Here's everything you need to know about Islamic New Year 2020 and the next public holiday in Dubai
3 September 2018| Last updated on 13 August 2020
Al Hijra, the Islamic New Year, is the next public holiday we will celebrate in the UAE. The holiday will fall on Sunday 23rd August 2020.
The Islamic New Year, which is officially known as Al Hijri, marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year which differs from the Gregorian calendar currently used in Western countries.
The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar year, in which months are 29 or 30 days long, dependent on the moon sightings. Therefore, the Hijri year is shorter than the Gregorian solar year and dates differ from year to year.
If you're wondering when the 2020 Islamic New Year is expected to fall, it has been announced to arrive on 23rd August.
The government in Dubai will typically announce the Hijri New Year when there is a sighting of the new moon.
At this point, the public sectors will have a holiday on Sunday 23rd August 2020 making a three-day, long weekend. Although the official holiday date hasn't been revealed for the private sector yet, it is expected as the UAE government unified public holidays for both sectors.
The Islamic New Year is observed on the first day of Muharram, which is the first month in the lunar Islamic calendar and considered the holiest month after Ramadan.
Why is the Islamic New Year celebrated?
The first Islamic year began in 622 AD with Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) journey from Mecca to Madinah, which is known as the Hijra. In 2020, the occasion of Al Hijra will mark 1,442 years since the migration of Prophet Muhammad and his companions from Mecca to Madinah, Islam’s holiest cities in Saudi Arabia.
The Islamic New Year is particularly important, as all religious duties and dates, including prayer, holy nights, fasting in the month of Ramadan and pilgrimage, are calculated according to the Islamic lunar calendar.
Hijrah is recognised as a definitive turning point in the history of Islam. Before Hijrah, the Muslim community were persecuted for their religion, yet after the Hijrah to Madinah, Muslims became strong and successful. Al Hijra also led to the establishment of the first Muslim community based on Islamic teachings.
What does Al Hijra mean?
Hijri is derived from Arabic word Hijrah, which means migration. Thus, Al Hijri specifically refers to to the migration of Prophet Muhammad more than 14 centuries ago.
How do Muslims celebrate the Islamic New Year?
In Dubai, the holiday of Hijri is celebrated less than the two major festivals of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha, as these two religious festivals are considered the most significant events in the Islamic calendar.
However, in most Islamic countries (including the UAE) the Islamic New Year is traditionally celebrated with a public holiday. The majority of Muslims will mark the holiday by attending prayer sessions in their mosque and spending time with family.
The main emphasis of the occasion is on reflection, remembrance and gratitude; Al Hijra is more of a time for personal reflection than parties and celebrations.
Yet, more Muslims are using the day to make resolutions, as they leave behind the bad things from the previous year and move ahead to live a better life in the next year.
A recent trend during Al Hijra is for people to exchange gifts and cards, and in Indonesia, the government holds various parades and marches to celebrate the Islamic New Year.
When is the Hijri New Year?
As previously mentioned, the Islamic New Year differs from year to year, and is dependent on the moon sighting
The Hijri New Year does not come on the same day of the Gregorian calendar every year, since the Islamic lunar year is eleven to twelve days shorter than the solar Gregorian year.
The following dates on the Gregorian calendar correspond to when the Islamic New Year has fallen or is expected to fall:
- 1438 AH: 2 October 2016
- 1439 AH: 21 September 2017
- 1440 AH: 11 September 2018
- 1441 AH: 31 August 2019
- 1442 AH: 23 August 2020
Will there be a dry night in Dubai for Islamic New Year?
Like all religious Islamic holidays, Al Hijra will have a dry night across the UAE, where alcohol will not be served for 24 hours.
Hotels and bars are also asked not to host live entertainment, in respect of the holiday. Although celebrations for the Islamic New Year are unlikely to take place.
The date of the dry night in Dubai for Islamic New Year is yet to be announced.