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Islamic New Year: Seven fast facts you should know

Many Muslim-majority countries mark the day as a national holiday [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 September, 2017

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Muslims around the world are observing the Islamic New Year on Thursday, here are seven fast facts you should know about the event.

Muslims around the world are observing the Islamic New Year on Thursday, here are seven fast facts you should know about the event.

1. Known in Arabic as Ras al-Sana al-Hijriya, the day commemorates when the Prophet Muhammad emigrated from his hometown of Mecca to the city of Medina to establish the first Muslim community - this event is called the hijra (emigration).

2. The day is the first in the Hijri calendar, which consists of 12 months of 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon.

3. Many Muslim-majority countries mark the day as a national holiday, which is usually a quiet event for most people spent with family or praying.

4. Today is the start of the year 1439 in the Islamic calendar, which is mainly used by Muslims today to keep track of religious events such as Ramadan, Eid and the birthday of the Prophet.

5. The Islamic year is several days shorter - 10 or 11 - meaning Muslim holidays move ahead each year in comparison to the Gregorian calendar, which is the most widely used in the world.

6. The first month of the Islamic year is Muharram, which includes the holy Shia day of Ashura on the 10th.

7. Last year, the Saudi government decided to drop the Islamic calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar to lengthen working hours and cut government spending.

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