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The Hijri year or era is the era used in the Islamic lunar calendar, beginning its count from 622 CE, the year of the flight of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Yathrib (later Medina), an event known as the Hijra. It is denoted in Arabic with a hāʾ (هـ), the first letter of Hijra. It is denoted in English by the abbreviation AH, which follows the format of the Dionysian era in representing a Latin phrase. Anno Hegirae (/ /) means "in the year of the Hijra" and should technically precede dates in the manner of AD. More commonly, it is placed after the year.
Because the Islamic lunar calendar has only 354 days in its year, it slowly rotates within the Gregorian year. The year 2015 CE corresponds to the Islamic years AH 1436 – 1437.
The Hijri era is calculated according to the Islamic lunar calendar and not the Julian or Gregorian solar one. It thus does not begin on January 1 CE, but on the first day of the month of Muharram which occurred in 622 CE. Its Julian equivalent was April 19 but it is sometimes mistakenly placed on July 16. The error derives from the tabular Islamic calendar which was devised by later Islamic astronomers. This reckons time backwards according to the lunar calendar, which causes it to miss the three intercalary months (about 88 days) added to the then-lunisolar calendar between the time of the Hijra and AH 10, when Muhammad allegedly received a revelation prohibiting their use.
The date of the Hijra itself did not form the Islamic New Year. Instead, the system continues the earlier ordering of the months with the Hijra occurring around the 8th day of Rabi al-Awwal, 66 days into the first year.
By the age of Muhammad, there was already an Arabian lunar calendar with named months. The years of its calendar, however, used conventional names rather than numbers: for example, the year of Muhammad and Ammar ibn Yasir's birth (570 CE) was known as the "Year of the Elephant". The year of the Hijra (622-23 CE) was initially named the "Permission to Travel".
17 years after the Hijra, a complaint from Abu Musa Ashaari prompted the caliph Umar to abolish the practice of named years and to establish a new calendar era. Rejected proposals included dating from the year of Muhammad's birth or death. Tradition credits ʿAli with the proposal to date from the year during which the Muslims established a new community (Ummah) in Medina. The order of the months within the calendar was then debated. Rejected proposals included Rajab, which had been a sacred month in the pre-Islamic period; Ramadan, which is a sacred month for Muslims; and Dhu al-Hijjah, the month of the Hajj. Tradition credits Usman with the successful proposal, simply continuing the order of the months that had already been established, beginning with Muharram. Adoption of this calendar was then enforced by Umar.
- Fazlur Rehman Shaikh, Chronology of Prophetic Events (London: Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., 2001), p. 157.
- Quran 9:36–37.
- 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.
- Umar bin Al-Khattab (2002). "Islamic Actions and Social Mandates: The Hijri Calendar". witness-pioneer.org. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
- F. A. Shamsi (1984). "The Date of Hijrah". Islamic Studies 23: 189–224 & 289–332.
|Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article about Hijri year.|