Milad-un-Nabi or Eid-e-Milad, is celebrated on the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet, Peace be upon him, is observed by many Muslims from the Sufi or the Barelvi school of thought. First celebrated as an official festival in Egypt, the celebrations of Eid-e-Milad became more popular during the 11th century. Prophet Muhammad was born on the 12th of 573 AD, the third month of Islam, Rabi al-Awwal. Eid-e-Milad is also mourned by some because it is also believed to be the death anniversary of the Prophet. The full name of Prophet Hasrat Mohammad was Mohammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul Muttalib. He was born in the city of Mecca. It is believed in 610 AD he attained enlightenment in a cave named Heera near Mecca. He later preached the teachings of the Quran, the holy book of the religion of Islam.
Talking about how this occasion is celebrated, generally, people wear green ribbons or green items of clothing, carry green flags or banners on this day. The green color is believed to be a symbol of Islam, which can not be found in any authentic sources though. People also conduct activities like marches, parades, and night-long prayers meetings. Communal meals are also offered in mosques and other community buildings. And also, with preparations of a feast and family get together. The major aspect of this festival is doing charity and helping the needy. Hence, families share this feast with the underprivileged and make donations. Apart from this, public gatherings and processions also take place where people give speeches highlighting the life of the Holy Prophet. Various exhibitions are featured in Arabian countries with photos of various mosques in holy cities. As per the tradition, parents narrate stories to their kids based on the life of the prophet Mohammad, and many light lamps, decorate their homes and mosques.
In our country Nepal, this celebration is carried out by only a particular Muslim community. The way of celebration is not way too different from how people celebrate it worldwide. We can get the vibes of the festive mood in Places with the Muslim majority, whereas in the capital city of Nepal, i.e., Kathmandu, we can see the lights and hints of celebration around the Bagbazar area, where the Jame Masjid and Kashmiri Masjid are located.
However, not all sections of Muslims celebrate this day, because those particular sections of the Muslim community believe that the birthday celebrations of the Prophet have no place in Islamic culture. They claim that there is no such Eid except two Eid that is celebrated, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al Adha, as for Eid Milad un-Nabi, can’t be found in any of the authentic sources. Islam is all that is driven from the Qur’an and Sunnah, Sayings of Prophet Mohammad, Peace be upon him. Apart from these none can be taken as authentic practice; Muslims from Salafi and Wahhabi schools of thought do not mark the tradition of festivities.
So, we can conclude that different sectors have different schools of thought. Discussion on what is wrong and what is not, would be a hot topic that never gets a full stop. Focusing on Nepal, we have both schools of thought, some celebrate this day whereas some don’t.
In some Muslim countries, the day is a public holiday including Nepal. In more conservative countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the practice is forbidden as there is no record of the Prophet observing this day. However, a celebration of birthdays is prohibited in Islam, It is said to pray and strive to be a better person in the coming days rather than blowing candles and cutting cakes, if the general celebration of a birthday is prohibited then how we are allowed to celebrate the birthday of the leader who thought us not to, here we need to halt and think about it.
Featured photo of Jama Masjid in Nepalgunj by Nihal Akhtar and calligraphy by Ratan Karna