The Major Holidays Celebrated by Muslims

Eid Celebration Marks The End Of Ramadan
Eid Celebration. Ulet Ifansasti/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Muslims have two major religious observances each year, Ramadan and the Hajj, and several holidays connected with each one. All Islamic holidays are observed according to the lunar-based Islamic calendar.

Ramadan

Each year, corresponding with the ninth month of the lunar calendar, Muslims spend a month in daytime fasting. This observance is called Ramadan. From dawn to sunset during this month, Muslims abstain from food, liquids, smoking, and sex. This fast is an extremely important aspect of the Muslim faith: in fact, it is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Laylat al-Qadr

Toward the end of Ramadan, Muslims observe the "Night of Power" in commemoration of the time when the first verses of the Qur'an were revealed to Muhammad.

Eid al-Fitr

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the "Festival of Fast-Breaking." On the day of Eid, fasting is prohibited. The end of Ramadan is generally celebrated by a ceremonial fast-breaking, as well as the performance of the Eid prayer in an open, outdoor area or mosque.

Hajj

Each year during the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, millions of Muslims make an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Muhammad. This pilgrimage is known as the Hajj.

Day of Arafat

During the ninth day of the Hajj, the holiest day in Islam, pilgrims gather at the Plain of Arafat to seek God's mercy, and Muslims elsewhere fast for the day. Muslims around the world gather at mosques for a solidarity prayer.

Eid al-Adha

At the end of the annual pilgrimage, Muslims celebrate the "Festival of Sacrifice." It includes a ritual sacrifice of a sheep, camel, or goat, an action meant to commemorate the trials of the Prophet Abraham.

Other Muslim Holy Days

Other than these two major observances and their corresponding celebrations, there are no other universally observed Islamic holidays. Some Muslims acknowledge other events from Islamic history, which are considered holidays by some but not all Muslims:

Islamic New Year: 1 Muharram

Al-Hijra, the first day of Muharram, marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. The date was chosen to commemorate Muhammad's hijra to Medina, a key moment in Islamic theological history.

Ashura: 10 Muharram

The Ashura marks the anniversary of the death of Husein, the grandson of Muhammad. Celebrated mainly by Shi'ite Muslims, the date is commemorated by fasting, blood donation, and performances.

Mawlid an-Nabi: 12 Rabia' Awal

Mawlid al-Nabim, celebrated on the 12th of Rabiulawal, marks the birth of Muhammad in A.D. 570. The holy day is celebrated in different ways by different Islamic sects. Some Muslims choose to commemorate Muhammad's birth with gift-giving and feasts, while others condemn this behavior for being idolatrous.

Isra' & Mi'raj: 27 Rajab

Some Muslims commemorate Muhammad's journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, followed by his ascent to heaven and return to Mecca, on the two holy nights of Isra' and Mi'raj. They celebrate this holiday by offering prayers.

Holiday Dates for 2019 and 2020

Islamic dates are based on a lunar calendar, so corresponding Gregorian dates may vary by one or two days from what is listed here.

Isra' & Mi'raj: 

  • Wednesday, April 3, 2019
  • Sunday, March 22, 2020

Ramadan:

  • Wednesday, June 5 to Friday, July 5, 2019
  • Friday, April 24 to Sunday, May 24, 2020

Eid al-Fitr

  • Friday, July 5, 2019
  • Sunday, May 24, 2020

Hajj:

  • Friday, August 9 to Wednesday, August 14, 2019
  • Tuesday, July 28 to Sunday, August 2, 2020

Day of Arafat:

  • Saturday, August 10, 2019
  • Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Eid al-Adha:

  • Saturday, August 10 to Sunday, August 11, 2019
  • Thursday, July 30 to Friday, July 31, 2020

Islamic New Year 1438 AH.

  • Friday, August 30, 2019
  • Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Ashura:

  • Monday, September 9, 2019
  • Friday, August 28, 2020

Mawlid an-Nabi:

  • Saturday, November 9, 2019
  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020