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Muharram 2022: Everything you need to know

As one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar, Muharram marks the beginning of the new Islamic year. It follows Ramadan as the second holiest divine month and is one of the four sacred months mentioned in the Koran. If you’re wondering when Muharram 2022 is, the beginning of the new Islamic year falls on July 30th this year. In this Pacific Prime Dubai article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Muharram 2022.

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What is Muharram?

The word ‘Muharram’ translates to “forbidden, banned, illicit, or prohibited”. It is the second most significant month following Ramadan and is often a period of fasting for practicing Muslims. Celebrations last for 10 days, starting once the new moon has been sighted on the final day of the Islamic calendar. The tenth day of Muharram, which is known as the day of Ashura, is the most significant for Muslims for various reasons. According to the Muharram date in 2022, the day of Ashura is expected to begin on August 7th or 8th.

When does Muharram begin?

Muslim holidays fall on different dates every year since they are based on the lunar calendar. Since its length differs from the Gregorian calendar that is commonly used in the West, celebrations take place on a different day each year. Many Muslims note the beginning of Muharram at the initial sighting of the moon following the new moon in the same month.

While it’s possible to see the crescent moon a day or two after the new moon, factors such as weather conditions can affect the sighting. Alternatively, different criteria are used by other Muslims to decide the start of the Islamic New Year. For example, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) calculates the date based on the following criteria:

  • The moon must become new before sunset in Makkah
  • The moon must set after sunset

According to the FCNA, the first day of the Islamic New Year in 2022 is July 29th at sundown, followed by July 18th in 2023 and July 7th in 2024. It’s worth noting that the dates might be a day or two earlier than a visible sighting. This year, Muharram is expected to end on August 28th at sundown. So if you’re wondering how many days are left in Muharram 2022, it has yet to start. The countdown is on as there are just a few days to go (depending on where you are in the world).

Why do we celebrate Muharram?

Are you curious about what is Muharram celebrated for? The Day of Ashura, or the tenth day of Muharram, is an important day for Muslims. It marks the day that Nuh, or Noah, left the Ark. It is also the day that God saved Prophet Musa, or Moses, from the Pharaoh of Egypt by helping him and his people cross the Red Sea.

But the festival differs depending on who celebrates Muharram. Shia and Sunni Muslims regard Muharram differently. For Muslims who follow the Sunni branch of Islam, the month marks the start of the Islamic New Year and represents peace and contemplation. For many Shia Muslims, it symbolizes a serious, reflective day in Islamic history.

It commemorates the death of Hussein Ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Hussein had questioned the authenticity of the caliph Yazid and was later murdered during the Battle of Karbala. The Battle of Karbala occurred on the Day of Ashura in 680 AD. Due to Hussein’s murder and the brutality of the battle during a period when fighting is prohibited, many Shia grieve and remember the Prophet family’s bravery.

How is Muharram celebrated?

Is Muharram a public holiday, you ask? It’s a day off for the general population, with schools, government offices, and most businesses closed.

Many Muslims choose to fast during Muharram, such as on the day of Ashura and other days in the month, to show gratitude. According to Prophet Muhammad, fasting on the day of Ashura will absolve all sins from the previous year. Therefore, many Muslims opt to fast on the ninth and tenth days of Muharram. People also like to cook sweet dishes, such as sweet rice, and eat them with their family and friends when breaking their fast.

It’s common to give extra prayers and spend a lot of time in the mosque during this period. Shia Muslims take part in morning rituals as well. Some go to mosques to mourn Hussein’s death and to remember what the Prophet’s family did for justice. Similarly, other Shia Muslims perform public rituals that include forehead-cutting, chest-beating, and self-flagellation.

While Muharram can be celebrated as the beginning of the Islamic New Year or as mourning death, either way, it is a significant and holy month for all Muslims. Muharram will always be a month of profound reflection for Muslims all over the world.

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Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime Dubai
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs