Sunday, 20 February 2011

Mawled El-Nabi or The Prophet's Birthday

Photo © Tauseef Mustafa/AFP -Al Rights Reserved
Mawled el-Nabi was celebrated in Muslim countries a few days ago, and it observes the birth of Prophet Muhammad, which occurs during the third month of the Islamic calendar. Islamic scholars are divided on whether observing the Prophet's birthday is necessary or even permissible in Islam. Some see it as a praiseworthy event, while others view it as an improper innovation and forbid its celebration.

It's observed and celebrated in most Muslim countries, and where there are large Muslim communities, with the notable exception of Saudi Arabia, where it is not an official public holiday. Saudi Arabia practices an austere form of Islam, in contrast to Kashmir where these photographs are from.

Photo © Farooq Khan/EPA-All Rights Reserved
Kashmiri Muslims congregate at the Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar where a relic, said to be a hair from the Prophet's beard, is displayed on the occasion of Mawled el-Nabi.

This reminds me that whilst in Diu (South Gujarat) on my In Search of the Sufis of Gujarat Photo Expedition™ a few weeks ago, I visited a Sufi dargah where a relic of Prophet Muhammad was kept in a receptacle, covered with a green "ghelaph", but under lock and key. I was told that it would be shown during the celebration of his birth.

For those who are interested in stuff like that, Diu (it being an ex-Portuguese enclave) is the only place in Gujarat where alcohol is sold openly. And the elderly Muslim man who courteously showed me the wall receptacle where the relic was kept, spoke fluent Portuguese, having emigrated from Mozambique many decades ago.