Dubai: The UAE has declared Thursday, September 21, as a public and private sector holiday to celebrate the Islamic New Year, known as the Hijri Year in Arabic.
President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent congratulatory cables to Arab leaders on the advent of the new Hijri year. He wished more progress and prosperity to Arab and Muslim countries.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, dispatched similar cables to presidents, kings and princes of the Arab and Muslim countries on the occasion.
The occasion marks 1,439 years since the migration of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions from Makkah to Madinah, Islam’s holiest cities in Saudi Arabia. The first year in the Islamic calendar, Hijri 1, corresponds to the year 622AD.
Hijri is derived from Arabic word Hijrah, which means migration. In the religious context, it specifically refers to the migration of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) more than 14 centuries ago.
Why does the Islamic calendar start with Hijrah; what is the significance of this event?
Khaleeq Ahmad Mufti, an Ajman-based Islamic scholar and author, who also hosts an Islamic show on Sharjah TV, said Hijrah was the “definitive turning point” in the history of Islam.
“In Makkah, before Hijrah, the Muslims were weak, persecuted for their religion. After Hijrah to Madinah, Muslims became strong and successful. This development marked a definitive turning point,” Mufti added.
He explained that Hijrah was not just a historical event, but continues to be an opportunity for introspection.
“Every year, as a new Hijri year begins, we Muslims should ask ourselves, ‘why did Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and his companions migrate, leaving everything behind — their homes, their property, and their loved ones?’
“The answer is because they chose to sacrifice worldly gains and comforts for the perseverance of their religion, Islam, which was then in danger in Makkah. This is a message that inspires us to follow Islamic teachings, such as honesty in trading and other traits, above all.”
The Hijri calendar is based on the lunar year, in which months are 29 or 30 days, depending on when the waxing crescent moon is sighted after the new moon. As a result, the Hijri year is shorter than the Gregorian solar year, arriving around 11 days “earlier” after each full cycle.
Last year, the UAE had declared October 2 as a holiday to celebrate Hijri year 1438.