Daily Life of a Muslim


Holy days

There are only two Muslim festivals set down in Islamic law: Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha (Eid or Id is a word meaning festival). But there are also several other special days which Muslims celebrate.

Some Muslims disapprove of celebrating the birthday of the Prophet, on the grounds that it is an innovation, and innovations in religious matters are forbidden.

Eid ul Fitr (1 Shawwal)

The first Eid was celebrated in 624 by the Prophet Muhammad with his friends and relatives after the victory of the battle of Badr. Muslims not only celebrate the end of fasting, but thank Allah for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month to help them practice self-control.

The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky. Muslims in most countries rely on news of an official sighting, rather than looking at the sky themselves. The celebratory atmosphere is increased by everyone wearing best or new clothes, and decorating their homes.

There are special services out of doors and in Mosques, processions through the streets, and of course, a special celebratory meal - eaten during daytime, the first daytime meal Muslims will have had in a month. Eid is also a time of forgiveness, and making amends.

Eid ul Adha (10 Dhul-Hijja) - the festival of sacrifice

According to Muslim traditions, the festival remembers the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to. In most Muslim countries, Eid ul Adha is a four-day public holiday.

During the festival, Muslims sacrifice domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Abraham’s sacrifice. The meat is distributed among family, friends and the poor, who each get a third share. As with all festivals there are prayers, and also presents.


Milad un Nabi (12 Rabi-ul-Awwal) - Birthday of the Prophet

Milad un Nabi marks the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim parents will tell stories of the Prophet's life to their children.

Many Muslims do not believe in celebrating birthdays or death anniversaries because there is no historical evidence that the Prophet Muhammad ever did this. Despite this, large numbers of Muslims do commemorate the birth anniversary of the Prophet, which falls on 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal of the Islamic lunar calendar. Shia Muslims celebrate the Prophet’s birthday on 17 Rabi-ul-Awwal.

In most Muslim countries, the event is marked by public gatherings, where religious leaders make speeches about the life of the Prophet.

As well as recounting the Prophet's life, salutations and songs in his praise are recited. In some countries, streets and mosques are decorated and illuminated at night.

Some Muslims donate to charity. Families gather together, feasts are arranged and food is served to guests and the poor.

Al-Hijra (1 Muharram): New Year's Day

Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year, is the first day of the month of Muharram. It marks the Hijra (or Hegira) in 622 CE when the Prophet Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina, and set up the first Islamic state.

The Muslim calendar counts dates from the Hijra, which is why Muslim dates have the suffix A.H. (After Hijra).

It's a low-key event in the Muslim world, celebrated less than the two major festivals of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha.

There is no specific religious ritual required on this day. The date marks the beginning of Islam as a community in which spiritual and earthly life were completely integrated.


Lailat al Qadr (27 Ramadan) - Night of Power

Lailat al Qadr, the Night of Power, marks the night in which the Qur'an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah, according to Islamic beliefs.

Muslims regard this as the most important event in history, and the Qur'an says that this night is better than a thousand months (97:3), and that on this night the angels descend to earth.

This is a time that Muslims spend in study and prayer. Some will spend the whole night in prayer or in reciting the Qur'an. Muslims believe Lailat al Qadr is a good time to ask for forgiveness.

Lailat al Qadr takes place during Ramadan. The date of 27 Ramadan for this day is a traditional date, as Muhammad did not mention when the Night of Power would be, although it was suggested it was in the last 10 days of the month.

Because of this, many Muslims will treat the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan as a particularly good time for prayer and reading the Qur'an. Once again, the Shi'a tradition differs, as the period coincides with the martyrdom of Ali, the first Shi’ite Imam.


Ashura (10 Muharram)

Ashura has been a day of fasting for Sunni Muslims since the days of the early Muslim community. It marks two historical events: the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark, and the day that Musa (Moses) was saved from the Egyptians by Allah.

Shi'a Muslims in particular use the day to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet, in 680 CE. In Shi'ite communities this is a solemn day: plays re-enacting the martyrdom are often staged and many take part in mourning rituals.