)
from year to year as it is based on the Islamic lunar calendar.
Ashura is celebrated on the ninth and tenth
month of Muharram. The word ashura means "ten" and
is a time of fasting, reflection and meditation. Jews of the
city of Medina fasted on the tenth day in remembrance of their
salvation from the Pharaoh, and the Prophet Muhammad pledged
he would fast for two days instead of one in this same remembrance,
but he died the following year and so never fasted as he had
For many Muslims there is joy in commemorating all of the
wonderful events traditions say occurred on this day, including:
Noah's ark came to rest, the Prophet Abraham was born, the
Kaaba was built. Among Shiite Muslims, it is a day of special
sorrow commemorating the martyrdom of the Prophet's grandson
Hussain and his followers at the battle of Kerbala in Islam's
first century. It is commemorated in Shiite communities with
reenactment of these events and is a time of mourning.
Mawlud Al-Nabi is the Prophet Muhammad's
birthday. It occurs on the twelfth of Rabi Al-Awal of the
Speeches are given about the life of the Prophet in gatherings,
and dinners are held. This occasion was not celebrated in
the early times of Islam and is therefore unevenly celebrated
today, with great and festive celebrations in many Muslim
countries (i.e. Egypt and Turkey) and none in others (i.e.
Isra wa Al-Miraj - Laylat Al-Isra wa Al-Miraj ("the
night journey and ascension") commemorates the journey
of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Jerusalem, his ascension
into the seven heavens, and his return in the same night.
These events acknowledge that all the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism,
Christianity and Islam) have one and the same God as their
In this night, Muslims believe, the Prophet was instructed
to establish the five daily prayers in their current form.
On this night, Muslims believe, Muhammad prayed together with
Abraham, Moses and Jesus in the area of the Al-Aqsa mosque.
The rock from which he is believed to have ascended to heaven
to speak with God is the one seen inside the Dome of the Rock.
Isra wa Al-Miraj as it is sometimes called is celebrated on
the twenty-seventh of Rajab of the Islamic calendar.
Ramadan - Month of fasting Believers abstain
from food, drink or tobacco from sunrise to sunset, and abstain
from intimate relations. The beginning of the fast starts
at dawn Sahar and the end is sunset, Iftaar when a meal is
enjoyed with family and friends.
Laylat Al-Qadr ("the night of power.")
falls on one of the last ten days of Ramadan on an odd numbered
day (such as the twenty-third, twenty-fifth or twenty-seventh),
In the Qur'an this night is said to be equal to one thousand
months and on this night the prayers of the sincere Muslim
are certain to be answered. Muslims pray throughout the night
seeking Allah's glory.
Eid Al-Fitr The Feast of the Breaking of
the Fast. Just as festivity becomes the atmosphere when the
fast is broken each day at sunset, happiness becomes doublefold
when the month of fasting is finally completed and the Eid
Al-Fitr is celebrated.
The most elaborate dishes are served at large banquets to
which relatives and friends are invited. These colorful celebrations
are the climax of the sense of fullfiliment characterizing,a
month of fasting and hardships, increasing the bonds of connectedness
among humankind and between humankind and God.
Eid Al-Adha ("The Feast of the Sacrifice")
commemorates Abraham's willingness and obedience to sacrifice
his son Ishmael to God (and God's mercy in substituting a
lamb for Ishmael). This feast is part of the Haj, and takes
place on the tenth of Dhu Al-Hijja of the Islamic calendar.
For those on the Hajj and for many others the day begins with
the sacrifice of an animal in commemoration of the Angel Gabriel's
substitution of a lamb as Abraliam's sacrificial obligation.
One-third of the meat is given to the poor, with the remainder
shared with neighbors and family members.
This holiday is then celebrated in much the same way as Eid
Al-Fitr - with good food, gifts for children and general merrymaking.
Rabi Al-Awwal commemorates the Hijrah ("migration")
of the Prophet Muhammad from Makkah to Medina, and marks the
beginning of the Islamic calendar in history (622 A.D.).
Yom Arafat falls on the ninth of Dhu Al-Hijja,
when people on the Hajj are assembled for the "standing"
at the plain of Arafat (in Mina near Makkah) during the Haj.
Muslims around the world gather at the local mosque (masjid)
for prayer in spiritual solidarity with those at Arafat.
Laylat Al-Baraa has been translated as "the
night of repentence." (Laylat means night). It is the
night when forgiveness is granted to those who repent. Muslims
believe it is a night when God is setting the coming year's
course for each person. It is therefore a time when one asks
for God's blessings as well as for any specific request.