Mawlid is an Arabic word which means giving birth or delivering a baby and it is from where the name Eid E Milad Un Nabi was derived as it marks the event of the birth of the prophet.
Initially the celebration of the prophet’s birth was limited only to the Shia ruling class and common people weren’t allowed to attend the celebration. One of the earliest mentions of the celebration was found in Egypt where animal sacrifices, public preaching and sermons, and processions were important parts of the celebration.
The first public celebration of the event took place in 12th century Syria and then was spread worldwide among Muslims. It is been given a national holiday status in many countries of the world.
Differences in opinionThere, however, are differences between the Muslim groups about celebrating the Mawlid. One group, which comprises Islamic scholars like Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki, Syed Shujaat Ali Qadri, Tahir-ul-Qadri, Akhtar Raza Khan, is of the opinion that it can be celebrated as long as sharia is followed.
The other group comprising Muhammad Taqi Usmani, and Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz is against celebrating the event. According to them, companions of Muhammad and, also the earliest generation of Muslims hadn’t observed this event.
Celebration of MawlidIn many Islamic countries it is one of the major religious celebrations. In some parts of the world the celebration that continues for the first 12 days of the month is called Barah Wafah. During this period gatherings and conferences are organized to discuss the preaching of Quran.
Milad is celebrated in all Muslim countries and also in countries like Britain, Russia, India, Canada etc. Saudi Arabia is the only Muslim nation where it is not a public holiday.
On this day neighborhoods and mosques are decorated with lights and banners. In some places Milad is celebrated in carnival fashion and street processions are organized.
In some countries, especially in East Africa, Eid Melas are organized during this event. People wear new clothes and participate in community prayers. Women apply mehndi on their hands and children receive money as gifts. Food and clothes are distributed among underprivileged. Stories of Muhammad are narrated to children to make them aware of the great prophet.
QaSida al-Burda Sharif, a famous Sufi poem is also recited as a part of the celebration. Apart from the Mohammedan countries huge celebrations take place in India, Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia etc.
In Indonesia the festivity associated with Mawlid al-nabi has also surpassed the other major Muslim religious festivals of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The largest celebrations in Kenya take place in Lamu and Malindi and in Tanzania the same takes place in Zanzibar.