So What Are Muslim Holidays?

A Muslim family sits together on the floor, wearing party hats and laughing.

In fall, the weather gets colder, the leaves start to change color, and the holiday season begins. The end of October brings Halloween, November includes Thanksgiving, and December is the time of Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. From Muslims, this may raise questions about whether these celebrations can also function as Muslim holidays.

The aforementioned holidays in the fall and winter indicate that a whole lot is changing in the atmosphere beyond the weather. Stores begin selling decorations, malls are redecorated, schools begin preparations for themed holiday events and parties, and sales begin for people to buy holiday gifts for their loved ones. 

But where do Muslims fit into the picture? Do Muslims celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas? If they don’t, then what are Muslim holidays, and when are they? 

 

Muslim Holidays 2022

A Muslim family dressed up sits together at a spread of food.

On many Muslim holidays, Muslim families get together to share a meal.

As Muslims, we do not regard Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve as having intrinsic value. Rather, we celebrate our own special holidays prescribed to us by Allah (SWT) and based upon our own eventful Islamic history. 

As an Ummah, we are truly blessed with auspicious days of celebration, most prominently Eid ul Fitr on the 1st of Shawwal, and Eid ul Adha on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah. There are, of course, other days of the year that Muslims celebrate and that have value in Islam that we will share below. 

The exact dates of Muslim holidays throughout the year can be found in the Hijri calendar, a lunar calendar that takes the hijrah (migration) of the Prophet (s) as its point of departure and starts in Muharram each year. As the Hijri calendar is based on the phases of the moon, it is ten days shorter than the typical year of the Gregorian calendar. This, in turn, means that the Islamic New Year happens approximately ten days earlier each year. 

Below is a list of the dates of Muslim Holidays 2022 in North America:

  • Ramadan: April 2nd, 2022 to May 1st, 2022
  • Laylatul Qadr: April 28th 2022 
  • Eid ul Fitr: May 2nd, 2022
  • Day of Arafah: July 8th 2022
  • Eid ul Adha:July 9th, 2022
  • Islamic New Year: July 30th, 2022
  • Eid Milad un-Nabi: October 8th, 2022

There are many fun ways to celebrate Muslim holidays, especially Eid. You can refer to previous blogs of ours that contain tons of exciting activities for kids to partake in to celebrate Eid, including making an Eid care package and a printable Eid card for your neighbors!

Due to the fact that the Islamic New Year and the starts of Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr depend upon moon sightings, there are often different dates across the globe for the same holiday, depending on your school of thought, location, masjid and community. Because the Holy Ka’bah is located in Makkah, many refer to the calendar of Saudi Arabia, which is called the Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia. 

 

Is Today a Muslim Holiday?

Muslims are gathered around the Holy Ka'bah to perform Hajj.

Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage, is one of the most auspicious and important Muslim holidays.

In an essence, any day of the Gregorian calendar can one day be a Muslim holiday. In fact, Ali b. Abi Talib is reported to have said in Nahj al-Balaghah that: 

“Any day in which Allah is not disobeyed is an Eid.”

But we may find that we ask ourselves is today a Muslim holiday, wondering about the more common usage of eid. It is important at this point to understand what Muslim holidays are, and what the significance of each holiday is. 

What are the major Muslim holidays, and when do they occur in the Hijri Calendar? When will the Muslim holidays 2023 occur?

  1. The Islamic Month of Ramadan

The month of Ramadan is the most beloved month of the entire year to Allah (SWT) and for Muslims. This is because it is the month that the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (S). 

In Ramadan, the evil Shaytan is locked up and does not have any direct impact on our deeds and actions. Allah has commanded us to fast from fajr (pre-dawn prayer) until maghrib (post-sunset prayer), as one of the five pillars of Islam. 

Muslims celebrate Ramadan by doing extra good deeds, fasting each day, reading the Holy Qur’an, and spending time in the worship of Allah (SWT). Muslims also decorate their homes, make special iftar meals for the breaking of the fast, and host iftar gatherings to break the fast with their loved ones!

 

       2. Laylatul Qadr: The Night of Power

The single most beloved night of the entire year in the eyes of Allah (SWT) is Laylatul Qadr, or the Night of Power. This night is better than a thousand months, and a person who spends this night in worship receives the reward of a lifetime of worship. 

While we do not know the actual date of Laylatul Qadr, it is believed to be on one of the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan. In many traditions, it is often believed to be on the 27th night of Ramadan. Muslims celebrate Laylatul Qadr by spending the night in worship, more than they do in the rest of Ramadan. Oftentimes, Muslims will spend this night in the masjid in congregational prayer, for taraweeh, or overnight prayers and staying in the masjid for i’tikaaf (staying in the masjid for a certain number of days for worship) and tahajjud (night prayers). 

 

       3. Eid ul Fitr

The first day of the month of Shawwal, the month right after Ramadan, is the day of Eid ul Fitr. Around the world, Eid ul Fitr is often celebrated for multiple days, the first being the most special. 

Allah (SWT) bestowed Eid ul Fitr upon Muslims as a reward for their worship during the month of Ramadan. It is forbidden for Muslims to fast on Eid, and Muslims are encouraged to wear new clothes, visit the masjid to offer special Eid prayers, visit family and friends, and wear nice clothes. 

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid in ways related to their culture, but all celebrate by wearing new clothes, hosting parties, visiting family and friends, and eating delicious food!

 

       4. Hajj and the day of Arafah

Performing Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a mandatory pilgrimage each Muslim must perform once in their lifetime if they can afford to do so. Every year, Hajj, or Islamic pilgrimage, takes place in Mecca, Saudi Arabia during the first 10 days of the month of Dhul Hijjah. Of the days of Hajj, the day of Arafah on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah is considered the day of Hajj itself. Arafah occurs on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah. As the Prophet (S) mentioned in a hadith,

“Al-Hajj ‘Arafah,” meaning “Arafah is the Hajj” 

-Hadith Sunan Ahmad

On the day of Arafah, pilgrims performing Hajj gather at the mountain of Arafah and stand in their faith, praying to Allah (SWT) for His mercy and forgiveness. It is the day that Allah (SWT) perfected the religion of Islam, and the day of our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s (S) farewell pilgrimage and Khutbah al-Wida‘ (farewell address). 

The rituals of Hajj are special because they are reminiscent of the actions of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his wife, Hajar, when Allah (SWT) commanded Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to leave her and their infant son, Prophet Ismail (AS) in the middle of the desert. This place later became Mecca and the home of the Holy Ka’bah. 

The foundations of the Ka’bah were laid by Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son Ismail (AS). Muslims run back and forth between the mountains of Safa and Marwa, just as Hajar did when searching for water for her son. We also drink the miracle Zam zam water that gushed forth from the ground when baby Ismail (AS) struck his heel on the ground. 

When Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was commanded by Allah (SWT) to sacrifice his son, Ismail (AS), Shaytan followed him the entire journey and whispered thoughts to him in hopes of deterring him and corrupting his faith. But Prophet Ibrahim (AS) threw pebbles at Shaytan to ward him off, which is why Muslims throw pebbles at the three Jamaraat at Hajj!

For more official information on performing Hajj, you can visit the Ministry of Hajj of Saudi Arabia website, which includes information on visas, Hajj dates, approved travel agents, guides and details on the rituals, and more.

 

       5. Eid ul Adha

The second of the Eids takes place a day after Arafah on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah and is a part of Hajj as well. On Eid ul Adha, we sacrifice an animal, such as a lamb, cow, or camel, the same way Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was commanded to sacrifice his son Ismail (AS) for the sake of Allah (SWT). As he was about to sacrifice the person he loved most in this world, Allah (SWT) accepted his sacrifice and commanded Ibrahim (AS) to sacrifice an animal instead. 

On Eid ul Adha, Muslims sacrifice an animal for the sake of Allah (SWT) and give charity to the poor and needy in remembrance of the sacrifice that Prophet Ibrahim (AS) made for the sake of Allah (SWT). 

 

       6. The Islamic New Year

The Islamic New Year, the 1st of Muharram in the Hijri calendar, is not celebrated the way the New Year of the Gregorian calendar is celebrated. However, the new year marks a time for resolutions, new beginnings, and reflections. As Muslims, the Islamic New Year can be celebrated in remembrance of Allah (SWT), in reflection of our past deeds, and in resolving to better ourselves in the year to come. 

 

       7. Mawlid an-Nabi: The Prophet’s Birthday (S)

The 12th of the Islamic month of Rabi ul Awwal is celebrated as the Prophet’s birthday (s) by most while some consider the 17th to be the date of his (s) birth. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Milad un Nabi in remembrance of Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (S). They host gatherings, recite nasheeds in praise of the beloved Messenger (S), and distribute food to the poor and needy. You can learn more about the Prophet’s Birthday, one of the Muslim holidays 2022, in our article about celebrating Mawlid an-Nabi!

 

       8. Jumu’ah (every Friday!)

For Muslims, Allah (SWT) has prescribed a small holiday, or eid, once a week. Friday is our weekly holiday as Muslims. Just as on Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha, Allah (SWT) encourages us to make ghusl (a ritual purifying bath), wear new clothes, and visit the mosque for special congregational Friday prayers. If you ask yourself on any given Friday if there are any Muslim holidays today, then you are quite fortunate!

 

Expected dates of Muslim Holidays in 2023

The Islamic Calendar, also known as the Hijri or Lunar Calendar, is based upon the cycles of the moon. Each new crescent moon marks the beginning of a new month. While astronomical calculations are often used in determining important dates such as the start of Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr in places like Saudi Arabia, many masjid communities around the world still prefer to rely upon the sighting of the moon before confirming the start and end of Ramadan. 

  • Start of Ramadan: March 23rd, 2023
  • Laylatul Qadr: April 18th, 2023
  • Eid ul Fitr: April 21st, 2023
  • Day of Arafah: June 27th, 2023
  • Eid ul Adha: June 28th, 2023
  • Islamic New Year: July 19th, 2023
  • Ashura: July 28th, 2023
  • Eid Milad un-Nabi: September 28th, 2023

To learn more about the Hijri calendar, refer to a study conducted on the origins of the Hijri calendar that examines the history behind the Prophet Muhammad’s (S) pilgrimage from Makkah to Madinah as well as the nature of following a strictly lunar calendar even in pre-Islamic times. 

 

Muslim Holidays are Special

A young girl wearing a party hat hugs a young woman wearing the Hijab from the back, both laughing.

Muslim holidays are special because they are blessings granted to us by Allah (SWT).

All holidays are special because they commemorate a special historical event or occurrence. Some holidays are set aside to celebrate or remember people or an event, like Columbus Day or the Fourth of July. 

Muslim holidays, however, are special because they are days we are told to celebrate by the Qur’an or Sunnah. On these auspicious occasions, we are to remember Allah’s bounties, worship Him, and share with the community. They are often dependent on events that are important in Islamic history, but never random or frivolous in nature. 

These events remind us of Allah (SWT) and His love for believers. We understand that He (SWT) wishes to reward us for dedicating our lives to Him and the Deen and give us an opportunity to rejoice and send thanks for His blessings and mercy. 

So what is your favorite Muslim holiday and why? Comment below! 

 

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