The Hijri Calender

The Hijri Calender

The year is of 12 lunar months duration

They ask thee [O Muḥammad] about the new moons. Say, “They are measurements of time for the people and for Ḥajj.” (al-Qur’ān 2:189)

Verily, the number of the months with Allāh is twelve months, ordained by Allāh on the day He created the heavens and the earth, of which four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves in them. (al-Qur’ān 9:36)

On the authority of Abū Bakrah, may Allāh be pleased with him: The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, said: “Time has come back to its state that it had the day Allāh created the heavens and the earth. The year (comprises of) twelve months, of which four are sacred; three in succession — Dhū al-Qa‘dah, Dhū al-Ḥijjah and Muḥarram — and (the fourth one) Rajab ...” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī)

The Hijri calender commences from the year in which the Prophet Muḥammad, peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, emigrated to al-Madīnah. The Hijri era was introduced by the second Rightly Guided Caliph, ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, may Allāh be pleased with him.

The Hijri calender is a lunar calender comprising of twelve months:

  1. Muḥarram
  2. Ṣafar
  3. Rabī‘ al-Awwal
  4. Rabī‘ ath-Thānī
  5. Jumādá al-Ūlá
  6. Jumādá al-Ākhirah
  7. Rajab
  8. Sha‘bān
  9. Ramaḍān
  10. Shawwāl
  11. Dhū al-Qa‘dah
  12. Dhū al-Ḥijjah

The month is of 29 or 30 days duration

The month commences with the sighting of the new lunar cresent after sunset of the last day of the preceding lunar month. The month may comprise of 29 or 30 days.

ibn ‘Umar, may Allāh be pleased with both of them, said: The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, said: “The month consists of (at least) twenty nine nights. Do not observe the fast till you have sighted it (the new moon of the month of Ramaḍān), and do not break the fast till you have sighted it (the new moon of the month of Shawwāl), except when the sky is cloudy for you. When the sky is cloudy for you, calculate it (i.e., fast for thirty days).” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)

Abū Hurayrah, may Allāh be pleased with him, said: The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, said: “When you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramaḍān), observe the fast, and when you sight it (the new moon of the month of Shawwāl), break the fast. If the sky is cloudy for you, observe the fast for thirty days.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)

The month may commence on different days in different places

Muslims are required to sight the new moon in the respective areas in which they reside. The moonsighting of one area is not applicable to areas that are far away; the moon is usually sighted in western regions a day (or even two days) earlier than in regions lying to the east.

Kurayb reported that Umm al-Faḍl, daughter of al-Ḥārith, sent him (al-Faḍl, her son) to Mu‘āwiyah (may Allāh be pleased with him) in ash-Shām. (al-Faḍl) said: I arrived in ash-Shām, and did the needful for her. The month of Ramaḍān commenced when I was in ash-Shām, and I saw the new moon (of Ramaḍān) on Friday night. I came to al-Madīnah at the end of the month. ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās (may Allāh be pleased with both of them) asked me and mentioned the new moon (of the month of Ramaḍān) and said: When did you see the new moon? I said: We saw it on Friday night. He said: You saw it? I said: Yes, and the people also saw it and they fasted and Mu‘āwiyah fasted too, whereupon he said: But we saw it on Saturday night. So we will continue to fast till we complete thirty (fasts) or we see it (the new moon of Shawwāl). I said: Is the sighting of the moon by Mu‘āwiyah (in ash-Shām) and his (commencement of the) fast not valid for you? He said: No; this is how the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, has commanded us. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)

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