Makkah/Dubai/Doha: The Islamic New Year 1439 began in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and other Arab states on Thursday September 21, 2017.
September 21, 2017 (Muharram 1, 1439) is the first day of Hijri New Year in UAE according to Dr. Ahmed Al Haddad, the Grand Mufti of Dubai, Khaleej Times reported.
Though the Saudi Royal Court is yet to officially announce sighting of the Muharram moon, almost all leading newspapers in the Kingdom, including Saudi Press Agency (SPA), have changed their calendar on Thursday to Muharram 01, 1439.
Accordingly, the Yuom-e-Ashura in the Arab World will be observed on Saturday September 30, 2017. Following the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him), Muslims around the world observe fast on Youm-e-Ashura. Youm-e-Ashura marks the day when Moses and his followers (also known as the children of Israel) were saved from Pharaoh.
The UAE and some of the other Arab nations had announced in advance that Thursday will be a paid public holiday for government and private sectors both.
Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs (MERA) in Oman however announced that it couldn't sight the moon of Muharram of the new Hijri year 1439 AH on Wednesday evening. In a late night statement, the ministry announced that Thursday, September 21, will be the last day of the current Islamic Year.
"Friday will be the first day of Muharram which falls on September 22, 2017," MERA said in its moon sighting statement.
The moon sighting committees in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries will decide today i.e. Thursday September 21, corresponding to 29th of Zul Hijjah, about the exact date to welcome the Islamic New Year 1439 in these countries.
07:41 pm: The Saudi Royal Court and the Moon Sighting Authorities in UAE, Qatar and other Arab states will decide today Wednesday September 20, 2017 corresponding to Zul Hijjah 29, 1438 in a few hours’ time if the new moon of the month of Muharram al haram is sighted or not.
The Islamic New year 1439 will begin from Thursday September 21, 2017 if the new moon is sighted today. If not, Thursday will be the counted as the 30th day of the ongoing month Zul Hijah, and the Islamic New Year 1439 will begin a day later from Friday September 22.
Accordingly the exact date of Youm-e-Ashura, observed on 10th of Muharram al Haram, will also be decided today evening.
According to the sources, the official announcement by the Saudi Royal Court regarding the Muharram al haram moon is expected after Magjrib prayers at about 08:00 pm Makkah time.
The UAE and Morocco have already announced Thursday as a holiday on account of the Islamic New Year 1439.
Meanwhile, moon sighting committees in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries will decide on Thursday September 21 about the exact date to welcome the Islamic New Year 1439 in these countries.
Based on lunar system, a new month in the Islamic Calendar begins with sighting of the moon on 29th of the ongoing month. If moon is sighted on 29th day, new month begins from the next day, else the next day is counted as 30th day and the new month begins a day later.
The Islamic Calendar was started 1438 years before by the second Caliph Omar ibn Khattab. Before that Muslims in their respective provinces, following the Arab tradition of the time, were used to count the days and months – with sighting of the new moon and counting the days thereafter without following any particular calendar or dating system.
After the Islamic State spread beyond Arab land to new areas, the defects in the system began to surface and the need for a better and accurate calendar was felt.
"The Caliph, the Supreme Head of the Islamic State, was used to issue all the Guidelines and Pronouncements to the Governors of various Islamic Provinces from Madinah. Things were actually working fine", Rehnuma, a student of Islamic studies, explains.
"But confusion arose when contradictory orders started reaching far away provinces at the same time. Since these orders were not carrying any date, it became very difficult for the Governors to find out which one of the orders was the latest and supposed to be followed with", she adds.
To overcome the confusion, Caliph Omar finally decided to introduce the Islamic Calendar and asked the people for their opinions and suggestions on the matter.
Consequently, various historical events, including the year when Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was born, the year of the Prophethood, the time of Migration and the time when the Prophet had died, were proposed by the people.
"However unanimity surfaced for the year that coincided with the migration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from Makkah as the commencing year of the Islamic Calendar. For, it was the migration of Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) from Makkah to Madinah that had resulted Islam nurturing into the new heights and spreading to the whole Arab lands, and also to the surrounding States", Rehnuma says quoting from the history.
"Moreover", she says, "Moharram al-Haram was also associated with many historical events and the month has always been considered as one among the four most respected and sacred months since centuries. These features only added strength to the selection of Moharram al-Haram as the first month of the Islamic calendar".
The Islamic Calendar thus introduced and adopted some 1,438 years ago, soon became popular, and also became part and partial of the calendars in every Muslim household.