By the Fatimid calendar, Mawlid al-Nabi (also known as Milad al-Nabi) starts tonight at sunset. Mawlid is the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed SAW, and is an occasion to express our mohabbat (love) for him and our shukr (gratitude) to Allah for sending him to us as his Messenger and bringing with him the Deen of Islam.
The obvious analogy to Mawlid would be Christmas, in which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and express their love for him. The obvious difference of course is that to Christians, Jesus is an aspect of God himself, whereas in Islam both Jesus AS and Mohammed AS are Prophets of God. In celebrating Mawlid, Muslims do not venerate Mohammed SAW as divine but rather simply express their emotion and joy at his Prophethood, with recitation of salawat, processions, and congregating with family and friends, as well as the tradition of Na’at, devotional poetry and hymns that praise the Prophet’s SAW life and virtues.
Whether you call it Mawlid or Milad, this is a day of joy for Muslims. Milad Mubarak! Merry Mawlid to all!
Related: The observance of Mawlid has it’s share of controversy, but I won’t dwell on that today, as there will always be those who are more obsessed with imposing their own puritan, spartan interpretations on everyone else, in denial of basic human emotion and reason. I did explain the controversy in detail in my earlier post on Milad al Nabi a couple years ago, and there is also a good discussion thread about Mawlid at Talk Islam.