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Friday is the Islamic New Year. It's not party time, but a time for remembrance

islamic new year
Palmer Magri
/
Queens News Service
Prayer before a summer youth camp at the Muslim Community Center of Charlotte.

It’s a confusing question for a teenager at the Muslim Community Center. of Charlotte: What’s it like to celebrate the Islamic New Year?

Westerners celebrate New Year’s with nationally televised parties in Times Square, parades, champagne and football games.

Muslims observe the Islamic New Year with communal prayer at local mosques and a sermon about a secret migration from Mecca to Medina.

Islamic New Year Is a Remembrance

The Islamic New Year commemorates the migration, also known as the Hijrah, of the Prophet Muhammad and companions from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD, after their persecution.

The Hijrah is considered one of the most important events in Islamic history.

“What’s amazing about it was that they were a group of 300 believers who were living in a city of 15,000,” said John Ederer, imam and director of the Muslim Community Center of Charlotte. “They went fleeing for their lives and after that, within 10 years, they’re the actual governing, ruling body of the entire Arabia."

“The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught us that in terms of religion, as Muslims we only have two holidays,” Ederer said — Ramadan and Eid al-Adha.

“We should not be innovating in religion, we should not be coming up with new festivals and new practices, new rituals and a new way of doing things,” he said.

The Lunar Calendar

For the approximately 25,000 Muslims in Charlotte, observing the new year starts with prayers at sunset on Friday, July 29. Islamic New Year takes place in the summer during the next few years, but it can also occur in other seasons.

The new year is in the middle of summer because of the lunar calendar, which is based on the monthly cycles of the moon's phases. Lunar months have either 29 or 30 days, marking an 11-day annual difference from a solar calendar.

“There’s not like this whole ‘waiting for the moment,’ like with the ball drops,” Ederer said. “It’s just a new day.”

On the other hand, Eid al-Adha is a celebratory holiday marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage.

“It’s a massive, whole, entire three-day celebration type of thing," Ederer said. "Everybody’s fully immersed in it, the whole family, the kids. Everything’s a big deal.”

Palmer Magri is a student in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, which provides the news service in support of local community news. Her summer work is supported by the James E. Rogers Research Program.

Palmer Magri is a students in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, which provides the news service in support of local news. Her summer work is supported by the James E. Rogers Research Program.