Muslims mark a time of reflection
Though many people around the world mark the beginning of a new year on Jan. 1, many Muslims acknowledge Al-Hijra. The Islamic new year began Jan. 20, and it is the beginning of the Hijri Year of 1428.
The Islamic New Year is a cultural event in which some Muslims participate on the first day of the month Muharram. Muharram is derived from the Arabic word haram, meaning forbidden, when fighting is often looked down upon during this month, and peace and reflection on the year to come are recognized. It is one of the four sanctified months of the year.
Many Muslims use this day to remember the life of the prophet Muhammad and the Hijira, or emigration, he made from his hometown, Mecca, to the city now known as Medina.
Muhammad spent 13 years in Mecca after the first revelation, when Angel Gabriel visited him and taught him the Quran. Muhammad called the Arab tribes and told them about the new religion, Islam.
Those who accepted and became Muslims suffered the severe persecution of the nonbelievers. God permitted his messenger and the believers to migrate to the city of Yathrib, or Medina, as it is now known. The people of Medina warmly welcomed the prophet and his companions and shared their possessions with them. The Hijra was a remarkable event, and the Muslims started using it as the beginning of their calendar.
Unlike the important holidays of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, there are few rituals associated with Islamic New Year. There are no set religious observances. Many Muslims fast during this month especially on the 10th day as recommended by the prophet Muhammad during his lifetime. In modern times, some Muslims exchange cards to celebrate the holiday.
The Islamic new year signals a fresh start for many Muslims and believers around the world. Peace is wished for and hoped for as is a time of tolerance and acceptance.
Randa Shabayek is a member of the Masjid Al-Khair mosque in Youngstown. Nima Awadalla, also a member of the mosque, contributed to this article.