July 30, 2022 marks the beginning of the year 1444 AH according to the Islamic calendar also called the Hijri calendar, which comes from the Arabic word “hijrah”, referring to the migration of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ from Makkah to Madinah over 1,400 years ago.
The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles and was first introduced in 638 CE by the companions of the Prophet ﷺ during the reign of the second Caliph (Khalifah), Umar b. Al-Khattab (592-644 CE). Umar consulted the companions on the starting date of the new Muslim calendar. After several suggestions, they agreed that the most appropriate reference point for the Islamic calendar was the Hijrah, the immigration of the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah which led to the establishment of the first Muslim state.
The first day of the calendar was chosen to be the first day of the first month (1 Muharram) of the year of the Hijrah. The Islamic year consists of twelve (lunar) months. They are:
- Rabi’ul Awwal
- Rabi’ ath-Thani
- Jumada al-Awwal
- Jumada ath-Thani
- Thul Qi’dah
- Thul Hijjah
Well known Indian scholar Abu’l Hasan an-Nadwi wrote:
“It (the advent of the 15th Islamic century) is indeed a unique occasion to ponder that the Islamic era did not start with the victories of Islamic wars, nor with the birth or death of the Prophet ﷺ nor with the Revelation itself. It starts with Hijrah, or the sacrifice for the cause of Truth and for the preservation of the Revelation. It was a divinely inspired selection. Allah wanted to teach Man that the struggle between Truth and Evil is eternal. The Islamic year reminds Muslims not of the pomp and glory of Islam but of its sacrifice and prepares them to do the same.”
Muslims are required to use a calendar with 12 lunar months without intercalation as mentioned in the Qur’an:
“They ask you about the new moons, say they are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in (the affairs of) men and for Hajj.” [Qur’an 11:189]
“The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth. Of them four are sacred; that is the straight usage so wrong not yourselves therein…” [Qur’an 9:36]