Ever thought about the Islamic calendar? How it initiated and what is it named after? Sabahat Anwar explores its vitality and impact on our life

Surprising, as it may seem, the Islamic era did not start with the victories of Islamic wars. It did not initiate with the life or death of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) either. Nor did it commence with the revelation of the Quran in the cave called ‘Hira’.

It started with the Hijrah, the migration of the Prophet (sa) from Makkah to Madinah. This event was not just a migration. It stood, and stands even today, for a sacrifice for the cause of truth and for the preservation of the Revelation and for the preservation of a way of life and Sunnah. Allah (swt) wanted to teach man that struggle between truth and evil is eternal. The Islamic year reminds Muslims every year not of the pomp and glory of Islam, but of its sacrifice. It prepares them to do the same till the end of the world when our Creator will resurrect all on the Day of Judgement, Insha’Allah!

Here, the significance of the current three Islamic months has been briefly described:

Safar – 2nd month of the Islamic calendar


Safar is referred to as ‘empty’: In those days, after the lifting of the ban on fighting in Muharram, everyone would proceed to the battlefield leaving his or her house empty and deserted.

It is also referred to as ‘yellow’: At the time the months were being named, Safar fell during autumn and the leaves of the trees were yellow.

Modern day incorrect beliefs

Many people have erroneous beliefs regarding this month i.e., it is a month of misfortune and calamities:

A Nikah performed in Safar will not be successful. It might be surprising to know that the Prophet’s (sa) daughter Fatimah (rta) got married to Ali (rta) in Safar, 2 AH.

Any important venture, business etc. started in Safar is ill fated and will bring bad luck.

To regard any day as a holiday when it is not decreed so.

The teachings of Allah (swt) and His beloved Prophet (sa) gives us clear guidelines on such incorrect beliefs.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “No kind of calamity can occur, except by the will of Allah.” (At-Taghabun 64:11)

In Saheeh Muslim and Bukhari, we find Ahadeeth condemning erroneous beliefs and superstitions in Safar, or indeed in any other month, which were prevalent in the days of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance).

Rabi Al Awwal – 3rd month of the Islamic calendar


Rabi means ‘spring’. At the time the months were being named, spring was being heralded, hence, this month was named Rabi Al Awwal.


The Holy Prophet (sa) was born in Rabi Al Awwal, in the city of Makkah, in the year 570 CE. He died at the age of 63 in Madinah in Rabi Al Awwal in the year 11 AH.

Modern day innovated celebrations

Islamic history holds no valid record of the exact birth date of Prophet Muhammad (sa). Allah’s Messenger (sa) never celebrated his birthday. Secondly his companions (Sahabahs) and their next generation (Tabaeen) didn’t do so either.

Furthermore, we have two festivities only, which are Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha with their relevant spiritual significance. Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi is a recent addition to celebrations.

Rabi Ath Thani – 4th month of the Islamic calendar


At the time the months were being named, this month fell as spring was ending hence; it was named to denote this.


The Shariah does not specify any Ibadat (worship) explicitly for this month. However, as per the Sunnah of our Holy Prophet (sa), we should try to fast on the Ayam-e-Bidh i.e. 13th, 14th and 15th (middle days) of this month, as we should for every month. The Prophet (sa) also used to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, when the record of our deeds is presented before Allah (swt).