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Information on Festivals
by Mandy Barrow

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What are the main Muslim Festivals?

Muslim holidays celebrate the events in the life of Muhammad, Islam's Prophet. Many focus on the events revolving around the hearing of the Koran which is Islam's most important religious book.

The Muslim year is based on Lunar months.


Eid-Ul-Adha is the celebration of sacrifice and marks the end of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It takes place on the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar.

Eid-Ul-Adha is a day of happiness and a day to forgive and forget any differences.

The day often starts with visit to the Mosque where a special Eid Namaz (prayer) is read. After Eid Namaz everyone embraces each other.

Special foods eaten on this day are are lamb and sweet dishes. After visiting the mosque in the morning, Muslims often eat sewayian, a sweet vermicelli dish cooked with milk, like rice pudding.

Presents are exchanged and some people have fireworks and decorated their homes.

Dhu Al-Hijja:

The month of pilgrimage during which all Muslims, at least once in their life, should try to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Al Hijra: Islamic New Year

The Islamic New Year begins on the day Prophet Muhammad left Mecca to travel to Medina in 622 CE, which led to the establishment of the Muslim community there. Muslim years are dated from this time and are termed AH (After the Hijrah). In the celebration at the Mosque stories are told of the Prophet and his companions.


The day of Ashura is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shia Muslims

It falls on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

The day of Ashura is marked by Muslims with a voluntary day of fasting which commemorates the day Noah left the Ark, and the day that Moses was saved from the Egyptians by God.

For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a solemn day mourning the martyrdom of Hussein ( a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad) in 680 AD at Karbala in modern-day Iraq.

It is made up of mourning rituals and passion plays re-enacting the martyrdom.

Shia men and women dressed in black also parade through the streets slapping their chests and chanting.

Milad Al-Nabi (The Prophet Muhammad's Birthday)
The Prophet Muhammad's Birthday is celebrated on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, the third month of the Muslim calendar.

Ramadan (Ramadhan)-

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and a time when Muslims across the world will fast (do not eat) during the hours of daylight.

The Muslim year is a lunar (moon) year, so Ramadan moves forward by ten or eleven days each year. The day Ramadan begins is decided by the sighting of the new moon.

Muslims believe that the gates of Heaven (Jannah) are open and the gates of Hell (Jahanam) are locked for the duration of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the time when the verses of the Qur'an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Ramadan is a time of worship and contemplation. A time to strengthen family and community ties.

Every Muslim is expected to fast from sunrise to sunset. Muslims must not eat or drink during daylight hours. During Ramadan Muslims get up early before dawn (Fajr) and have a light meal. This time is known as Suhoor.

At the end of each day (Maghrib), Muslims traditionally break their fast with a meal called the iftar. Following the custom of Prophet Muhammad, the fast is often broken with dates, then followed by a prayer and dinner.

Ramadan concludes with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr.

Eid-ul-Fitr (Id-ul-Fitr)- Marks the end of Ramadan

Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fitr means "to break the fast" (and can also mean "nature", from the word "fitrah") and so symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period. Eid is celebrated over a three day period in Islamic countries.

Calendar of Religious Festivals

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I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.