February 22: Muslim New Year
This date marks the start of the year 1425 AH or Al-Hijra, "hijra" meaning exodus or emigration.
Outline script for assembly leader
"He's dangerous!" argued one of the rulers of Makkah. "If he persuades the people that their idols are worthless and has them destroyed, who will visit our city? We'll soon become poor. He must be stopped." During the time the Prophet Muhammad had been preaching his message of one true God, he had made many enemies. They tried to starve him and his family to death by cutting off all his sources of food. That failed. They tried to stop people trading with his family. That failed. Eventually they decided to kill him while he slept.
But God warned the Prophet in a dream and Muhammad kept watch with his faithful servant, Abu Bakr. When it was dark, they managed to escape.
Eventually they reached some mountains where they found a cave - and there they hid.
Soon the Prophet's enemies followed them to the mountains. Inside the cave, the Prophet and Abu Bakr heard their enemies approaching. Outside, the trackers found the mouth of the cave. "They must be in there," said one of the men.
"No," said the tracker. "Look at the spiders' webs that cover its entrance.
No one's gone into that cave for months." And they moved away.
Eventually the Prophet and Abu Bakr made the difficult journey across the desert to a city called Medina where they were welcomed by the people and where the first mosque was built and where Muhammad preached in safety.
Since then, these events have been remembered as Al Hijra, the first day of the Muslim year.
The Hijra occurred on 16 July 622CE. There are roughly 103 Muslim (lunar) years to every 100 western (solar) years. Common Era years (ie years AD) can be calculated using this formula: CE year = AH year + 622 - (AH year V 33). Arabic civilisation gave us our numerals, arithmetic and algebra.
Arabic is read from right to left. Explore how we do this when working traditional addition and subtraction sums. The first month of the Muslim year is Muharram. Devise a calendar for this 29-day month (in which the days are read from right to left) or a joint westernMuslim calendar for the month. More information is at www.bbc.co.ukreligionreligionsislamholydaysal_hijra.shtml