Faizel Patel
Senior Digital Journalist
3 minute read
1 Aug 2022
1:45 pm

Muslims in SA officially welcome new Islamic year

Faizel Patel

Muslims traditionally do not celebrate new year, but they do acknowledge the passing of time to reflect on their own mortality.

Photo: iStock

Muslims in South Africa officially welcomed the new Islamic year 1444 AH on Sunday.

The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) confirmed that the moon for the Islamic month of Muharram (the first month of the Islamic calendar) and the new Hijri calendar year 1444 had not been sighted in South Africa on Friday.

Therefore, the first of the Islamic month and beginning of the new year was on Sunday, 31 July.

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UUCSA secretary general, Moulana Ebrahim Bham, says Muslims traditionally do not celebrate new year as it is commonly understood.

“However, we do acknowledge the passing of time to reflect on our own mortality and also to remember our ultimate destination, and to prepare for that ultimate destination.

“For verily, the intelligent person is he who prepares for his ultimate destination. That the intelligent person is he who restraints himself and does things that will benefit him in his ultimate destination.”

Bham says the Hijrah or the migration, which the Islamic calendar is based on, was a turning point for Muslims.

“All civilisations that came thereafter, all victories of Muslims in Islam that came thereafter, was because of the Hijrah. That was to show among other things that the battle between truth and falsehood is eternal and it is not based on one place.”

Here are a few facts about the Hijri calendar

  • Umar (RA), companion of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) initiated the use of the Hijri calendar over others used during his time.
  • It was then decided that the starting point for this calendar would be the Hijrah (migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah). The key reason as to why the Hijrah was chosen over other significant Islamic events was because it was considered the paramount event that established the Islamic nation.
  • The Hijri calendar differs from the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is based on astronomical calculations, with each year adding up to about 354.37 days. Well as the Hijri Calendar is based on the sighting of the moon.
  • Each numbered year is designated either “H” for Hijra or “AH” for the Latin Anno Hegirae (in the year of the Hijra). Hence, the current year is referred to as 1444 AH.
  • There are 4 months in this calendar which are considered sacred by Muslims; Muharram, Rajab, Dhul Qa’dah and Dhul Hijja.
  • The 8th month of the Hijri Calendar, Shaban literally means scattered or separation.
  • The 10th month in the Hijri Calendar, Shawwal literally means to raise or lift.
  • 8- The Hijri calendar has 354 days in a year, as opposed to the 365 days of the Gregorian calendar. This means that you are a year older as per the Hijri Calendar after around every 33 Gregorian years.
  • This calendar is worked on by arithmetic rules rather than by observation or astronomical calculation. It has a 30-year cycle with 11 leap years of 355 days and 19 years of 354 days. In the long term, it is accurate to one day in about 2 500 years.

Bham says the real goal of a Muslim’s success is based on the efforts of struggle and sacrifice, and making a sacrifice for his religion, goals and achievements.

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