The word “Mawlid” comes from the Arabic word for ‘birth.’ It is specifically used to refer to the day Prophet Muhammad was born, which this year falls on October 18th.
Historically, the Mawlid can be traced to two different communities. In Africa during the 10th century, the Fatimid dynasty began the tradition which included optional prayers at mosques, reciting the Qur’an, and the distribution of sweets as a way of celebration.
After the Fatimids came the Ayyubid dynasty, and their first celebration took place in 1207 in Erbil, modern day Iraq.
Organized by Muzaffar al Din Gokburi, this was a month long festival with musicians, jugglers, entertainers, poets, which spanned multiple venues from modern day Iraq to Turkey. And the night before the mawlid, there would be a torch-lit procession through the streets.
📚 Read Also: Celebrate or Not Celebrate Mawlid? That’s NOT the Question
Today, life in the 21st century is very different and COVID-19 has hampered celebrations in recent years around the world.
Culturally, many British Muslims generally don’t celebrate the Mawlid as they also do not celebrate birthdays.
There are of course those who maintain the tradition of remembering Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with or without celebrations. This is what some British Muslim children had to say.
British Muslim Kids Remembering the Prophet
Musa aged 12: “That Prophet Muhammad PBUH treated animals, especially cats with love, I love cats.”
Abu Bakr aged 11: “I like the fact that he PBUH brought Islam to mankind and was kind generous and patient.”
Mahdiyah aged 10: “RasulAllah is so important for all of us because he is a mercy to all humanity. He is the light of Allah and brought his divine Nur to the whole world as a gift. We should celebrate him loudly with all our heart. When Rabi’ Al-Awwal arrives, I feel joyous and, blessed to be able to celebrate our beloved RasuAllah, peace be upon him and his progeny.
Eesa aged 9: “That even though he was perfect, and Allah had forgiven him, he would still stand in salaat [prayer] crying and making dua for forgiveness for himself and for his Ummah to come.”
Hafsa aged 9: “I like that the Prophet PBUH was generous and kind and that he didn’t rugby tackle people, like my brother.”
Dawud aged 6: “I love Prophet Muhammad as he has a fast horse called Buraq and I want to go horse racing with him.”
Maryam aged 6: “I like that PBUH was a simple person who was kind to everyone, including animals. I like that he helped his family around the house.”
Zainab aged 5: “I like the Prophet PBUH because he liked the smell of flowers and plants.”
Sofiya aged 3: “I love Prophet Muhammad because I can eat candy floss with him in jannah.”
Importance of Celebrations
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the modern equivalent of a festival goer. Yes, there were festivals specific to the Muslim community, namely the two `Eids.
To our knowledge, the pre-Islamic Arabs didn’t celebrate birthdays, it simply wasn’t part of their culture. But the Qur’an tells us to explore learn from the cultures of the world.
Traditions of different people across all times that don’t compromise the tenets of faith are a gift from God to help us enjoy and appreciate the life and this world. And blessed are those who can be grateful for the traditions and cultures of the world’s different communities, as celebrating one another’s occasions, bring us all together.
Happy birthday Prophet Muhammad, I’ll be sure to have some cake in your honour.