Unlike Christianity, Islam does not have set dates for its religious holidays. That’s because Islam follows the lunar calendar, so, its holidays change every year. That said, discover the important religious festivals of Islam and their significance to nearly two billion Muslims across the globe.
Ramadan – the Muslim month of fasting
Ramadan is a religious ceremony that marks the month in which the Koran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
In Islam, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year. It’s when Muslims reaffirm their faith and dedication to Allah. By taking part in Ramadan, Muslims aim to grow spiritually and build stronger relationships with their creator.
During Ramadan, most Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset, with the last ten days reserved for all-night prayer vigils.
Date in 2021: April 12th until May 12th
Want to learn more about Ramadan? Then read the Azimo guide to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Eid ul-Fitr – The end of Ramadan
Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan with a festival called Eid al-Fitr (or Eid ul-Fitr) which means ‘The Festival of the Breaking of the Fast’. Eid al-Fitr usually starts with prayers, with a big feast reserved for later in the evening.
As well as eating, the end of Ramadan is an opportunity to create feelings of goodwill with everyone you meet and fulfil one of Islam’s five pillars.
While giving to charity (zakat) is encouraged at all times, during Eid it’s known as Zakat al-Fitr, which can occur at the end of Ramadan. However, it is recommended this is performed during Ramadan so those in need can also join in the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
The end of Ramadan is also a great time to share gifts for Eid al-Fitr.
Date in 2021: May 13th
|Did you know? The five pillars of Islam are the profession of faith (shahada), prayer (salat), alms (zakat), fasting (sawm) and a pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).|
Eid ul-Adha – Festival of Sacrifice
The ‘Festival of Sacrifice’ is a four-day holiday marking the sacrifice of the Prophet Ibraham.
According to the Koran, Allah asked the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, Ismail. At the very last moment, Allah replaced Ismail with a ram, and the animal was slaughtered instead.
Muslims celebrate the Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah with prayers at a mosque followed by an evening feast. Allah’s command was a test of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness and commitment to obey his Lord’s command without question.
Eid ul-Adha also coincides and celebrates the end of Hajj, adding further significance to followers of the Islamic faith.
Date in 2021: July 19th until July 23rd
Al-Hijra – Islamic New Year
Al-Hijra marks Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina in Saudi Arabia and doesn’t involve any pre-planned celebrations. Instead, most Muslims mark the day by thinking about the upcoming year.
The Islamic New Year is, however, a public holiday in most Islamic countries.
In countries such as India and Pakistan, Muslims will celebrate the holiday by attending prayer sessions in their mosques and spending time with family. While the main emphasis of Al-Hijra is on reflection, nowadays, some Muslims exchange greeting cards or gifts to celebrate the holiday.
Date in 2021: August 10th
Milad-Un-Nabi – Prophet’s Birthday
Milad-Un-Nabi marks the Prophet Muhammed’s birthday and is observed in several ways across the Islamic world. While some Muslims see Milad-Un-Nabi as an event worthy of celebration, others view the celebration of birthdays as contradictory to Islamic law.
In countries that don’t celebrate with large street parties, it’s more common to observe Milad-Un-Nabi by donating food and other goods for charity on or around this day.
During Milad-Un-Nabi, mosque services and teachings focus on events that occurred in the Prophet Muhammed’s life. Low-key celebrations are widespread in ‘non-Muslim’ nations such as the United States, the UK, Canada and Australia.
In Islamic folklore, Muhammed is said to have been born on a Monday. As a result, some Muslims see fasting during daylight hours on Mondays as another way to celebrate his birth.
Date in 2021: October 18th