Hijrah 1440: As world Muslims welcome Islamic New Year next week.
Like other Islamic celebrations, the dates differ from year to year in relation to the Gregorian calendar, as they are based on the lunar cycle.
The Islamic New Year begins with the sighting of the new moon at sunset. Its arrival signals the beginning of the month of Muharram - one of the four holy months of the Islamic calendar.
Muharram is the second most holy month of the Islamic year, after Ramadan, its name meaning 'forbidden', many followers of the faith choosing to fast on its ninth and tenth days.
The first month of the year also marks the anniversary of the historic Battle of Karbala on 10 October 680 AD where the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Imam Hussein ibn Ali, was killed during the siege of the Iraqi city 100km south of Baghdad, an event widely commemorated by Shia Muslims.
The New Year also honours the emigration of Muhammad from Makkah to Madinah, which was known as the Hijrah and gives the first day of the year its name.
Hijri New Year will fall on 11 September for most Muslims this year.
In some Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia - astronomical calculations are used to determine the dates of the Islamic calendar instead - and, for this reason, there are sometimes differences of up to two days as to precisely when the date falls depending on where you are.
Islamic years are usually followed by the letter 'H', for Hijrah, or 'AH', for the Latin term Anno Hegirae, meaning 'in the year of the Hijrah.'
At the moment, the Islamic year is 1439 AH. From next week, it will be 1440 AH.
How is the New Year celebrated?
For many Muslims, the New Year represents a period for self-reflection and historical awareness. Prayers and fasting build up towards the tenth day of Muharram, known as Ashura. Sunni Muslims regard Ashura as a day of respect and gratitude for the Prophet Moses.
UAE announces holiday for Islamic New Year
The United Arab Emirates Cabinet has declared Thursday (September 13) as a holiday for ministries and federal entities to mark the new Hijri year. Work will resume on Sunday, September 16.
The first day of the Islamic New Year - Muharram 1, 1440 - will be announced after moon sighting in the country.
The Cabinet took the occasion to extend warm congratulations to the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, wishing them good health and well-being.
The Cabinet also congratulated Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Supreme Council members and rulers of the Emirates, the UAE people and the Arab and Islamic nations on the occasion.
Private sector holiday announced in Oman
Muharram 1, 1440 will also be a holiday for the private sector in Oman.
The announcement was made by the Sultanate's Minister of Manpower, Times of Oman reported.
'The first day of Muharram 1440 will be an official holiday for businesses and institutions working in the private sector,' the report quoted Sheikh Abdullah Al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, as saying.
The corresponding date in the Gregorian calendar will be announced after moon sighting.
In the UAE, according to the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department of the Government of Dubai, residents will be enjoying an off on September 11 for the Hijri New Year.
Dons, NACOMYO share perspectives on Hijrah New Year celebration
A professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies, Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, Afis Oladosu, said celebrating the beginning of the Hijrah calendar every year by Muslims had become an existential necessity.
According to the don, such celebration is meant to remind Muslims of the past, 'which should not be seen to be past-perfect but past-present.'
Professor Oladosu said: 'It is meant to call their attention afresh to the sacrifices made by heroes of Islam in order that they might be partakers of the Islamic commonwealth today. It is meant to re-insert and assert the Islamic identity into the slippery terrain and politics of modernity. In the latter, the significance of Hijrah, the Islamic calendar, becomes clear- that Islam and Muslims made the world in the past; that Islam and Muslims will do once again in no distant future.
He said Muslims ought to celebrate the occasion 'in self-retrospection, in self-abnegation, in complete pondering of the implications of the passage of time, in the full awareness that we are all migrants.'
According to him, the best way to mark the beginning of the Hijrah calendar is equally to mark the beginning of new connections with the Creator and His creatures.
'The real migrant, the Prophet posited, is not he who departs one city for the other. Rather, he is the real muhajir (migrant), that person who forsakes that which does not please the Almighty for that which pleases Him,' Professor Oladosu said.
The director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Is-haq Akintola, underscored the significance of the celebration of the Islamic New Year by asking that the Nigerian government declare 1st Muharram of every year as a public holiday for Muslims, too.
The National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), said in Nigeria, the marking of Hijrah, which signals the commencement of a new Islamic calendar, began about 30 years ago.
'It is not another festival per se but it is marked by Muslim communities to create awareness for a new beginning. Statements about developments in the Islamic world are made. At such gatherings, prayers and lectures are held while goodwill messages by leaders of Islamic groups are presented.
'The high point of the event is a march past by school children and Islamic youth groups. It is also an occasion for meeting old and new friends and for merrymaking. The coming on board of Governor Rauf Aregbesola in 2010 in Osun State saw a declaration of the first Muharram as a work-free day. Oyo State followed suit in 2016. It is hoped that this tradition will be sustained this years as Tuesday, September 11, 2018, is the first Muharram 1440 AH,' the organisation said through its National Secretary General, Alhaji Mas'ud Akintola.