Hijri Calendar Explained

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Hijri (A.H.) Muslim
Calendar Explained

As Muslims - all of us should know about the Hijiri year and be able to explain something about it to others, inshallah.

With that in mind, we borrowed some input from folks around the world on how to best explain our Muslim (Hijri) calendar.

Here's what we came up with - let us know of any idas or corrections or comments you might have, inshallah.

Hijir Calendar (After Hijri or A.H.)

The Hijri year (AH anno hegirae /ˈæn ˈhɛɨr/) is the year-numbering system (or Calendar era) used in the Islamic calendar. It commemorates the Hijra (هِجْرَة), or emigration of Muhammad and his followers to the city of Medina in 622 CE. In Arabic, AH is symbolized by the letter هـ. The year 2014 AD corresponds to the Islamic years 1435–1436 AH.


In the actual year when the migration took place, there was already a functioning Lunar calendar with named months. However, this calendar did not number the years, so for example, 570, the year Prophet Muhammad and Ammar ibn Yasir were born, was called "The Year of the Elephant". The year of the Hijra, 622-23 CE in the Julian Calendar[clarification needed],[1] was named "The Permission to Travel".

Seventeen years later, the developers of the Islamic calendar chose that year as the year to start counting from: "[the] first year of the Hijra [era], 1 Annum Hegirae (Anno Hegirae when annum is declined in the ablative/locative case, as it is in "in the [ ordinal ] year of the Hijra"; cf. Anno Domini), abbreviated 1 AH. The first day of 1 AH corresponds to July 16, 622, denoted as "1 Muharram 1 AH".

The Hijra is celebrated annually on the 8th day of Rabi I, about 66 days after the 1st of Muharram, the first day of the Muslim year. Many writers confuse the first day of the year of the Hijra with the date of the migration to Medina itself, erroneously stating that the Hijra occurred on 1 Muharram AH 1 (or July 16, 622),[ci. In fact however, 1st of Muharram was April 18 in 622[2]while the Prophet left Mecca on June 21, arrived at Quba on June 28, and entered Medina on July 2 in the year 622.

History - Migration to Medina

 Migration to Medina

Prophet Muhammad's preachings did not at first have much success in the city of Mecca. His tribe, the Quraysh, which was in charge of the Kaaba, persecuted and harassed him continuously. This eventually led to the migration to Medina.

Designating First Year

The Muslim year during which the Hijra occurred was designated the first year of the Islamic calendar.

Someone suggested that the era should begin from the date of birth of Prophet Muhammad. Some suggested that it should begin from the death of Prophet Muhammad.

Ali suggested that it should begin from the date on which the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Madina. After discussion, Ali's suggestion was agreed to.

Next arose the question of which month the new era should start from.

Someone suggested that the calendar should start with the month of Rajab as in the pre-Islamic period this month was held sacred. Someone proposed that the first month should be Ramzan as that is a sacred month for the Muslims.

Another proposal was that the first month should be 'Dhul Hijja' as that is the month of the Hajj (pilgrimage). Usman suggested that because throughout the Arabian Peninsula the year was calculated as starting with Muharram, the new era should also start with Muharram. This suggestion was accepted.

The date was accordingly pushed back by two months and eight days, and the new Hijri calendar began with the first day of Muharram in the year of migration rather than from the actual date of migration.

Umar accordingly issued instructions to all concerned regarding the enforcement of the Hijri calendar.


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