When talking about Islamic festivals, we mostly know about Muharrum, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha, people also observe Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi or Eid-e-Milad. It is a day dedicated to Prophet Mohammad and his teachings. However, Eid-e-Milad is both a day to celebrate and to mourn, since it is also the death anniversary of the Prophet.
According to popular belief, the Holy Prophet was born on the twelfth day of Rabee-ul-Awwal in 570 CE in Mecca. Rabi-ul-Awwal is the third month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The Ahl as-Sunnah however, does not specify that one must celebrate “Milad” only on 12 Rabee-ul-Awwal, it can be celebrated at anytime of the year, remembering the teachings of the Prophet.
Though widely observed in all the Muslim dominated countries, there is a lot of debate surrounding the festival. While mostly all the sects approve of the festival, few sects like that of Wahhabi and Ahmadiyya oppose it. Many scholars and historians also believe that in early days no such festivities to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday were in place. In fact, many argue that it was only adopted to counter the festivities Christmas celebrations—the birthday of Jesus Christ. While some historians trace the origin of the celebrations to Turkey, few argue it began in Egypt.
Followers who approve of the celebrations claim that there are many references of Milaad-un-Nabi in the holy Quran.
Eid-e-Milad is also called Maulid or Mawlid, since naat and hyms are sung in praise of the Prophet. It is believed that, listening to these recitation one gets worldly and heavenly rewards. The Sunni and the Shia sects have a different take on the ways of marking the day. The Shia community believes that on this day Prophet Muhammad chose Hazrat Ali as his successor. The Sunni community holds prayers throughout the month and they do not practice mourning on this day.
Mawlid is celebrated in most countries with large street processions and decorations of homes or mosques. Food and other offerings are distributed, and stories about the life of Prophet Muhammad are narrated. Poetry or naats are recited after prayers and sweets are distributed among the poor.
In India, it is an important day for the Muslims and people offer namaaz and take part in other ritualistic customs. Particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, the relics of Muhammad are displayed at the Hazratbal Shrine, the important Islamic pilgrimage spot on the banks of Dal Lake. In some parts of India, processions are taken out.
It’s a day to remember the teachings and kindness of the holy Prophet and the faithful observe his birthday out of a desire to show their love and reverence of the Prophet.