The story of Hijrah
What is Hijrah: Hijrah comes from the Arabic word meaning migration. It was the migration of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in 622 AD from Makkah to Yathrib (old name for Medinah) which saw the start of the spread of Islam civilization.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) went out from Makkah on the last Thursday of Safar, 622 AD or 1,429 years ago. He hid in the Thur Cave, an isolated place outside Makkah to avoid being detected by the Quraish, who have been trying to kill him. Hiding in the cave was the Prophet’s strategy where the Quraish thought that he went straight to Medinah. Prophet Muhammad went out of the cave after several weeks there in early Rabiul Awal.
The Hijrah calendar is use by many Muslim countries to determine the main events in Islam. It is based on the lunar calendar and has a total of 354 days annually.
Why Hijrah: Why was the event where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made the hijrah selected as the start of the Muslim year? Why not either on the dates of his birth or death, the Isra’ Miraj or other significant Muslim events?
The answer: One of the reasons was that Hijrah is the milestone for Muslims. The starting point where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his friends spread Islam to the world.
Who started it: The second Khalifah Rashidin, Saidina Umar Al-Khatab (634-644 AD). One reference said that one Governor asked Saidina Umar on which year was his orders to the Governor. This gave Saidina Umar an idea to start a year which should be used for Muslims. At that time, there were a number of calendars used by the different Arab races such as the Elephant Year, the Persian calendar and the Romanian calendar. The names of the 12 months in the Hijrah year are either based on the season or events affecting the old Arab.