The end of the holiday season and the midst of winter ushers in the new year. New Year’s Day is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. People often make resolutions to plan for the upcoming year ahead after much self reflection.
However, the new year is not a religious holiday as it is not based on any religious historical event or associated with any significance. What’s more is that the existence of different calendars means that there are actually many different new years scattered throughout the year.
Do Muslims celebrate new years? If they do, which new years do they celebrate, and how?
New Year: Hijri Calendar
The new year people often refer to is that of January first in the Gregorian calendar. While this is the standard calendar used by most people around the world, Muslims use another calendar known as the Hijri calendar.
Although some Muslim countries and communities still govern their daily lives using the Gregorian calendar, the Hijri calendar is used to calculate religious holidays and observances, such as Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha, Ramadan, and Hajj. Because these days of significance change every year in relation to the Gregorian calendar, the hijri calendar is important in calculating the correct dates for these events.
The Hijri calendar takes the hijrah (migration) of the Prophet (s) as its point of departure and starts on the first of Muharram each year. It is a lunar calendar, meaning it is based on the phases of the moon, and so, it is ten days shorter than the typical Gregorian year. This, in turn, means that the New Year Hijri happens approximately ten days earlier in the Gregorian calendar each year.
For instance, the first of Muharram (New Year’s Day in the hijri calendar) was on July 30 this year, or, the hijri year 1444, which marked one thousand, four hundred, and forty-three years since the Prophet’s migration from Makkah to Madina. However, the previous hijri new year, for the hijri year 1443, was on August 9, 2021. And in 2023, the hijri new year will be on July 19, or, ten days earlier again.
Do Muslims celebrate New Year’s? This Noor Kids’ blog on Muslim holidays explores the different holidays that Muslims do and do not celebrate, including a discussion on New Year’s Day, as well as the dates of the blessed days in the Month of Ramadan and throughout the hijri year.
One final note: Because the Islamic New Year and the starts of Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr depend upon moon sightings, these days may occur on more than one date in a given year, as the moon is not seen at the same time in every location. Further, there are different interpretations as to the valid forms of moon sighting and the permissible technology involved. Many refer to the calendar of Saudi Arabia, the home of the Holy Ka‘aba, and adhere to the moon sightings listed in the Umm al-Qura Calendar of Saudi Arabia.
How can Muslims Celebrate the Islamic New Year?
With the Islamic new year comes the first month of the Hijri calendar, Muharram. The word muharram itself means forbidden, indicating the significance of this month. Allah (SWT) forbids fighting during three holy months, one of which is Muharram. This month is often commemorated with extra ibadah, or worship, of Allah (SWT).
The second Muslim caliph after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (S), Umar ibn Khattab (RA), was the first to institute the calendar in the year 639 AD in order to organize and standardize Muslim traditions and holidays of significance.
When asking do Muslims celebrate new years, it can be important to make a distinction about the new years in question. Although the new year is not a holiday Allah (SWT) has ordained for Muslims to celebrate, there is no harm in using the new year as a starting point for new beginnings and as a time to worship Allah.
What are some ways Muslims can celebrate new years? Below is a list of how to celebrate Islamic new year using five ways that earn the pleasure of Allah (SWT):
- Spend your time in worship and remembrance of Allah (SWT)
The best way for Muslims to spend any holiday is to worship Allah (SWT). There are many forms of worship that Muslims can take part in, including reading the Qur’an, doing dhikr, praying extra salat, and gaining knowledge. Worshiping Allah (SWT) is full of benefits without any downsides, as we earn the pleasure of Allah (SWT), earn good deeds, and feel uplifted in our mood and heart.
We can also remember Allah (SWT) in the form of dua or supplication. Starting a new year inspires us to pursue many hopes and plans, and we must ensure we make Dua to Allah (SWT) to help us fulfill our goals and to keep us on the right path no matter what venture we head into.
The new year is often used as an opportunity to embark upon new good habits, one of which can be to incorporate duas in your everyday life. A small handheld dua book and its online counterpart called Fortress of the Muslim by Darussalam Publications is an excellent resource for learning duas that pertain to everyday life.
- Help others and do good deeds
Allah (SWT) loves those who do good for others and give in charity. A beautiful way to start a new year is to give to others. There are many ways that one can give in charity, including giving money to the poor and needy, volunteering for a local cause, helping clean the environment, and even helping family members in their times of need.
Allah (SWT) tells us in the Qur’an that we earn His reward when we give charity, both openly and secretly:
“Those who give, out of their own possessions, by night and by day, in private and in public will have their reward with their Lord.”Qur’an 2:274
- Self Introspection
A new beginning often requires that we take part in some self-introspection. This can mean thinking about one’s habits, deeds, thoughts, and actions. It is crucial to contemplate our state from time to time to ensure we are not wavering from the straight path set for us by Allah (SWT). We can decide to change the way we think about certain situations, fix bad habits and form new good ones, feel remorse and apologize for our bad actions, and renew the intentions we make in our day-to-day life.
You can also teach your children to form good habits with the Noor Kids habit tracking tool this new year hijri! The worksheet allows your child to identify the things they need to do each day of the week so they can work on creating good habits and eliminating bad ones.
- Make resolutions
The most common thing people do at the start of the new year, and one of the best ways you can spend the upcoming Islamic new year 1445, is to make new year’s resolutions. Although many people believe that no one really follows through with new year’s resolutions, the simple act of making a plan for positive change is powerful, and it is the first step towards actual change.
Making a resolution involves physically writing a plan for one’s new year and resolving to follow through with an action plan. Some people make resolutions for material and concrete goals, such as securing a new job or promotion, going on a particular vacation, or saving up a specific amount of money.
Oftentimes people make resolutions of a more abstract nature, such as eliminating bad habits, altering one’s mindset and perspective, or amending character traits such as being kinder or more patient.
The most consistently-followed resolutions, however, appear to be those in which one plans to do something as opposed to trying to break a bad habit. A large-scale experiment on new year’s resolutions found that approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. So dedicate some time to reading the Qur’an every day or a set portion of your wealth for charity every month, and you are more likely to see improvement in yourself.
Why do Muslims Celebrate New Years?
Muslims do not celebrate New Year’s Day by default, as it is not a holiday Allah (SWT) has ordained for us or encouraged us to celebrate, but we can celebrate the Islamic New Year in ways that please Allah (SWT) and earn them rewards.
So, do Muslims celebrate new years? The short answer is, yes Muslims can celebrate the new year if they wish to do so. We should utilize every opportunity to worship Allah (SWT), earn the pleasure of Allah (SWT), and gain reward!
How do you celebrate the new year? Comment below!