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The Hijri year (AH anno hegirae / /) is the year-numbering system (or Calendar era) used in the Islamic calendar. It commences from the first day of the year of 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 CE 2015 corresponds to the Islamic years 1436 – 1437 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 Muhammad and Ammar ibn Yasir were born, was called "The Year of the Elephant". The year of the Hijra, 622-23 CE, 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),. However, the 1st of Muharram was March 19 in 622 while Muhammad left Mecca on May 17, arrived at Quba on May 24, and entered Medina on May 28 in the year 622.
Migration to Medina
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 the first year
The Muslim year during which the Hijra occurred was designated the first year of the Islamic calendar. Someone[who?] suggested that the era should begin from the date of birth of Muhammad. Some[who?] suggested that it should begin from the death of Muhammad. Ali suggested that it should begin from the date on which the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina. After discussion, Ali's suggestion was agreed to.
Next arose the question of which month the new era should start from. Someone[who?] suggested that the calendar should start with the month of Rajab as in the pre-Islamic period this month was held sacred. Someone[who?] proposed that the first month should be Ramzan as that is a sacred month for the Muslims. Another proposal[by whom?] was that the first month should be 'Zul Hajj' as that is the month of the 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.
Hakim Muhammad Said wrote:
|“||The author of the Nihayat al-idrak said that (the Hijra) was used, and for all future times the era was counted from it. Agreement on this matter was reached in the year 17 of the Hijra, the fourth year of the caliphate of 'Umar. Until then, each year (after the Hijra) was called after its main event, and this was used for dating purposes. The first year of the Prophet's residence in Medina was thus called: 'The permission to travel'. The second year was called: 'The year of the command to fight'. The third year: 'The year of the test', and so on. Afterwards, the custom of naming the year after the main events was abandoned.||”|
- Fazlur Rehman Shaikh, Chronology of Prophetic Events (London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., 2001), p. 157.
- Fazlur Rehman Shaikh, Chronology of Prophetic Events (London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., 2001), p. 52.
- Umar bin Al-Khattab (2002). "Islamic Actions and Social Mandates: The Hijri Calendar". witness-pioneer.org. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
- Aisha El-Awady (2002-06-11). "Ramadan and the Lunar Calendar". Islamonline.net. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
- Hakim Muhammad Said (1981). "The History of the Islamic Calendar in the Light of the Hijra". Ahlul Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
- F. A. Shamsi (1984). "The Date of Hijrah". Islamic Studies 23: 189–224 & 289–332.