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Malaysian Sunni Muslims participate in a Prophet's birthday parade in Putrajaya, 2013
Also called Eid al-Mawlid an-Nabawī, Havliye, Donba, Gani[1]
Observed by Adherents of mainstream Sunni Islam, Shia Islam and various other Islamic denominations except a few such as Wahhabism/Salafism etc.
Type Islamic, cultural
Significance Traditional commemoration of the birth of Muhammad
Observances fasting, public processions, religious singing, family and other social gatherings, decoration of streets and homes, festivals
Date 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal (Sunni Islam), 17th day of Rabi' al-awwal (Shia Islam)[2]
Frequency Annual
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Mawlid (Arabic: مَولِد النَّبِيmawlidu n-nabiyyi, "Birth of the Prophet", sometimes simply called in colloquial Arabic مولد mawlid, mevlid, mevlit, mulud among other vernacular pronunciations; sometimes ميلاد mīlād) is the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which is celebrated often on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.[3] The 12th Day of Rabi' al-awwall is the most popular date from a list of many dates that are reported as the birth date. The celebration of this birthday was initiated by the Fatimids and it was celebrated in lands under their control.[4] The Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588. [5] The term Mawlid is also used in some parts of the world, such as Egypt, as a generic term for the birthday celebrations of other historical religious figures such as Sufi saints.[6]

Most denominations of Islam approve of the commemoration of Muhammad's birthday;[7][8] however, some denominations including Wahhabism/Salafism, Deobandism and the Ahmadiyya disapprove its commemoration, considering it an unnecessary religious innovation (bid'ah or bidat).[9][10] Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries of the world except Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are officially Wahhabi/Salafi.[11]


  • Etymology, and other terms used for the event 1
  • History 2
  • Practice 3
  • Observances 4
    • Mawlid texts 4.1
    • Celebrations 4.2
    • Islamic Unity Week 4.3
  • Other uses 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Etymology, and other terms used for the event

Sekaten fair in Indonesia, a week-long celebration of Mawlid.

Mawlid is derived from the Arabic root word (Arabic: ولد‎), meaning to give birth, bear a child, descendant.[12] In contemporary usage, Mawlid refers to the observance of the birthday of Muhammad.[3]

Other terms used for this event include:

  • Eid al-Mawlid an-Nabawī – Festival of the birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
  • Eid Milād-un-Nabī – Festival of the birth of the Prophet (Urdu)
  • Eid-e-Meeladun Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, South India)
  • el Mūled (en-Nabawi)/Mūled en-Nabi – The birth (of the prophet )/Birth of the prophet (Egyptian Arabic)
  • el Mūled - The birth (Tunisian Arabic)
  • Gamou – ? (Wolof)
  • Mawlûd – Birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
  • Mawlid an-Nabī (pl. al-Mawālid) – The Birth of the Prophet (Arabic)
  • Milād an-Nabī – The Birth of the Prophet (Urdu)
  • Maulidur-Rasūl – The Birth of the Messenger of Allah (Malay)
  • Maulid Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Indonesian)
  • Maulud Nabi – The Birth of the Prophet (Malaysian)
  • Maulidi – The Birth of the Prophet (Swahili, Hausa)
  • Mawlūd-e Sharīf – The Blessed Birth (Dari/Urdu)
  • Mawlid en-Nabaoui Echarif – The Blessed Birth of the Prophet (Algerian)
  • Mevlid-i Şerif – The Blessed Birth / Mevlüt – The Name (Turkish)
  • Mevlud/Mevlid – The Blessed Birth (Bosnian)
  • Mevlydi – The Blessed Birth (Albanian)
  • Milād-e Payambar-e Akram – The birth of the great/blessed Prophet (Persian)
  • Mulud – The Birth (Javanese)
  • Nabi/Mahanabi Jayanti – The birth of the (great) Prophet (Sanskrit, South Indian Languages). Maha means "great."
  • Yawm an-Nabī – The Day of the Prophet (Arabic)
  • Mövlüd""" - The birth of the (great) Prophet



International Mawlid Conference, Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan

The oldest Mawlid text is claimed to be from the 12th century and most likely is of Persian origin.[13]

The earliest observation of Muhammad's birth as a holy day was arranged privately and later there was an increased number of visitors to the Mawlid house that was open for the whole day specifically for this celebration. This particular event took place on Monday, 12 Rabi'i,[14] which is commonly known as the third month of the Islamic calendar that is associated with the beginning of Spring.[15] This celebration was introduced into the city Sabta by Abu 'l'Abbas al-Azafi as a way of counteracting Christian festivals and to strengthen Muslim identity.[16] The mawlid was not the only celebration that was sponsored by the Fatimids. Al-Maqrīzi, in his Khiṭaṭ [17]

Al-Maqrīzi writes in his Khiṭaṭ
The Fatimid Caliphs had, throughout the year, a number of festivals and celebrations. These were: 1. New Year's Eve, 2. Beginning of the year celebrations, 3. The Day of 'Āshūrā', 4. The birthday of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, 5. The birthday of 'Alī, 6. The birthday of al-Ḥasan, 7. The birthday of al-Husayn, 8. The birthday of Fāṭima al-Zahrā', 9. The birthday of the current Caliph, 10. The first day of Rajab, 11. The fifteenth day of Rajab, 12. The first day of Sha'bān, 13. The fifteenth day of Sha'bān, 14. The festival of Ramaḍān, 15. the first day of Ramaḍān, 16. The middle of Ramaḍān, 17. The end of Ramaḍān, 18. The Night of the Khatm, 19. The Day of 'Īd al-Fitr, 20. The Day of 'Īd of Sacrifice, 21. The Day of 'Īd al-Ghadīr, 22. The 'Cloth of Winter', 23. The 'Cloth of Summer', 24. The Day of the 'Conquest of the Peninsula', 25. The Day of Nawrūz [Persian festival], 26. The Day of Veneration [Christian], 27. Christmas [Christian], 28 Lent [Christian]

The early celebrations included elements of Sufic influence, with animal sacrifices and torchlight processions along with public sermons and a feast.[18][19] The celebrations occurred during the day, in contrast to modern day observances, with the ruler playing a key role in the ceremonies.[20] Emphasis was given to the Ahl al-Bayt with presentation of sermons and recitations of the Qur'an. The event also featured the award of gifts to officials in order to bolster support for the ruling caliph.[21] Particularly in early Cairo, this holy day was celebrated by the court and the ruling class, not the common people.[14]


Milad procession in India

Traditionally, most [28] oppose the celebration.[29]

In the Muslim world, the majority of Islamic scholars are in favor of Mawlid. They consider observing Mawlid necessary or permissible in Islam, and see it as a praiseworthy event and positive development,[23][24] whilst the Salafists say it is an improper innovation and forbid its celebration. The complexity of the issue is best seen in the opinion of one Ahl al-Hadith scholar Ibn Taymiyya who wrote that it was a reprehensible (makrūh) innovative practice, although not forbidden (ḥarām), but since "some observe the Prophet's birthday out of a desire to show their love of the Prophet and thus deserve a great reward for their good intentions".[30]

Ali Gomaa, Chief Mufti of the world's oldest and largest Islamic university, Al Azhar in Egypt, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the primary scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki, Grand Mufti of Cyprus Nazim Al-Haqqani, Habib Ali al-Jifri of Yemen, Syed Shujaat Ali Qadri, Muhammad Ilyas Qadri the founder of Dawat-e-Islami, Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Grand Mufti of Bosnia Mustafa Cerić, Abdalqadir as-Sufi, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Gibril Haddad, Said Afandi al-Chirkawi, Hisham Kabbani, Grand Mufti of India Akhtar Raza Khan, Kanthapuram A. P. Aboobacker Musalyar of Markazu Saqafathi Sunniya and Zaid Shakir all subscribe to Sunni Islam, and have given their approval for the observance of Mawlid.[31] They suggest that fasting on Mondays is also a way of commemorating Muhammad's birthday. For the first in English Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has published a book Mawlid al-Nabi Celebration and Permissibility defending the legality of Mawlid over more than 700 pages.[32]

Scholars and preachers who consider Mawlid to be [28] Ahmadis do, however, regularly hold gatherings called jalsa seerat-un-Nabi emphasising the life and legacy of Muhammad oriented towards both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences.[33] However, These gatherings are not considered obligatory nor is it necessary to hold them on a fixed date.


The Garebeg festival celebrating Mawlid in Yogyakarta, Java Island, Indonesia
Under supervision of Shaykh Sufi Riaz Ahmed Naqshbandi Aslami, 2007

Mawlid is celebrated in most predominantly Islamic countries, and in other countries that have a significant Muslim population, such as India, the United Kingdom, Nepal, Sri Lanka, France, Germany, Italy, Russia[34] and Canada.[35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43] In some Arabian countries - i.e. Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain - it is not an official public holiday.[44] Participation in the ritual celebration of popular Islamic holidays is seen as an expression of the Islamic revival.[45] There is no one clear motive for people celebrating Mawlid, for the celebration itself appears to have sacred and profane elements.[46]

Often organized in some countries by the Sufi orders,[47] Mawlid is celebrated in a carnival manner, large street processions are held and homes or mosques are decorated. Charity and food is distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry by children.[48][49][50] Scholars and poets celebrate by reciting Qaṣīda al-Burda Sharif, the famous poem by 13th-century Arabic Sufi Busiri. A general Mawlid appears as "a chaotic, incoherent spectacle, where numerous events happen simultaneously,all held together only by the common festive time and space".[51] These celebrations are often considered an expression of the Sufi concept of the pre-existence of Muhammad .[52] However,the main significance of these festivities is expression of love for Muhammad.[51]

Mawlid texts

Along with being referred to as the celebration of the birth of Muhammad, the term Mawlid also refers to the 'text especially composed for and recited at Muhammad's nativity celebration' or "a text recited or sung on that day".[47] These texts contain stories of the life of Muhammad, or at least some of the following chapters from his life, briefly summarized below:[47]

  1. The Ancestors of Muhammad
  2. The Conception of Muhammad
  3. The Birth of Muhammad
  4. Introduction of Halima
  5. Life of Young Muhammad in Bedouins
  6. Muhammad's orphan hood
  7. Abu Talib's nephew's first caravan trip
  8. Arrangement of Marriage between Muhammad and Khadija
  9. Al-Isra'
  10. Al-Mi'radj, or the Ascension to heaven
  11. Al-Hira, first revelation
  12. The first converts to Islam
  13. The Hijra
  14. Muhammad's death

These text are only part of the ceremonies. There are many different ways that people celebrate Mawlid, depending on where they are from. There appears to be a cultural influence upon what kind of festivities are a part of the Mawlid celebration. In Indonesia, it is common the congregation recite Simthud Durar, especially among Arab Indonesians.


During Pakistan's Mawlid, known in Urdu as Eid Milad-un-Nabi, a public holiday, celebrations and processions, the national flag is hoisted on all public buildings, and a 31-gun salute in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, and a 21-gun salute at the provincial capitals are fired at dawn. The public and private building are illuminated with Fairy lights. The cinemas shows religious rather than secular films on 11th and 12th Rabi-ul-Awwal. Hundreds of thousands of people gather at Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore between the intervening night of 11th and 12th Rabi' al-awwal for Mawlid celebrations; this is the worlds biggest gathering for Mawlid celebrations. This is held under the banner of Minhaj-Ul-Quran and Shaykh-Ul-Islam Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri is the keynote speaker at the event.[53] The tradition of year round celebration of Eid Milad-un-Nabi is also observed. The A Na`at hymns that specifically praises Muhammad . The practice is popular in South Asia, ( Bangladesh, Pakistan and India), commonly in Urdu and Punjabi languages. People who recite Na`at are known as Naat-Khua'an or Sana'a-Khua'an.

In many parts of Indonesia, the celebration of the Mawlid al-nabi "seems to surpass in importance, liveliness, and splendour" the two official Islamic holidays of Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.[54] The Indonesian Javanese week-long Sekaten celebration commemorates Mawlid in Central Java.

In Qayrawan, Tunisia, Muslims sing and chant hymns of praise to Muhammad, welcoming him in honor of his birth.[55] Also, generally in Tunisia, people usually prepare Assidat Zgougou to celebrate the Mawlid.[56]

Among non-Muslim countries, India is noted for its Mawlid festivities.[57][58][59] The relics of Muhammad are displayed after the morning prayers in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir at the Hazratbal Shrine. Shab-khawani night-long prayers held at the Hazratbal Shrine are attended by thousands.[60]

A banner with Maulid greetings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Other non-Muslim countries noted for their Mawlid festivities are Kenya and Tanzania, where it is known as "Maulidi". In Kenya, the most famous place is the coastal island of Lamu[61][62][63] and Malindi. In Tanzania the largest celebrations are on the island of Zanzibar.[64][65]

Islamic Unity Week

Most of Shia scholar believe the 17th day of Rabi' al-awwal is the birthday of the Muhammad, and most of Sunni scholar believe that is the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal. This issue led to assigning these days (12-17 Rabi' al-awwal) as Unity Week by Islamic Republic of Iran to respect both viewpoints. So scholars and followers of these two sect emphasize on common ground against the common enemies.[66][67]

Following, the International Islamic Unity Conference is hosted each year on this week, and scholars of Islamic world from various country gather together in Tehran with the aim of promoting intra-Islamic dialogue.[66][68][69]

Other uses

In some countries, such as Egypt and Sudan, Mawlid is used as a generic term for the celebration of birthdays of local Sufi saints and not only restricted to the observance of the birth of Muhammad.[70] Around 3,000 Mawlid celebrations are held each year and attended by tens of thousands of people. These festivals attract an international audience, with the largest one in Egypt attracting up to three million people honouring Ahmad al-Badawi, a local 13th-century Sufi saint.[6]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Mawlid.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b In pictures: Egypt's biggest moulid. BBC News.
  7. ^ name="Schussman 1998, p">Schussman (1998), p.??
  8. ^ name=Shakir>[4]. Zaid Shakir.
  9. ^ name=Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Hanafi> Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam .
  10. ^ name=Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid> Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid.
  11. ^ March, Luke (24 June 2010). Russia and Islam. Routledge. p. 147. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Arabic: قاموس المنجد‎ – Moungued Dictionary (paper), or online: Webster's Arabic English Dictionary
  13. ^ The Music of the Arabs, Touma (1975), p. 148
  14. ^ a b "Mawlid (a.), or Mawlud". Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition. BrillOnline Reference Works. 
  15. ^ "'"rabi. Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Glossary and Index of Terms. BrillOnline Reference Works. 
  16. ^ "Mawlid". Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition. BrillOnline Reference Works. 
  17. ^ [vol. 1, p. 490]
  18. ^ "Mawlid", Encyclopædia Britannica
  19. ^ Schussman p. 216
  20. ^ Kaptein (1993), p. 30
  21. ^ Kaptein p. 30
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b Schussman (1998), p.??
  24. ^ a b [5]. Zaid Shakir.
  25. ^ Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam .
  26. ^ Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid.
  27. ^ Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Taymiyah (25/298)
  28. ^ a b True Commemoration of the blessed life of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)
  29. ^ [6]
  30. ^ Ahmed, editors, Yossef Rapoport, Shahab (2010). Ibn Taymiyya and his times. Karachi: Oxford University Press. p. 320.  
  31. ^ Shaykh Qardawi Approves of Celebrating Mawlid. Yusuf Al-Qardawi.
  32. ^ "Mawlid al-Nabi: Celebration and Permissibility". Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications. 
  33. ^ audiences. Seerat-un-Nabi
  34. ^ "Mawlid celebration in Russia". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  35. ^ "q News". q News. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  36. ^ "Arts Web Bham". Arts Web Bham. 14 August 1996. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  37. ^ "Buildings of London". Buildings of London. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  38. ^ Js Board
  39. ^ Sunni society UK
  40. ^ Bednikoff, Emilie. "Montreal Religious Sites Project". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  41. ^ "Muslim Media Network". Muslim Media Network. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  42. ^ Canadian Mawlid
  43. ^ "Religion & Ethics – Milad un Nabi". BBC. 7 September 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  44. ^ "Moon Sighting". Moon Sighting. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  45. ^ "Saudi Islam Politics". 16 December 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  46. ^ Schielke, Samuli (September 2006). "On Snacks and Saints: When Discourses of Rationality and Order Enter the Egyptian mawlid". Archives de sciences sociales des religions 135: 117.  
  47. ^ a b c Knappert, J. "The Mawlid". S.O.A.S. 
  48. ^ "Festivals in India". Festivals in India. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  49. ^ Pakistan Celebrate Eid Milad-un-Nabi with Religious Zeal, Fervor. Pakistan Times. 2007-04-02.
  50. ^ Miladunnabi observed. The New Nation. 2006-04-12.
  51. ^ a b Schielke, Samuli (2012). "Habitus of the authentic, order of the rational: contesting saints' festivals in contemporary Egypt.". Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies 12 (2). 
  52. ^ Knappert, J. "The Mawlid". S.O.A.S.: 209–215. 
  53. ^ Pakistan with Muslims world-over celebrate Eid Milad-un-Nabi tomorrow
  54. ^ Herman Beck, Islamic purity at odds with Javanese identity: the Muhammadiyah and the celebration of Garebeg Maulud ritual in Yogyakarta, Pluralism and Identity: Studies in Ritual Behaviour, eds Jan Platvoet and K. van der Toorn, BRILL, 1995, pg 262
  55. ^ Speight, R Marston (1980). "The nature of Christian and Muslim festivals". Muslim World 70. 
  56. ^ How Does Tunisia Celebrate Al Mawlid? Tunisia Live
  57. ^ Celebrated
  58. ^ "festivals India". Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  59. ^ "Milad Celebrated". The Times of India. 14 May 2003. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  60. ^ TajaNews
  61. ^ Boyd, A. W. (1981). To Praise the Prophet: A processual symbolic analysis of 'Maulidi', a Muslim ritual in Lamu, Kenya. PhD thesis, University of Indiana.
  62. ^ Maulidi Celebrations, Lamu World Heritage Site. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  63. ^ Maulidi: Heart and Soul of Lamu, Kenya Ministry of Tourism website. Retrieved 22 June 2010
  64. ^ Poems for the Prophet in Zanzibar, BBC News Online, 14 October 2008.
  65. ^ Fuji, Chiaki, Ritual Activities of Tariqas in Zanzibar, African Study Monographs, Suppl.41: 91–100, March 2010.
  66. ^ a b Vaiz Zade Khorasani, Muhammad (1996). "Muhammad birthday, Unity Week and 9th International Islamic Unity Conference". Mishkat (51): 4–43. 
  67. ^ Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Institute of Islamic Studies. Days on viewpoint of Imam Khomeini. Tehran: Islamic research center. p. 176. 
  68. ^ Mahmood, M. (2006). The political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Delhi: Kalpaz Publications. p. 112.  
  69. ^ Maréchal, Brigitte; (editors), Sami Zemni (2013). The dynamics of Sunni-Shia relationships : doctrine, transnationalism, intellectuals and the media. London: Hurst. p. 34.  
  70. ^ Kaptein (2007)


  • Schussman, Aviva (1998). "The Legitimacy and Nature of Mawid al-Nabi: (Analysis of a Fatwa)". Islamic Law and Society 5 (2): 214–234.  
  • Kaptein, N.J.G. (1993). Muhammad's Birthday Festival: Early history in the Central Muslim Lands and Development in the Muslim West until the 10th/16th century. Leiden:  
  • Katz, Marion Holmes (2007). The Birth of the Prophet Muḥammad: Devotional Piety in Sunni Islam.  
  • Fuchs, H; Knappert J (2007). "Mawlid (a.), or Mawlud". In P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth.  
  • Kaptein, N.J.G (2007). "Mawlid". In P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs.  

Further reading

  • Malik, Aftab Ahmed (2001). The Broken Chain: Reflections Upon the Neglect of a Tradition. Amal Press.  
  • Hagen, Gottfried, Mawlid (Ottoman), in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014.
  • Picken, Gavin, Mawlid, in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014.
  • Tahir-ul-Qadri, Muhammad (2014). Mawlid al-Nabi: Celebration and Permissibility. Minhaj-ul-Quran Publications.  
  • Ukeles, Raquel. "The Sensitive Puritan? Revisiting Ibn Taymiyya's Approach to Law and Spirituality in Light of 20th-century Debates on the Prophet's Birthday (mawlid al-nabī)." Ibn Taymiyya and His Times, ed. Youssef Rapport and Shahab Ahmed, 319-37. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2010.

External links

  • Reflection on Milad al Nabi
  • Eid Milad Un Nabi – According to Hadith
  • Mawlid from the Encyclopedia of the Orient
  • Beautiful Images of Mawlid
  • Video Mawlid Celebration in Russia
  • Dagestani Muslims celebrate Mawlid, the Prophet's birth
  • Celebrating Birthday of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him)
  • Milad-e Nabi – Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday – Milad-un Nabi Maulid Mevlid
  • Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday – Maulid — by Annemarie Schimmel
  • Prophet Muhammad’s Articles
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