Festivals and Celebrations
There are few major Islamic festivals in the year. However, local Muslim communities have their own traditions, which add to the year's festivities.
Muharram is the first month of the year in Islam. New Year's Day is not a major holiday. Ramadan, a month of fasting, is the ninth month of the Muslim year. Adult Muslims do not eat, drink, smoke, or have conjugal relations from dawn to sunset. Children under the age of puberty are exempt, although they make a limited fast.
Muslims follow a different calendar than the one observed in the western world. The Islamic calendar is lunar, and unlike most other lunar calendars, is not adjusted to keep in step with the solar year. Thus, Muslim dates tend to change constantly in relation to the western solar calendar. Years are counted from the Prophet Muhammad's move to Medina in 622. The year 2000 was 1420/21
Lailat ul-Qadr, also known as The Night of Determination, is believed to have occurred around the twenty-seventh, but is now considered one of the last ten nights of Ramadan. Many Muslims spend these days and nights in the mosque so they will be in prayer on The Night of Determination when Allah makes decisions about the destiny of individuals and the world as a whole.
Eid ul-Fitr celebrates the end of the month of fasting and lasts for three days. Prayers are offered, special foods prepared, and gifts are exchanged.
Eid ul-Adha, known as the Feast of Sacrifice, celebrates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac when God asked him to. God commanded a lamb be sacrificed instead of Ishmael. The sacrifice of a lamb is an important part of the festival.
Al-Isra Wal Miraj is the night of the ascension of Muhammad to Heaven to meet with Allah. It is celebrated on the twenty-seventh day of the seventh month. It is said the prophet set out the disciplines of the daily prayers.
Muhammad-Maulid al-Nabi celebrates the birth of the prophet Muhammad. It is held on the twelfth day of the third month and is a highly popular festival that draws thousands of visitors who join in processions and prayers.