May our new Hijri Year be Blessed

We are entering the hijri year of 1439. We, as the family of Questions on Islam, congratulate our all brothers and sisters on their new hijri year. Hereby, we would like to give some brief information related with the following questions:

- What is Hijri calendar; Since when has it been in use?

- Is there a prayer exclusive to Muharram, which is the first month of new Hijri year?

- How did our Prophet meet the new year?

- What is the Day of Ashurah? Is there a sort of prayer exclusive to the Day of Ashurah?

Hijri Calendar starts with the migration of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) from Mecca to Medina. However, this date was accepted as the beginning of the calendar in the era of the Caliph Umar. Prior to this, Arabs did not have a certain date system. They used to accept some important historical events (such as Prophet Abraham’s being thrown into fire and the Incident of Elephant) as the beginning of history.

Sixteen years after the migration (638), The Caliph of the era, Umar ordered for a council to gather and find a solution to the date problem. With the suggestion of Hz.Ali and the approval of other council members, the migration of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was determined to be the beginning of the Islamic history and Muharram was determined to be the first month of the year. Two points are put forward as the reason for the implementation of this system. Firstly, it was not figured out whether the due date on a promissory note shown in the era of the Caliph Umar was Sha’ban of the last year, or of the next. Secondly, in the same era, in a paper coming from the governer of Basra, Abu Musa al-Ash'ari', a rapid solution was wanted; for, it was not decided which of the papers sent from the Caliphate to Basra was before the other; eventually, it was not decided which one to be applied. For this reason, the migration formed the beginning of the Islamic history.

Hijri-Lunar year consists of twelve months. Arabs used to call the first month Muharram and months of Rajab, Dhul-Qadah and Dhul-Hijjah “ashur al-hurum” (forbidden months) and they would not fight and would keep away from all kind of violence in those months.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised his Companions to fast in the ninth, tenth and eleventh days of Muharram:

“The best of fast after Ramadan is in the month of Allah (honored with being related to Allah), Muharram.” (Riyadus-Saliheen, II, 504). Some other hadiths give the good news of the Day of Ashurah, which corresponds to the tenth of Muharram and on which many important events occurred: “Fasting the day of `Ashura' (is of great merits), I hope that Allah will accept it as an expiation for (the sins committed in) the previous year” (Riyad us-Saliheen, II, 509).

This day was accepted as a mourning day by Shias because of the fact that Husayn was martyred on Friday, the tenth of Muharram in the era of Yazeed, the second ruler of the Umayyad, and in the Hijri year of 61 and Gregorian year of 680. Later, this mourning day was widely accepted and gained a formal identity.

It has been narrated that many important events took place in history on the tenth of Muharram which is called the Day of Ashurah. It is possible to name some of these events as it follows:

1. The day that Noah’s ark was saved from the flood and landed on Mount Judi corresponds to this day. As already known, this event is the rescue of the ones believing Noah, with an ark and total destruction of unbelievers.

2. Adam’s repentance

3. Rescue of Abraham from the fire

4. Jacob’s reuniting with his son, Joseph took place on this day.

Moreover, it is also narrated that Jerusalem was determined as the qiblah on the sixteenth of Muharram, and on seventeenth of it the Owners of Elephants arrived.

The month of Muharram was of a special importance in the era of Ottomans. The poems written for the month of Muharram and therefore called “Muharramiya” are excessive in number. Moreover, in this month, at the beginning of every New Year, high officials of the government would come to the presence of the Sultan and congratulate him on New Year, and would accept Sultan’s gifts called “Muharramiya”.

The month of Muharram was named as "Muharram-al Haram" and abbreviated with the letter “Mim” (m) in Otoman archives. (Mefail Hızlı, from Şamil İslam Ansiklopedisi.)

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What is Hijri New Year's Day? How should we regard the celebrations of the New Year's Day?

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