Muslim Festivals

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Eid-ul-Fitr is the most festive occasion in the Islamic world. It comes at the culmination of the holy month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It marks the end of a month-long period of fasting, when every adult Muslim refrains from taking food or water from a little before sunrise until the sunset, as has been ordained by the Shariat or the Divine Law. The first day of the month of Shawwal, following the appearance of the New Moon at the end of Ramadan, is celebrated as Eid-ul-Fitr. It is believed by the Muslims that the Holy Quran was revealed on one of the odd nights during the last ten days of Ramadan, usually considered to be the 27th day of Ramadan. Historically speaking, the month of Ramadan is associated with two important victories of Prophet Muhammad – the battle of Badr and the conquest of Makkah. The martyrdom of Ali Bin Abu Talib happened on the 21st day of Ramadan.


Id-Ul-Azha or Id-Ul-Zuha:

Eid al-Adha or Bakrid is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. The festival commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) complete devotion to Allah, who, when commanded to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael), readily agreed. However, God intervened and provided a ram to be sacrificed instead. To honour this event, Muslims perform a ritual sacrifice (Qurbani) of an animal and share the meat with family, friends, and the needy.

While Eid al-Adha coincides with the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage, it is celebrated by Muslims worldwide, even if they are not performing Hajj. The major Hajj rituals at Mina and Arafat are completed before Eid al-Adha. The festival marks the end of the Hajj season and is a time for joyous celebrations, feasting, and acts of charity.





Prophet’s Mosque, Madinah

Milad-un-Nabi or Mawlid al-Nabi is celebrated on the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal by Sunni Muslims and on the 17th by some Shia communities, commemorating the birth of Prophet Muhammad. The festival involves public gatherings where religious leaders deliver speeches on the Prophet’s life and teachings. Muslims often engage in charitable acts, recite the Quran and Naats (poems praising the Prophet), and participate in processions. In India, Mawlid is observed with deep reverence and is a public holiday. At the Hazratbal shrine near Srinagar, the holy relic of the Prophet’s hair is displayed.

The Prophet’s death anniversary is not specifically commemorated but falls on the same date as Mawlid. Some communities may observe the twelve days leading up to his death, known as “Barah Wafat,” with recitations of elegies and other rituals.

While the origins of formal Mawlid celebrations trace back to the 11th-century Fatimid era, early Muslims acknowledged the Prophet’s birth through private gatherings and poetry. However, it is not officially observed in some Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar due to the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.



Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar and its first day is celebrated as the Islamic New Year. The 10th day of Muharram, known as the Yaum-Al-Ashura, is observed as a mourning day by the Shia Muslims in remembrance of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain Bin Ali, the grandson of the Prophet in the war at Karbala in 61 A.H. (680 A.D.).

In India, on the Yaum-Al-Ashura people generally wear black clothes and distribute juice or sherbat to everyone. During Yaum-Al-Ashura, taziyas (bamboo and paper replicas of the martyr’s tomb) processions as well as green alams (standards of Hazrat Imam Hussain’s army) made of silver, copper and brass, are carried through city streets, accompanied by young men beating their breasts in collective sorrow.

In most other parts of the Islamic world, with the exception of Iran, parts of Iraq and other Shia pockets, observing the tenth day of Muharram as a day of mourning is not considered desirable. On the contrary, Muharram is considered as one of the four blessed months in Islam and major Islamic events are believed to have happened on the 10th day of Muharram.


‘Shab-i-Qadr’ is a very blessed night which occurs on one of the odd nights during the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims believe that the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad during one of these odd nights, which are described as Lailat-ul-Qadr or the Nights of Power. During Shab-i-Qadr night vigils are observed and extra prayers are offered by all sects of Muslims. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran that the Lailat-ul-Qadr is better than one thousand nights.



‘Shab-i-Baraat’ or the ‘Night of Emancipation’ is observed on the night falling between the 14th and the 15th days of the month of ‘Sha’ban’ in the Islamic calendar. It is believed that people’s destinies are determined on this night. The Shia Muslims celebrate the 15th Sha’ban as the birthday of Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam, who is believed to rid the world from oppression and injustice.



‘Shab-i-Miraj’ (‘Night of Ascension to Heavens’) is observed on the 27th day of Rajab, which is the seventh month in the Islamic calendar. It symbolises the night during which Prophet Muhammad is believed to have undertaken a journey to Baitul Muqqadas or Masjid-e-Aqsa at Jerusalem and thereafter to the skies on a horse-like celestial animal called Burraq and saw the paradise and hell and met the other Prophets there. The daily five prayers for Muslims – Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maqrib and Isha – are believed to have been ordained on this occasion.

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