Today, November 15, 2012, is the first day of the Month of Muharram and Muslim celebrate the New Year, 1434 according to the Islamic calendar.
The Islamic year lasts for about 354 days and consists of 12 months. Muharram is the first month and some Muslims mark the start of the Islamic year on the first day of Muharram. Many Muslims fast during daylight hours on the ninth and 10th or 10th and 11th days of the month to mark the Day of Ashura (Yaumu-l ‘Ashurah).
Muslims do not traditionally “celebrate” the beginning of a new year, but they acknowledge the passing of time, and take time to reflect on our own mortality.
Muslims measure the passage of time using the Islamic (Hijrah) calendar. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the Hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Makkah to Madinah (approximately July 622 A.D.).
The Islamic calendar was first introduced by the close companion of the Prophet, Umar ibn Al-Khattab. The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in many Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.
Happy New Year and Salaam aleikum!