Muharram 2016
Muharram 2016Reuters

Unlike the western celebrations of New Year's Eve on December 31, the Islamic New Year is marked by the sighting of the crescent moon.

The Islamic New Year is the first day of Muharram, which is the first month of the lunar Islamic calendar. The holy month of Muharram is of great significance for Muslims around the world as it is also the second holiest month after Ramadan.

The new moon of Muharram was sighted in India and Pakistan on Sunday, October 2, which corresponds to 29 Dhul Hijjah, the final month in Islamic calendar. It means the first day of the Islamic Year 1438 falls on Monday, October 3. With this confirmation, the tenth day of Muharram, also known as Youm-e-Ashura will be on Wednesday, October 12.

According to Daily Pakistan, the first day of Muharram was observed as a public holiday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one of the four provinces of Pakistan.

What is Muharram, Youm-e-Ashura and what its Islamic significance?

The first month of Islamic calendar marks Prophet Mohammed's journey from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. Prophet Mohammed's journey is referred to as Hijra, which means migration, which was the result of increasing persecution from the Quraysh tribe of Mecca. Prophet was joined by many of his followers on his journey to Medina.

The tenth day of Muharram, Youm-e-Ashura is observed differently by Shia and Sunni Muslims around the world. The Shia Muslims observe this day as mourning for the death of Prophet Mohammed's grandson Imam Hussein, who was killed in the battle of Karbala in 680 AD. On this day, many Shiites participate in processions and self-flagellation.

In Sunnis, Ashura marks the day when Moses was saved from the Egyptians by Allah. Sunni Muslims observe this day with a day-long fast from sunrise to sunset.

How to wish Islamic New Year to friends and family?

Muslims only have two festivals throughout the year, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Muharram or Islamic New Year does not involve greetings or sharing wishes, but one can share messages of prosperity and good deeds in the year to come.

Below are some short messages that can be shared as SMS or on WhatsApp on this day.

May all the praises and thanks be to Allah. To whom belongs all that is in heaven & in the earth. Have a blessed Muharram!

You alone we worship and you alone we ask for help, for each and everything. May your faith in him always bring you peace and prosperity...Have a blessed Muharram!

May Allah bless:
Your days with happiness;
Your weeks with prosperity;
Your months with contentment;
And your years with love and peace!