12 Rabi-ul-Awwal, the Birthday of Muhammad

Eid Milad-un-Nabi or the Muslim equivalent Christmas is the most festive day in the Islamic calendar

Muhammad

According to the Islamic lunar calendar 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal, is the birthday of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. He took birth in the prestigious house of Quresh, the most revered family of Arabia. The house of Quresh was entrusted with the upkeep of Kaaba; the house of God, at Mecca, first built by Adam , and centuries later built again by Abraham. The tribe of Quresh of which Muhammad was a member, stretch their lineage back to Abraham.

Muhammad was an orphan as his father Abdullah died before his birth and his mother Amina passed away when he was only six-years old. He was brought up by his uncle Abdul Mutalib. At the age of 25, he married a widow Kadhija, a business woman and she entrusted all her business interests in the care of Muhammad. He was honest and a very hard worker, therefore, the business flourished and so did their relationship which eventually led to marriage.

At the age of 40, Muhammad was visited for the first time by the arch angel Gabriel, and thereafter, began the process of revelations, which were collected decades later and now form the Holy Quran.

In the beginning, when Muhammad embarked on his sacred mission, to propagate the religion of Islam– in Arabic, the literal meaning of Islam  is peace– he was met with stubborn resistance from the people of Mecca. Muhammad, though, despite the persecution he suffered at their hands continued his sacred mission, till the time a plot was hatched to murder him. He escaped Mecca, in the dead of the night to Madina. At Madina he was enthusiastically welcomed by the inhabitants of the city and here he established the first mosque.

It was in Madina that, according to the Islamic tradition, he traveled to paradise, as s guest of Allah. There he met Moses and Jesus Christ among other prophets of Allah. During this journey–Sabh-e-Mairaj– he was instructed to pray facing Kaaba, at Mecca. Initially the Muslims prayed in the direction of Masjid-e-Aqsa or the mosque of the golden dome at Jerusalem. On this heavenly journey, Muhammad brought back with him the commandments pertaining to the basics of Islam, namely, the daily five time prayers, mandatory fasting during the month of Ramadan, how to levy Zakat (tax) and to perform Hajj,at least, once in life. Madina was the first Islamic city-state and within a short period of 20-years, Muhammad marched at the head of an army into Mecca. Complete amnesty was declared for all, even for those hard-line pagans who had brutally persecuted Muhammad and his early followers.

On 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal, the birthday of Muhammad, a joyous and festive mood pervades the atmosphere. Large cauldrons of food are cooked and sweet meats distributed among the poor and the needy. Most Islamic states have declared the birthday of Mohammad, a national holiday. The celebrations start the eve prior to the 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal. Public and private buildings are illuminated.  All night long prayer meetings are held. After the morning prayers on 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal, dressed in their proverbially, Sunday’s best, the Muslims take part in processions commemorating the happy occasion. All day long hymns are sung and the Holy Quran recited in every household.

The television stations telecast special programs on the life and times of Muhammad. Radio stations also broadcast special programs on the occasion. Muslims celebrate three Eids in the year, Eid-ul_fitr, on the completion of Ramadan; Eid-ul_azha, on the completion of Hajj; and Eid Milad-un-Nabi, on 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal, commemorating the birthday of Mohammad.

By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada

The News

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The Express Tribune