The Oyo and Osun state governments on Wednesday declared Thursday, September 21, as public holiday to mark the commencement of a Islamic New Year (Hijri or Hijra) asking their workers to return to work on Friday, September 22.
But in a related development, Kano declared Friday, September 22, as public holiday for the celebration.
To Oyo and Osun, September 21 marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year while it is September 22 according to Kano. These states are in the same country in the same time zones.
Why the difference in days to celebrate Islamic New Year ?
A fact check shows that 28 countries are marking the day on Friday while two countries are marking it on Thursday. The Islamic New Year for 2017 is September 21 for other countries and September 22 for Philippines and Malaysia which has a Muslim region.
Islamic New Year is only a public holiday in Muslim-majority countries including the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Indonesia and Malaysia declare the day a public holiday. In other countries, Muslim businesses often close for the day to mark the occasion.
So when is Islamic New Year 2017?
Days go from sunset to sunset in the Muslim calendar.
Islamic New Year 2017 is expected to begin at sunset on Thursday, September 21, and end at sunset on Friday, September 22. That’s the date on the Saudi astronomical calendar.
So, Kano followed the pattern. Besides, it would create a three day weekend as would be the case in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia although the two Arabian Kingdoms declared Thursday as public holiday.
Friday and Saturday are weekend holidays in UAE and Saudi while Sunday is a working day. Work days in these countries run from Sunday to Thursday.
For Kano, a Nigerian state dominated by Islam, some Muslims there wish to have Friday as a workfree day but Nigeria is not a Muslim country. However, by tweaking the Hijra holiday properly, Muslims in the state will enjoy a three day public holiday!
What is Hijra?
Hijra, in Arabic, means migration, and it refers to when Prophet Mohammed made his journey from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. This is an occasion that led to the establishment of the first Muslim community based on Islamic teachings, therefore the beginning of the Islamic era, 1AH (AH definition: After Hijra).
It is also the first day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. This is the often called the month of remembrance and is the holiest month after Ramadan.
The Islamic lunar calendar has 354 or 355 days in a year. The year 2017 AD, therefore, falls within Islamic years AH 1438 and 1439.
The Islamic New Year for 2017/1439 is September 21 for other countries and September 22 for Philippines and Malaysia which has a Muslim region.
Prophet Mohammed was invited to Medina by a delegation representing the twelve most important clans. He accepted and, along with most of his followers, made the 320km trek. The situation in Medina, at this time, was one of confusion and blood feuds. What was needed was a neutral outsider to judge the various altercations. Mohammed accepted the invitation and became chief arbitrator to the entire community.
How Hijra is celebrated
It is a traditionally quiet holiday. Time is spent with family or in contemplation and prayer. People, in increasing numbers, are using the day to make resolutions.