Muharram/New Year in Malaysia

Muharram, also known as the Islamic New Year, is observed in Malaysia as a significant religious event. In the local language, it is called "Awal Muharram" or "Maal Hijrah." Muharram is the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar, and its commencement varies each year due to the nature of the lunar calendar. The date is determined by the sighting of the new moon, and the start of Muharram may differ by a day or two across different countries and communities.


Muharram has been observed in Malaysia since the arrival of Islam in the region around the 12th century. The day marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year and commemorates the migration (Hijrah) of the Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. This migration is considered the starting point of the Islamic calendar, and thus, Muharram holds great historical and religious significance for Muslims in Malaysia.


National customs for Muharram in Malaysia

Muharram is a public holiday in Malaysia, and various religious activities take place throughout the country. Mosques organize special prayers, religious lectures, and Quran recitation sessions during this time. The day is also marked by charity events, where Muslims are encouraged to help the less fortunate by donating food, clothing, and other necessities.

One of the most important customs during Muharram is fasting. Many Muslims in Malaysia choose to fast on the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th days of Muharram, following the example of the Prophet Muhammad. This voluntary fasting is believed to bring blessings and forgiveness from Allah.

Local customs for Muharram in Malaysia

Local customs for Muharram in Malaysia may vary depending on the diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds of the Muslim communities. In some areas, processions and gatherings are held to remember the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, who was killed in the Battle of Karbala on the 10th day of Muharram. These gatherings, known as "Majlis," involve recitations of poetry, stories of the martyrdom, and prayers for peace and unity among the Muslim community.

In addition to the religious activities, Muharram is also a time for family gatherings in Malaysia. Families come together to share meals and strengthen their bonds, while also reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the new year.


Muharram, or the Islamic New Year, is an important event for Muslims in Malaysia that holds great historical and religious significance. The observance of Muharram includes a range of activities, such as special prayers, fasting, charity events, and local customs that reflect the diverse cultural heritage of the Malaysian Muslim community. As a time for reflection, forgiveness, and unity, Muharram serves as a reminder of the core values of Islam and the importance of compassion and solidarity among its followers.