One of the problems affecting the Muslim Ummah is the unrefined act of labelling whoever disagrees with us as extremists, even when the truth lies with them.
We must understand that the scale for measuring extremism and laxity lies with the Prophet, then his companions and those who succeeded them in righteousness.
How then can adherence to the practice of the Prophet or his disposition to an affair, amount to extremism?
When an individual chooses to remain on what the Prophet and his rightly guided companions were upon, in their lifetime and we still tag the person as extremist for doing so, then we’re indirectly attributing extremism to him and his companions, too.
The question we should rather ask ourselves is:
Does the celebration of the new Hijri year have a basis in Islam?
Firstly, it is not reported from the Prophet that he ever celebrated his Hijra; neither is it reported from his companions who undoubtedly were keen on enjoining the good and getting the most reward possible.
Yes, Allah says in Surah At-Tawbah that there are 12 divine months in Islam. He says:
“Verily the number of months with Allah is twelve months in the Book of Allah, (since) the day He created the heavens and the earth, four of them are sacred. That is the established religion. So be you not unjust unto your selves during them. And fight polytheists totally even as they fight you totally, and know that Allah is with the pious ones.” (9:36)
However, He did not mention they’re in a particular order nor did His Prophet do that.
Meanwhile, the honored Khalifa, Umar ibn Al-Khattab, is considered to be the creator of the Hijri calendar, which is made up of 12 months, dictated by the cycle of the moon.
To this day, the full and crescent moons are used to confirm the beginning and end of each month, particularly to establish the beginning of Ramadan, the start of the month of Shawwal and the date of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr.
Before the Hijri calendar came into use, Muslims used a range of important events in Muslim history, for example, Am Al-Fil, the year in which the Prophet Muhammad was born, to demarcate time.
But, seventeen years after the Prophet’s migration and in the third or fourth year of the succession of Khalifa Umar ibn al-Khattab, a complaint was made by Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, an official in Basrah (Iraq), regarding a lack of consistent dates on the correspondence he received. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari sent a letter to Khalifa Umar, asking him to develop a new way to calculate dates.
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) debated the issue with his advisors. Some suggested that the date of the Prophet’s birth should mark the beginning of a new calendar, whilst others suggested the date of his death.
However, the majority agreed that the calendar should begin with the date of his migration. Umar then consulted the Prophet’s revered companions, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali bin Abi Talib, and they agreed.
After all the discussions, Umar announced that the year in which the Prophet Mohammad migrated would mark the beginning of the Hijri calendar. The calendar would begin with the first of the month of Muharram and end with the month of Dhu Al Hijja. Consequently, 622 AD (the year of the Prophet’s migration) became the first year in the Hijiri calendar.
It is clear from the forgoing that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was not aware of 1st of Muharram, being the beginning of every year. It’s rather the initiative of Umar Ibn Khattab. And neither the latter nor his contemporaries among the Sahabah make any celebration of it.
In other words, the idea of Hijrah year celebration was not known to the early Muslims, including the Prophet and his exalted companions. This shows that the only accord they gave to the month of Muharram in general, and its first day, in particular, is for counting and references, just like other months in Islam.
If we say celebration is a way to make people aware about Hijrah, then that would mean we also need to celebrate to make people aware of significant occurrences in Islam such as: Victory of Badr, Isra wal Mi’raj, Yaumul Arafah, Ta’su’aa & ‘Aashuraa etc. And there is no basis for all these in our religion.
We can make the Ummah be conscious of the Islamic calendar by teaching our children about the months in Islam and observing the calendar in all our dealing, activities and correspondences.
As Muslims, we should follow the Prophet and stick to his Sunnah and keep away from innovations in the religion. This is where our salvation lies.