Awal Muharram is also known as Maal Hijrah, which marks the first day of the new year in the Islamic calendar, which is recognised as the Muslims New Year’s Day in the country and a national holiday in Malaysia.
|1 Sep||Sunday||Awal Muharram||National|
|2 Sep||Monday||Awal Muharram Holiday||National except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan & Terengganu|
The month of Awal Muharram is considered as the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar for Muslims in Malaysia, besides the fasting month of Ramadan. Back in the days on the first Muharram, the Hijrah (migration) of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) had taken place from Mecca to Medina. Hence, Islamic New Year represents the starting point of the Muslim era as it coincides with the Hijrah.
Awal Muharram is considered as one of the best times for believers to seek forgiveness from their god, to practice self-evaluation and be at peace. During the celebration, Muslims are restrained from getting into any fights or immoral activities in order to pay some respect for Awal Muharram celebration. The meaning of Awal Muharram is merely an Islamic New Year, but it is a month that allows massive religious gathering among Muslim brothers and sisters.
Unlike the grand celebration of international New Year’s Day that is observed on the 1st of January every year according to the Gregorian calendar, Awal Muharram is celebrated moderately by Muslim believers. The Awal Muharram celebration usually involves charitable acts and calming prayer recitation sessions.
During Awal Muharram celebration in Malaysia, it has been a tradition for the Muslims to gather in big groups to prepare a special dish called Asyura porridge, or bubur Asyura in Malay. The porridge dish is rich with herbs, spices, with sweet porridge of grains and nuts that are usually cooked by the public volunteers in large containers or pots.
Once it is ready, the porridge will be packed into small plastic bags to be distributed and served to those who are also enjoying the Awal Muharram public holiday. On the 10th day of Muharram, most Muslims would usually start fasting from early morning till later in the evening; hence sweet porridge is one of the quickest sources of energy for the body.
The Awal Muharram celebration in Malaysia involves religious gatherings for the Muslims to discuss and share the meaning of the Quran verses among themselves based on Islamic beliefs as well as their knowledge. Charity and donation activities are traditionally practiced during the celebration over the years as the acts of kindness are highly encouraged for Muslims on this day.
On the day of the celebration, it is a tradition for Muslim believers to sing religious songs together and most of them will take part in voluntary fasts. Muslim communities will be visiting the nearby mosques nearby to perform Awal Muharram prayers. Most of them will stay at the mosque after the prayers to participate in any religious activities available. Since the prayers and sermons would take place in public mosques, be fully aware that these areas will be crowded with people until late in the evening.