In the Name of God, the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful
No, it’s not the “Muslim Christmas.” I have never put lights on my house, placed a tree in the family room, and exchanged gifts. Nevertheless, it is a very happy day for me and Muslims all around the world: the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, or Maulid un Nabi, as it is known in Arabic.
In the Islamic calendar, it is the 12th day of the month of Rabi al Awal, and it will occur later this month. Now, the puritans, literalists, and fundamentalists insist that celebrating this day is “innovation,” or bida’h. They rail against Muslims commemorating this day, because the “Prophet never celebrated his birthday.”
Indeed, it is not recorded that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ever celebrated his birthday, that’s true. Yet, as a Muslim, how can I not be happy about the Prophet’s birthday? On that day, the Lord manifested His love for me in one of the most profound ways: sending me my guide in my life. On that day, the Lord blessed me with sending me His Emissary, to show me how to life my life in the best way possible. On that day, the Lord sent into the world His Last Messenger to take me out of the darkness into the light.
How can I not celebrate that? How can I not be happy about that?
All around the world, Muslims show their joy and happiness over the Prophet’ s birth in a variety of ways: some sing songs about him; others pass out candy and treats: in fact, in Egypt (from where my ancestors hail), there is a specific candy called “the Maulid candy.” And, yes, many hang lights in their houses and mosques.
In the Chicago area, there have been numerous celebrations of the Prophet’s birthday in which Muslims got together, shared sweets, and sang songs and read poetry commemorating and remembering the Prophet Muhammad. I attended one of these, and it was one of the most uplifting experiences I have had. I left with such an invigorated love for the Prophet Muhammad.
How can this be wrong?
In fact, it is this love for the Prophet that led me to publish my book of poetry, Noble Brother. In it, I tell the Prophet’s story entirely in poetry. I wanted to share how his life and ministry has shaped me, but in an entirely different way. And in it, I wrote about the day he was born:
A sacred union was ordained from Above
Two souls joined in dignity and love
A child was conceived by the blessed pair
But father passed away before he could see his heir
The burden was light for now widowed mother
Who has to carry child without comfort of father
A voice came to her in the dark of the night
Showing her palaces from afar with a glorious light
The light emanates from her womb which holds
A special child, about whom tales will be told
And the voice instructs her to ask the Only
To seek refuge in Him from both envier and envy
The glorious day comes and the star is shone
A glorious blessing from the Lord of the Throne
“He has come!” declares the follower from before
And expectations are high from places galore
Nobleman become father lifts up the child in glee
And declares to the world that “Praised is he.”
And now the time has come for all of the world
To worship the One and Only, our Most Precious Lord.
It is almost as if I cannot help but be happy about that day: for, on that day, the spiritual journey that led me to this place in my life took its first step: the birth of the man who would bring me my faith; the birth of the man who would show me how to truly live; the birth of the man who would show me my God.
No, the Mawlid is not an “official religious festival,” per se. Yet, still, that day is so important for Muslims all over the world, for their beloved Prophet was born on that day. How can celebrating this day be wrong?