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Mawlid (Qur'anic Arabic: مَوْلِدُ النَبِيِّ mawlidu n-nabiyyi, “Birth of the Prophet” Standard Arabic: مولد النبي mawlid an-nabī, sometimes simply called in colloquial Arabic مولد mawlid, mevlid, mevlit, mulud among other vernacular pronunciations; sometimes ميلاد mīlād) is the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which occurs in Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.
Mawlid is derived from the Arabic root word (Arabic: ولد), meaning to give birth, bear a child, descendant. In contemporary usage, Mawlid refers to the observance of the birthday of Muhammad. Other terms used for this event include:
- Mawlûd – Birth of the Prophet (Kurdish)
- Mawlid an-Nabī (pl. al-Mawālid) – The Birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
- Milād an-Nabī – The Birth of the Prophet (Urdu)
- Mevlid-i Şerif – The Blessed Birth / Mevlüt – The Name (Turkish)
- Mevlud/Mevlid – The Blessed Birth (Bosnian)
- Mevlydi – The Blessed Birth (Albanian)
- Mawlūd-e Sharīf – The Blessed Birth (Dari/Urdu)
- Milād-e Payambar-e Akram – The birth of the great/blessed Prophet (Persian)
- Eid al-Mawlid an-Nabawī – Festival of the birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
- Eid-e-Milād-un-Nabī – Festival of the birth of the Prophet (Urdu)
- Mawlid en-Nabaoui Echarif – The Blessed Birth of the Prophet (Algerian)
- el Mūled (en-Nabawi)/Mūled en-Nabi – The birth (of the prophet)/Birth of the prophet (Egyptian Arabic)
- Yawm an-Nabī – The Day of the Prophet (Arabic)
- Maulidur-Rasūl – The Birth of the Messenger of Allah (Malay)
- Mulud – The Birth (Javanese)
- Maulid Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Indonesian)
- Maulud Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Malaysian)
- Maulidi – ? (Swahili)
- Eid E Meeladun Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, South India)
- Gamou – ? (Wolof)
- Nabi/Mahanabi Jayanti – The birth of the (great) Prophet. (Sanskrit), (Indian Languages) 'Maha' means great.
Before Mawlid became a celebration or observance, people were visiting the birthplace of the prophet since it was transformed into a place of prayer by al-Kayzuran., wife of the caliph al-Mahdi The basic earliest accounts for the observance of Mawlid can be found in 8th-century Mecca, when the house in which Muhammad was born was transformed into a place of prayer by Al-Khayzuran (mother of Harun al-Rashid, the fifth and most famous Abbasid caliph), though public celebrations of the birth of Muhammad did not occur until four centuries after his passing away. The oldest Mawlid text is claimed to be from the 12th century and most likely is of Persian origin.
The earliest observation of the Prophet's birth as a holy day was arranged privately somewhere in the late twelfth century. The only difference from before was that there was an increased number of visitors to the Mawlid house that was open for the whole day specifically for this celebration. This particular event took place on Monday, 12 Rabi'i, which is commonly known as the third month of the Islamic calendar that is associated with the beginning of Spring. This celebration was introduced into the city Sabta by Abu 'l'Abbas al-Azafi as a way of counteracting Christian festivals and to strengthen Muslim identity. Abu 'l'Abbas's son Abu 'l-Kasim propagated the festival after he seized power in 1250. Implementing these festivities and the celebration of Mawlid as a holy day increased Abu 'l-Kasim's popularity among the people, demonstrating the political role that this holy day played throughout history.
The early celebrations included elements of Sufic influence, with animal sacrifices and torchlight processions along with public sermons and a feast. The celebrations occurred during the day, in contrast to modern day observances, with the ruler playing a key role in the ceremonies. Emphasis was given to the Ahl al-Bayt with presentation of sermons and recitations of the Qur'an. The event also featured the award of gifts to officials in order to bolster support for the ruling caliph. Particularly in early Cairo, this holy day was celebrated by the court and the ruling class, not the common people.
Mawlid began to be celebrated to the large-scale population of the common people in Cairo around the thirteenth century and shortly spread to the rest of the Muslim World. These festivities are now considered part of one of the more official holidays among the Muslim population.
In the Muslim world, the majority of Islamic scholars are in favor of Mawlid. They consider observing Mawlid necessary or permissible in Islam, and see it as a praiseworthy event and positive development, while the Ahl al-Hadith say it is an improper innovation and forbid its celebration. One of the most acceptable leader of Salafiyyun, Ibn Taymiyya forbade Mawlid celebration.
Mufti Ali Gomaa, Chief Mufti of the world's oldest and largest Islamic university, Al Azhar in Egypt, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the primary scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki, Grand Mufti of Cyprus Nazim Al-Haqqani, Habib Ali al-Jifri of Yemen, Syed Shujaat Ali Qadri, Muhammad Ilyas Qadri the founder of Dawat-e-Islami, Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Grand Mufti of Bosnia Mustafa Cerić, Abdalqadir as-Sufi, Hamza Yusuf, Gibril Haddad, Shaykh Said Afandi al-Chirkawi, Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, Grand Mufti of India Akhtar Raza Khan, Kanthapuram A. P. Aboobacker Musalyar of Markazu Saqafathi Sunniya and Zaid Shakir all subscribe to Sunni Sufi Islam, and have given their approval for the observance of Mawlid. They suggest that fasting on Mondays is also a way of commemorating Muhammad's birthday.
Scholars and preachers who consider Mawlid to be Bid‘ah and forbid its celebration belong to the Salafi,Deobandi ideologies; they include Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz, who was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, the imam of the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Zakir Naik, and Bilal Philips, of the Wahabi/Salafi movement, and Ebrahim Desai who subscribe to the Deobandi movement.
Mawlid is celebrated in most predominantly Islamic countries, and in other countries that have a significant Muslim populatiion, such as India, Britain, Russia and Canada. Saudi Arabia is the only Muslim country where Mawlid is not an official public holiday. Participation in the ritual celebration of popular Islamic holidays is seen as an expression of the Islamic revival. There is no one clear motive for people celebrating Mawlid, for the celebration itself appears to have sacred and profane elements.
Often organized in some countries by the Sufi orders, Mawlid is celebrated in a carnival manner, large street processions are held and homes or mosques are decorated. Charity and food is distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry by children. Scholars and poets celebrate by reciting Qaṣīda al-Burda Sharif, the famous poem by 13th-century Arabic Sufi Busiri. A general Mawlid appears as "a chaotic, incoherent spectacle, where numerous events happen simultaneously,all held together only by the common festive time and space". These celebrations are often considered an expression of the Sufi concept of the pre-existence of Muhammad. However,the main significance of these festivities is expression of love for the Prophet.
Along with being referred to as the celebration of the birth of the Prophet, the term Mawlid also refers to the 'text especially composed for and recited at the Prophet's nativity celebration' or "a text recited or sung on that day". These texts contain at least some of the following chapters briefly summarized below:
- The Ancestors of Muhammad
- The Conception of Muhammad
- The Birth of Muhammad
- Introduction of Halima
- Life of Young Muhammad in Bedouins
- Muhammad's orphanhood
- Abu Talib's nephew's first caravan trip
- Arrangement of Marriage between Muhammad and Khadija
- Al-Mi'radj, or the Ascension to heaven
- Al-Hira, first revelation
- The first converts to Islam
- The Hidjra
- The Prophet's death
These text are only part of the ceremonies. There are many different ways that people celebrate Mawlid, depending on where they are from. There appears to be a cultural influence upon what kind of festivities are a part of the Mawlid celebration.
Celebrations Around the World
During Pakistan's Mawlid, known in Urdu as Eid Milad-un-Nabi, a public holiday, celebrations and processions, the national flag is hoisted on all public buildings, and a 31-gun salute in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, and a 21-gun salute at the provincial capitals are fired at dawn. The public and private building are illuminated with Fairy lights. The cinemas shows religious rather than secular films on 11th and 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal. Hundreds of thousands of people gather at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore between the intervening night of 11th and 12th Rabi' al-awwal for Mawlid celebrations; this is the worlds biggest gathering for Mawlid celebrations. The tradition of year round celebration of Eid Milad-un-Nabi is also observed. The A Na`at hymns that specifically praises the prophet Muhammad. The practice is popular in South Asia, ( Bangladesh, Pakistan and India), commonly in Urdu and Punjabi languages. People who recite Na`at are known as Naat-Khua'an or Sana'a-Khua'an.
Among non-Muslim countries, India is noted for its Mawlid festivities. The relics of Muhammad are displayed after the morning prayers in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir at the Hazratbal Shrine, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Shab-khawani night-long prayers held at the Hazratbal Shrine are attended by thousands.
Other non-Muslim countries noted for their Mawlid festivities are Kenya and Tanzania, where it is known as "Maulidi". In Kenya, the most famous place is the coastal island of Lamu and Malindi. In Tanzania the largest celebrations are on the island of Zanzibar.
In Qayrawan, Tunisia, Muslims sing and chant hymns of praise to the Prophet Muhammad, welcoming him in honor of his birth.
Other uses of the term
In some countries, such as Egypt and Sudan, Mawlid is used as a generic term for the celebration of birthdays of local Sufi saints and not only restricted to the observance of the birth of Muhammad. Around 3,000 Mawlid celebrations are held each year and attended by tens of thousands of people. These festivals attract an international audience, with the largest one in Egypt attracting up to three million people honouring Ahmad al-Badawi, a local 13th century Sufi saint.
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