Celebrating with purpose
By: Zeeshan Rasool Khan
Rabi-ul-Awal is an auspicious month of the Islamic Calendar, for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born in this month according to the most credible opinion. Though 12th Rabi-ul-Awal is celebrated as the Mawlid (birthday) of Prophet Muhammad, however; the celebrations continue throughout the month.
Among Muslims, there are a few sects that disapprove of its celebration, but the majority observe it globally. Those not celebrating it consider it innovation. Many among them disagree with the way of celebration and don’t negate it wholly. They think that Mawlid itself is not impermissible but the activities involved make it so.
Also, there is no denying that in certain places, people have introduced some questionable elements to this festival that call it into question. However, if undesirable things are shut out and this event is commemorated purposefully, it can prove to be significant from several perspectives. It will be favorable in achieving many religious and social objectives:
1) Furthering Prophet’s (Pbuh) Love: The love of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is an indispensable part of our faith. Narrated HazratAnas; The Prophet (pbuh) said ‘None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children, and all mankind’ (Sahih-Al Bukhari 15). Cultivating the love of Allah’s messenger is therefore essential for everyone. According to scholars the love of the Prophet (pbuh) can be multiplied by sending lots of greetings and salutations upon him, his perpetual remembrance, involving his teachings in everyday life, and glorifying him etc. The event of Mawlid, which revolves around the remembering, extolling Prophet (pbuh), and recitations of Salawat and Salaam, provides an opportunity to inculcate and increase the Prophet’s love.
2) Obedience of Prophet (pbuh): The Quran ordains us to obey Allah and his apostle and says; O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger (Surah Nisa 59). Further, it teaches us that Allah’s obedience is entwined with the Prophet’s deference. Quran says; that whoever obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah (Surah Nisa 80). The occasion of Mawlid can be used to call others to Islam, Allah, and his beloved Messenger. Mawlid gives a chance to connect to people — old, young, and children and can/should be utilized to grow a sense of obedience in them.
3) Occasion for Dawah: In the month of Rabi-ul-Awal, religious gatherings, seminars, and processions, are held, which enable us to come face to face with people — known and unknown. Thus, preachers and a common Muslim can contribute to spreading the word of Deen. We can act upon the Prophet’s directive; ‘propagate even you know a single verse of the Quran’ (Sahih Al Bukhari 3461) at ease. This effort can be propitious in bringing about a positive change among others and will get us an immeasurable reward.
4) Acquainting people with Biography of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh): The Quran says: ‘In truth, in (the sacred person of) Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) there is for you a most perfect and beautiful model (of life) (Al-Aḥzab 33:21)’. So as per Quran, our ideal is the Prophet (pbuh). We need to imitate him. Follow him. Seek solutions to our problems from his virtuous life. For that, we must be cognizant of his biography. Observance of Mawlid presents an opportunity to familiarize people with the life history of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), which is requisite for a Muslim to know. Through his biography, we can understand Islam, how to prosper and live a successful life while being a practicing Muslim, and how to be among heavenly people. It will help to reinforce our faith, in being optimistic, and in preparing us to stand the testing times as well.
5) Guiding youth and Children: Youngsters particularly children are fond of festivals. During the month of Rabi-ul-Awal, children are found more jubilant. They like to be part of celebrations. They participate in gatherings zealously and in this way are exposed to the religious environment. It offers scholars, clerics, and elders the possibility of making them aware of their religious responsibilities, teaching them about Islam and its principles besides sowing in their hearts the seeds of love and respect for our supreme leader — Muhammad (pbuh). Similarly, youth could be educated about their status and importance in light of religious teachings. They can be motivated and trained to execute their socio-religious duties. Such wise, we can channelize their energy for better results.
6) Helping and Feeding Poor: Helping and feeding the poor is one of the most rewarding deeds in Islam. Quran says: So give to the kindred his due, and to Al-miskeen (the poor) and to the wayfarer. That is best for those who seek Allah’s Countenance’ (Ar-Rum 30:38). In the Holy Quran, Allah compares the disbelievers and believers based on their approach towards the hungry and states, ‘(The righteous are those) who give food despite love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive (Surah Insaan 76:8).
Moreover, Prophet (pbuh) encouraged us to help poor and feed hungry. The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a Mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah’s Cause or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day’(Sahih Al-Bukhari 265). Our Prophet (pbuh) was asked, ‘What Islamic traits are the best?’ He responded, ‘Feed the people and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know’ (Sahih Al-Bukhari 6236). Muslims mark the birthday of Muhammad (pbuh) in pomp and splendour. It is not unwanted but desirable to express exhilaration in every permissible manner. However, it should not be all about the show. Instead, we must use our resources for the greater good. In this holy month, we can reach out to the poor and destitute to help them financially, arrange food and clothes for them and their kids, and organize free health camps for the needy. This will not only furnish us contentment but the noble purpose of Mawlid will also be fulfilled.
7) Attaining Allah’s pleasure: To have the good pleasure of Allah is the final aim of every Muslim. We worship and pray, perform hajj, give zakat, do charity, and other pious acts only to seek divine acceptance. Holding festivity on Mawlid can abet us in the same, especially when we include rightful acts and would be goal-oriented. This will benefit us personally and also the people around us. Over and above, it will be productive in the spread of the Islamic message.
(The author hails from from Seer Hamdan and is an independent researcher, columnist, and co-author)