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|Also called||Mawlid an-Nabawī (المولد النبوي), Eid-e-Milad un-Nabi, Havliye, Donba, Gani|
|Observed by||Adherents of mainstream Sunni Islam, Shia Islam and various other Islamic denominations. As a public holiday in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen|
|Significance||Traditional commemoration of the birth of Muhammad|
|Observances||Hamd, Tasbih, fasting, public processions, Na`at (religious poetry), family and other social gatherings, decoration of streets and homes|
|Date||12 Rabi' al-awwal|
|2019 date||10 November (Sunni, Ibadi)
15 November (Shia)
|2020 date||29 October (Sunni, Ibadi)
3 November (Shia)
|Frequency||once every Islamic year|
Mawlid, Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif or Eid Milad un Nabi (Arabic: مَولِد النَّبِي, romanized: mawlidu n-nabiyyi, lit. '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 commemorated in Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. 12th Rabi' al-awwal is the accepted date among most of the Sunni scholars, while most Shi'a scholars regard 17th Rabi' al-awwal as the accepted date, though not all Shi'as consider it to be this date.
The history of this celebration goes back to the early days of Islam when some of the Tabi‘un began to hold sessions in which poetry and songs composed to honour Muhammad were recited and sung to the crowds. It has been said that the first Muslim ruler to officially celebrate the birth of Muhammad in an impressive ceremony was Muzaffar al-Din Gökböri (d. 630/1233). The Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588, known as Mevlid Kandil. 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, with the emergence of Wahhabism/Salafism and the Ahmadiyya, many Muslims began to disapprove its commemoration, considering it an illicit religious innovation (bid'ah or bidat). Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries of the world with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are officially Wahhabi/Salafi. Some non-Muslim majority countries with large Muslim populations such as India also recognise it as a public holiday.
Along with being referred to as the celebration of the birth of Muhammad, the term Mawlid refers to the 'text especially composed for and recited at Muhammad's nativity celebration' or "a text recited or sung on that day".
According to the majority of Sunni Muslims and some Shi'as, Muhammad was born on the 12th of Rabi' al-awwal. Many Twelver Shia Muslims on the other hand assert that Muhammad was born on the 17th of Rabi' al-awwal. It stands as a matter of ikhtilaf or disagreement since some Shiite scholars such as Kulayni, Saduq, and al-Thani have affirmed the date of the 12th of Rabi' al-Awal. Nonetheless, others contend that the date of Muhammad's birth is unknown and is not definitively recorded in the Islamic traditions. The issue of the correct date of the Mawlid is recorded by Ibn Khallikan as constituting the first proven disagreement concerning the celebration.
In early days of Islam, observation of Muhammad's birth as a holy day was usually arranged privately and later was an increased number of visitors to the Mawlid house that was open for the whole day specifically for this celebration.
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 exact origins of the Mawlid is difficult to trace. According to Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God, the significance of the event was established when Muhammad fasted on Monday, citing the reason for this was his birth on that day, and when Umar took into consideration Muhammad's birth as a possible starting time for the Islamic calendar. According to Festivals in World Religions, the Mawlid was first introduced by the Abbasids in Baghdad. It has been suggested that the Mawlid was first formalized by Al-Khayzuran of the Abbasids. Ibn Jubayr, in 1183, writes that Muhammad's birthday was celebrated every Monday of Rabi' al-awwal at his birthplace, which had been converted into a place of devotion under the Abbasids.
According to the hypothesis of Nico Kaptein of Leiden University, the Mawlid was initiated by the Fatimids. It has been stated, "The idea that the celebration of the mawlid originated with the Fatimid dynasty has today been almost universally accepted among both religious polemicists and secular scholars." Annemarie Schimmel also says that the tendency to celebrate the memory of the Prophet's birthday on a larger and more festive scale emerged first in Egypt during the Fatimids. The Egyptian historian Maqrizi (d. 1442) describes one such celebration held in 1122 as an occasion in which mainly scholars and religious establishment participated. They listened to sermons, distributed sweets, particularly honey, the Prophet's favourite and the poor received alms. This Shia origin is frequently noted by those Sunnis who oppose Mawlid. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, however, what the Fatimids did was simply a procession of court officials, which did not involve the public but was restricted to the court of the Fatimid caliph. Therefore, it has been concluded that the first Mawlid celebration which was a public festival was started by Sunnis in 1207 by Muẓaffar al-Dīn Gökburi.
Start of a public holiday
In 1207, Muẓaffar al-Dīn Gökburi started the first annual public festival of the Mawlid in Erbil (modern day Iraq). Gökböri was the brother-in-law of Saladin and soon the festival began to spread across the Muslim world. Since Saladin and Gokburi were both Sufis the festival became increasingly popular among Sufi devotees which remains so till this day.
Mawlid is celebrated in almost all Islamic countries, and in other countries that have a significant Muslim population, such as Ethiopia, India, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Iran, Maldives, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, Russia and Canada. The only exceptions are Qatar and Saudi Arabia where it is not an official public holiday and is forbidden. However, In the last decades of the late 20th century there has been a trend to "forbid or discredit" Mawlid in the Sunni Muslim world.
In Turkey, Mawlid (Turkish: Mevlid Kandili or "the candle feast for the Prophet's birthday") is celebrated as a public holiday and traditional poems regarding Muhammad's life are recited both in public mosques and at home on the evening.
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.
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. Hyderabad Telangana is noted for its grand milad festivities Religious meetings, night-long prayers, rallies, parades and decorations are made throughout the city.
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". Such poems have been written in many languages, including Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish. 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 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 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.
Among Muslim scholars, the legality of Mawlid "has been the subject of intense debate" and has been described as "perhaps one of the most polemical discussions in Islamic law". Traditionally, most Sunni and nearly all of the Shia scholars have approved of the celebration of Mawlid, while Salafi and Ahmadiyya scholars oppose the celebration.
My answer is that the legal status of the observance of the Mawlid – as long as it just consists of a meeting together by the people, a recitation of apposite parts of the Qur'an, the recounting of transmitted accounts of the beginning of (the biography of) the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace – and the wonders that took place during his birth, all of which is then followed by a banquet that is served to them and from which they eat-is a good innovation (bid'a hasana), for which one is rewarded because of the esteem shown for the position of the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace – that is implicit in it, and because of the expression of joy and happiness on his – may God bless him and grant him peace – noble birth.
As for what is performed on the day of the Mawlid, one should limit oneself to what expresses thanks to God, such as the things that have already been mentioned: [Qur'anic] recitation, serving food, alms-giving, and recitation of praise [poems] about the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace – and asceticism which motivate people to perform good deeds and act in view of the next world.
The Damascene Shafi'i scholar Abu Shama (died 1268) (who was a teacher of Imam al-Nawawi (d 676 A.H.)) also supports the celebration of the Mawlid as does the Maliki scholar Ibn al-Hajj (d 737 A.H.) who spoke positively of the observance of the Mawlid in his book al-Madhkal. Likewise, the Shafi'i Egyptian scholar Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d. 974 A.H.) was an avid supporter of the Mawlid and wrote a text in praise of it. This was supported and commented on by the Egyptian scholar and former head of Al-Azhar University Ibrahim al-Bajuri and by the Hanafi Syrian Mufti Ibn Abidin. Another Hanafi Mufti Ali al-Qari (d. 1014 A.H.) too supported the celebration of the Mawlid and wrote a text on the subject as did the Moroccan Maliki scholar Muḥammad ibn Jaʿfar al-Kattānī (d. 1345 A.H.). Ibn al-Jazari (d. 833 A.H.), a Syrian Shafi'i scholar considers the celebration of the Mawlid to be a means of gaining Paradise.
In the Muslim world, the majority of Sunni Islamic scholars are in favor of the Mawlid. Examples include the former Grand Mufi of Al-Azhar University Ali Gomaa, Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki of Saudi Arabia, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the primary scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Habib Ali al-Jifri, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy of Syria, Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Khazraji, president of the Heritage and History Committee of the United Arab Emirates and Zaid Shakir, all of whom subscribe to Sunni Islam, have given their approval for the observance of Mawlid.
Ibn Taymiyya's position on the Mawlid has been described as "paradoxical" and "complex" by some academics. He ruled that it was a reprehensible (makrūh) devotional innovation and criticised those who celebrated the Mawlid out of a desire to imitate the Christian celebration of Jesus's birthday. At the same time, he recognised that some observe Muhammad's birthday out of a desire to show their love and reverence of him and thus deserve a great reward for their good intentions. The Salafi writer Hamid al-Fiqi (d. 1959) criticised Ibn Taymiyya for holding this view and stating that "How can they receive a reward for this when they are opposing the guidance of God's Messenger (pbuh)?".
The Mawlid was not accepted by Wahhabi and Salafi. Taj al-Din al-Fakihani (d. 1331), an Egyptian Maliki, considered Mawlid to be a blameworthy innovation that was either makruh or haram. This view was shared by fellow Egyptian Maliki Ibn al-Haj al-Abdari, who added that the celebration was never practiced by the Salaf. However Ibn al-Haj affirms the auspicious qualities of the month of the Mawlid in the most effusive terms and considers Muhammad's date of birth as a particularly blessed time of the year. The Maliki scholar Al-Shatibi considered Mawlid an illegitimate innovation. The Andalusian jurist Abu 'Abd Allah al-Haffar (d. 1408) opposed Mawlid, noting that had the Sahaba celebrated it then its exact date would not be a matter of uncertainty. The former Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, along with Hammud ibn 'Abd Allah al-Tuwayjiri (d. 1992), another Saudi scholar, in their opposition also argued that there were many worthy occasions in Muhammad's life which he never commemorated, such as the revelation of the first verses of the Qur'an, the Night Journey and the hijra.
In 1934, the minister of education in Egypt criticized the "useless stories" which filled Mawlid poetry, as he believed these were incompatible with a modern and scientific viewpoint that represented Muhammad on a more sober level. Similar criticism arose in 1982 when a chairman of the Mecca-based Orthodox Muslim Organization Rabita declared celebrations of Mawlid an "evil innovation."
While the Ahmadiyya deem the perpetual commemoration of Muhammad's life as highly desirable and consider the remembrance of him as a source of blessings, they condemn the common, traditional practices associated with the Mawlid as blameworthy innovations, Gatherings limited to the recounting of Muhammad's life and character and the recitation of poetry eulogising him, whether held on a specific date of Rabi' al-awwal or in any other month, are deemed permissible. Formal gatherings called Jalsa Seerat-un-Nabi commemorating Muhammad's life and legacy, rather than specifically his birth, are frequently held by Ahmadis and are often oriented towards both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. These gatherings could be held in the month of the Mawlid but are promoted often throughout the year.
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. 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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there is no doubt that the Prophet's (s) recompense to someone who does something for him will be better, more momentous, more copious, greater and more abundant than [that person's] action, because gifts correspond to the rank of those who give them and presents vary according to their bestowers; it is the custom of kings and dignitaries to recompense small things with the greatest of boons and the most splendid treasures, so what of the master of the kings of this world and the next?
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If Abu Lahab, the unbeliever whose condemnation was revealed in the Qur'an, was rewarded (juziya) in hell for his joy on the night of the Prophet's birth, what is the case of a Muslim monotheist of the community of Muhammad the Prophet who delights in his birth and spends all that he can afford for love of him? By my life, his reward (jaza ') from the Beneficent God can only be that He graciously causes him to enter the gardens of bliss!
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- Marion Holmes Katz (2007). The Birth of The Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam. Routledge. p. 117. ISBN 9781135983949.
The rationale of expressing love for the Prophet was so compelling that it occasionally forced even opponents of the mawlid celebration to qualify their disapproval. Ibn Taymiya remarks that people may celebrate the mawlid either in order to emulate the Christians' celebration of Jesus's birthday, or "out of love (mahabba) and reverence (ta'zim) for the Prophet." Although the first motive is manifestly invalid, Ibn Taymiya acknowledges the latter intention as legitimate; one who acts on this motivation may be rewarded for his love and his effort, although not for the sinful religious innovation in itself.
- Ukeles (2010), pp. 324–325: "At the same time, Ibn Taymiyya recognizes that people observe the mawlid for different reasons and should be recompessed according to their intentions. Some, for example, observe the mawlid out of a desire to imitate the Christian celebration of Jesus's birthday on Christmas. This intention is reprehensible"
- Islamic Law in Theory: Studies on Jurisprudence in Honor of Bernard Weiss. BRILL. 9 May 2014. ISBN 9789004265196.
Not only does Ibn Taymiyyah recognize the pious elements within devotional innovations, but he asserts that sincere practitioners of these innovations merit a reward. As I argue elsewhere, Ibn Taymiyyah's paradoxical position stems from a practical awareness of the way that Muslims of his day engaged in devotional practices. Ibn Taymiyya states that: "There is no doubt that the one who performs these [innovated festivals], either because of his own interpretation and independent reasoning or his being a blind imitator (muqallid) of another, receives a reward for his good purpose and for the aspects of his acts that confirm with the lawful and he is forgiven for those aspects that fall under the scope of the innovated if his independent reasoning or blind obedience is pardonable."
- Ukeles (2010), p. 320: "At the same time he recognized that some observe the Prophet's (s) birthday out of a desire to show their love of the Prophet and thus deserve a great reward for their good intentions."
- Woodward, Mark (28 October 2010). Java, Indonesia and Islam. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 170. ISBN 9789400700567.
The Mawlid is among the most commonly mentioned examples of praiseworthy innovation. This view is shared even by some of the most strident opponents of most other modalities of popular Islam. Ibn Taymiyyah, the Kurdish reformer who most Indonesian and other Islamists take as their spiritual ancestor and mentor, was subdued in his critique of the Mawlid. His position was that those who performed it with pious intent and out of love for the Prophet Muhammad (s) would be rewarded for their actions, and forgiven any sin from bid'ah that they might incur.
- Bowering, Gerhard; Crone, Patricia; Kadi, Wadad; Stewart, Devin J.; Zaman, Muhammad Qasim; Mirza, Mahan (28 November 2012). The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought. Princeton University Press. p. 335. ISBN 978-1400838554.
- Katz (2007), p. 71 harvp error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFKatz2007 (help)
- Katz (2007), p. 201 harvp error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFKatz2007 (help)
- Katz (2007), p. 65 harvp error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFKatz2007 (help)
- Katz (2007), p. 73 harvp error: multiple targets (3×): CITEREFKatz2007 (help)
- Marion Holmes Katz (2007). The Birth of The Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam. Routledge. pp. 159–60. ISBN 9781135983949.
- Marion Holmes Katz (2007). The Birth of The Prophet Muhammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam. Routledge. pp. 203–4. ISBN 9781135983949.
- Annemarie Schimmel (1985). And Muhammad is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety. The University of North Carolina Press.
- "Does “Milad” Have Any Validity Whatsoever in the Holy Qur’an?" Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha'at-e-Islam
- "Rabīʿ al-Awwal (I): The Blessed month of the Blessed Prophet (saw)", MuslimSunrise
- https://www.alislam.org/v/k-Seerat-un-Nabi.html?page=1 Seerat-un-Nabi
- Kaptein (1991) harvp error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFKaptein1991 (help)
- Hagen, Gottfried (2014), "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.
- Malik, Aftab Ahmed (2001). The Broken Chain: Reflections Upon the Neglect of a Tradition. Amal Press. ISBN 0-9540544-0-7.
- Picken, Gavin (2014), "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.
- Tahir-ul-Qadri, Muhammad (2014). Mawlid al-Nabi: Celebration and Permissibility. Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications. ISBN 978-1908229144.
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