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Umm Al-Qura Calendar
(Mecca Calendar)

“They ask thee concerning the New Moons. Say: they are but signs to mark fixed periods of time in (the affairs of) men, and for pilgrimage”- The Holy Koran, Al-Baqara, Verse 189.

“The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) ― so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred; that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves”- The Holy Koran, Al-Tawba, Verse 36.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said: “We are an illiterate nation; we neither write, nor know accounts. The month is like this and this, i.e. sometimes of 29 days and sometimes of thirty days." (Bukhari & Muslim).
In his farewell pilgrimage, the Prophet PBUH said:” Time has grown similar in form and state to the time when Allah created the heavens and the earth. A year is twelve months. Four of which are Sacred Months (Hurum). Three of the four months are successive. They are Dhul-Qa‘dah, Dhul-Hijjah, and Al-Muharram. The fourth Month is Rajab Mudar, which comes between Jumada and Sha‘ban."

The Umm Al-Qura calendar adopts the Hijri lunar Islamic system of dating events & accounting days & months. It was initiated by the Second Caliph Omar Ibn Al Khattab who began numbering the years of the Islamic calendar from the year of the Hijra (July 15, 622), when the Prophet PBUH emigrated from Mecca to Medina. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has adopted the Hijri system as its official calendar on both an official & civilian level, as it is the direction to which all Muslims turn to pray. Furthermore, the Islamic rites (pilgrimage, fasting & Zakat) are determined by the Hijri calendar, in addition to other Islamic liturgies.

The first issue of the Um Al-Qura calendar was published in 1346H by the government press in Mecca where it was printed until 1399H. The government then decided to have it printed in its press office in Riyadh, where state of the art equipment can produce an elegant modern version of the calendar. To further develop the calendar, a supervisory committee was created, chaired by the president of KACST, with member experts in Islamic Law & Astronomy, to review any studies or remarks related to the calendar. The committee has been active since 1400H, making recommendations on issues pertinent to the calendar.

In 1420 H, the coordinates of the Kaaba were adopted as the basis of the Umm Al-Qura calendar. If moonset occurred after sunset at Mecca, then the day beginning at that sunset was the first day of the new month.

The Months of the Hijri Calendar:

  1. Muharram is the first month of the Hijri year. It is one of the four sacred months of the year in which fighting is prohibited. Muharram is so called because Arabs prohibited fighting during this month. 
  2. Safar literally means ‘the empty month’, because when Arabs went on their looting expeditions they would leave their houses empty (or ‘sifr’ meaning void) as well as anyone whom they would encounter on their looting trips. 
  3. Rabi' al Awwal: The name means the first month/beginning of spring. 
  4. Rabi’ al Thani: It was known to be the month of grazing & pasturage for pagan Arabs. It was named so because it occurred during the springtime when it was first named. 
  5. Jumada al Ula: Before the birth of Islam, it was known as Jumada Khamsa (Five as it is the fifth month), which happened to be in winter when the month was named, when water freezes. 
  6. Jumaada ul Akhir: Was known in pagan times as Jumada Sitta (six as it is the sixth month). The name also refers to the freeze of winter, at which time the month was first named. 
  7. Rajab: it was a sacred month during which fighting was also forbidden. “Rajab” refers to breaking up the spear heads thus ending fighting. “Rajab” is also said to mean “stopped fighting”. 
  8. Sha'aban is the month of ‘separation’, so called because the Arabs used to disperse in search of water 
  9. Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims. The word is derived “ramd "to burn, in reference to the excessive heat at the time that the month was named. 
  10. Shawwal is the month of Eid ul Fitr. Shawwal was named so because the camels’ milk dries up at the time. 
  11. Thul Qi’dah is one of the sacred months. It was named so as Arabs did not conduct war during this month, nor did they seek pastures or provisions. 
  12. Thul Hijja is one of the sacred months. It is the month of the annual Hajj pilgrimage & the month of Eid ul Adha. It was named so because Arabs went to perform Hajj during this month.