Monday, June 17, 2024

The Fascinating History Of Eid-l-Maolud 


Maolud Nabiyy, otherwise known as Eid-l-mawlid to Muslims, is the celebration to Mark the Birth of the Prophet Muhammad(S.A.W) every 12th day of Rabi’ul Awwal, the third month in the Muslim’s Hijri calendar. Maolud Nabiyy is observed annually in the Islamic world by a public gathering of Muslims to praise the names of the holy Prophet Muhammad(S.A.W) and his attributes and preach his teachings about Islam. 

Maolud Nabiyy was not celebrated during the prophet’s lifetime but became a worldwide celebration when the first Muslim ruler, Muzaffar al-Din Gökböri (d. 630/1233), was said to have officially celebrated the birth of Prophet Muhammad in a memorable ceremony and was declared an official public holiday by the Ottomans in 1588. 


Before Mawlid was recognized worldwide, the Tabi’un (the generation of Muslims who followed the Sahābahs), the successors of the prophet’s companion, had held sessions to recite poetry in honor of the Prophet. In the early days of Islam, the observation was born in the mawlid place meant for the processions. The ruler plays an essential role during the celebration; Quran recitations and sermons are the day’s presentations. 

In the encyclopedia of the Prophet, the importance of the event was traced back to when Prophet Muhammad fasted on a Monday, referring to the observation day as his birth date. Although the prophet’s exact birthdate is unknown, Umar had reasoned it would be one of the earliest months in the Hijri calendar. It was reported that the Fatimids (descendants of Ali, the fourth Caliph, and Fatimah, the daughter of the prophet) ruling Egypt through the 11th century observed four Mawlids festivals, held in daylight hours with Khutbah (sermons) processions while the Caliph was present. 

The Origins of how the Mawlid started are untraceable. As a result, the Sunnis regarded the Mawlid as celebrated in 1207 and organized by Muzaffar al-Din Gökböri, the brother-in-law of the Ayyūbid sultan Saladin, at Erbil, near Mosul (Iraq) as the first.  Entertainers, including Islamic scholars and poets from far and near, would come two months before Mawlid’s fixed date. Animals like sheep, camel, and Ox were sacrificed two days before the actual celebration day of mawlid. Much merriment is attached to the observation of Mawlid that the festival was imitated worldwide. 

However, some groups of Muslims considered the new festival, in the name of the prophet’s remembrance and commemoration of his birth date, idolatry for the excessive way of such an event and regarded as possibly leading to sin.  

The Shafi’i scholar As-Suyuti (d 911 A.H.), a Sunni scholar, wrote a fatwa on Maolud / Mawlid that was accepted and welcomed outside Egypt. As-Suyuti was known as Mujaddid ( a scholar who restored Islam in a particular era ), stated that: 

“My answer is that the legal status of the observance of the Mawlid – as long as it just consists of a meeting together by the people, a recitation of opposite parts of the Qur’an, the recounting of transmitted accounts of the beginning of (the biography of) the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace – and the wonders that took place during his birth, all of which is then followed by a banquet that is served to them and from which they eat-is a good innovation (bid’a Hasana), for which one is rewarded because of the esteem shown for the position of the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace – that is implicit in it, and because of the expression of joy and happiness on his – may God bless him and grant him peace – noble birth.

As-Suyuti claimed that “because a matter is not known, it does not necessarily follow that the matter does not exist nor ever has existed.” He also said that the Law permits utterance of appreciation for benefactors and that the Prophet had stipulated the ritual after the birth of a child as this would express gratitude and pleasure for the newborn. 

The Shafi’i scholar Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d 852 A.H.) is one of the Muslim elites that approved of the Mawlid celebration; he said:

As for what is performed on the day of the Mawlid, one should limit oneself to what expresses thanks to God, such as the things that have already been mentioned: [Qur’anic] recitation, serving food, alms-giving, and recitation of praise [poems] about the Prophet – may God bless him and grant him peace – and asceticism which motivate people to perform good deeds and act in view of the next world.

To date, Eid-l-mawlid or Maolud Nabiyy is celebrated majorly in every Islamic world, with Qatar and Saudi Arabia being the exception as it is forbidden to observe the such event in that manner of celebration and merriment or pose the fixed date as a public holiday. All in all, the festivals are grandly celebrated for the love of the holy prophet. 

Maolud Nabiyy in Nigeria

Maolud Nabiyy is celebrated differently in every country. In Nigeria, the month of Rabi’ul Awwal(the month of Birth) on the day of Maolud, there is a public holiday to observe the celebration. Sermons and the prophet’s message are passed in public gatherings on the attributes of the holy prophet and his guidance from his life as a messenger of Allah. Muslims hold special prayers in mosques or places for public gatherings in which peace and blessings in Salawat were sent upon Prophet Muhammad(S.A.W). In some homes, children are told the stories of the holy prophet on the day of Maolud Nabiyy. 

Nowadays, every household in some part of the country has private gatherings to celebrate the Mawlid, among others. 

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