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EID e Milad un Nabi – Importance in Islam

Allahuma salli ala Muhammadin wa – ala – Ale Muhammad

O God! Shower thy blessings on Muhammad and the descendants of Muhammad

Introduction: Eid-e-Milad is celebrated in the memory of Prophet Muhammed. The Holy Prophet was born on the twelfth day of Rabi-ul-Awwal in 570 C.E Saudi Arabia, Mecca. Rabi-ul-Awwal is the third month of the Muslim year. Eid-e-Milad is both, a time to rejoice and a time to mourn, since the Prophet passed away on the same day.

History of Celebration: The tradition of celebrating the Holy Prophet’s birthday on a large scale began in Egypt by the Prophet’s descendants, through his daughter Fatima. It was celebrated mainly by religious scholars and religious establishments. They gathered to hear sermons, distributed sweets, alms and particularly honey, the Prophet’s favorite.

Maulid: Eid-e-Milad is also called Maulid, since it is Prophet Muhammed’s Eid andthe song sung in praise of the Prophet’s birth is called a Maulud. From the Middle Ages, it was believed that, listening to the recitation of Maulud has not only worldly but heavenly rewards too.The earliest accounts for the observance of Mawlid can be found in eighth-century Mecca, when the house in which Muhammad was born was transformed into a place of prayer by Al-Khayzuran (mother of Harun al-Rashid, the fifth and most famous Abbasid caliph). The early celebrations included elements of Sufic influence, with animal sacrifices and torchlight processions along with public sermons and a feast. The practice spread throughout the Muslim world, assimilating local customs, to places such as Cairo, where folklore and Sufic practices greatly influenced the celebrations. By 1588 it had spread to the court of Murad III, Sultan of the Ottoman empire. In 1910, it was given official status as a national festival throughout the Ottoman empire. Today it is an official holiday in many parts of the world.

Barah Wafat: This festival is also referred to as, ‘Barah Wafat’ which stands for the twelve days of sickness of the Prophet, before he passed away. The day is for both mourning and celebrating. The Sunni sect and the Shia sect have a different take on the ways of celebrating of this day.

Celebrations by Shia Muslims: Shia Muslims celebrate this day to remember that Prophet Muhammed chose Hazrat Ali as his successor at Gadhir-e-Khumm. This occasion symbolises the Habillah (the chain of imamat or the next leader). Eid-e-Milad and Eid-al-Gadhir are two names for marking the same day, for two different reasons.

Eid-e-Milad or Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi – This name is used to mark the Prophet’s birth and death anniversary.

Eid-al-Gadhir – This name is used to mark the handing over of the spiritual rein to Hazrat Ali at Gadhir-e-Khumm. (The route between Syria and Yemen)

On this day, believers gather to recite special prayers for thanksgiving to Allah for his favours and sending Prophet Muhammed to the world, with his message to guide the people. People attend lectures and recitations on the Life and Instructions of the Holy Prophet. Poetry or Naats are recited after prayers and sweets are distributed amongst the poor.

Shia Muslims also mourn on this day as it is also the day when the Holy Prophet passed away.

Bohra Muslims: a part of the Shia sect, too celebrate the twelve days of Rabi-ul-Awwal with prayers and by listening to recitals. Prayers are conducted in mosques for all twelve days. Many Bohras perform Zyarat (a form of prayer that is performed as a meeting with the one you are praying to).

Celebrations by Sunni Muslims: Prayers are held throughout the month. On the twelfth day of the month Muslims remember the Holy Prophet and his teachings. Mourning on this day is not practiced at all because according the Sunni Muslims believe that mourning for the dead beyond three days hurts the departed soul.

In South Asia, people carry out processions chanting praises of the Holy Prophet and Imam Hazrat Ali. These processions are decorated with fruits, flowers or even scenes depicting religious sites, episodes and figures. The sweet dish ‘Kheer’ (sweet porridge made of rice) is prepared as a tradition in Muslim homes. Among non-Muslim countries, India is noted for its Mawlid festivities. The relics of Muhammed are displayed after the morning prayers in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir at Hazratbal shrine, on the outskirts of Srinagar. Shab-khawani night-long prayers held at the Hazratbal shrine are attended by thousands. In Pakistan’s Mawlid celebration, the national flag is hoisted on all public buildings, and a 31 gun salute in the federal capital and a 21 gun salute at the provincial headquarters are fired at dawn. The cinemas shows religious rather than secular films on 11th and 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal. Whereas in Saudi Arabia & Middle – east prayers are held, sweets are prepared and the Prophet is remembered through his words. Saudi Arabia is the only Muslim country where Mawlid is not an official public holiday. Participation in the ritual celebration of popular Islamic holidays is seen as an expression of the Islamic revival.

Valentine’s Day and Islam

The Festival of Love was one of the festivals of the pagan Romans, when paganism was the prevalent religion of the Romans more than seventeen centuries ago. In the pagan Roman concept, it was an expression of “spiritual love”. There were myths associated with this pagan festival of the Romans, which persisted with their Christian heirs. Among the most famous of these myths was the Roman belief that Romulus, the founder of Rome, was suckled one day by a she-wolf, which gave him strength and wisdom.
The Romans used to celebrate this event in mid-February each year with a big festival. One of the rituals of this festival was the sacrifice of a dog and a goat. Two strong and muscular youths would daub the blood of the dog and goat onto their bodies, then they would wash the blood away with milk. After that there would be a great parade, with these two youths at its head, which would go about the streets. The two youths would have pieces of leather with which they would hit everyone who crossed their path. The Roman women would welcome these blows, because they believed that they could prevent or cure infertility.

Indeed, Islam is the religion of altruism, true love, and cooperation on that which is good and righteous. We implore Allah Almighty to gather us together under the umbrella of His All-encompassing Mercy, and to unite us together as one man. Allah Almighty says: (The believers are naught else than brothers. Therefore make peace between your brethren and observe your duty to Allah that haply ye may obtain mercy.) (Al-Hujurat 49: 10) Focusing more on the question in point, I can say that there are forms of expressing love that are religiously acceptable, while there are others that are not religiously acceptable. Among the forms of love that are religiously acceptable are those that include the love for Prophets and Messengers. It stands to reason that the love for Allah, and His Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) should have the top priority over all other forms of love. Islam does recognize happy occasions that bring people closer to one another, and add spice to their lives. However, Islam goes against blindly imitating the West regarding a special occasion such as Valentine’s Day. Hence, commemorating that special day known as the Valentine’s Day is an innovation or bid`ah that has no religious backing. Every innovation of that kind is rejected, as far as Islam is concerned. Islam requires all Muslims to love one another all over the whole year, and reducing the whole year to a single day is totally rejected.

Bombing in Alexandria

A tragic incident occurred on 1st of January in Alexandria, Egypt, when a car exploded outside the Coptic Church caused by a suicide bomber. The blast happened right after midnight as the New Year’s service had ended and the worshippers were leaving the building. 21 people died and 97 injured, making this the second Christmas overshadowed with bloodshed for the Coptic’s. After the explosion, some Christian Coptic’s clashed with the police in anger as they hurled; “with our blood and soul we redeem the cross”. Soon after they clashed with Muslim’s as both sides began to throw stones and bottles at each other on the streets.

The person behind this heinous act is believed to be linked to the terrorist organization Al-Qaida, who has for some time carried out various campaigns of attacks and sieges against the Christians in Iraq, killing 68 in a Church siege in October and 2 more on Thursday. Before the bombing of the Church in Alexandria, the Egyptian government had received threats against the Copt’s.

The protests in Cairo and northern part of Alexandria raised many questions about the countries stability and many have criticized the government for not doing enough for the minorities such as the Coptic Christians. The protests started as a condemnation but quickly changed into an anti-government protest. More and more Egyptians raise their voice in anger and frustration for the incompetence the government has shown against the discrimination and threats, and also for President Mubarak’s unwillingness to step aside from power after ruling for three decades. It gets more and more obvious how corrupt, undemocratic and ineffective the government is. An example of this is the fall elections where President Mubarak’s ruling party took the step to claim 97%of the parliamentary seats and making it so fraudulent that the opposition parties withdrew in protest. The government is clearly failing both in ruling and to create a social cohesion program that addresses to every citizen making them feel that they belong to the society as equal citizens.

Discrimination and Marginalization

Christian’s make up 10% of Egypt’s mainly large Muslim population of nearly 80 million people and clearly a minority that has complained over the lack of political representation and a long time of economically and socially discrimination. The disputes and clashes between the Coptic Christians and Muslims has escalated and got more widespread the recent years starting with minor disputes between neighbors to divisive decisions made by public officials and judges.

The Saints Church in Alexandria was targeted in April 2006 when a man with knife stabbed some of the worshippers. January 7 turned out to be a bloody day for the Christians as a gunman opened fire into a crowd outside a church killing 7 people after the midnight mass in the village of Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt. Millions of Copts in Egypt celebrate Christmas each year in early January because of the difference between the Coptic and Gregorian calendar. But the latest attack came at a time where sectarian tension was already rising in the country. November last year, hundreds of Christians in Cairo rioted together smashing cars and windows when police stopped the construction of a church.

So why was the security so poor at a critical and sensitive time where threats were made against the Christians? Only 3 soldiers and 1 officer were placed outside and they ended up among the wounded. The government on their side said that they stepped up the security measures outside the churches after receiving threats from Al-Qaida. Something interesting is the fact that Egypt receives $1,3billion in military aid from USA making them the only Arab Nation in the middle east receiving that much (only Israel receives more), but the relationship has gone cold because of the opposition Egypt showed to the Iraq war and Mubarak’s human rights abuse and the indirect dictatorship he carries out. Egypt’s security services has kept a lid and downplayed the threat of domestic terrorism for a while and this has angered many. The President was fast to urge the Egyptian Muslims and Christians to stand united against terrorism and made it clear that “this terrorist operation bears the hallmark of foreign hands who wishes to destabilize Egypt”.

Last week on Thursday night, Muslims kept their word and showed solidarity when thousands of Muslims showed up at the Coptic Christmas eve mass services in the church around the country, as they offered their bodies as “human shields” and marked a pledge to connectively fight the threat of militants. “We either live together or die together” was the slogan.

An overview of the Coptic Christians

There are about 20 million Coptic Orthodox Christians in the world and between 12-15 million are to be found in Egypt only. The first Christians in Egypt were common people who spoke Egyptian Coptic. When the St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo was founded by St. Mark himself during the reign off Roman Emperor Nero, a great number of native Egyptians embraced the Christian faith. Also writings found in Bahnasa dating back to 200AD together with a fragment of the gospel of John, written in Coptic that dates back to the 2nd century shows that the Coptic’s has a long history in Egypt. In the 2nd century, Christianity began to spread to the rural areas and scriptures were translated into Coptic, a language that was local. After the invasion of Arab Muslims around the 7th century AD, the church suffered a slow decline but in the 20th century, it experienced an unexpected renaissance.

The perpetrators of this attack were undoubtly targeting the Copt’s and this shows that they have no respect for human life and dignity. Islam does not allow to take another innocent life and these barbaric people should not carry out these acts in the name of Islam but terrorism. Sinful acts like this are only driving the people from each other instead of bringing them towards each other making a big gap between them. Egypt has had many dynasties and faiths from the ancient time, and today the majority is Muslims. They are all Egyptian citizens and should see each other as equal individuals rather than killing or discriminating each other. We live in the 21st century where most people around the world have the freedom to choose their own faith. We should not use our time on ignorance and hate but rather respect of each others choice of belief.

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