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 is celebrated often on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. The 12th Day of Rabi' al-awwal 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. The celebration of this birthday was further initiated by the Fatimids and it was celebrated in lands under their control. 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.
Most denominations of Islam approve of the commemoration of Muhammad's birthday; however, some denominations including Wahhabism/Salafism, Deobandism and the Ahmadiyya disapprove its commemoration, considering it an unnecessary religious innovation (bid'ah or bidat). 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.
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. 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. The mawlid was one of many celebrations that were sponsored by the Fatimids.
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.
Traditionally, most Sunni and nearly all of the Shia scholars have approved of the celebration of Mawlid, while some other Wahhabi influenced scholars and the Ahmadiyya oppose the celebration. 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.
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. The Ahmadiyya also consider celebration of Mawlid as an innovation in Islam. However the Ahmadiyyah hold gatherings called jalsa seerat-un-Nabi emphasising the life and legacy of Muhammad oriented towards both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences.
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 and Canada. In some Arabian countries - i.e., Qatar and Saudi Arabia - it is not an official public holiday.
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 Muhammad.
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 religiuos hymns are sung during the day. 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. 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, where night-long prayers are also held.
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.
Category: Islamic holidays
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