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Malaysian Sunni Muslims in a Mawlid procession in capital Putrajaya, 2013.
Also called Eid al-Mawlid an-Nabawī (المولد النبوي), Havliye, Donba, Gani[1]
Observed by Adherents of mainstream Sunni Islam, Shia Islam and various other Islamic denominations except a few such as Wahhabism/Salafism etc.
Type Islamic, cultural
Significance Traditional commemoration of the birth of Muhammad
Observances fasting, public processions, religious singing, family and other social gatherings, decoration of streets and homes
Date 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal (Sunni Islam), 17th day of Rabi' al-awwal (Shia Islam)[2]
Frequency Annual
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Mawlid (Arabic: مَولِد النَّبِيmawlidu 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 is celebrated often on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.[3] The 12th Day of Rabi' al-awwall is the most popular date from a list of many dates that are reported as the birth date.

The origin of Mawlid observance dates back to the period of the early four Rashidun Caliphs of Islam.[1][4] The celebration of this birthday was further initiated by the Fatimids and it was celebrated in lands under their control.[5] The Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588.[6] 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.[7]

Most denominations of Islam approve of the commemoration of Muhammad's birthday;[8][9] however, some denominations including Wahhabism/Salafism, Deobandism and the Ahmadiyya disapprove its commemoration, considering it an unnecessary religious innovation (bid'ah or bidat).[10][11] Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries of the world except Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are officially Wahhabi/Salafi.[12]

Etymology, and other terms used for the event[edit]

Mawlid an-Nabawi celebrations in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Mawlid is derived from the Arabic root word (Arabic: ولد‎), meaning to give birth, bear a child, descendant.[13] In contemporary usage, Mawlid refers to the observance of the birthday of Muhammad.[3]

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".[14] Other terms used for this event include:

  • Eid al-Mawlid an-Nabawī – Festival of the birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
  • Eid 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)
  • Maulidur-Rasūl – The Birth of the Messenger of Allah (Malay)
  • Maulidur-Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Indonesian)
  • Mawlûd – Birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
  • Mawlūd-e Sharīf – The Blessed Birth (Dari/Urdu)
  • Maulud Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Malaysian)
  • Maulidi – The Birth of the Prophet (Swahili, Hausa)
  • Mawlid an-Nabī (pl. al-Mawālid) – The Birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
  • 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 an-Nabī – The Birth of the Prophet (Urdu)
  • Milād-e Payambar-e Akram – The birth of the great/blessed Prophet (Persian)
  • Mövlüd – The birth of the (great) Prophet (Azeri)
  • 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)


Mawlid an-Nabi procession at Boulac Avenue in 1904 at Cairo, Egypt.
The Garebeg festival celebrating Mawlid in Yogyakarta, Java Island, Indonesia.

In early days of Islam, observation of Muhammad's birth as a holy day was usually arranged privately and later there was an increased number of visitors to the Mawlid house that was open for the whole day specifically for this celebration. [15] This celebration was introduced into the city Sabta by Abu 'l'Abbas al-Azafi as a way of strengthening the Muslim community and to counteract Christian festivals.[16] The mawlid was one of many celebrations that were sponsored by the Fatimids.[17]

The early celebrations, included elements of Sufic influence, with animal sacrifices and torchlight processions along with public sermons and a feast.[18][19] The celebrations occurred during the day, in contrast to modern day observances, with the ruler playing a key role in the ceremonies.[20] Emphasis was given to the Ahl al-Bayt with presentation of sermons and recitations of the Qur'an.

Significance and Permissibility[edit]

A banner with Maulid greetings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Mawlid an-Nabawi celebrations in Dehli, India.

Traditionally, most Sunni and nearly all of the Shia scholars have approved of the celebration of Mawlid,[21][22][23] while some other Wahhabi influenced scholars[24][25][26] and the Ahmadiyya[27] oppose the celebration.[28] Most Islamic scholars like Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the primary scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri and Zaid Shakir, all of whom subscribe to Sunni Islam, have given their approval for the observance of Mawlid.[29]

While other scholars and preachers particularly those belonging to Wahhabi denomination, consider Mawlid to be Bid‘ah and forbid its celebration. These include Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz, Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, Zakir Naik and Ebrahim Desai.[27] The Ahmadiyya also consider celebration of Mawlid as an innovation in Islam. However the Ahmadiyya hold gatherings called jalsa seerat-un-Nabi emphasising the life and legacy of Muhammad oriented towards both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences.These gatherings are not held on any specific date and may be held throughout the year.[30]


Sekaten fair in Indonesia, a week-long celebration of Mawlid.
International Mawlid Conference, Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan.

Mawlid is celebrated in most predominantly Islamic countries, and in other countries that have a significant Muslim population, such as India, the United Kingdom, Nepal, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Italy, Russia[31] and Canada.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40] In some Arabian countries - i.e., Qatar and Saudi Arabia - it is not an official public holiday.[41]

Often organized in some countries by the Sufi orders,[42] 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.[43][44] 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".[45] These celebrations are often considered an expression of the Sufi concept of the pre-existence of Muhammad .[46] However,the main significance of these festivities is expression of love for Muhammad.[45]

During Pakistan's Mawlid the day starts with a 31-gun salute in federal capital and a 21-gun salute at the provincial capitals and religious hymns are sung during the day.[47]

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.[48]

In Qayrawan, Tunisia, Muslims sing and chant hymns of praise to Muhammad, welcoming him in honor of his birth.[49] Also, generally in Tunisia, people usually prepare Assidat Zgougou to celebrate the Mawlid.[50]

Among non-Muslim countries, India is noted for its Mawlid festivities.[51] The relics of Muhammad are displayed after the morning prayers in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir at the Hazratbal Shrine, where night-long prayers are also held.[52]

Islamic Unity Week[edit]

Most Shia scholars believe the 17th day of Rabi' al-awwal is the birthday of the Muhammad, and most Sunni scholars believe that is the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal. This issue led to assigning these days (12-17 Rabi' al-awwal) as Unity Week by Islamic Republic of Iran to respect both viewpoints. So scholars and followers of these two sects emphasize on common ground against the common enemies, and an International Islamic Unity Conference is hosted each year. [53][54][55][56]

Mawlid texts[edit]

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".[42] These texts contain stories of the life of Muhammad, or at least some of the following chapters from his life, briefly summarized below:[42]

  1. The Ancestors of Muhammad
  2. The Conception of Muhammad
  3. The Birth of Muhammad
  4. Introduction of Halima
  5. Life of Young Muhammad in Bedouins
  6. Muhammad's orphan hood
  7. Abu Talib's nephew's first caravan trip
  8. Arrangement of Marriage between Muhammad and Khadija
  9. Al-Isra'
  10. Al-Mi'radj, or the Ascension to heaven
  11. Al-Hira, first revelation
  12. The first converts to Islam
  13. The Hijra
  14. 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.

Other uses[edit]

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.[57] Around 3,000 Mawlid celebrations are held each year. 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.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Mawlid.
  4. ^ Ibid., p. 560The origin of Mawlid celebrations in Africa dates back to the period of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b In pictures: Egypt's biggest moulid. BBC News.
  8. ^ name="Schussman 1998, p">Schussman (1998), p.??
  9. ^ name=Shakir>[1]. Zaid Shakir.
  10. ^ name=Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Hanafi> Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam .
  11. ^ name=Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid> Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid.
  12. ^ March, Luke (24 June 2010). Russia and Islam. Routledge. p. 147. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Arabic: قاموس المنجد‎ – Moungued Dictionary (paper), or online: Webster's Arabic English Dictionary
  14. ^ name="Knappert" />eventname="Knappert"
  15. ^ "Mawlid (a.), or Mawlud". Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition. BrillOnline Reference Works. 
  16. ^ "Mawlid". Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition. BrillOnline Reference Works. 
  17. ^ [vol. 1, p. 490]
  18. ^ "Mawlid", Encyclopædia Britannica
  19. ^ Schussman p. 216
  20. ^ Kaptein (1993), p. 30
  21. ^
  22. ^ Schussman (1998), p.??
  23. ^ [2]. Zaid Shakir.
  24. ^ Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam .
  25. ^ Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid.
  26. ^ Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Taymiyah (25/298)
  27. ^ a b True Commemoration of the blessed life of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)
  28. ^ [3]
  29. ^ Shaykh Qardawi Approves of Celebrating Mawlid. Yusuf Al-Qardawi.
  30. ^ audiences. Seerat-un-Nabi
  31. ^ "Mawlid celebration in Russia". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  32. ^ "q News". q News. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  33. ^ "Arts Web Bham". Arts Web Bham. 14 August 1996. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  34. ^ "Buildings of London". Buildings of London. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  35. ^ Js Board Archived 17 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Sunni society UK [dead link]
  37. ^ Bednikoff, Emilie. "Montreal Religious Sites Project". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  38. ^ "Muslim Media Network". Muslim Media Network. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  39. ^ Canadian Mawlid
  40. ^ "Religion & Ethics – Milad un Nabi". BBC. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  41. ^ "Moon Sighting". Moon Sighting. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  42. ^ a b c Knappert, J. "The Mawlid". S.O.A.S. 
  43. ^ "Festivals in India". Festivals in India. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  44. ^ Pakistan Celebrate Eid Milad-un-Nabi with Religious Zeal, Fervor. Pakistan Times. 2007-04-02.
  45. ^ a b Schielke, Samuli (2012). "Habitus of the authentic, order of the rational: contesting saints' festivals in contemporary Egypt.". Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies 12 (2). 
  46. ^ Knappert, J. "The Mawlid". S.O.A.S.: 209–215. 
  47. ^ Pakistan with Muslims world-over celebrate Eid Milad-un-Nabi tomorrow Archived 4 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  48. ^ Herman Beck, Islamic purity at odds with Javanese identity: the Muhammadiyah and the celebration of Garebeg Maulud ritual in Yogyakarta, Pluralism and Identity: Studies in Ritual Behaviour, eds Jan Platvoet and K. van der Toorn, BRILL, 1995, pg 262
  49. ^ Speight, R Marston (1980). "The nature of Christian and Muslim festivals". Muslim World 70. 
  50. ^ How Does Tunisia Celebrate Al Mawlid? Tunisia Live
  51. ^ "Milad Celebrated". The Times of India. 14 May 2003. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  52. ^ TajaNews
  53. ^ Vaiz Zade Khorasani, Muhammad (1996). "Muhammad birthday, Unity Week and 9th International Islamic Unity Conference". Mishkat (51): 4–43. 
  54. ^ Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Institute of Islamic Studies. Days on viewpoint of Imam Khomeini. Tehran: Islamic research center. p. 176. 
  55. ^ Maréchal, Brigitte; (editors), Sami Zemni (2013). The dynamics of Sunni-Shia relationships : doctrine, transnationalism, intellectuals and the media. London: Hurst. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-84904-217-8. 
  56. ^ Mahmood, M. (2006). The political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Delhi: Kalpaz Publications. p. 112. ISBN 81-7835-520-5. 
  57. ^ Kaptein (2007)


Further reading[edit]

  • Malik, Aftab Ahmed (2001). The Broken Chain: Reflections Upon the Neglect of a Tradition. Amal Press. ISBN 0-9540544-0-7. 
  • Hagen, Gottfried, Mawlid (Ottoman), in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014.
  • Picken, Gavin, Mawlid, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014.
  • Tahir-ul-Qadri, Muhammad (2014). Mawlid al-Nabi: Celebration and Permissibility. Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications. ISBN 978-1908229144. 
  • Ukeles, Raquel. "The Sensitive Puritan? Revisiting Ibn Taymiyya's Approach to Law and Spirituality in Light of 20th-century Debates on the Prophet's Birthday (mawlid al-nabī)." Ibn Taymiyya and His Times, ed. Youssef Rapport and Shahab Ahmed, 319-37. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2010.

External links[edit]