Calendar of Important Islamic Dates To learn more, check out our free public presentations on Ramadan and American Muslims and their faith. As the United States grows increasingly diverse, recognizing important holidays within different traditions not only brings awareness of the diversity within the student population but also instills pride in the people who celebrate them. In the case of Muslim holidays or important dates, Muslim students especially may be too embarrassed or shy to acknowledge these practices or holidays, which are not yet a part of the dominant American culture. Additionally, since Muslims use a lunar calendar, the dates are not fixed which makes it challenging for people to keep track of them. About the Islamic Calendar The Islamic calendar (known as the Hijri calendar) is a purely lunar calendar. It contains 12 months that are based on the cycle of the moon. Because 12 synodic months are only 12 x 29.53= 354.36 days, the Islamic calendar is consistently shorter than a solar year, and therefore shifts approximately 11 days every year with respect to the Gregorian calendar. Because the estimated 3-6 million Muslims in America represent a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds–including African-American, South Asian, Arab, African, Persian, European, Southeast Asian and Turkish–they may have additional ethnic or national holidays in addition to the religious holidays described below. Eid ul-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast) This holiday commemorates the completion of Ramadan and lasts for three days during which Muslims celebrate with special prayers, sweets, presents for children, and community festivities. Eid-ul-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) This holiday takes place on the third day of Hajj and lasts for four days. The holiday commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, who was miraculously replaced by a lamb. The holiday is celebrated much like Eid ul-Fitr with the addition that Muslims sacrifice a lamb, goat or cow and share the meat with friends, relatives, and the needy. Ramadan (Islamic month of Fasting) Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims fast daily from dawn to sunset as part of an effort towards self-purification and moral excellence. Muslims believe that Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, were revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. Hajj (Annual Pilgrimage to Mecca) The Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca, consists of several rituals which symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, such as devotion to God, brotherhood, and unity. The rituals of the Hajj also commemorate the trials of the Prophet Abraham and his family. Hajj is required once in a Muslim’s lifetime if he financially and physically able. Two to three million Muslims perform the pilgrimage annually. Islamic New Year (1440 A.H.*) The Islamic New Year marks the beginning of the new year on the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar began with the migration – or Hijra – of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina. This event has a special significance in Islamic history as it marks the end of the period of persecution in Mecca and the transition to a recognized faith community in Medina. Ashura Ashura falls on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. For Sunnis, Ashura commemorates the exodus of Moses from Egypt, and is usually observed by completing an optional fast as practiced by the Prophet Muhammad. This day also marks the anniversary of the tragic death of the Prophet’s grandson, Husain at the hands of the Umayyad ruler Yazid. For Shi’as the day is marked with mourning and often with enactments of the tragic event. 2018 Calendar: Ramadan: May 16 – June 14, 2018 Eid ul-Fitr: June 15, 2018 Hajj: August 19 – 24, 2018 Eid ul-Adha: August 22, 2018 Islamic New Year: September 10, 2018 (1440 A.H.*) Ashura: September 20, 2018 Mawlid an-Nabi (Prophet Muhammad’s birthday): November 20, 2018 *After Hijrah (Hijrah means “migration” in Arabic. This refers to the migration that the Prophet Muhammad made from Mecca to Medina in the year 622 C.E., which marks the beginning of the Islamic Calendar). Please Note: In some communities and based on differences in scholarly opinions, actual dates are subject to local sightings of the new moon. For more information, please contact ING at 408-296-7312.