There are only two Muslim festivals set down in Islamic law: Eid-ul-Fitr
and Eid-ul-Adha ("Eid" or "Id" means
There are also several other special days which Muslims
Al-Hijra (1 Muharram)
The Islamic New Year’s Day.
This festival commemorates the Hijra (or Hegira) in 622 CE when
the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) moved from Mecca to Medina.
This was the beginning of the growth of Islam into a world
The Muslim calendar counts dates from the Hijra, which is why
Muslim dates have the suffix A.H. (After Hijra).
There is no specific religious ritual required on this day, but
Muslims will think about the general meaning of Hijra, and
regard this as a good time for "New Year Resolutions".
The Qur’an uses the word Hijra to mean moving from a bad place
or state of affairs to a good one - and so Muslims may think
about how their faith helps them leave behind bad ways of living
and achieve a better life.
Ashura (10 Muharram)
This is a holiday for Shi’a Muslims in particular, and
commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the
Prophet (pbuh) in 680 CE.
Mawlid an Nabi (12 Rabi')
The birthday of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).
At this time Muslims think about Mohammed (pbuh), and the events
of his life. Muslim parents will tell stories of the Prophet’s
(pbuh) life to their children.
Some Muslims disapprove of celebrating the birthday, on the
grounds that it is an innovation, and innovations in religious
matters are forbidden.
Because if changes were made in religious matters it would imply
that Islam was not complete when it was revealed to the Prophet
Mohammed (pbuh), or that the Prophet (pbuh) did not tell Muslims
everything that was revealed to him.
This would be seen as highly sacrilegious by many Muslims.
al Miraj (27
The night journey and ascent of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh),
and the revelation of Salat.
The festival is celebrated by telling the story of how
the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was visited by two archangels while
he was asleep, who purified his heart and filled him with
knowledge and faith.
The Prophet (pbuh) travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem in a single
night on a strange winged creature called Buraq. From Jerusalem
he ascended into heaven, where he met the earlier prophets, and
During his time in heaven Mohammed (pbuh) was told of the duty
of Muslims to recite Salat (ritual prayer) 5 times a day.
Lailat al Qadr (27 Ramadan)
The festival of The Night of Power marks the night in
which the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)
Muslims regard this as the most important event in history, and
the Qur'an says that this night is better than a thousand months
(97:3), and that on this night the angels descend to earth.
This is a festival that Muslims spend in study and prayer. Some
will spend the whole night in prayer or in reciting the Qur’an.
al Qadr is a good time to ask for forgiveness.
Allah's Apostle said,
establishes the prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere
faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards (not to show off)
then all his past sins will be forgiven." (Bukhari Vol 1,
Book 2: 34)
date of 27 Ramadan is a traditional date, as the Prophet
Mohammed (pbuh) did not tell us when the Night of Power would
be, although he suggested it was in the last 10 days of the
Because of this, many Muslims will treat the last 10 days of the
month of Ramadan as a particularly good time for prayer and
reading the Qur’an.
ul Fitr (1
This marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and
is a festival of great celebration. In Islamic countries it is a
The first Eid was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)
with his friends and relatives.
Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but
thanking Allah for the help and strength that he gave them
throughout the previous month to help them practice
The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen
in the sky.
Muslims in most countries rely on news of an official sighting,
rather than looking at the sky themselves.
Eid ul Fitr is very much a community festival and people
go out into the streets to exchange greetings, and visit friends
The celebratory atmosphere is increased by everyone wearing best
or new clothes, and decorating their homes. There are special
services out of doors and in Mosques, processions through the
streets, and of course, a special celebratory meal—eaten
during daytime, the first daytime meal Muslims will have had in
Eid is also a time of forgiveness, and making amends.
Eid ul Adha (10 Dhul-Hijja)
The Festival of sacrifice which marks the end of the
Hajj or holy pilgrimage, which is one of the 5 pillars of
Islam, however it is celebrated by all Muslims, not just those
who are on the pilgrimage.
The festival remembers the prophet Ibrahim’s
willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to.
God appeared in a dream to Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his
son Isma’il. Ibrahim and Isma’il set off to Mina for the
sacrifice. As they went, the devil attempted to persuade Ibrahim
to disobey God and not to sacrifice his beloved son. Ibrahim
drove the devil away.
As Ibrahim prepared to kill his son God stopped him and gave him
a sheep to sacrifice instead.
Ibrahim’s complete submission to the will of God is celebrated
by Muslims each year.
Each Muslim, as they celebrate, reminds themselves of their
own submission to God, and their own willingness to sacrifice
anything to God’s wishes.
During the festival Muslims who can afford to, sacrifice
domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibraham's
The meat is distributed among family, friends and the poor, who
each get a third share.
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