Islamic New Year begins today,

The UAE Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) took to Twitter to announce that August 31 will be Muharram 1, 1441, the first day of the Hijri New Year.

The official statement reads; “Further to the circular issued by the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources regarding the Hijri New Year’s holiday for 1441H in the Federal Government, and in light of the announcement of the relevant authorities in the Government that Saturday is the first day of Muharram 1441H; the Hijri New Year’s holiday will be observed on Saturday 31 August 2019. Regular working hours will resume on Sunday, Sept.1, 2019. Happy New Year.”

The dates may vary from country to country since moon sightings are usually used to determine the beginning of the new month. According to the International Astronomy Centre, the Muharram 1 crescent was spotted on Thursday night in Jordan and Algeria. However, the first month of the Hijri New Year, Muharram, is marked today in the UAE.

Hijri, also known as the Arabic New Year was first observed in 622 AD when Prophet Mohammed migrated from Mecca to Medina (in present-day Saudi Arabia) with his followers to escape religious persecution.

Since New Year is a time of reflection, Hijri is no different. Prayers and fasting build-up to the tenth day of Muharram, called Ashura when the persecution at Karbala is remembered. Many followers choose to fast on its ninth and tenth days since Muharram means “forbidden.”

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How did UAE celebrate Hijri 2019?

Since Gregorian Calendar is followed in most of the Muslim countries, the Islamic New Year is not celebrated as massively as the January 1st New Year. However, Hijri has its own charm in the Arab world.

The government had a unique way to celebrate today. Not only was it a public holiday, but parking was made free all across Dubai and Abu Dhabi on the occasion of the start of the Islamic New Year. While the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai told The National that fees would be waived at all parking areas, except for multilevel car parks, the authorities in Abu Dhabi said all its parking bays would be free of charge.

The royals across the Islamic countries shared their greetings of Muharram, the second most holy month of the Islamic year, after Ramadan.

What year is it?

Islamic years are usually followed by the letter “H”, for Hijri, or “AH”, for the Latin term Anno Hegirae, meaning “in the year of the Hijra.” This new year, the Islamic year is 1441 AH.

Unlike the Gregorian Calendar which has 365 days, the Islamic year has minimum 354 days. This is because the Hijri follows the movements of the moon. It can be said that the Hijri Calendar is consistently less by 11 days compared to the Gregorian.

The only similarity between the Islamic and Gregorian calendar is that, both have 12 months each of seven days in a week.

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