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The Islamic Calendar

Updated on December 12, 2009

The Muslim Calendar is purely lunar. In its fixed or civil form a 'common' year contains 354 days made up of 12 months having alternately 30 and 29 days, while a 'kabishah' year has an extra day added to the end of its last month. Since 12 complete lunations take 354-367 days it is necessary to have 19 common and 11 kabishah years in each cycle of 30 to keep the calendar month in step with the Moon. For religious purposes the day begins at sunset on the evening preceding the corresponding civil calendar day, and the beginning of the month is supposed to be determined by actual observation of the lunar crescent. Ramadan, during which a fast is observed, is the ninth month and, like the rest of the Muslim year, progresses through a round of the seasons in approximately 33 years. The 'era' of the calendar, i.e., the day on which Year One began is the Hegira, the day on which Mohammed fled from Mecca: the Julian date is 16 July AD 622. The Muslim year AH 1395 was a common year and began on 14 January 1975; AH 1396 was a kabishah year and began on 3 January 1976; AH 1397, another common year, began on 23 December 1976.

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