The 12th of Rabi’ ul-Awwal in the lunar calendar, which falls on December 24, 2015 in the Gregorian calendar this year, marks the birth of the beloved Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him (PBUH). This day marks three milestones in his life that are significant to the Muslim community. It is said that the 12th of Rabi’ ul-Awwal was the day he was born, the day he received the holy revelation and the day he passed away.
The Arabic phrase al-Mawlid al-Nabawi loosely translates to “the birth of the Prophet.” Muslims may also use the phrases Mawlid un-Nabi, Mawlid al-Sharif or Milad Sharif interchangeably.
There are different opinions on how to recognize this day. For people who take the opportunity to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it is a time of remembrance and festivities. Some cities in the Muslim world are decorated, and recognized as a religious holiday. Other traditions include preparing special sweets and foods. In many communities, it is also a night of worship, storytelling and remembrance of the Prophet’s (PBUH) character and life, as well as anasheed (Islamic-oriented songs). Other people take the opportunity to emulate his noble character and spend the day on service projects and giving charity within the community.
For other Muslims who object to the celebration of al-Mawlid, the argument is that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never celebrated his own birthday nor did his companions. It has been reported that the Prophet (PBUH) made the day of his birth a day of worship, which is different from a celebration. When he was asked about his sunnah (prophetic tradition) of fasting on Mondays, he said: “That is the day on which I was born and the day on which I was entrusted with the Mission (or when I was first given Revelation).” (Reported by Muslim, al-Nisaa’i and Abu Dawood).
According to Iqraa Channel’s website (iqraa.com), “Celebrations in commemoration of the birth (Al-Mawlid) of Prophet Muhammad, whom Allah sent as mercy, by way of reciting the Qur’an and by way of remembering the honorable traits and characteristics of the Prophet is a blessed matter of immense goodness, as long as the celebrations do not immerse in any types of (unsound) innovations which our religion rejects.”
For all, al-Mawlid is a chance to honor the deep love Muslims have toward the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and to live Islam as he emulated for them to live it.