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Muharram/Islamic New Year in Canada

Many Muslims in countries such as Canada observe the start of the Islamic New Year on the first day of Muharram, which is the first month in the Islamic calendar.

Is Muharram/Islamic New Year a Public Holiday?

Muharram/Islamic New Year is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, September 1, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Canada.

Muslim man praying.
Many people of Islamic faith engage in prayer during Muharram.
Many people of Islamic faith engage in prayer during Muharram.
©iStockphoto.com/Wando Studios

What Do People Do?

Muslims in Canada choose to fast during Muharram, although fasting is not obligatory. Many Muslims also engage in voluntary prayer, including evening prayer, during Muharram. Some Islamic organizations in Canada host lectures and sessions regarding the mourning associated with the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali (also known as Imam Hussain) that occurred in 680 CE. Some people also read books about Islam to increase their knowledge on the teachings of Islam.

The Day of Ashura (or Ashurah) is known as the most sacred day in the month of Muharram. It is the 10th day of Muharram and is a day of fasting for many Sunni Muslims. Many Shi’a Muslims use the day to commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali in 680 CE. Some Muslims give to charity on this day.

Public Life

The first day of Muharram is an Islamic observance and is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada.


Muharram is the first month in the Islamic year and a time of mourning and peace. It is forbidden for Muslims to fight during this month. A number of important events in Islamic history have occurred during this month. These include:

  • The Battle of Karbala (currently in Iraq) in the year 680 CE, which enabled Husayn ibn Ali, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, and his army to enter the city on the first day of the month.
  • The restriction of Husayn ibn Ali's access to water on the seventh day.
  • The death of Husayn ibn Ali and his clan (Ahl al-Bayt) on the 10th day of the month.

The Shi'a and Sunni denominations of Islam attach different weights to these events and mark them in different ways.

About Muharram/Islamic New Year in other countries

Read more about Muharram/Islamic New Year.

Muharram/Islamic New Year Observances

Note: Regional customs or moon sightings may cause a variation of the date for Islamic holidays, which begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday. The Islamic calendar is lunar and the days begin at sunset, so there may be one-day error depending on when the New Moon is first seen.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010WedDec 8Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2011SunNov 27Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2012ThuNov 15Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2013TueNov 5Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2014SatOct 25Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2015ThuOct 15Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2016MonOct 3Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2017FriSep 22Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2018WedSep 12Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2019SunSep 1Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 
2020ThuAug 20Muharram/Islamic New YearMuslim 

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