The Islamic Calendar

The Islamic calendar, Muslim calendar or Hijri calendar (Anno Hegirae or AH, Arabic: التقويم الهجري‎‎ at-taqwīm al-hijrī) is a lunar calendar consisting of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days.

It is used to date events in many Muslim countries (concurrently with the Gregorian calendar), and used by Muslims everywhere to determine the proper days on which to observe the annual fasting, to attend Hajj, and to celebrate other Islamic holidays and festivals.

The first year was the Islamic year beginning in AD 622 during which the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra, occurred. Each numbered year is designated either “H” for Hijra or “AH” for the Latin Anno Hegirae (“in the year of the Hijra”);[1] hence, Muslims typically call their calendar the Hijri calendar.

The current Islamic year is 1438 AH. In the Gregorian calendar, 1438 AH runs from approximately 3 October 2016 to 21 September 2017.[2]

Four of the twelve Hijri months are considered sacred: Rajab, and the three consecutive months of Dhū al-Qa‘dah (11), Dhu al-Ḥijjah (12) and Muḥarram (1).[3] As the lunar calendar lags behind the solar calendar by about ten days every year, months of the Islamic calendar fall in different parts of the Gregorian calendar each year. The cycle repeats every 33 years.

What does an Islamic year look like?

The names of the 12 months that comprise the Islamic year are:

1. Muharram 7. Rajab
2. Safar 8. Sha’ban
3. Rabi’ al-awwal (Rabi’ I) 9. Ramadan
4. Rabi’ al-thani (Rabi’ II) 10. Shawwal
5. Jumada al-awwal (Jumada I) 11. Dhu al-Qi’dah
6. Jumada al-thani (Jumada II) 12. Dhu al-Hijjah

Days of the week

In Arabic, the “first day” of the week corresponds with Sunday of the planetary week. The Islamic weekdays, like those in the Hebrew and Bahá’í calendars, begin at sunset. The Christian liturgical day, kept in monasteries, begins with vespers (see vesper), which is evening, in line with the other Abrahamic traditions. Christian and planetary weekdays begin at the following midnight. Muslims gather for worship at a mosque at noon on “gathering day” (Yawm al-Jum‘ah, yawm يوم meaning “day”) which corresponds with Friday.

Thus “gathering day” is often regarded as the weekly day of rest. This is frequently made official, with many Muslim countries adopting Friday and Saturday (e.g., Egypt, Saudi Arabia) or Thursday and Friday as official weekends, during which offices are closed; other countries (e.g., Iran) choose to make Friday alone a day of rest. A few others (e.g., Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco) have adopted the Saturday-Sunday weekend while making Friday a working day with a long midday break to allow time off for worship.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Name (Yawm) al-Aḥad (Yawm) al-Ithnayn (Yawm) ath-Thulāthā’ (Yawm) al-Arba‘ā’ (Yawm) al-Khamīs (Yawm) al-Jum‘ah (Yawm) as-Sabt
Arabic الأحد الإثنين الثلاثاء الأربعاء الخميس الجمعة السبت
Meaning First day Second day Third day Fourth day Fifth day Gathering day Day of Rest