SHAFAQNA – This year June 3 marks the middle of month of Shaban in Islamic calendar on which many people celebrate the birth of Savior.
One of the most important religious occasions among Shia Muslims is the 15th of the sixth Islamic month of Shaban which is the birthday of twelfth Imam of Shia Muslims, Imam Mahdi. The occasion of Mid-Shaban is marked by devotion and celebration among Muslims, especially the Shia.
Imam Mahdi, according to Shia belief, was born on July 29, 869 CE (Shaban 15, 255 AH) in Samarra city of Iraq.
Now turning 1146 years old, Imam disappeared in 941 for the second time when aged 71 and his reappearance is associated with bringing justice to the world and ending tyranny and inequality.
Mid-Shaban has special significance for Muslims throughout the world and is celebrated in Islamic countries such as Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Iran.
To show their desire for peace and prosperity, Muslims say prayers for emergence of the Imam from Major Occultation during the year and at the summit of it on the birthday of Imam which in 2015 is on June 3.
The awaited Savior is not a solely Shia concept as other religions share the same belief in the final redeemer of the world whom in Zoroastrianism is called Soshyant, and in Abrahamic religions is Messiah.
One of the rituals of the Eve of his birthday is beseeching God to hasten his advent, in addition to sitting gatherings preached by a cleric in which religious principles.
Hidden by God, Imam Mahdi is an important figure for all Muslims and accordingly this is an important event for the people as they arrange their wedding ceremonies on this night to bring a life-long happiness to their marital life. Expectedly, wedding halls are all previously booked for the Mid-Shaban night and it is a night for many openings.
Many studies are conducted on Imam Mahdi, as a restorer of the political power and religious purity of Islam, and the academic discipline devoted to these researches is dubbed Mahdaviat, an Arabic term used for anything related in one way or the other to the Savior Imam Mahdi.
Among the colorful scenes of the night is the illumination of the streets and religious venues with colored lamps which some are moving. The illuminations in Qom city of Iran and its neighboring region Jamkaran, where, according to Shia narratives, a holy mosque built upon Imam Mahdi’s order is located, are very popular and many tourists and photographers are attracted to the city for the night.
Birthday ceremony of Imam Mahdi is Iran’s biggest festival of lights and happiness across the country and all Shia and Sunni Muslims and even non-Muslims celebrate the event and share their happiness. According to Islamic beliefs, the Savior Imam Mahdi will be accompanied by Jesus Christ PBUH after his reappearance and in his fight against the evil.
Keeping up with the tradition, the people distribute cookies, sweets and juice on the streets greeting the passer-bys by congratulations.
A number of rallies and conferences are held across Muslim countries to commemorate the auspicious occasion, attended by both Shia and Sunni scholars.
Another part of Mid-Shaban ceremonies and celebrations is fireworks the apex of which can be seen in Tehran’s Milad Tower which lights the night sky of the capital.