25 January 2013

Nigeria: Maulud Al-Nabi - Birth of the Prophet

Prophet Muhammad, the seal of the Prophets and last Messenger of Allah (pbuh), was born on 12 Rabi-al- Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar.

Although Maulud al-Nabi always falls on the same day of the Islamic lunar (Hijrah) calendar, the date varies from year to year on the Gregorian solar-based Western calendar, falling this year on Thursday (yesterday), January 24.

This difference in dates means Maulud al-Nabi moves in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days every year. The date may also vary from country to country depending on when the moon is sighted.

The birthday of the Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh), is also known as Milad, Milad an-Nabi, Maulud ar-Rasul, Yawm an-Nabi or Milad-un-Nabi.

The day is regarded by some Muslims as a day of celebration, Eid-el-Maulud; marking it with sermons, zikr, songs of praise, drumming and feasting.

The celebration of the Eid-el-Maulud started during the 13th century with a month-long celebration, witnessing sermons, giving of gifts, recitation of the Holy Qur'an, dua and an array of delicacies for participants of the feast.

In the northern and western parts of Nigeria, Muslim communities observe the Maulud almost as they do the Eid-el Fitr and Kabir celebrations. Sallar Gani in Jigawa and Katsina features durbar and other colourful cultural displays as part of the occasion, which is also celebrated in parts of Taraba and Borno states.

The Eid-el-Maulud is somewhat subdued nowadays, however, as there is a difference of opinion as to whether the birthday of the Prophet should be considered as a time of celebration.

The Prophet (pbuh), his Companions and the early followers never celebrated on this day, the scholars concur. They offer that it should rather be a day of greater resolution and commitment to the Sunnah of the prophet whose life was been reflected upon.

Those, however, who celebrate the Eid-el-Maulud with pomp and zikr, argue that though it was not celebrated initially, the remembrance of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on his birthday should be considered as a good innovation in the Islamic religion.

May Allah continue to guide us aright.

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