The Start of the Most Sacred Months in the Muslim Calendar
Awal Muharram is a national public holiday in Malaysia, marking the start of the new Islamic year for Muslims locally and around the world.
What Is Awal Muharram in Malaysia About?
It is a day that celebrates the start of the Islamic New Year. An alternative name for this day is called the Maal Hijrah. The migration of Prophet Mohammad coincides with the first month in the Islamic year. The Prophet travelled from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. As such, this is considered a sacred time for all Muslims and they are encouraged to reflect and evaluate.
The word “Muharram” is derived from the word “haram”, a term that translates to mean “forbidden”. Besides Ramadhan, this celebration month is considered by Muslims to be the most sacred. This month is a time for peace and mourning, and Muslims are not allowed to engage in fights during this period. In Malaysia, it is celebrated as a national public holiday.
How Is Awal Muharram Celebrated in Malaysia?
The Sunni Muslims and the Shia Muslims have a different way of celebrating this day. The Sunni Muslims honour the day with fast and celebration per the Sunnah of Mohammed. This pays tribute to Moses and his rescue of the Israeli people from the Pharaoh. The Shia Muslims spend the day in mourning to remember the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali.
The Muslims in Malaysia are primarily Sunni Muslims. On the 10th day of the first month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims are encouraged to fast. Fasting happens only on this day, and the fasting period is from sunrise to sunset. It is only during Ramadhan that fasting is held for an entire month. On this day, sweet rice known as Bubur Asyura is prepared used the break the fast, shared among family and friends.
What to Do During Awal Muharram in Malaysia
The norm with national public holidays in Malaysia is for schools and most offices to be closed on this day. Some offices may carry on operations, but the rest of the locals will take advantage of the day. The local Muslims will gather in the mosque for prayers to welcome the new Hijri year. However, events and celebrations are the mosques are reserved only for Muslims.
The recitation of Koranic verses, religious and spiritual activities, and prayers will be happening in the mosque on this day. Special sermons are held to mark the occasion. Where there is a mosque, you can expect some traffic congestions since there will be more people around than usual.