Celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday by preaching love

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SHAFAQNA – Muslims around the world will be celebrating the ‘Mawlid al-Nabi’ (Mawlid means birthday of a holy figure, al-Nabi means prophet), the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah send His peace and blessings upon him) For many Muslims this is a longstanding historical and cultural event which they see as an expression of their joy and love for the Prophet, who taught them what it means to be Muslim.

This date is important to Muslims because the birth of the Prophet Muhammad is regarded as a great blessing for the whole of humanity. These popular practices are festive occasions, often with decorations all over cities, featuring tents in which sweets and candy are handed out.

Prophet Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abdul Muttalib (PBUH) who is believed to be the last prophet, was born in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, in the year 570 of the Gregorian calendar . His father died several weeks before his birth in Medinah in the same country. The precise date of his birth is unclear.

However, Sunni Muslims observe Muhammad’s birthday on the 12th day of the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-awwal, while Shi’a Muslims mark it on the 17th day of this month. The 17th day of Rabi’ al-awwal commemorates the birth of the sixth Shi’a iman, Ja’far al-Sadiq. The concept of celebrating the arrival of the Messenger (SAW) should never call for contention, but sadly it is so.

The question is why? Why must this arrival cause arguments when we find that the birth of a baby in any household brings much joy– it is natural feeling and one that Allah has put in our hearts as way of thanking Him for his blessings. The Mawlid is important in this respect in that every Muslim harbours in his or her heart profound love and respect for the Messenger (SAW).

It is this love that naturally demands expression, which incidentally takes the form of poetry, song and narration of the Sirah. Even if everything in our modern environment challenges our Iman (faith), it is essential that we attach ourselves to the Messenger (SAW) for that is where spiritual nourishment is found. Mawlid, or Milad, is celebrated with large street parades in some countries.

Homes and mosques are also decorated some people donate food and other goods for charity on or around this day. Others listen to their children read out poems about events that occurred in Prophet Muhammad’s life.

Mawlid is celebrated in this way in many communities across the world. However, many Muslims also do not participate in celebrations on this day. Instead, they may mark the occasion by spending more time to read the Koran. Prophet Muhammad is said to have been born on a Monday and some scholars see fasting during the hours of daylight on Mondays as another way to celebrate his birth.

Regarding the legality of Mawlid according to the Holy Qur’an is that, Allah states: ‘Say: Because of the (fadl) Blessings of Allah and His (rahma) Mercy you should celebrate (with happiness and pleasure). That is better than what (wealth) they amass.’ (Q.10:58). In this particular verse Allah commands that we rejoice and celebrate His blessing and mercy.

But what exactly should we be rejoicing and what does Allah’s fadl and rahma refer to? According to other verses in the Qur’an and the explanations given by scholars through their tafsir works of this ayah, the fadl and rahma is a direct reference to the Prophet (SAW). In numerous verses of the Qur’an Allah declares that the Prophet (SAW) is Allah’s mercy and blessing.

Allah states: ‘Indeed Allah conferred a great favour on the believers when he sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad)’ (Q.3:164) The first ayah addresses the people who lived in the time of the Prophet (SAW).

However Allah does not confine this blessing and mercy to only them but states in the next ayah ‘and (He has sent him, Muhammad also to) others among them who have not yet joined them (but they will come).’ (Q.62:3) The Qur’an also singles out the birthday as an important event and worthy of mention.

As one example, Allah commands us to send salaam on the day Prophet Yahya (AS) was born i.e. his birthday. ‘And send salaam on him the day he was born, and the day he dies and the day he will be raised up to life (again).’ (Q.19:15) From the Muslim point of view, the Prophet (SAW) is the symbol of perfection of both the individual and society.

During the Mawlid, when one thinks of the Prophet (SAW) who is to be emulated, it is the image of one who is merciful to those who surround him (SAW) and severe with the false and the unjust.

He Muhammad (SAW) is endowed with virtues of strength and solemnity on the one hand and charity and generosity and ultimately a mercy for the entire creation. An important point to note here is from the sentence ‘Allah is the owner of Mighty Grace’. Allah is the Lord of fadl but He Himself is not the fadl which some commentators incorrectly translate as.

He is the Lord of the highest blessing, its owner and possessor. For instance if you are an author of a book you are not the book itself. The love of the Prophet (SAW) and celebration of Mawlid is incumbent upon all Muslims especially upon those who aspire towards his (SAW) way of life. This love is not personal love but rather, the Prophet (SAW) is loved because he symbolises all that is beautiful in God’s creation.

His virtues are universal and as such the celebration of his birth is indeed celebration of humanity. Oh the Mighty God the most merciful we ask your blessings on this special day of Mawlid al-Nabi Ameen.

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