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published: 3/17/04
updated: 6/13/013

Islamic Holidays

What are the sacred days in Islam?

muslim girls

Islam has relatively few holidays compared to most other religions. Traditionally, Muslims celebrate just two major festivals ('Id Al-Fitr and 'Id Al-Adha), a month of daytime fasting (Ramadan), and a day of voluntary fasting ('Ashura, also an important Shiite festival). (Also: Compare Sunni and Shia Muslims)

The popular festival of Mawlid an-Nabi celebrates the birthday of the Prophet, but is frowned upon as an idolatrous innovation by conservative Muslims. Most Islamic holidays either commemorate events in the life of the Prophet Muhammad or are special days founded by him.

Holidays in the Muslim faith

The Islamic Calendar

The Islamic calendar is lunar, like the Jewish calendar, but it has no corrective system to align it with the solar calendar so Islamic holidays do not always fall in the same season.

Al-Hijra: Islamic New Year

Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year, is celebrated on the first day of Muharram, the month in which Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE (the Hijra).

Ramadan: Month of Fasting

Ramadan is not a holy day to Muslims but a holy month. It is the ninth month of the Muslim year, in which "the Qur'an was sent down as a guidance for the people"

'Id Al-Fitr: Festival of Breaking the Fast

'Id Al-Fitr or Eid al-Fitr (Arabic for "Festival of the Breaking of the Fast") is one of Islam's two major festivals. It marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and is celebrated during the first three days of the month of Shawwal.

'Id Al-Adha: Festival of the Sacrifice

'Id Al-Adha or Eid al-Adha (Arabic عيد الأضحى, "Festival of the Sacrifice") is a major Islamic festival that takes place at the end of the Hajj.

Ashura: Remembering Shiite Martyr Husayn

Ashura (also spelled Aashurah, ‘Ashurah or Aashoorah), is an Islamic holiday observed on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year.

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