The Months of the Islamic Calendar

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The Months of the Islamic Calendar Empty The Months of the Islamic Calendar

Post by PM on Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:11 am

By Brother Musa

The Islamic calendar is the calendar of Islam and is used by us Muslims. Its importance is that it is the calendar mandated for us by our Lord and even though it is used alongside the Gregorian calendar, we all use the Hijri calendar to mark events such as the 2 Eids, Ramadān and the other important dates in the Islamic year. The Islamic calendar is known also as the Hijri calendar. The reasoning for this is that the calendar begins at the date of the hijrah, when the Muslims who were being persecuted migrated to Madīnah under the command of God. This happened some 1,429 years ago, hence we are currently in the year 1429 Hijri, or 1429 AH (AH stands for anno hegiræ, the Latin term for ‘Year of the Hijrah’).

Allah commanded in the Qur’ān that the Islamic year be made up of 12 months, as we read in the following verse from Sūrat at-Tawbah (9:36):

Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so was it ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are Sacred, (i.e. the 1st, the 7th, the 11th and the 12th months of the Islamic calendar). That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein, and fight against the Mushrikūn together, as they fight against you together. But know that Allah is with those who are Al-Muttaqūn.

The calendar that we use was also used by the Arabs before they embraced Islām. This is not something strange, for the Arabs even though they strayed from the true religion of God by worshipping idols alongside God, still kept many things intact of what Islam teaches. The Hajj (pilgrimage) for example, was mandated by God through the prophet Ibrāhīm (Abraham) and the Arab idolaters too would still perform the Hajj, however they would add to it that which God had not commanded them to do, invoking their idols alongside God. Similarly with the calendar the Arabs added to it that which God had not commanded them to. As Allāh says in the Qur’ān in the next ayah from the verse above (9:37) -

The postponing of a Sacred Month is indeed an addition to disbelief: thereby the disbelievers are led astray, for they make it lawful one year and forbid it another year in order to adjust the number of months forbidden by Allah, and make such forbidden ones lawful. The evil of their deeds seems pleasing to them. And Allah guides not the people, who disbelieve.
What the Arabs used to do was add an extra month in certain years in effect creating a leap year much like we have in the Gregorian calendar whereby we add an extra day in February every 4 years. This month is known as an intercalary month. Intercalation was completely forbidden by God in the above verse of the Qur’ān and therefore the month which the Arabs used was eradicated. The month still exists in name in the Coptic calendar, it was known as Nasī’ (نسيء).

The following is the list of the 12 Islamic months. Those highlighted in red are the sacred months.
1) Muharram
2) Safar
3) Rabī` al-’Awwal
4) Rabī` ath-Thānī
5) Jumāda al-’Awwal
6) Jumāda ath-Thānī
7) Rajab
8 ) Sha`bān
9) Ramadān
10) Shawwāl
11) Dhūl-Qa`dah
12) Dhūl-Hijjah


Muharram is the first month of the Hijrī calendar. It comes from the verb harama meaning ‘to be forbidden’, as the month of Muharram is one of the 4 months in when fighting was forbidden in it.


There are 3 theories of what the name Safar means. One is that it means ‘void’ as the Arabs at this time would leave their houses going on expiditions hence leaving them void. Another theory states that it comes from sufr which means yellow, as during the time that the calendar was established it was autumn time and the leaves were urning yellow. The last is thatit means ‘whistle’ as at that time of year it was very windy, and the sounds of the wind made a whistling noise.

ربيع الأوّل
Rabī` al-’Awwal

ربيع الثاني
Rabī` ath-Thānī

Rabī` means ’spring/springtime’ so Rabī` al-’Awwal means ‘The first spring’, and Rabī` ath-Thānī means ‘The second spring’. These months would have fallen around the time of spring originally. Rabī` ath-Thānī is also referred to as Rabī` al-’Akhir - ‘The last spring’.

جمادى الأوّل

Jumāda al-’Awwal

جمادى الثاني
Jumāda ath-Thānī

Jumāda comes from the word jumda which means ‘dry land’ and as such it refers to the time when there was little rain, possibly during the hotter months.


Rajab comes from the verb rajaba which means ‘to be respected’.


Sha’ban comes from the word shu`ba meaning ‘to branch out’ as during this time the Arabs would go out in seperate areas to search for water.


Ramadān comes from the word ramd which means ‘to become hot’ and refers especially to stones which become hot from the sunlight. It is suggested that this time of year was very hot when the calendar was first established.


Shawwal means ‘to carry’ and refers to the camels who would become pregnant at this time of year. Pregnancy in Arabic is usually refered to as ‘carrying (a baby)’.

ذو القعدة

ذو الحجّة

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