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Muharram in the United States

Many Muslims in countries such as the United States 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 a Public Holiday?

Muharram is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

American Woman in Headscarf
Many Muslims spend time in prayer during Muharram.
Many Muslims spend time in prayer during Muharram.
©iStockphoto.com/Rachel Donahue

What Do People Do?

Some Islamic organizations in the United States post announcements reminding people of the first day of Muharram prior to the event. Muharram is one of the four sanctified months in the Islamic calendar. Some Muslim Americans choose to fast during this month, although fasting is not obligatory. Many Muslims engage in voluntary prayer, including evening prayer, during Muharram.

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 federal public holiday in the United States.

Background

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 in other countries

Read more about Muharram.

Muharram 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 8MuharramMuslim 
2011SunNov 27MuharramMuslim 
2012ThuNov 15MuharramMuslim 
2013TueNov 5MuharramMuslim 
2014SatOct 25MuharramMuslim 
2015ThuOct 15MuharramMuslim 
2016MonOct 3MuharramMuslim 
2017FriSep 22MuharramMuslim 
2018WedSep 12MuharramMuslim 
2019SunSep 1MuharramMuslim 
2020ThuAug 20MuharramMuslim 

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