Key Islamic dates
The Islamic calendar is based on the phases of the moon, with it being approximately 11 days shorter than the 365 days of the year in the Gregorian calendar. This is why the dates of the holy months and Islamic festivals, Eid -ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha, move through the year.
|A selection of key Islamic dates|
|Lailat Al Miraj
3 May 2016*
Lailat Al Miraj marks the night journey and ascent of the Prophet Mohammed (SAW), and the revelation of Salat. The festival is celebrated by telling the story of how the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) was visited by two archangels whilst he was asleep. The angels purified his heart and filled him with knowledge and faith.
According to many narrations, the Prophet travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single night on a strange winged creature called Buraq. From Jerusalem he ascended into heaven, where he met the earlier prophets, and eventually God. During his time in Heaven, Prophet Mohammed (SAW) was told of the duty of Muslims to perform Salat (prayer) five times a day.
6 June – 5 July 2016*
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. There are several reasons why Ramadan is considered important: The Qur'an was first revealed during this month The actual night that the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) is called Lailat ul Qadr, and to stand in prayer on this one night is said to be better than a thousand months of worship. Ramadan is often called 'month of the Qur'an' because of this, and Muslims attempt to recite as much of the Qur'an as they can during the month. Most mosques will recite one thirtieth of the Qur'an each night during the Taraweeh prayers. No one knows on which particular night the Qur'an was first revealed, but it is said to be one of the last ten nights of Ramadan.
The gates of Heaven are open and the gates of Hell are closed Muslims believe that their good actions bring a greater reward during this month than at any other time of year, because this month has been blessed by Allah. They also believe that it is easier to do good in this month because the devils have been chained in Hell, and so can't tempt believers. This doesn't mean that Muslims will not behave badly, but that any evil that they do comes from within themselves, without additional encouragement from the Devil. Almost all Muslims try to give up bad habits during Ramadan, and some will try to become better Muslims by praying more or reading the Qur'an.
Fasting the whole month long
Although Muslims fast during other times of the year, Ramadan is the only time when fasting is obligatory during the entire month for Muslims who are fit and able.
Mosques are filled with worshippers who go to attend Taraweeh prayers, which usually last between 1 and 2 hours. These prayers also give Muslims a chance to meet at the mosque every day.
I'tikaf refers to going into seclusion during the last ten nights of Ramadan, in order to seek Lailat ul Qadr by praying and reading the Qur'an. Some people live in the mosque during this time for serious reflection and worship. Others spend a few hours at the mosque or home.
|Lailat Al Qadr
2 July 2016*
Lailat al Qadr takes place during Ramadan; it is often referred to as ‘the Night of Power’ and celebrates the occasion when Allah first revealed the Qur'an to the Prophet Mohammad (SAW). Muslims around the world regard this as the most important event in history and mark it by studying the Qu’ran and praying.
|Eid Ul Fitr
6 July 2016*
Eid Ul Fitr, which is often referred to as “Little Eid”, marks the breaking of the fast and the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan. When celebrating Eid Ul Fitr, Muslims are not celebrating the end of the fast, but thanking Allah for the strength that He gave them during the previous month.
9 - 14 September 2016*
Every year, more than three million Muslims from around the world gather together in Mecca to praise Allah before the Kaaba. It is the largest single gathering of people anywhere in the world. The ritual promotes the bonds of Islam between its brothers and sisters by stripping away all displays of wealth and social status, because in the eyes of Allah everyone is equal.
The Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam. It is the voyage that every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their lives, if they can afford it and are physically and mentally able.
|Eid Ul Adha
11 September 2016*
Eid Ul Adha, known as “Big Eid”, is a festival which celebrates the Prophet Ibrahim’s (pbuh) complete obedience to the will of God. It is told that God appeared in a dream to Ibrahim and told him that he must sacrifice his own son -Isma'il. As Ibrahim and Isma’il travelled to Mina for the sacrifice, the devil tried to persuade Ibrahim to disobey God and not to sacrifice his beloved son. But Ibrahim stayed true to God. God stopped Ibrahim as he was about to sacrifice Isma’il, giving him a sheep to sacrifice instead.
|Islamic New Year (Al Hijra)
1 October 2016*
Compared to Eid Ul Fitr and Eid Ul Adha, Islamic New Year (Al Hijra) is a relatively low key celebration. It is the first day of the month of Muharram. It marks the time when the Prophet Mohammad (SAW) migrated from Mecca to Medina, and established the first Islamic state. It therefore represents the beginning of Islam as a community, inspired by God and totally obedient to God; a group of people bound together by faith.
11 October 2016*
Ashura marks two historical events: the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark and the day that Musa (Moses) was saved from the Egyptians by Allah. It is a day of fasting for Muslims.
Milad Un Nabi
Milad Un Nabi is often celebrated in Muslim countries and also in other countries with large Muslim populations.
Stories are told about different aspects of the life of the Prophet - his birth, childhood, youth and adult life. Muslims think about the leadership of the Prophet - his bravery, wisdom, preaching and his final triumph.
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