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  • Celebrating the Mawlid, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad

    By Shujaat Ali QaudriSaq mso at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

    Mawlid celebrations in India

    This week around the world, Muslims are celebrating the ‘mawlid’, the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. 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.


    It’s worth noting that some Muslims do not celebrate this event, although this is a smaller proportion, saying that since the Prophet himself did not celebrate his birthday, neither should Muslims.

    Having said that, here are some celebrations from around the world.

    There’s a great overview of pictures from the Muslim world here, from Peshawar to Palestine.

    Muslim countries around the world declared public holidays in celebration of the mawlid, such as in the UAEIndonesia, and Kuwait.

    In Egypt, the celebration of mawlid is rooted deep in its history. “During the time of the Fatimid rule, public squares were decorated for the occasion. Tents were set up for Sufi singing and the retelling of the Prophet’s journey, and there were games for children and specially-made sweets – a tradition that still lives on.”

    These sweets till continue with a custom in which the husband or fiancé gives his wife or betrothed Arous al-Mawlid (al-Mawlid bride), a doll made of sugar and nuts and decorated with coloured paper. And there is also ‘al-Fares’ sweet, a knight doll on a horse waving its sword as a sign of conquest and war victories. It also happens to be good for the confectionery business with goods manufactured of USD$603m.

    In Morocco it’s a time of colour, joy and family, and for sitting singing and talking about the life of the Prophet.

    In Libya, the celebrations were in full flow, with processions moving through the old city of Tripoli. “The hadhra is a collective ritual performed by Sufi orders that usually includes spiritual chants accompanied by drums, tambourines and flutes, elevating into rhythmic prayers to God.”

    In Turkey, many similar celebrations took place. In addition “Twitter users posted large numbers of tweets under the hashtag #hayırlı kandiller (blessed Mavlid an-Nabi) to celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad on internet.”

    Muslims in France approached the event with religious songs, festive evenings and discussions.

    In Sudan, “Mawlid is celebrated in a carnival manner, with street processions (called Zaffa in Sudan), homes or mosques decorations, and Charity and food distribution. But most important stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry (Madeeh).”

    In Eritrea: Maulid Al-Nabi was celebrated nationwide.

    Ever wondered what a mawlid celebration sounds like in Swahili, in East Africa? You can listen here.

    Preparations were underway for the celebrations in Somaliland. And in Tanzania they are marking the day as well.

    UK mosques are celebrating the event too. And given the adverse weather in the UK, ‘Muslim snow patrols‘ went out to help people in honour of the Prophet’s birthday.

    In two of Indonesia’s cities, processions distributed special food including salted duck eggs in honour of the mawlid. And elsewhere in Indonesia, the celebrations are part of the community togetherness.

    In Yemen, hundreds of people gathered in the main square as part of the celebrations.

    The President of Malawi extended his wishes to Muslims on this occasion.

    And finally, in India, the ‘stage is set’ to celebrate the mawlid.

    This truly is a global event, and this should give a taster of the scale and diversity of celebrations, including in many countries not mentioned here, otherwise this would be a very long list.

    So please do join in the celebrations around the world for the mawlid!