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Occasions in the Islamic calendar

There are numerous Holy occasions within the religion of Islam which have been subject to both celebration and commemoration. These occasions all hold unique reasons for their observance, and it should be highlighted that Shi’a Muslims differ from their Sunni brothers in that they observe many days of mourning, sadness and grief virtually exclusive to them.

There are numerous traditions which have been transmitted from Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and the Imams (a.s) which state that believers are to celebrate the days of happiness of the Ahl al-Bayt and commemorate their days of sadness. There is also a precedent for such a recollection and remembrance from within the Qur’an itself:

“And peace be upon him the day he was born and the day he dies and the day he is raised alive” (Surah Maryam, Ayah 15)

This verse clearly highlights that in the estimation of Allah, the days that the Prophets are born are clearly worthy of recognition, as are their dates of death.

“Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error” (Surah Aal Imran, Ayah 164 )

“Said Jesus, the son of Mary, “O Allah , our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us an ‘Eid for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers” (Surah al-Ma’ida, Ayah 114)

Clearly, if according to the second verse, the presence of food being sent down from Allah is a cause for a celebration, indeed an “‘Eid,” it suggests that believers, through the raising of Prophets as a mercy from Allah, must surely be a cause for celebration and commemoration.

List of Commemorated Occasions of Importance in the Islamic Calendar for Shi’a Muslims:

Muharram:

1-10th: Commemoration of the tragedy and suffering of the third Imam of the Shi’a namely Imam al-Husayn b. Ali (a.s).

During these ten nights, Shi’a around the world invite scholars, professional speakers and reciters who will give sermons related to different subjects in Islamic thought and also orally recount the tragedies which befell Imam al-Husayn (a.s) and his camp. On the tenth, the day is solely reserved for commemorating the martyrdom of Imam al-Husayn (a.s) and recounting in full detail exactly what happened at Karbala.

11-12th: Recounting the aftermath of what happened to Imam ‘Ali b. al-Husayn al-Sajjad (a.s), the fourth Imam of the Shi’a and the women and children from the camp of al-Husayn at Karbala and how they were treated by the oppressive party of Yazid.

25thThe anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Ali b. al-Husayn (a.s) (Zayn al-Abideen), the Fourth Imam of the Shi’a.

27th: The martyrdom of Maytham al-Tammar, a renowned mystic and companion of Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, the first Shi’a Imam. Maytham was crucified by the Umayyad government of his time for refusing to distance himself from Imam Ali (a.s).

Safar:

7th: The Birth of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s), the seventh Imam of the Shi’a.

17th: Martyrdom of Imam Ali b. Musa al-Ridha (a.s), the eighth Imam of the Shi’a.

20th: The fortieth day anniversary of the martyrdom of al-Husayn (a.s) (al-Arba’een)

24th: The anniversary of Sayeda Zaynab bint  Ali’s death.

28th: The martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad (s.w.t)  and Imam al-Hassan (a.s).

Rabi’ al-Awwal:

4th: The death anniversary of Lady Fatima al-Ma’soomah, the Sister of Imam Musa al-Kadhim (a.s) .

8th: The martyrdom of Imam Hassan al-Askari (a.s), the Eleventh Imam of the Shi’a.

9th: The start of the Imamate of Imam al-Mahdi, the current Imam / ‘Eid al-Zahra.

17th: The birth of the Holy Prophet and Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s), the sixth Imam of the Shi’a

18th: The birth of Umm Kulthum b. Ali

Rabi’ al-Thani:

10th: The birth of Imam Hassan al-Askari (a.s), the eleventh Imam of the Shi’a

Jamada al-‘Ula:

13th: The martyrdom of Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a.s), the daughter of the Prophet (according to some traditions)

Jamada al-Thani:

3rd: The martyrdom of Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a.s), the daughter of the Prophet (according to some traditions)

20th: The birth of Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a.s)

Rajab:

1st: The birth of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s), the fifth Imam of the Shi’a.

3rd: The martyrdom of Imam Ali al-Naqi (a.s), the tenth Imam of the Shi’a.

5th: The birth of Imam Ali al-Naqi (a.s), the tenth Imam of the Shi’a.

10th: The birth of Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s), the ninth Imam of the Shi’a.

13th: The birth of Imam Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s), the first Imam of the Shi’a.

25th: The martyrdom of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, the seventh Imam of the Shi’a.

26th: The death of Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet and father of the first Imam.

27th: The day of the appointment of Muhammad as a Prophet, and the day of his ascension to heaven on the night journey.

Shaban:

1st: The birth of Lady Zaynab b. Ali

3rd: The birth of Imam al-Husayn b. Ali (a.s), the third Imam of the Shi’a.

4th: The birth of al-Abbas b. Ali

5th: The birth of Imam Ali b. al-Husayn (a.s), the third Imam of the Shi’a.

15th: The birth of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s), the present Imam.

Ramadhan:

All 30 days mark the compulsory month of fasting, for all Muslims who are able.

10th: The birth of Lady Khadija (a.s), the first wife of the Prophet.

15th: The birth of Imam al-Hassan b. Ali (a.s), the second Imam of the Shi’a.

19-21st: The attack on Imam Ali (a.s) until his martyrdom.

22nd: The day the Qur’an was first revealed unto the Prophet

Shawaal:

1st: Eid al-Fitr

10th: The start of the Greater Occultation

25th: Martyrdom of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (a.s), the sixth Imam.

Dhu’l Qada:

11th: The birth of Imam al-Ridha (a.s)

29th: The martyrdom of Imam Muhammad al-Taqi (a.s).

Dhu’l Hajjah:

1st: Wedding anniversary of Imam ‘Ali (a.s) and Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a.s).

7th: Martyrdom of Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (a.s), the fifth Imam of the Shi’a.

10th: Eid al-Adha

15th: Birth of Imam al-Hadi (a.s) the Tenth Imam of the Shi’a.

18th: Eid al-Ghadeer: The designation of Imam Ali’s (a.s) successorship by the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)

Bibliography and Further Reading

  • Al-Amin, M. A‘ya al-Shi‘ah, Dar al-Ta’aruf li al-Matbu’at, Beirut, Lebanon, 1998.

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