Awal Muharram (Islamic lunar new year)

20 August 2020

Awal Muharram, the beginning of the new Hijrah year, is a historic occasion for Muslims around the world. While traditions for Awal Muharram will vary from country to country, it is a public holiday in most Islamic countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia.

Muharram 2020 will start on Thursday, the 20th of August, which is the first day of 1442 AH (Anno Hegirae) and last for 29 days until Saturday, the 17th of September. All religious duties, such as prayer, fasting in the month of Ramadan, and pilgrimage, and the dates of significant events, such as celebration of holy nights and festivals, are calculated according to the Islamic calendar.

To mark Awal Muharram, Muslims attend various religious activities, spiritual singing, religious meetings. They recite Koranic verses and hold special prayers and sermons at public halls and mosques.

A popular Awal Muharram treat is a sweet rice porridge, called Bubur Asyura in Malay, which is shared at breakfast with friends and relatives.

The Islamic New Year represents the starting point of the Muslim era when Prophet Muhammad left Mecca for Medina to escape persecution in 622 CE. The essence of Prophet Muhammad’s emigration was a process to change one’s situation and as such, the focus of the festival is on reflection, remembrance, and gratitude.

The arrival of the Hijrah year is seen as a time to make or renew resolutions. If the past year has been unproductive, Muslims must try to make this year constructive in every sense of the word. For those who led a meaningful life last year, then the aim this year is to be even better.

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