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Mawlid (Arabic: مَولِد النَّبِي mawlidu n-nabiyyi, "Birth of the Prophet", 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 on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. The Fatimids began celebrating Mawlid in the 10th century, and the Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588. The term Mawlid is also used in some parts of the world, such as Egypt, as a generic term for the birthday celebrations of other historical religious figures such as Sufi saints.
Etymology, and other terms used for the event
Other terms used for this event include:
- Barah Wafat (Urdu)
- 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)
- Eid-e-Meeladun Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, South India)
- el Mūled (en-Nabawi)/Mūled en-Nabi – The birth (of the prophet )/Birth of the prophet (Egyptian Arabic)
- el Mūled - The birth (Tunisian Arabic)
- Gamou – ? (Wolof)
- Mawlûd – Birth of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم (Arabic)
- Mawlid an-Nabī (pl. al-Mawālid) – The Birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
- Milād an-Nabī – The Birth of the Prophet (Urdu)
- Maulidur-Rasūl – The Birth of the Messenger of Allah (Malay)
- Maulid Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Indonesian)
- Maulud Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Malaysian)
- Maulidi – The Birth of the Prophet (Swahili, Hausa)
- Mawlūd-e Sharīf – The Blessed Birth (Dari/Urdu)
- Mawlid en-Nabaoui Echarif – The Blessed Birth of the Prophet (Algerian)
- Mevlid-i Şerif – The Blessed Birth / Mevlüt – The Name (Turkish)
- Mevlud/Mevlid – The Blessed Birth (Bosnian)
- Mevlydi – The Blessed Birth (Albanian)
- Milād-e Payambar-e Akram – The birth of the great/blessed Prophet (Persian)
- Mulud – The Birth (Javanese)
- Nabi/Mahanabi Jayanti – The birth of the (great) Prophet (Sanskrit, South Indian Languages). Maha means "great."
- Yawm an-Nabī – The Day of the Prophet (Arabic)
The oldest Mawlid text is claimed to be from the 12th century and most likely is of Persian origin. However The first mention ever made of the mawlid celebrations in any historical work comes in the writings of Jamāl al-Dīn Ibn al-Ma'mūn, who died 587 AH/1192 CE. His father was the Grand Vizier for the Fatimid Caliph al-Amir (ruled 494-524 AH/1101-1130 CE).Mawā'īẓ al-i'tibār fī khiṭaṭ Miṣr wa-l-amṣār
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. The mawlid was not the only celebration that was sponsored by the Fatimids. Al-Maqrīzi, in his Khiṭaṭ 
Al-Maqrīzi writes in his Khiṭaṭ
The Fatimid Caliphs had, throughout the year, a number of festivals and celebrations. These were: 1. New Year's Eve, 2. Beginning of the year celebrations, 3. The Day of 'Āshūrā', 4. The birthday of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, 5. The birthday of 'Alī, 6. The birthday of al-Ḥasan, 7. The birthday of al-Husayn, 8. The birthday of Fāṭima al-Zahrā', 9. The birthday of the current Caliph, 10. The first day of Rajab, 11. The fifteenth day of Rajab, 12. The first day of Sha'bān, 13. The fifteenth day of Sha'bān, 14. The festival of Ramaḍān, 15. the first day of Ramaḍān, 16. The middle of Ramaḍān, 17. The end of Ramaḍān, 18. The Night of the Khatm, 19. The Day of 'Īd al-Fitr, 20. The Day of 'Īd of Sacrifice, 21. The Day of 'Īd al-Ghadīr, 22. The 'Cloth of Winter', 23. The 'Cloth of Summer', 24. The Day of the 'Conquest of the Peninsula', 25. The Day of Nawrūz [Persian festival], 26. The Day of Veneration [Christian], 27. Christmas [Christian], 28 Lent [Christian] 
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.
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, whilst the Salafists say it is an improper innovation and forbid its celebration. One leader of Ahl al-Hadith, Ibn Taymiyya forbade Mawlid celebration as it is not in any of the Haditn nor the Quran itself, unlike the other two Muslim celebrations.
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, Shaykh 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 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. For the first in English Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has published a book Mawlid al-Nabi Celebration and Permissibility defending the legality of Mawlid over more than 700 pages.
Scholars and preachers who consider Mawlid to be Bid‘ah and forbid its celebration belong to the Salafi, Deobandi and Qurʾāniyūn 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 Salafi movement, and Ebrahim Desai who subscribe to the Deobandi movement. The Ahmadiyya also deem the celebration of Mawlid as an innovation in Islam. The remembrance of the Islamic prophet Muhammad is deemed a virtue and is encouraged, remembrance of the birth and death of the Prophet while relating his life (seerah) are also permissible but not when tainted with practices which interfere with the Unity of God. The holding of gatherings and processions which involve innovative practices and decorations on the 12th Rabi'ul awwal are condemned. Ahmadis do, however, regularly hold gatherings called jalsa seerat-un-Nabi emphasising the life and legacy of Muhammad oriented towards both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. However, These gatherings are not considered obligatory nor is it necessary to hold them on a fixed date.
Mawlid is celebrated in most predominantly Islamic countries, and in other countries that have a significant Muslim populatiion, such as India, the United Kingdom, Russia and Canada. In most Arabian countries - i.e. Kuwait, Qatar, U.A.E, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain - it 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 Muhammad, the term Mawlid also refers to the 'text especially composed for and recited at Muhammad's nativity celebration' or "a text recited or sung on that day". These texts contain stories of the life of Muhammad, or at least some of the following chapters from his life, 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 orphan hood
- 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 Hijra
- Muhammad'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. In Indonesia, it is common the congregation recite Simthud Durar, especially among Arab Indonesians.
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 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.
In many parts of Indonesia, the celebration of the Mawlid al-nabi "seems to surpass in importance, liveliness, and splendour" the two official Islamic holidays of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The Indonesian Javanese week-long Sekaten celebration commemorates Mawlid in Central Java.
In Qayrawan, Tunisia, Muslims sing and chant hymns of praise to Muhammad, welcoming him in honor of his birth. Also, generally in Tunisia, people usually prepare Assidat Zgougou to celebrate the Mawlid.
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.
Some sects in Islam believe that Mawlid is an innovation.
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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