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Global - January 13, 2021

Islamic Calendar 2021 – All the dates of Muslim holidays, festivals and months

All the significant dates in the Muslim calendar for the Islamic year including Ramadan, Eid and the Hajj – when they are expected and what they mean.

As we head further into 2021, Islamic events such as Ramadan, Eid and the Hajj pilgrimage come round once again.
It’s not yet known how they may be impacted by coronavirus restrictions.
But when are they? And how are they worked out?

The Islamic calendar – also called the Hijri calendar – is based on the cycle of the moon and consists of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days.

This lunar calendar is 10 to 11 days shorter than the solar-based Gregorian calendar followed by much of the western world.
It means that Islamic dates drift back by 10 to 11 days in each regular western year.

Basing the Islamic calendar on the moon means it can be predicted in advance but in practice, a sighting of the first crescent of the new moon is confirmed before the start of each month is known and other dates within that month can then be determined.

The calendar was established in 622 AD when Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina – after being warned of an assassination plot – and established the first Muslim community (ummah), an event commemorated as the Hijra.
Years older than that date are denoted as BH (Before Hijra).

What’s the Islamic calendar for 2021?
The Islamic year of 1442 runs from August 20, 2020, to August 21, 2021.
Dates can vary by a day or two either side, depending on which reports of moon sightings are followed.
Some congregations, communities and countries follow announcements in the UK, Morocco and South Africa while others adhere to declarations from Saudi Arabia.
So when are the key dates for Muslims in the Islam calendar?
The main dates are given below.
All of these dates are subject to confirmation following an official sighting of the first crescent of the new moon. And as already mentioned, there can also be local variations of a day or so.
But the calendar below will give you a very good idea of when all the key dates are happening in 2021.

Islamic months and expected dates in year 1442
According to predictions and astronomical charts, the months of the Islamic year during year 1442 – covering 2020/2021 – are expected to start as listed below.
But remember that dates are subject to an official sighting of the first crescent of the new moon and can also vary by a day or so in different locations.
Confirmation using the new moon is seen as particularly significant for Muharram (new year), Ramadan, Shawwal (whose first day is Eid al-Fitr) and Dhul-Hijjah (during which Eid al-Adha and the Hajj take place).

Muharram (1st month) – starts August 20, 2020 – start of year 1442
Safar (2nd month) – starts September 18, 2020
Rabi al-Awwal (3rd month) – starts October 18, 2020
Rabi al-Akhar (4th month) – starts November 16, 2020
Jumada al-Awwal (5th month) – starts December 16, 2020
Jumada Al-Thani or al-Akhirah (6th month) – starts January 14, 2021
Rajab (7th month) – starts February 13, 2021
Shaban (8th month) – starts March 14, 2021
Ramadan (9th month) – starts April 13, 2021
Shawwal (10th month) – starts May 13, 2021
Dhu al-Qadah (11th month) – starts June 11, 2021
Dhul al-Hijjah (12th month) – starts July 1, 2021
After that, the next year of Muharram 1443 is predicted to start August 22, 2021.
Key dates in Islamic calendar 2021
Laylat al-Miraj – Thursday, March 11, 2021
Shab e Barat (or Lailat al Bara’a) – Sunday, March 28, 2021
Grand Mawlid Birmingham – Sunday, April 25, 2021 (arranged on nearest Gregorian equivalent to Islamic date – see below)
Ramadan – Tuesday, April 13 to Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Laylat al-Qadr – Sunday, May 9, 2021
Chaand Raat – Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Eid al-Fitr – Thursday, May 13, 2021
Hajj – Saturday, July 17 to Thursday, July 22, 2021
Day of Arafah – Monday, July 19, 2021
Eid al-Adha – Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Eid al-Ghadir – Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Eid al-Mubahalah – Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Islamic New Year (first day of Muharram, start of year 1443) – Tuesday, August 10, 2021
Day of Ashura – Thursday, August 19, 2021
Arba’een – Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Milad or Mawlid al-Nabi (Muhammad’s birthday) – Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Dates are all subject to confirmation by a sighting of the moon and may vary by a day or so.

Laylat al Miraj
Laylat (or Lailat) al-Miraj marks the the night-time journey of the prophet Muhammad from Mecca to what the Qur’an describes as the ‘farthest mosque in Jerusalem.’

Masjid Al Aqsa is regarded as the location of the ‘farthest mosque’ – this traditionally describes the large sacred site that is sometimes called Haram Al Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).

Lailat al Miraj is observed on the 27th day of Rajab, the seventh month in the Islamic calendar.

Some Muslims gather at their local mosque for prayers, while others celebrate at home by telling the story of Muhammad’s journey to children and reciting prayers at night. After prayers, food is served.

In some countries, cities are illuminated with candles and lights. Some worshippers take part in fasting.
Shab e Barat
Also called Laylat al-Bara’at, Bara’a Night or Mid-Sha’ban, this is a holiday observed on the night between the 14th and 15th day of the month of Sha’ban.
Shab e Barat is when Muslims believe the fortunes of men are decided for the year ahead and when Allah descends to earth and offers mercy and forgiveness to sinners.
Prayers are held through the night so that worshippers can ask for forgiveness for themselves and for their dead ancestors. Lamps are lit outside mosques.

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. During this month, Muslims fast from early morning (before dawn) through to sunset.
Fasting means no food or drink and also refraining from smoking, sex and ‘sinful behaviour’ such as swearing, lying and gossiping.
When this month falls during the time of longer days and warmer weather, the fasting can be quite a challenge
Muslims believe Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, were revealed to Muhammad.
Within the last 10 days of Ramadan is the celebration called Laylat al-Qadr, meaning Night of Power or Destiny. This is when the first verses of the Qu’ran were revealed and is said to be the night when sins are forgiven and the blessings and mercy of Allah are abundant. Many traditions observe it on the 27th night of Ramadan.

On the last day of Ramadan, Muslims gather to celebrate and look for the first crescent of the new moon. This event is called Chaand Raat, meaning ‘night of the moon’.

Worshippers at Birmingham’s Eid celebrations in 2017
Eid al-Fitr
Also written as Eid ul Fitr, this means Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.
It marks the end of Ramadan and the first day of the next month, Shawwal.
• Delicious Eid recipes from Brummie Bake Off star

Eid al-Adha
This is the second Eid celebration in the Muslim year. The name means Festival of the Sacrifice.
The holiday lasts from three to 16 days, depending on the country.
It commemorates Ibraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. He was about to go ahead when he was shown a ram to slaughter instead.
Muslims mark the occasion by sacrificing a lamb, goat, cow or other animal and sharing the meat with friends and neighbours, and with the poor and needy
• Eid al-Adha prayers in Birmingham: video, pictures and reaction

This is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, a journey that is required at least once in a Muslim worshipper’s lifetime if they are financially and physically able to do it.
Up to three million Muslims perform the pilgrimage every year.
The second day of the Hajj is called the Day of Arafah, commemorating Muhammad’s final sermon, which was delivered from Mount Arafah. Pilgrims hold a vigil at Arafah, where they pray, repent for their sins and ask for mercy from Allah.
Muslims who did not go to Hajj fast to repent for their sins.
Islamic New Year
The first day of the month of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar, is Islamic New Year.
The Islamic calendar began with the migration of the prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina, to escape persecution.
Day of Ashura
Ashura falls on the 10th day of Muharram.
For Sunni Muslims, Ashura marks the exodus of Moses from Egypt, and is usually observed by completing an optional fast that was undertaken by Muhammad.
For Shia Muslims, it marks the anniversary of the tragic death of the prophet’s grandson, Husain. They mark the day with mourning and sometimes by re-enacting the tragic event.
An annual Matami Juloos (Urdu for mourning procession) takes places in Balsall Heath, Birmingham, every year.
This means ‘forty’ and is a Shia Muslim religious observance that takes place 40 days after Ashura.
It commemorates the martyrdom of the grandson of Muhammad in the Battle of Karbala.
Arba’een sees one of the largest pilgrimage gatherings in the world, with millions of Muslims marching on foot to Karbala in Iraq.
Sunni Muslims also undertake the pilgrimage.

Mawlid (or Milad) un-Nabi means ‘birth of the prophet’ and refers to observance of the birthday of Muhammad, which is commemorated in Rabi’ al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.
The exact date of Muhammad’s birth is not known but it’s often regarded as the 12th day of the month.
This is the usual custom for Sunni Muslims, although Shia Muslims believe the prophet’s birthday was on the 17th day, which was November 25.
This date – sometimes just referred to as Mawlid or Milad, and also as Eid al-Mawlid and Eid-e-Milad – is observed by praising Allah, fasting, public processions, poetry, family gatherings and the decoration of streets and homes.

A procession of thousands of Muslims takes place in Birmingham each year.

Up to 30,000 Muslims from across the country gather in Aston Park to celebrate the birthday of the prophet Muhammad, following a huge procession from the Victoria Road Mosque nearby.
It’s the largest Milad celebration in Europe. The parade includes a horse-drawn carriage and the waving of bright banners and flags. But it is held on the Gregorian calendar equivalent of the Islamic date, meaning it takes place in April.



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