What would we do without the dates? We often seem to consider them our enemies, for they remind us of the passing of the years. A news item appears to remind us of some memorable date and we find it hard to believe (and even terrible in part) that so much time has passed since then.
But if we visualize our life as if it were a book, without dates it would be as if all its pages were floating in the air, instead of being contained and perfectly correlated.
Interestingly, not everyone numbers the pages in the same way, as you will see in this article on the Muslim calendar. So let’s get started!
The Islamic year differs from the Western one by approximately 600 years
The raison d’être of the calendar
A calendar is nothing more than a social convention with the aim of identifying periods and putting a little more order in our lives: in the same way that we decided at the time that this object with four legs and a board would be called a table, we set that a year would be made up of 365 days (366 if it is a leap).
In fact, it is so artificial that throughout our history we have used different calendars, and even today not all of us follow the same one: there are currently 14 calendars in the world, to which we can add another 15 from ancient cultures.
We Westerners are mainly guided by the Gregorian calendar, based on the time it takes for the earth to make a complete turn around the sun. And since our position in relation to the sun marks the climate, we can anticipate what temperature it will be on a particular day.
The Muslim calendar or Islamic calendar has a lunar origin, so that the Muslim year comprises 354 days only.
We will know that in August we will probably be walking around in a T-shirt during the day and that it will get cooler at night, and at the end of November we will start the annoying ritual of taking the clothes off the loft because, when December comes, the temperatures will drop. In short, the calendar is just another tool to help us keep track of our routine.
The Islamic calendar
Do Muslims follow the same calendar as us? Yes and no, because it also depends on the country where Islam is the official religion. In general, they tend to distinguish between the day-to-day and official holidays, with a Gregorian calendar, and religious celebrations, with a Muslim calendar.
Taking into account this duality, which calendar should be considered more important for a Muslim? Or going to concrete examples, which is more important in a country where religion has a capital importance, as it is the case of Morocco?
Some clues that allow us to draw some conclusions are that, as a general rule, when the national media express the dates or when a Moroccan thinks about which month he is living or important moments in his life (birth, marriage, etc.) they do it using the same calendar as us.
Therefore, it could be deduced that even in cases where religion has such a powerful influence on society, it is the Gregorian calendar that takes precedence, although being categorical in that respect could be risky.
The Islamic calendar is different from the Gregorian calendar, so that the current Muslim year is 1441
Hegira Moon Calendar
As the Islamic calendar does not depend on the movement of the earth, it does not coincide with the seasons and therefore, over time, Muslim celebrations have taken place under all possible climatic conditions.
In short, it is a calendar based on the time it takes for the moon to be in the same phase again. And as the lunar years are 354 or 355 days, there is a delay of approximately 11 days with respect to the Gregorian, so every three years it is delayed by approximately one month (for example, in 2019 Ramadan began on May 6, but in 2016 it began on June 6).
In addition, the beginning of the Muslim year is different from the Gregorian year, marking the first year when Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina, which coincides with 622 Gregorian. This means that it does not coincide in days or years with the Gregorian year, and furthermore it varies comparatively over time.
To make matters worse, since the starting dates are marked by the phases of the moon, and these are not determined by astrological calculations but by the visual appreciation of the imam, looking at the night sky, there is an imprecision of approximately two days, so that until well after the date in question the Muslims do not know for sure when it will begin.
Main Religious Events
I conclude by indicating the celebrations that commemorate the most significant moments in the culture of Islam:
Ras as-Sana as-Sana: New Year’s Day
Ashura: National Day of Mourning
Eid el Mawlid en-Nabaoui: Birth of the Prophet Muhammad
Eid al-Fitr: End of Ramadan
But if you want to know exactly when they occur, as well as other non-religious Moroccan festivities, you can check our calendar of events and festivals in Morocco, which can be updated every year.
I hope that after reading this article everything has been clear to you (although it would be understandable if it were not, since at the beginning I had a hard time understanding it too). And if you have any doubts, you only have to comment on them.