Eid Milad un Nabi

Eid Milad un Nabi: The Birthday of Islamic Prophet Muhammad

Eid Milad un Nabi, also known as Mawlid, is the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s birthday. It occurs during the third month of the Islamic calendar, Rabi’ al-Awwal. Most Sunni and Shia scholars agree on the 12th Rabi’ al-Awwal as the recognized date. However, a minority of Shia academics agree on the 17th Rabi’ al-Awwal.

History of Eid Milad un Nabi

The origins of this festival trace back to the early days of Islam, when some of the Tabi’un began to conduct sessions in which poetry and melodies written to honour Muhammad were performed and sung in front of large audiences. Muzaffar al-Din Gökböri is claimed to have been the first Muslim monarch to commemorate Muhammad’s birth in a grand event publicly. In 1588, the Ottomans proclaimed it an official holiday known as Mevlid Kandil. In specific regions, like Egypt, the name Mawlid is a general phrase for the birthday celebrations of various historical religious leaders, such as Sufi saints.

Mawlid Prayers
Credit: Hindustan Times

The majority of Islamic faiths supports the observance of Muhammad’s birthday. However, with the rise of Wahhabism-Salafism, Deobandism, and Ahl-i Hadith, many of its adherents started to oppose its remembrance, viewing it as an illegal religious innovation (bid’ah or bidat). Mawlid is a national holiday in most Muslim-dominated nations throughout the world, except for Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is also a public holiday in several non-Muslim majority nations with substantial Muslim communities, such as India.

Observing Muhammad’s birth as a holy day occurred privately in the early days of Islam. Still, subsequently, there was an increase in the number of visitors to the Mawlid home, which was open for the entire day, particularly for this celebration.

Early festivities featured Sufic features such as animal sacrifices, torchlight processions, public preaching, and a feast. In contrast to modern-day observances, the festivities took place throughout the day, with the monarch playing an essential role in the events. The Ahl al-Bayt was given special attention, with sermons and Qur’an recitations.

Roots of Eid Milad un Nabi

The Eid Milad un Nabi’s actual roots are difficult to establish. However, the significance of the occasion was established, according to Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God, when Muhammad fasted on Monday, noting his birth on that day, and when Umar considered Muhammad’s birth as a suitable starting time for the Islamic calendar.

The Mawlid was initially instituted by the Abbasids Baghdad, according to Festivals in World Religions. It has been believed that Al-Khayzuran of the Abbasids was the first to codify the Mawlid. According to Ibn Jubayr, in 1183, Muhammad’s birthday was celebrated every Monday of the Rabi’ al-awwal at Mecca. The Abbasids later transformed Mecca into a centre of devotion.

The Fatimids, according to Nico Kaptein of Leiden University, were the ones who started the Mawlid. According to one source, “the assumption that the mawlid festival started with the Fatimid dynasty is now virtually unanimously recognized among both religious polemicists and secular historians.”

Annemarie Schimmel states that the trend to commemorate Muhammad’s birthday on a grander and more celebratory scale arose initially in Egypt during the Fatimids. According to the Egyptian historian Maqrizi (d. 1442), one such festival in 1122 saw the attendance of intellectuals and religious institutions. They listened to sermons, dispensed sweets, notably honey, Muhammad’s favourite, and donated donations to the needy. Sunnis who dislike Mawlid mention his Shia origins.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica states that whatever the  Fatimids accomplished was simply a procession of court officials. There was never any public, but only the Fatimid caliph’s court. As a result, it has been established that Muzaffar al-Dn Gökburi, a Sunni, initiated the first Mawlid celebration, which was a public feast, in 1207.

Celebrations Across the World

Eid Milad un Nabi Celebrations
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Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Benin, Bangladesh, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Egypt, Fiji, Gambia, Indian Subcontinent, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen celebrate Eid Milad un Nabi and declare it as a public holiday.

All Islamic nations and other Muslim-majority countries like Ethiopia, India, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Iran, Maldives, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, Russia, and Canada celebrate Eid Milad un Nabi. The sole exceptions are Qatar and Saudi Arabia, where there is a prohibition and no public holiday. However, in the late twentieth century, there was a movement in the Sunni Muslim world to “forbid or denigrate” Mawlid. Bektashis in Albania have marked Mawlid by performing rites.

Turkey extensively observes Mawlid. Traditional poetry about Muhammad’s life occurs at public mosques and homes in the evening.

Eid Milad un Nabi is more like a carnival-like fashion by Sufi groups in various countries. There are massive street processions and decoration of residences or mosques. People offer charity and food, and youngsters recite poetry while telling stories about Muhammad’s life. Scholars and poets commemorate the day by reading Qaeda al-Burda Sharif, a renowned poem by the 13th-century Arabic Sufi Busiri.

Essence of Eid Milad un Nabi

Eid Milad un Nabi Saudi Arabia
Credit: LifeinSaudiArabia

A general Mawlid is “a chaotic, disorganized spectacle in which multiple actions occur concurrently, all bound together only by the shared celebratory time and place.” These festivities are a manifestation of the Sufi notion of Muhammad’s pre-existence. The fundamental importance of these celebrations, however, is a show of love for Muhammad.

The earliest Sunni mawlid festival that we have a complete description of is by Muzaffar al-Din Kokburi. There was slaughtering thousands of animals for a meal estimated to cost 300,000 dirhams. The presence of guests and the distribution of monetary gifts at mawlid festivals served an essential social function.

Early fatwas and critiques of the Mawlid focused on the “possibility of forced giving,” since hosts frequently requested monetary donations from their guests to cover festival expenses.

As a method of justifying festivities, jurists have viewed Muhammad’s birthday as a “kind of reciprocation for God’s bestowal of the Prophet Muhammad.” According to this school, such a gift demands gratitude, primarily in the form of the mawlid festival. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (1392 CE) and Ibn Hajar al-Asqalini (1449 CE) both articulated similar thoughts, citing the hadith concerning the Jews and the fast of ‘Ashura’ but expanding the notion of “thanks to God” to include prostration, fasting, almsgiving, and Qur’anic recitation. The sole restriction Ibn Hajar imposes on forms of celebration is that they must be Shari’a-compliant.

The day begins with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and a 21-gun salute in the provincial capitals on Pakistan’s Mawlid, and religious hymns occur throughout the day.

Celebration of Eid Milad un Nabi

The celebration of the Mawlid al-nabi “seems to surpass in importance, vibrancy, and grandeur” the two official Islamic festivals of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in many regions of Indonesia.

In celebration of Muhammad’s birth, Muslims in Qayrawan, Tunisia, perform and shout songs of adoration to him. In addition, Assistant Zgougou occurs in Tunisia to commemorate the Mawlid.

India is well-known for its Mawlid celebrations among non-Muslim countries. The relics of Muhammad are presented after morning prayers at the Hazratbal Shrine in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, where night-long prayers also occur. Hyderabad Telangana is well-known for its spectacular Milad celebrations. Throughout the city, religious gatherings, night-long prayers, demonstrations, parades, and decorations occur.

Credit: Ismail

Who was Prophet Mohammad?

Prophet Muhammad was an Arab religious, social, and political leader who established Islam as the world religion. According to Islamic theology, he was a prophet for preaching and reaffirming the monotheistic teachings of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets. In all major branches of Islam, he is God’s ultimate prophet. However, some current faiths disagree. Muhammad unified Arabia into a single Muslim government, with the Quran and his teachings and actions serving as the foundation of Islamic religious belief. Muhammad was born in Mecca in the year 570 CE (Year of the Elephant).

The Quran and Prophet Muhammad

The Quran says nothing about Muhammad’s childhood or other biographical facts, but it does mention his prophetic role, moral perfection, and theological difficulties with Muhammad. According to the Quran, Muhammad is the final in a line of prophets by God (33:40). Muhammad is also popular as “Messenger,” “Messenger of God,” and “Prophet” throughout the Quran. 2:101, 2:143, 2:151, 3:32, 3:81, 3:144, 3:164, 4:79-80, 5:15, 5:41, 7:157, 8:01, 9:3, 33:40, 48:29, and 66:09 are a few examples. Other titles used include “Warner,” “carrier of joyful tidings,” and “one who urges others to worship a Single God” (Quran 12:108, and 33:45-46).

According to the Quran, Muhammad was a man of the utmost moral quality, and God created him as a good example or “goodly model” for Muslims to follow (Quran 68:4, and 33:21). The Quran denies Muhammad any supernatural attributes and instead depicts him in terms of positive human characteristics. The Quran crystallizes Muhammad’s relationship to humankind in numerous passages.

Credit: Blog

According to the Quran, God sent Muhammad to bring the truth (God’s word to humanity) and benefit the entire world (Quran 39:33, and 21:107). In Islamic belief, this signifies that God sent Muhammad a message to humankind, the fulfilment of which will bring people redemption in the hereafter, and that it is Muhammad’s teachings and the purity of his personal life alone that keep God’s worship alive on this earth.

Muhammad- The Founder of Islam

Muhammad was Islam’s prophet and founder. He worked as a trader for most of his childhood. Then, at the age of 40, he began to receive revelations from Allah. It constituted the foundation of the Koran and Islam. By the year 630, he had united the majority of Arabia under a single faith.

Early Life of Muhammad

Muhammad was born in Mecca in the year 570 AD (now in Saudi Arabia) (Eid Milad un Nabi). His father died before he was born. Therefore, his grandpa and, subsequently, his uncle raised him. He was born into a poor but respected Quraysh family. The family was actively in Meccan politics and commerce.

Many tribes in the Arabian Peninsula were nomadic, exchanging commodities as they crossed the desert. The majority of tribes were polytheistic, each worshipping their own set of gods. Mecca was an important commercial and religious hub, with several temples and worship locations where the faithful worshipped the gods’ idols. The Kaaba was the most prominent location (meaning cube in Arabic). It is claimed that Abraham (Ibrahim to Muslims) and his son Ismail constructed it. Mecca’s inhabitants gradually embraced polytheism and idolatry. Of all the gods worshipped, claims state that Allah was the greatest and the only one who did not have an idol.

Livelihood of Muhammad

In his early adolescence, Muhammad worked in a camel caravan, following many others his age who were born into poverty. He got expertise in commercial commerce while working for his uncle, travelling through Syria and finally from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. Over time, Muhammad developed a reputation for being honest and truthful, earning him the moniker “al-Amin,” which means “loyal or trustworthy.”

Muhammad began working for a wealthy merchant woman named Khadijah, who was 15 years older, in his early twenties. The young, talented man attracted her and she offered marriage to him. He agreed, and the happy relationship had numerous offspring throughout the years. Unfortunately, not all survived to maturity. Fatima married Muhammad’s cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, whom Shi’ite Muslims consider Muhammad’s heir.

Muhammad The Prophet

Prophet Muhammad
Credit: The Conversation

Muhammad was also profoundly devout, and he made pilgrimages to essential places around Mecca on occasion. In 610, he was meditating in a cave on Mount Jabal-I-Nour on one of his pilgrimages. The Angel Gabriel arrived and conveyed God’s word. The angel said, ‘Recite this in the name of your Lord, who created man from a clot! Recite your very generous lord.’

These statements form the first verses of Surah 96 of the Qur’an. Several Islamic historians believe that Muhammad was initially upset by the revelations and didn’t reveal them to the public. But, according to Shi’a tradition, he accepted the word from the Angel Gabriel. He felt compelled to share his experience with other potential believers.

Life of the Prophet

According to Islamic history, his wife, Khadija, and his close companion Abu Bakr were the first to believe (the successor to Muhammad by Sunni Muslims). Soon after, Muhammad began to amass a modest following, facing little pushback at first. Instead, most Meccans either disregarded him or ridiculed him as just another prophet. Finally, however, when his preaching denounced idol worship and polytheism, many of Mecca’s tribal elders saw Muhammad and his message as a danger. Eid Milad un Nabi.

Aside from contradicting long-held beliefs, the ban on idol worship had economic ramifications for merchants who served the thousands of pilgrims who visited Mecca each year. It was correct for people who belonged to Muhammad’s tribe, the Quraysh. They served as the Kaaba’s guards. Sensing a threat, the merchants and authorities of Mecca gave Muhammad incentives to stop preaching, but he refused.

Prophet Muhammad

Resistance against Muhammed and his followers increased. They had to finally flee from Mecca to Medina, 260 miles to the north, in 622. This occasion heralds the start of the Muslim calendar. There, Muhammad played a crucial role in ending a civil war raging among many of the city’s clans. Muhammad settled in Medina, where he established his Muslim community and steadily gained recognition and more adherents.

Between 624 and 628, Muslims fought a series of conflicts for their existence. Muhammad and his supporters won the final major battle, the Battle of the Trench and the Siege of Medina. A year later, the Meccan allies violated the pact. By this time, Muhammad amassed a large force, and the balance of power moved from Meccan authorities.

The Muslim army marched into Mecca in 630, capturing the city with slight losses. Several Meccan leaders who revolted against Muhammad received amnesty, and several others were pardoned. The majority of Meccans converted to Islam.

Mosque of the Prophet
Credit: Daily Sabah

The Death of Muhammad

After the battle at Mecca, Muhammad made his first real Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. There he gave his farewell sermon in March 632. Unfortunately, he became unwell for many days after returning to Medina to his wife’s house. On June 8, 632, he died at the age of 62 and was interred at al-Masjid an-Nabawi. It is the Mosque of the Prophet and was one of Muhammad’s earliest mosques in Medina.

Eid Milad un Nabi is one of the important festivals of the Islamic faith. It is celebrated across the globe in different ways. It shows the essence and the faith of the people of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

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