1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hejira

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HEJIRA,[1] or Hegira (Arab. hijra, flight, departure from one’s country, from hajara, to go away), the name of the Mahommedan era. It dates from 622, the year in which Mahomet “fled” from Mecca to Medina to escape the persecution of his kinsmen of the Koreish tribe. The years of this era are distinguished by the initials “A.H.” (anno hegirae). The Mahommedan year is a lunar one, about 11 days shorter than the Christian; allowance must be made for this in translating Hegira dates into Christian dates; thus A.H. 1321 corresponds roughly to A.D. 1903. The actual date of the “flight” is fixed as 8 Rabia I., i.e. 20th of September 622, by the tradition that Mahomet arrived at Kufa on the Hebrew Day of Atonement. Although Mahomet himself appears to have dated events by his flight, it was not till seventeen years later that the actual era was systematized by Omar, the second caliph (see Caliphate), as beginning from the 1st day of Muharram (the first lunar month of the year) which in that year (639) corresponded to July 16. The term hejira is also applied in its more general sense to other “emigrations” of the faithful, e.g. to that to Abyssinia (see Mahomet), and to that of Mahomet’s followers to Medina before the capture of Mecca. These latter are known as Muhajirun.

For the problems of Moslem chronology and comparative tables of dates see (beside the articles Calendar, Chronology and Mahomet), Wüstenfeld, Vergleichungstabellen der muhammedanischen und christlichen Zeitrechnung (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1903); Mas Latrie, Trésor de chronologie (Paris, 1889); Durbaneh, Universal Calendar (Cairo, 1896); Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen, ii. 326-350; D. Nielson, Die altarabische Mondreligion (Strassburg, 1904); Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, s.v. “Hijrah.”

  1. The i in the second syllable is short.