Ayesha Hafeez  -  Eid means “happiness, joy, and festivity”. Eid-Milad-un-Nabi or Mawlid is the celebration of the arrival of Allah’s last Prophet , Muhammad (PBUH). For this reason, 12 Rabiul Awwal has its own significance in Islamic year.

Although the date of Prophet’s birth is a matter of contention between different religious schools of thought as the exact date is unknown and there is no definite record present in Islamic traditions, the majority of Muslims believe 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal is the day when Prophet Muhammad came into the world.

It is said that first public celebrations of Miladul Nabi were held in Egypt at the end of 11th century. In 12th century, it was celebrated under the rule of Noorun Din Zangi in Syria. In 1910 this festival was given an official status as a national festival throughout the Ottoman Empire. Since then Miladul Nabi is an official holiday in many Muslims countries around the world.

In early days Miladun Nabi was celebrated on small scale and only in private gatherings people used to celebrate this occasion. They used to recite Quranic verses and paid Darood-o-Salam on Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  Celebrations usually occurred in the day in contrast to modern day celebrations as time passes it is celebrated on the larger scale and now it has become a full fledge commemoration.

 Miladun Nabi is a public holiday in Pakistan as all the government and private offices and institutions and markets remain closed on this day. This day is celebrated with religious zeal and fervour across the country.

As this day approaches preparation for celebrating Miladun Nabi with great enthusiasm gains momentum. The green colour is usually associated with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and it is said that it was his favourite colour.

Colourful lights are being put up on mosques, shops and even on homes. All the city streets and roads are beautifully decorated with lights and banners bearing the writings about the celebrations of the birthday of the Last Prophet (PBUH).

In Pakistan, this day dawns with thirty-one gun salute in the federal capital and twenty-one gun salutes in all the provincial capitals to pay homage to the last Prophet (PBHU).

Special prayers are offered in the mosques for the flourishing of Islam and Islamic teachings, unity, and solidarity of Muslim Ummah.  Different organizations arrange Mahafil-e-Milad to celebrate the occasion.

Seerat conferences are arranged at federal and provincial levels where renounced Islamic scholars shed light on Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life, teaching and philosophy. Naat and Quran recitation competitions are also held and winners of the competitions are rewarded. 

People organize and participate in special processions in this day. These processions or rallies usually start from the central location of the city and pass through designated routes and end at the starting point. Children make different models of mosques and other holy places in the neighbourhoods.

Candles and oil lamps are also lit up on eve of 12 Rabiul Awwal to welcome Prophet’s arrival. Torchbearers were used to be the essential part of the main procession of Miladun Nabi but these traditions are now fading away.

 These processions include all types of devotees of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to show their love and admiration for him. Most of the people like to donate charity on this day. Food and sweets are also distributed among the poor and needy. Cake cutting ceremonies are arranged on huge levels within cities.

Special security arrangements are made by the law enforcement agencies to make sure no unpleasant incident happens on this day.

On the economic side, such events and celebrations are beneficial for the small industries. Special stalls are set up to sell colourful bunting, flags, Islamic badges and decorative lights in all cities.

Besides the question whether 12 Rabiul Awwal is the birth date of Prophet Muhammad (PBHU) or not, Eid Milad-un-Nabi should be celebrated or not the need of the time is Muslims should focus their energy and resources on the real issues which they are facing across the globe.

Currently, Muslim Ummah is divided even on such issues which had never been the issues. So it is the duty of Muslim scholars and intellectuals to stress on religious harmony and to practice Islam and this can be the most beautiful gift for our beloved Prophet (PBHU).