The last post I wrote was on the topic of Christmas-The birth of Jesus –Prophet ISA (Peace be upon him). It only seems befitting that today I would write about the Birth of my beloved Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him). It turns out that the celebration of the birth of this central figure of Islam is just as controversial as Jesus’. There are two camps on the topic of the celebration of the birth of the Prophet (PBUH). Group One vehemently opposes any such celebration or even the existence of such a celebration. They are also the same faction that opposes Christmas. The pretext being that there are only two festival allowed by the religion: the celebration of the two Eids. They further prove this by saying no such event ever took place during the life or after the death of the Prophet (PBUH). Group two is the group that supports the celebration of the birthday, presenting all sorts of references in support for this. Their prime argument is that the faith of the Believers of Islam is incomplete without the love of their beloved Prophet (PBUH).What is the extent of the love of the Prophet (PBUH)? As per them there is no such thing as the limit of that love because where that extent ends, begins the love of the Almighty. These groups are further sub-divided by their views on the levels of the Haram-ness on the topic of the celebration and about the levels of the extent through which you can celebrate this blessed day.
Now, like most things in my life I don’t belong to one camp over the other. I understand the debate prohibiting the celebration, but I also understand the reasons for celebration. I am most definitely wary of using Haram (prohibited)/Kuffar (disbelief)/Bidaa (innovation) to define the practice of celebration, just as much as I am against those who believe in the Mawlid (birthday) referring to the non-believers of Mawlid as infidels. I tend to hold a middle ground, and believe that excess of anything is generally a bad thing. But, anti-exorbitance is the framework through which I like to live my life. I am constantly questioning excessiveness and wastefulness of our material means. So, I do not support any extravagance in celebration whether be personal or religious. Now, having cleared that, I don’t think wishing a happy Mawlid un nabi, or promoting the recitation of Darud is wrong; nor do I necessarily support the idea of fancy Milaad gatherings. Milaad is a gathering where through poetry a person praises the Prophet (PBUH), him and expresses one’s love for him. Nothing wrong with poetry and nothing wrong with expressing your love for the Prophet (PBUH). I often enjoy Nasheeds and Naats myself. The problem comes when people go to extreme measures to arrange these gatherings; spending lots of money, using lots of lighting and flags to decorate the streets and calling anyone who doesn’t support the idea of Milaad as an infidel. Recently, I came across a video that showcased an extreme example of the celebration of the birth, which included dancing to a song that objectified women, and likened them to alcohol. Both objectification and intoxication are prohibited in Islam and seems like a contradictory way to celebrate the birth of the man whose Prophethood is the birth of Islam. This definitely is where I would draw the line on celebration.
What does the day of birth of the Prophet (Pbuh) mean for me? His birthday is a reminder of the beautiful blessing that Allah Almighty bestowed upon this world and the next world; therefore, a cause for jubilation. It is a reminder for me as a Muslim to be thankful to be from his Ummah. It is a moment for me to ponder and really live the essence of his teachings. It is a chance for me to understand the importance of the precious gift of Shahadah (belief in the oneness of God) that I share with my fellow Muslims. I wish, instead of engaging in debates about the actual practice of celebrating Mawlid, perhaps we would live our lives being exemplary of the teachings of this great man. To me a better celebration would be to showcase mercy, kindness, good behaviour, honesty, integrity, faithfulness, charity and piety on a daily basis, but if not, then at least just on the day of his birth. Wouldn’t that be the greatest way to commemorate his birth? If instead of wasting tons of money on the Milaad celebration, we fed the orphans; or used the money to invest in medical or education for the poor; we would be upholding the real essence of the teachings of the Great Prophet of Islam. Sure, if you must show your love through hosting a Milaad, by all means, but let’s not turn it into a mockery by hosting elaborate events, competing and outdoing each other in the size of the events, using it as an excuse to buy the most expensive outfits for the gathering or wasting food at those said events.
There is an opportunity every year on the 12th of Rabi-Al-Awal to celebrate the legacy of this great man of history. Let’s take the time to ponder upon his lesson, his teachings and pledge to at least instill a fraction of the patience and love this man possessed for everyone. He was a man of simple means-the Prophet of the worlds, with often very little to eat, tattered clothes to wear, epitome of humbleness, patience and forgiveness. We, as his Ummah represent none of the characteristics possessed by this man. Let’s celebrate not by showing anger to someone whose idea of celebration differs from yours. Let’s celebrate by being patient, forgiving and realizing that we are all humans and can err. Love and understanding can heal and turn the evilest of hearts. Islamic history is replete with stories of such turning of the hearts all due to the mercy, and love shown by this Great man. Our beloved Prophet (PBUH) reacted not with anger or hatred-he was a visionary and knew that you can catch more bees with honey than vinegar.
I, for one am happy that today is the day of the birth of the man who was sent as a mercy to all of mankind (Al-Anbiyaa’: 107), and to whom the Quran was revealed and of the man who spent his years crying: “Allahumma Ummati, Allahumma Ummati – O Allah my Ummah, O Allah my Ummah”. We are from that Ummah and we must not disservice this great man by engaging in petty arguments, hatred, lying and deceit. Instead of arguing about the celebration, and disrespecting one another, using vulgarity and derogatory language, instead of wasting the means Allah has bestowed upon us, we should walk the earth as the representatives of his teachings. That would be the true celebration of the birth of Muhammed-The Prophet (PBUH) and the greatest man on earth.
Allahuma salle ala sayyidina Muhammedin nabi yil ummi yi wa Ala aalihi wa asabhi wasalam.