Photo Essay: Mawlid – Let the Lovers Love in Peace
The arrival of Rabi’ul Awal marks a month of wondrous celebrations all around the world as Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (S).
From amidst the modern cityscape of Malaysia to the traditional settings of Kenya, Muslim men and women, adults and children alike parade in the streets or fill the floor of numerous masajid singing praises and salutations upon the Beloved of Allah SWT, listening to speeches on his character and personality or simply re-reading his (S) blessed history.
[box_light]“If only we could visit him every day, with physical eyes and not the eye of the heart, and if every moment we could celebrate in his remembrance, this mawlid as a remembrance of him could be obligatory.” (From Mawlid Diba’i)[/box_light]
The history of the Mawlid an-Nabi celebrations itself officially has its roots from the ruler of Irbil (in Iraq), Sultan Muzaffar, whose full name is Abu Said Kukabri Ibn Zain al-Din Ali Ibn Baktagin. Ibn Kathir regarded the Sultan as a pure-hearted, just, brave and wise ruler. During the annual Mawlid, the Sultan was known for laying out a royal spread for people from all walks of life, giving shelter to those who came from afar while playing host to and honoring many ‘ulama of that time.
Additionally, several books have also mentioned the practice of celebrating Mawlid an-Nabi in various places around the world in history.
Ibn Jawzi in his book Bayan al-Mawlid an-Nabi said, “In Haramayn (ie. Mekah and Madinah), in Egypt, Yemen, rather all people of Arab world have been celebrating Mawlid for long. Upon sight of the moon in Rabi’ul Awal their happiness touches the limits and hence they make specific gatherings for remembrance of Mawlid due to which they earn immense reward and success.”
Similarly, Ibn Batutta in his Rihlah described that on the day of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (S), the Shafi’i head judge of Mekah, Najm al-Din Muhammad ibn al-Imam Muhyi al-Din al-Tabari, would distribute food to the descendents of the Prophet Muhammad (S) as well as to the people of Mekah Mukarramah.
Continuing this tradition, Muslims around the world still commemorate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (S) in a month-long celebration that peaks on the 12th of Rabi’ul Awal. The date has been noted by Syeikh Hamza Yusuf as an auspicious one; it is the generally accepted date of the Prophet ‘s (S) birth, the date he (S) entered Madinah after making hijrah, as well as the date of his (S) death.
“Praise belongs to Allah Who began this existence with the Light of Muhammad the Night Traveler, whose light is the secret in each affair. And Who made his appearance its seal and completion. And Who bestowed upon his glorious family and pure descendants the divine secrets. They being, for the people of the earth, an invulnerable fortress, and for the religion (dīn) a guardian. Blessings and peace be upon our master, Muhammad, the best of mankind. And upon his family, companions, followers and whoever supports him.” (From Mawlid Berzinji)
Reaping Rewards of Mawlid
Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyuti praised the practice of Mawlid an-Nabi by saying, “The festival of celebrating the birthday of the Noble Prophet (S) is a bid’ah hasanah (good innovation) and those arranging it will get blessings, since in such a celebration is found the expression of joy and happiness at the greatness and eminence of the Noble Prophet (S) at his birth.”
Adding on to this, Shaykh al-Islam Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami said, “The gatherings of Mawlid and Adhkaar which take place during our time, they are mostly confined to good deeds. For example, in them, sadaqah is given, dhikr is done, darud and salam is sent upon the Prophet (S) and he is praised.”
Ibn al-Qayyim holds the same opinion: “Listening to a beautiful voice celebrating the birthday of the Prophet, or celebrating any of the holy days of our history, gives peace to heart and bestows upon the listener a light from the Prophet himself.”
“O Allah, send Your blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad (S) and Your forgiveness upon those who have erred.” (From Mawlid Simtud Duroor)
The Bid’ah Debate
While it is unavoidable for years to see Muslims set up camps on opposite sides of the permissibility of the Mawlid debate, a fatwa by Syeikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah explains, “Whoever wants to celebrate the Prophet (S) birthday should celebrate it and avoid any action contrary to Islamic Law. This act should be done with an intention that it is not sunnah nor an obligatory act. If these conditions are observed, and one is careful not to contradict Islamic Law, out of sincere love for the Prophet (S), then, Allah willing, there is nothing wrong with this action and this person will be rewarded…
Likewise, for the one who shuns this celebration, seeking to cling to the sunnah out of fear of falling into innovation, then this person will also be rewarded, Allah willing. It is important to note that this is not a big issue. Nor it is necessary to give it more attention than it deserves.”
As Syeikh Hamza Yusuf had said in one of his articles: “Let the lovers love in peace.”[divider]
Nur Fadhilah Wahid
Fadhilah is a seeker of knowledge at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.