Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday celebrations
Indeed Muslims love to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad as a reminder of his splendid manners and personality, of how compassionately he dealt with Muslims or non-Muslims around him, and of how he inspired humanity in various fields, such as in education and human and women’s rights.
In his book, “The 100 – A ranking of the most influential persons in history”, Michael H. Hart, after examining in great detail the character and accomplishments of 100 influential people, from political leaders, top scientists and well-known religious figures like Gautama Buddha, Prophet Moses and Jesus Christ, says: “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels….Today (about 1400 years after his death), his influence is still powerful and persuasive.”
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is always remembered by Muslims for his lovely character and personality, his great mission and success in completing the teachings taught by all prophets, including Prophet Abraham, Prophet Moses and Prophet Isa or Jesus Christ, Peace Be Upon them all, which finally God gave a name – Islam, indicating that he was not the founder of Islam but a Messenger of God (Rasullulah, that is, Messenger of Allah).
Honouring the Prophet
The Prophet was born on 12 Rabi’ul Awal (the third month of the Muslim or Hijrah (H) calendar. His birthday, called Maulidur Rasul or Maulud Nabi, is celebrated throughout the world by Muslim communities.
The celebration programme always includes sermons in remembrance of the Prophet’s teachings and lectures on his personality and life as learning points for emulation by Muslims, both children and adults. Other activities in the programme held to honour the prophet include selawat and zikir (salutations and praises to the beloved Prophet) and processions at designated places.
On Sunday, 29 April (2018, or 13 Syaaban 1439 H), an event to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad was held at the Singapore Sepaktakraw Federation in Bedok North. Dato’ Abdul Halim Bin Kader, BBM, President of the Singapore Malay Youth Library Association (Taman Bacaan) and President of the Singapore Sepaktakraw Federation (PERSES), was the Guest-of Honour. His speech and the whole event was live-streamed that day on: https://www.facebook.com/qaafilahzikrullah/videos/1623528551035314/
The 5-hour event that started at 9 in the morning consisted of speeches and religious lectures and activities, such as the Qasidah (poems recited in a highly rhymed form in praise of the Prophet) presented by the well-known Qaafilah Zikrullah.
Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday celebrations can be held in any month between his birth date (12 Rabi’ul Awal) to before Ramadan, the fasting month when Muslims perform total fasting from dawn to dusk every day of this ninth month in the Hijrah calendar.
Last month (on 7 April or 20 Rejab), Jamiyah Singapore, with the support of a number of local Muslim organisations, held Maulidur Rasul at the Bedok Stadium from 5:30 to 10:30 pm. Apart from the usual activities like religious lectures, praises of the Prophet and Qasidah, a lively procession of groups representing Muslim organisations, including the kompang troupes (Malay hand-drum performers), paraded along the running tracks around the field of the stadium. Congregational prayers were also held, especially for the Maghrib (dusk-time) prayers.
Before that, Maulidur Rasul was also held at the Expo Singapore and at various mosques.
During such events, whether in hired premises or in the mosques, attendance was always overwhelming and free food, usually briyani, was served or given away in packages.
During the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), there was no such culture as celebrating birthdays, so none of his Companions or followers celebrated his or their birthdays. However, in the fifth century, some religiously motivated people initiated the celebration of his birthday to honour him for his advice, guidance and achievements as the final prophet of Islam.
Valuable learning occasion
This initiative was not well-received by some Islamic scholars. They felt that celebrating the Prophet’s birthday is a bida’a – something not taught by the Prophet, so it ought not to be practised. However, many other scholars say that though it is a bida’a, it is a good bida’a as the celebration event is totally religious, involving nothing that is Islamically prohibited (no wild merriy-making, no dancing, no alcohol, no mixing of the sexes), but totally an Islamic gathering beneficial for character and social development.
Maulidur Rasul serves as a valuable learning occasion for Muslims to come together to become better Muslims by working together for the good of all Singaporeans, contributing together to the peace and harmony of the nation.
1 May 2018