Key Dates and Events

Primary Author
Chara Scroope,

Islamic New Year

(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

Islamic New Year, also known as Hijrī New Year, marks the beginning of a new year according to the Islamic calendar. The event occurs on the first day of Muḥarram, which is the first month in the calendar. Muslim communities from around the world commemorate the event in numerous ways, such as recitation of the Qur’ān, prayer, and a time for reflection of the past year.

Day of ‘Āshūrā’ 

(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

The Day of ‘Āshūrā’ is an event that occurs on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muḥarram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. The event is recognised for different reasons and celebrated in different ways by Shī‘á and Sunnī Muslims.

In the Sunnī tradition, the Day of ‘Āshūrā’ marks the day Mūsá (also known as Moses) was saved from the Pharaoh. Sunnī Muslims mark this occasion by fasting on the tenth day to thank God. Sunnī Muslims are also encouraged to fast on the 9th or the 11th day.

In the Shī‘á tradition, the Day of ‘Āshūrā’, also known as Martyrdom of Imām ‘Alī or Assassination of ‘Alī, commemorates the martyrdom of Ḥusayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muḥammad in Karbalā’ (in present-day Iraq) during a battle against the ruling khalīfah (caliph). The day is reserved as a day for mourning and to remember his martyrdom. Some Shī‘á communities perform reenactments of the events in an effort to relive the tragedy and to remember the lessons of the event. This day is considered to be one of the most important days in the Shī‘á tradition.


(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

Arba‘īn is an event that occurs forty days after the Day of ‘Āshūrā’, on the 20th day of the Islamic month of Ṣafar. Commemorated by the Shī‘á community, Arba‘īn is an annual pilgrimage where Shī‘á Muslims from around the world travel to the Imām Ḥusayn Shrine located in the city of Karbalā’ in Iraq to mourn the martyrdom of Ḥusayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muḥammad. The significance and symbolism of the pilgrimage vary. For some, Arba‘īn reflects a struggle against unjust rule, while some view the event as an exercise in humility and patience.

Mawlid al-Nabiy

(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

Mawlid al-Nabiy is an Islamic event that commemorates the birthday of the Prophet Muḥammad. The date of the event varies depending on the Islamic tradition. In the Sunnī tradition, Mawlid al-Nabiy is observed on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabī‘ al-awwal, while the Shī‘á tradition marks it on the 17th day of this month. There are a variety of ways people commemorate Prophet Muḥammad’s birthday. Some hold celebrations with parades on the streets. They may also donate food or other goods to charities. Others may spend the day in quiet contemplation and reflection of the Qu’rān or may fast.

Al-Isrā’ wal-Mi‘rāj 

(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

Al-Isrā’ wal-Mi‘rāj, also known as Ascension to Heaven, is an Islamic event observed on the 27th day of the month of Rajab. This event marks the night that the Prophet Muḥammad travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem, ascended to heaven (Mi‘rāj) and returned to earth. Some people spend the evening or night listening to or studying the story of Muḥammad’s ascension to heaven in their homes or in their local mosque. People may also share in a communal meal and decorate their homes.


(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

Ramaḍān refers to the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is considered to be the most auspicious month for Muslims, reserved as a time for prayer, reflection, fasting and religious devotion. During Ramaḍān, Muslims around the world fast (ṣawm) from food and various activities from sunrise to sunset. Many Muslims spend this time reading and reflecting on the Qur’ān. Communal prayers and meals are held frequently in mosques and homes around the world. Each sunrise people start the fast with a breakfast meal at dawn (suḥūr) and finish it at night with dinner (ifṭār).

The last ten days of Ramaḍān (Laylat al-Qadr) is considered to be particularly holy, as it is believed to be the time when the first verses of the Qu’rān were revealed to the Prophet Muḥammad.

‘Īd al-Fiṭr 

(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

‘Īd al-Fiṭr is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwāl. The day also marks the end of Ramaḍān. On this day, many Muslims attend communal prayers at their local mosque, listen to a sermon (khuṭbah), share in large feasts and give charity in the form of food. It is also a time for forgiveness, making amends and performing good deeds.

Waqfat ‘Arafah 

(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

Waqfat ‘Arafah (Day of Arafah) is the 9th day of the Islamic month of Dhū al-ḥijjah. The day is the culminating event of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia (ḥajj). Those undertaking the pilgrimage go to the final place of the pilgrimage, the plain of Arafat, and pray to God for forgiveness. For those who are not completing the ḥajj during Waqfat ‘Arafah, the day is often spent fasting and praying.

‘Īd al-Aḍḥá 

(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

‘Īd al-Aḍḥá is an Islamic festival commemorating the willingness of Ibrāhīm (Abraham) to follow God’s command to sacrifice his son. The event is sometimes translated as the Festival of Sacrifice. The festival goes for four days, starting on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Dhū al-ḥijjah. Many Muslims spend time in prayer and listening to sermons (khuṭbah) at their local mosque.

‘Īd al-Ghadīr 

(Varies each year depending on the lunar calendar)

‘Īd al-Ghadīr is an Islamic festival celebrated in the Shī‘á community. The event commemorates the appointment of ‘Alī, the cousin and son-in-law of Muḥammad, as the Prophet’s successor. The name of the festival is based on the place where it is believed the Prophet Muḥammad made this announcement, Ghadīr Khumm. This site was a common place for people to gather and converse with one another before returning home after completing their pilgrimage to Mecca (Ḥajj). Shī‘á communities around the world celebrate the event in various ways, such as partaking in celebratory meals after fasting and reciting special prayers honouring God (Allāh).

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