LAST_UPDATESat, 26 May 2018 10pm

Celebrating Mawlid (Maulidur Rasul)

Maulidur Rasul celebration in Kampung Gedong, Samarahan, Sarawak. /File Pic: Google ImagesMaulidur Rasul celebration in Kampung Gedong, Samarahan, Sarawak. /File Pic: Google ImagesALTHOUGH celebrations of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) birthday was not practiced 1400 years ago when the Prophet lived in Arabia, year after year, many Muslim countries still observe this tradition.

Maulidur, or Mawlid, was derived from the Arabic word which means "birth". Hence, Maulidur Rasul, which means "the birth of the Prophet", is a day where Muslims will gather to commemorate the Prophet's birthday.

In Malaysia, his birthday is celebrated annually on the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awal – a date in the Islamic calendar which is believed to be the Prophet’s birth date (incidentally, is also a date that changes each year in the Gregorian calendar).

Some Islamic scholars even contend that the celebrations actually mark the Prophet’s death because his birth date was never recorded.  

So, in a way, many Muslim populations are “celebrating” a double occasion on the same day ; one to celebrate his arrival and secondly, remembering his passing.

The Prophet's Companions Mawlid since they were always around him, following him and seeing him live his life honourably and practice the words he says and preaches.

A bicycled contingent at the Maulidur Rasul parade in Putrajaya last year. /Google ImagesA bicycled contingent at the Maulidur Rasul parade in Putrajaya last year. /Google ImagesThe Mawlid was only celebrated 400 years after the Prophet's death and was started by Abu Sa`eed al-Muzaffar bin Baktakeen Kawkabriyy, the king of Irbil (a place between Iraq and Iran).

Hence, the celebrations of Maulidur Rasul are an invention of Muslim populations in the Middle East, done as a ‘tribute’ to the man who took first spot in the 1930s American book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.

In the event, Muslims come together in a procession (which is held to remind everyone of the day and invite others to join), recite the Qur’an, praising the Prophet and speak of how he lived and his attributes, in order to learn more about Islam.

Mawlid celebration is also a way to educate the children about Islam, the Prophet's noble morality, the way he worshiped Allah and how he mingled with people. Mawlid also fosters love and affection in the hearts of children.

Although there has been a dispute about the procession, where some scholar claimed that having a parade on that day is a bid'aa (heresy) because the Prophet and his Companions never celebrated it, on the other hand, there are scholars who allowed the celebration and agreed that a parade during Maulidur Rasul is not bid'aa as long as it was held only to remember the way of the Prophet and does not involve any prohibited practices.

Those who participate in the procession will continuously recite praise for the Prophet through dzikir and salawat .

Back then, the processions will end from where it started, but most will have a designated location such as a mosque or a hall where participants and crowd can be gathered.

This January 25, a procession will be included in this year's Maulidur Rasul celebration organised by the Federal Territory Religious Department (JAWI).

"This will be the first time ever that a parade is included in the Maulidur Rasul celebration Federal Territory level's program," Ustaz Mohd Hashim Abdullah, JAWI's Public Relations Unit in Islamic Affairs told us.

"More than 1,500 participants from 30 contingents are taking part in the parade, which will start from the Jalan Duta Shariah Court and finish at the Federal Territory Mosque. They will parade on foot."

He said previously, the Mawlid celebration has always been organised at the Islamic Center Complex in Jalan Perdana, Kuala Lumpur.

Youths beating "kompangs" during Maulidur Rasul celebration in Kg Kuantan, Kuala Selangor. /File pic: Google ImagesYouths beating "kompangs" during Maulidur Rasul celebration in Kg Kuantan, Kuala Selangor. /File pic: Google Images"Considering that we never had any parade before, we are pleased to receive quite a good response from those who want to participate in the parade."

"This year's motto is 'Wasatiyyah Tonggak Kesatuan Ummah' (moderation is the pillar of unity)," explains Mohd Hashim, adding that it also shows that Islam is a moderate religion and moderation is the key to unite a community.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Maulidur Rasul will be celebrated on National Level and the event will be held at Putrajaya.

The event is organised by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).

"The celebration in Putrajaya will start with a parade from Putrajaya Square and end at Masjid Putra. In tomorrow's parade, JAWI is just one of the contingents", he said.

Mohd Hashim said among the parade participants are government departments, statutory bodies, uniformed units, private sectors, NGOs, primary and secondary schools, and institute of higher learning.

Commenting on the issue that it is bid'aa, Mohd Hashim said it is a good bid'aa as it helps to relive the syiar (teachings) by the Prophet and simultaneously remember the Prophet and his deeds.

Meanwhile, senior assistant director of  Malaysia Science University's Islamic Centre Mohd Zambrus Mohd Ali said, parades or processions are not the main event in any Maulidur Rasul celebration.

"It all depends on the organiser's intention. If they organise the Maulidur Rasul event as a mean to show off their status or power with a lavish and grand parade, then it has gone astray from the real meaning of why we celebrate Mawlid.

"In Mawlid celebrations, the events which include parade and any other programs must be held with the intention of bringing the community together, to work together for something that is good and beneficial for all," he said.

He added that the tradition to have processions or parades during Maulidur Rasul must be instilled to those who live in housing areas to promote a sense of unity.

"Nasyid" songs in one of the Maulidur Rasul events. /File Pic: Google Images"Nasyid" songs in one of the Maulidur Rasul events. /File Pic: Google Images

This should be a great opportunity to tell the children about the Prophet’s life, how he lived according to the teachings of the Quran. This should also be a reminder of how he dealt with those around him, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, his manners and how he changed the world, how he inspired humanity in the various fields such as education, compassion, mercy, human and women's rights, etc.

Overall, the gathering creates a stronger bond among the Muslim community and an event to appreciate the Prophet.