Mawlid an-Nabi is celebrated by many Muslims around the world, although there are conservative sections of the religion that refuse to recognize it as a holiday. The day marks the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, and public celebrations date back to the 13th century. Today, celebrations vary depending on the country. Common themes include giving charitable donations to the poor, reciting stories and poetry about the Prophet Muhammad and decorating mosques.
There has always been some contention as to whether Mawlid an-Nabi should be celebrated by Muslims. This is because the Prophet Muhammad asked his followers not to celebrate his birthday, so some Muslims believe doing so directly contradicts his wishes. Others believe that celebrating the day is actually forbidden in Muslim teachings. Even so, Muslim rulers have become more accepting of the celebration and its importance to Muslim society in recent times.
Originally, Mawlid an-Nabi was celebrated with huge feasts. Today, celebrations tend to be much more subdued, although there are still carnivals and large scale processions. In some countries mosques are decorated and charitable donations, usually in the form of food, are distributed.
Stories of the Prophet Muhammad’s life are often told on Mawlid an-Nabi. Poetry is also recited, usually by children. These stories and poems focus on the charity of the Prophet Muhammad, and may also include plays and prayers.
Charity is an important part of all Muslim holidays, and Mawlid an-Nabi is no exception. All Muslims are expected to give money and food freely to the poor, and it’s important to be kind and compassionate towards other people. This is especially important for family members and loved ones. Feasts are also still common, although not as large or extravagant as those in the past.
Different parts of the world celebrate Mawlid an-Nabi in their own way. In Pakistan, for example, the national flag is raised on all public buildings. There is also a gun salute and cinemas showing religious films. Pakistan is also the location of the largest gathering for Mawlid an-Nabi, with thousands of people meeting for celebration.
Non-Muslim countries also host celebrations of Mawlid an-Nabi, although these are less widespread than in Muslim countries. Kenya, Tanzania and India are three non-Muslim countries that host the largest celebrations of Mawlid. Other non-Muslim countries with large Muslim populations, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, also have celebrations.