Can a Muslim have a Happy New Year in 2023?

The New Year based on the Solar Calender is a unit of time measurement and let me give you a briefing on measurement first:

How Muslims Measured Weight, Distance and Time:

Weight & Distance:

Units of measurement at the time of the Prophet Muhammad were units of measurement used within the Arabian tribes. 

These units were not standardised and were based on body parts, such as the hand, finger, and foot. Let us take an example, the hand as a unit of length and was equal to about 4 inches. The finger as a unit of length and was equal to about 1/4 inch. The foot as a unit of length and was equal to about 12 inches.

There were also use of standardised weight and measurement units for trade and commerce. These included the mudd, a unit of weight equal to about 1.25 pounds, and the ratl, a unit of weight equal to about 1.6 pounds. The length of the forearm, shin and the standard size of a typical village were also accepted length units.

Where surface area is concenred – Jerib or Djerib was the most usual unit which was similar to acre or hectare. Another unit known as Sa was used to measure volume which is approximately equal to 3 litres. The exact size of units were not exactly equal depending on the region. 

Units of measurement have evolved over time and are not in widespread use today. Most countries now use the metric system, which is based on the International System of Units (SI).

Arabic units of measurement were a system that associates with physical quantities.

The Uqiyyah:

Sometimes spelt awqiyyah, is the name for a unit of weight that varied between regions. This can be considered an ‘ounce’ which in Iraq as one twelfth of a ratl or in parts of Egypt as one eighth of a ratl. Remember the ratl varied as did the uqiyyah as its part.

Egypt: 37g

Aleppo: 320g

Beirut: 213.39g

Jerusalem: 240g

Malta: ~26.46 g

Istanbul: – 128.3 g

The same unit, pronounced okka (uqqa) in Turkish, was used in the Ottoman Empire until the early 20th century. The standard Istanbul okka was 128.3 g.

The ouguiya, the currency of Mauritania, took its name from the Hassaniya Arabic pronunciation of uqiyyah.

 The Qafiz:

Was the unit of measure for several quantities including volume, weight and area. This took several different values depending on the time and region. The oldest accurate information about it is that of the qafiz of Hajjaj which equalled one Sa’ of the Prophet’s (4.2125 litres).It is still used in  Libya— to measure quantities of olive oil.

In Libya it measures about 7 litres (almost 2 gallons). A measurement derived from it is cafisu (aka. cafiso or caffiso) which is still in use in Malta, Calabria and Sicily and is also used to measure olive oil. It generally measures 16-17 litres.

A same-name unit of measurement (aka cafesse) was used to measure grain. Qafiz, was also a unit for measuring land, equaling 360 square dhira’ (sq. cubits).

The Sa:

Measurement of volume with cultural and religious significance. The Arabic word Sāʿ translates to “small container,” related to the Quranic word ṣuwāʿ (“cup, goblet”).

Together with the Mudd and the Makkūk, the Sāʿ is part of the system of units of volume used in the Arabic peninsula. 1 Sāʿ was 4 Mudd. The 9th-century scholar al-Khwārizmī indicates that this was the opinion of the people of Medina. Likewise, Shams al-Dīn al-Maqdisī, who lived in the 10th century, stated that in al-Ḥijāz 1 Sāʿ = 4 Mudd = 1/3 Makkūk. Az-Zahrāwī related the Sāʿ with Xestes, declaring that at the Rûm, 1 Sāʿ = 10 Xestes.

Because Sāʿ was related to different measures of mass, many standardisation problems occurred. Its relation to the Ratl was especially controversial, with two prevailing opinions:

1 Sāʿ = 8 Ratl was how the people of Kufa defined 1 Sāʿ. It was also the measure used by Umar when he atoned oaths.

1 Sāʿ = 5 1/3 Ratl was how the people of people of Medina defined 1 Sāʿ. It was reduced to this relation by Saʿīd ibn al-ʿĀs, who was Governor of Medina under Muawiyah I

Al-Juwayni reported that Al-Shafi‘i and Abu Yusuf quarreled about the measurement of the Sāʿ in front of the Khalif Harun al-Rashid (reigned 786–809) at Medina.

The Khalif invited the progeny of Muhajirun with their Sāʿ- Vessels, which they inherited from their ancestors. When it turned out that the measurement given by Al-Shafi‘i (1 Sāʿ = 4 Mudd = 5 1/3 Ratl) was right, Abū Yūsuf agreed with the opinion.

Taking into account the fact that in Baghdad, 1 Ratl = 130 dirhams, the Muslim scholars established the equation: 1 Sāʿ = 693 1/3 dirhams.

How is this all related to Islam?:

Muslims were about maths and logic in the past. Like the Mudd, the Sāʿ has an extra symbolic and religious meaning in Islam than a measurement. According to a hadith referred to by Anas ibn Malik in different versions and is also found in Sahih al-Bukhari, The ProphetMuhammad asked Allah on the return from the Battle of Khaybar to bless the Sāʿ and the Mudd of the Muslims.

The Sāʿ is especially important for the measurement of the Zakat al-fitr, an alms-giving that is done on Eid al-Fitr.

This alms has the value of one Sāʿ of grain per family member. According to Islamic tradition, this value was established by Muhammad in the year 2 of the Hijra (623/624 AD).

In the absence of a Mudd or Sā measure, the amount of grain for the Zakāt al-fitr can be measured with the two hands held together; four of these double handfuls are equal to one Sāʿ.

In Fès, the rule was that in the occasion that needy people received a larger amount of grain in the distribution of zakāt al-fitr by their neighbours, they would have to pass on the surplus to other needy people. You should only keep one Sāʿ per family member.

Special Sāʿ-measuring vessels were produced for the measurement of the Zakāt al-fitr.

During Sultan Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Othman (reigned 1331-1351), a vessel was made from copper, which should represent the “Sāʿ of the Prophet.”

An inscription attached to the vessel contains a long Isnad, over which the calibration of the measuring vessel could be retraced to the prophet’s companion, Zaid ibn Thabit.

Based on hadith, the Sāʿ is also considered to be the minimum amount of water that must be available to perform a valid ghusl.

Use of the Sāʿ for non-ritual purposes is recorded only in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Maqdisī reports that the Arabs had two different Sāʿ units on the ships, a small one for compensating sailors, and a large one used for commercial transactions.

The Metric System:

Today the vast majority of nations and people across this planet use ‘The Standardised Metric System’. 

The “Sāʿ of the Prophet” is exactly 4.2125 litres. Converting this measure to the weight of wheat is 3.24 kg. The Sāʿvessel for the Merinid Sultan Abū l-Hasan, which was also to represent the “Sāʿ of the Prophet,” has a volume of 2.75 litres.

There is nothing wrong in going back to the time of the Prophet and Muslims of the 6th to 18th centuries when it comes to measuring. But is it practical?

Of course tradition and culture are part of all of us and they should be preserved but when dealing with people wider – its practical to use metric measurements.


 At the time of the Prophet – Muslims used a lunar calendar to measure time. The lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon, with each month beginning with the sighting of the new moon. The lunar calendar consists of 12 months, each with 29 or 30 days.

Muslims also used the solar calendar, which is based on the Earth’s orbit around its star Sol (the sun). The solar calendar is used to determine the dates of important events, such as the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The lunar calendar is used by Muslims today to determine the dates of important religious observances, such as Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

Muslims use the solar calendar for everyday purposes, such as scheduling appointments and planning events.

Today if we were to ask someone including Muslims their date of birth they will reply in the standard way the rest of the world responds. They will respond with the solar calender not lunar. You see its about standard measurements – if wonnect with others to simply communicate.

Some Muslims say that we should not celebrate the New Year whether Solar or Lunar – that is fine. But when they wish to force other Muslims to follow suit – we should stand up for their right to celebrate or not.

A question for those Muslims or anyone else who considers the current standardised system of time measurement based on the solar calendar’ haraam’.

Can you give me your date of birth with the Lunar Calender and your age?

Very few – including Islamic scholars would be able to respond quickly.

So back to the question is the New Year Haraam? NO, its not haraam.

Is celebrating the New Year haraam? It is not a religious festival so you are not partaking in others’ religious activities – so for a Muslim no it is not haraam as long as you don’t overindulge yourselves in eating, drinking and please don’t engage in haraam activities like drinking alcohol and fornicating as that something that is forbidden in classical Islam (but should others be doing haraam activities move away from them, do not speak of their sins to others and be there for them should they call out for help as some get carried away in celebrating and falling, your duty as a Muslim is to help others up.

So a Muslim can have a Happy New Year in 2023 – just like everyone else.

So Happy 2023 everyone!

Mohammed Abbasi

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