Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mawlid, Mawlid an-Nabi or Milad al-Nabi is the celebration of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the final Prophet of Islam; also known as "the seal of the prophets". Sunni Muslims celebrate this day on the 12th of Rabi'-ul-Awwal in the Islamic calendar; whereas Shi'a Muslims celebrate this day on the 17th of Rabi'-ul-Awwal, coinciding with the birth date of the sixth imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq. Muhammad (PBUH) was born around 570 CE and died in 632 CE. During his life, he established Islam as a religion and, in doing so, replaced tribal loyalty with equality among all Muslims.
It has been suggested that Muhammad (PBUH) practised the Mawlid an-Nabi himself because he would fast every Monday, the day on which he was born. However, he also used to fast on Thursdays; and, in fact, he would fast on many days throughout the year. Fasting is a major act of piety in Islam; and whoever fasts is highly rewarded by Allah.
It is generally believed that the celebration of Mawlid an-Nabi was first observed around 13th century CE, but some conservative sects today consider the celebration to be idolatrous. The vast majority of Muslims celebrate the Mawlid with great dedication. Processions are held, homes are decorated, delicious food is prepared and distributed, stories about the life of Muhammad (PBUH) are taught by learned people of Islam and poems are recited by children.
The majority of Islamic scholars consider most forms of music to be forbidden. However, some scholars are of the opinion that madih nabawi, a type of music that is designed to honour the Prophet and his family, is permissable in Islam (Touma 1996, p.158). A typical musical performance features a skilled solo maqam singer assisted by a chorus of eight to sixteen men. The chorus sings in unison and a new verse of poetry and prayers or blessings for the audience are added at certain places during the chorus. In North Africa, it resembles ma'luf or andalusi nubah, in Egypt the dur , in Syria the muwashshah, and in Iraq the maqam al'iraqi . (ibid, p.159)
Mawlid in the Western Calendar
While Mawlid is always on the 12th (Sunni Islam) or 17th (Shi'a Islam) of Rabi'-ul-Awwal in the Islamic calendar, the date on the Western calendar (the Gregorian calendar) varies from year to year due to differences between the two calendars, since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country to country. (For details, please see Islamic calendar.) All future dates listed below are only estimates:
- 2003: May 14 (Sunni), May 19 (Shi'a)
- 2004: May 2, May 7
- 2005: April 21, April 26
- 2006: April 11, April 16
- 2007: March 31, April 5
- 2008: March 20, March 25
- 2009: March 9, March 14
- 2010: February 26, March 3
- 2011: February 15, February 20
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