6 Informative Nonfiction Books Explaining Events in the Islamic Calendar

Muslims all over the world rely on a lunar calendar system to inform their religious holidays and traditions. Read on for a handful of titles explaining more about the topic.

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The Islamic calendar, known as the Hijri calendar, follows the phases of the moon, making it a lunar-based calendar. This is unlike the widely used Gregorian calendar, which is based around the earth’s orbit of the sun. The Hijri calendar was established in 622 CE when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) made a pilgrimage from Mecca to Madinah and formed the first Muslim society on the Arab Peninsula.

The Islamic calendar coincides with different dates in the Gregorian calendar each year. The two calendar systems share some similarities. Both have 12 months, but the Islamic months are each 29 or 30 days long, depending on the moon’s phases. This makes them shorter than the Gregorian calendar, which is why they are not synchronised.

Throughout the Islamic calendar year, there are various holy months and days marked by their own unique rites and traditions. This includes Ramadan, Dhul-Hijjah, Eid-ul-Fitr, and Eid-al-Adha. The following are six nonfiction books that break down the major observances.

Blessed Days and Nights of the Islamic Year (Islam in Practice) by Hüseyin Algül

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Gain an understanding of the history behind the Islamic calendar through this title. Described by one reader as “highly recommended,” The Blessed Days and Nights of the Islamic Year gives an overview of the significance of the Holy Months and how Muslims all over the world observe them. Exploring various Muslim traditions, Algul provides an informative and comprehensive look at the major events of the Muslim calendar.

The Day Begins at Sunset Perceptions of Time in the Islamic World by Barbara Freyer Stowasser

This book offers a rare insight into Islam’s unique perspective on time. It highlights how, for example, observing the state of the moon towards the end of Ramadan dictates whether a new day begins to kickstart Eid celebrations the following month or if we continue our fast instead.

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In this scholarly work, Stowasser discusses how the concept of time is perceived in the context of Islam and how it impacts Muslims’ understanding of God and belief in their faith. She covers topics such as the importance of the Muslim lunar calendar and astronomy, referencing time as understood in Jewish and Christian tradition, as well as ancient civilisations.

The Islamic Calendar by Maulānā Ebrahim Noor

Develop your understanding of the historical events behind the Islamic calendar’s origins and Muslim traditions through this short booklet.

The Islamic Calendar by Maulānā Ebrahim Noor, book cover depicting a moon on a navy blue background.

If you’re looking for a pocket-size read that can also help you stay organised this year, then The Islamic Calendar might just be for you. Each month is carefully broken down with concise yet detailed descriptions of important events and acts of worship related to specific days. There is also a useful planner included to help you keep track of key events and special occasions over the course of the year.

Fasting in Islam & the Month of Ramadan: A Comprehensive Guide to Sawm by Ali Budak

This guide explores the role of fasting as an important act of worship, particularly in the context of the sacred month of Ramadan. In addition to covering the significance of fasting as the fourth pillar of Islam, the book discusses the act of worship in different faith traditions. It provides valuable insight into different fasting practices, considering both the spiritual and health benefits.

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This book makes fasting relatable to people of all walks of life by showcasing it from the perspectives of different religions and highlighting its overall health benefits.

The Hajj: The Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca and the Holy Places by F.E. Peters

Completing the Hajj, for many, is a life-changing experience. Muslims travel from all over the world, representing an array of cultures and ethnicities, united in their shared goal of fulfilling the fifth pillar of their faith.

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Experience the journey of Hajj, the pilgrimage to the Holy sites in Mecca, through this collection of captivating memoirs detailing the experience of Muslims completing the religious rite. F.E. Peters portrays a diverse narrative spanning the rich history of Hajj. Through this book, he highlights the spiritual significance of the pilgrimage, as well as its sociopolitical and economic impacts on the Muslim world.

Eid Al-Adha & Eid Al-Fitr A Brief Insight By Aida Selma

Eid Al-Adha and Eid Al-Fitr are arguably, two of the liveliest events of the Islamic Calendar. They bring together families and communities in celebration, marking two major periods of worship for Muslims: the month of Ramadan and the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.

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Learn about the two Muslim Eid celebrations through this combined edition of separate books on Eid al-Adha and Eid Al-Fitr, respectively. In the book, Selma briefly explains the origins and importance of the festivals. Referencing passages from the Qur’an related to the topic, the book provides a simple and informative introduction to the two Eids.

Whether you’re new to Islam or regularly practice its traditions, these nonfiction books can help deepen your understanding of the religion and how religious events and practices are based on the lunar calendar. I hope you enjoy learning more about the Muslim faith through these interesting and insightful reads.

Check out this article, which recommends books to learn more about the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan.

Browse through our list of recommended titles on other topics if you’re looking for more nonfiction to add to your TBR.