CAIRO – While some Muslim mark Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) birthday with special festivities, Muslim in Virginia’s Hampton Roads shy away from celebrating the day, choosing to acknowledge the life and mission of the prophet either by reciting Qur’an or remembering his legacy of mercy and kindness.
“Generally in our religion, we try to follow what Prophet Muhammad did,” Hampton Mosque committee member Dr. Tamer Refaat told Daily Press on Sunday, December 11.
“People would be surprised because he didn’t celebrate his birthday and his companions didn’t celebrate his birth either. I don’t celebrate it, because he didn’t. He was trying to be humble and make everything focused on God.”
Muslims use Mawlid al-Nabi as a way to honor Muhammad’s life and use it as an opportunity to spread Muhammad’s mission in the community.
In Hampton Roads, the situation was different.
Dr. Ahmed Noor, a Hampton Mosque trustee, said in the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated he did want nor seek praise for being Allah’s final messenger.
According to Noor, celebrations started around the end of the six’s century when King al-Muzaffar Abu Sa’eed Kawkaburi (King of Irbil) went against the Prophet wishes, and began celebrating the prophet’s birthday by decorating domes, singing and holding performances.
Noor said these celebrations were stopped in some mosques, including Hampton mosque, with many leaders citing Muhammad’s original wishes in the Quran as the cause for the end of the celebrations.
The Hampton Mosque chooses not to decorate or have any formal celebrations during Mawlid al-Nabi, but some members, such as Noor, use the day as a time of remembrance and reflection.
Noor said one of the most important Quran passages about Muhammad’s mission states, “We sent you not, but as a mercy for all the creations” in Chapter 21, verse 107.
Mercy to Creations
On Prophet’s Mawlid, Muslims reflect on Muhammad’s character and mission, specifically homing in on the word “mercy” and the phrase “all the creations.”
“Prophet Muhammad said it very explicitly, ‘the best of the people is the one who is most useful to them.’ Notice the word people. He did not say believer, but all people. Meaning if we want to follow the instructions of Prophet Muhammad, we have to ask ourselves the question, ‘what positive impact are we making on the community at large?’ That is very important,” Noor said.
Using mercy, Muslims look to spread Allah’s message to others beyond the Muslim faith and do so by getting involved in the community outside of the mosque.
“The teachings of the Prophet Muhammad were passed down to his companions, and they in turn passed them down again,” said Hampton Mosque trustee Br. Louis Moore.
“Here in Hampton Roads, Muslims that I function with take pride that we are always trying to set the best example of good character.
“Whether that be helping our neighbors, the elderly, helping friends and family. That’s the thing we relate to the beloved Prophet Muhammad, because he was someone who was held in such a high regard and had high character.”
The mosque has held several programs for the community, including community health fairs that offered health advice to anyone in need from Muslim doctors, physicians and health care workers.
Noor said the Hampton Mosque is looking to add community service projects, one potentially being “mixed reality,” a Microsoft computing platform Noor wrote an article about for Old Dominion University called “The Halogens Revolution.”
“One of the things I think might be of interest that we are trying to develop is a very advanced learning facility at our mosque that includes mixed reality. Mixed reality uses Microsoft holograms, and you wear glasses to essentially see the holograms integrated in the physical space as if they are real objects,” Noor said.
“This technology will help us learn more about our religion but help the community at large by passing this experience to all the groups that are interested like schools, faith groups and more.”