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The Meaning Behind Islamic Months

by Hessy Trishandiani

The Islamic calendar, also known as the Hijri calendar, consists of 12 lunar months. Every Islamic month symbolizes a particular meaning. Let’s explore the meanings and origins of these Islamic months’ names!

The Islamic Months

Indeed, the number of months with Allah is twelve [lunar] months in the register of Allah [from] the day He created the heavens and the earth; of these, four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so do not wrong yourselves during them. And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous [who fear Him]. [At-Tawbah 9:36]

Muharram

Muharram means ‘forbidden’ because all kinds of battles are forbidden during this month.

Safar

Safar literally means empty, the month when the pre-Islamic Arabs left their homes empty to fight their enemies, travel and attend to business.

Rabi al-Awwal

Rabi literally means ‘spring’ while al-Awwal means ‘in time’. So it means ‘the first spring’. 

Rabi al-Akhir

Also known as Rabi al-thani, it means the last spring. The month begins when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted.

Jumada al-Awwal

Jumda’ symbolizes dry months. Some say it was because of the summer heat, while others say it was because of the winter cold.

Jumada al-Thani

Literally means ‘the last time of parched land’. It marks the end of that time when the lands becomes parched or dry. 

Rajab

Derived from the word ‘Rajaba’, which means respect or honor. This month, pre-Islamic Arabs gave up any fight.

Sha’ban

The time when the pagan Arabs were in search of water and grass.

Ramadan

Ramadan means ‘heat’ or ‘burning’ due to high temperatures caused by excessive heat from the sun in this month. 

Shawwal

Shawwal means to carry or lift. This is the time when female camels would carry a fetus.

Dhulal-Qa’da

This month means ‘master of truce’. The pre-Islamic Arabs ceased fights in this month.

Dhulhijjah

Literally means ‘the month of pilgrimage’, the time when Muslims from all over the world perform pligrimage to Mecca.