Skip to content
July 16, 2015

July 16, 622: Islamic calendar begins

On this day in 622, the Islamic calendar began. It is loosely associated with the flight of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, known as the Hijra.

Because of this connection, the system is often called the Hijri calendar. It is denoted by AH (short for Anno Hegirae, “year of the Hijra”).

Muhammad’s upstart religion was not well-received by his tribesmen in Mecca; he and his few followers were targets of persecution and death threats. 200 miles to the north, in the town of Yathrib, Islam had taken better hold, and Muhammad decided there was safety in numbers. Yathrib’s name soon became Medina, meaning “the city”.

Like the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calendar has 12 months; each month, however, begins with the first crescent after a new moon, meaning they are 29-30 days long. The entire year is 11 or 12 days shorter than that of the Christian world.

The ninth month, Ramadan, is probably the best-known outside the Muslim world. During Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast from sunrise until sunset, and should give alms to the poor. (Ramadan is supposed to end July 17, although it all depends on the sighting of the crescent moon.)

Four of the twelve months have prohibitions against warfare; this includes the twelfth and final month, Dhu al-Ḥijjah, during which Muslims make the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

IslamicFinder has a tool for converting between the Gregorian and Islamic calendars.

Image: Sultān Muhammad of Persia, The ascent of Muhammad to heaven (1539-1543). British Library

One Comment
  1. “Disney Planning a Whole New Version of Aladdin: Get the Scoop on the Live-Action Prequel” A coincidence for the Islamic New Year?

What do you think?