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The History of Muharram

Also known as Maal Hijrah, the 1st of Muharram is observed in many parts of the world as a public holiday, such as in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Malaysia!


Did you know that Muharram, the 1st month in the Islamic Hijri calendar, is seen as the second holiest month, right after Ramadhan?

When we mention Maal Hijrah, Hijrah is derived from an Arabic word that means ‘emigrating or moving’. Muharram concurs with the migration of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. from Mecca to Medina in the year 622 AD.

When the persecution against the Muslims from the people of Mecca grew more intense, Allah S.W.T. commanded them to emigrate so that they could establish Islam in a land where they can worship him.

Allah S.W.T. chose Medina as the land of Hijrah (emigration for the sake of Allah S.W.T.)

The Prophet S.A.W. saw in a dream that he was immigrating to that city. He said:

"I saw in a dream that I was emigrating from Mecca to a land in which there are date palms, and I thought that it was Al-Yamamah or Hajar, but it turned out to be Madinah, Yathrib.” Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Yathrib, known today as Medina, translates to ‘the city’. In the year 638 AD, the Islamic calendar was introduced by Umar ibn Al-Khattab, a close companion of the Messenger S.A.W.

Thus, Muharram, the Islamic New Year began for Muslims.


Muharram is also considered a sacred month because the Hijrah signified freedom from suffering for the Muslims who were living in Mecca. When the Prophet S.A.W. made his Hijrah to Medina, the Ummah were indirectly saved from further mistreatment by the Meccan pagans.

The Messenger of Allah S.A.W. restructured the state administration. The Jewish and Muslim community lived in harmony and a multi-racial, multi-religious state adhered to laws where all races had equal rights.

The Prophet S.A.W. made vital efforts to end any preexisting economic exploitations and valued education for the Muslim community.


So now, you understand a little bit more about the history of the first month of our Islamic New Year! At the same time, this month is the best time for us to start implementing good habits such as voluntary fasting and doing regular charitable actions. Since it’s the start of the new Islamic year, let’s start afresh and set the right tone for the coming months!

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