MARCH 20 2008
Today marks the day Prophet Muhammad was born nearly 1,500 years ago. An auspicious day for Muslims all over the world. ILI LIYANA MOKHTAR takes a look at just what the day means to Muslims in Malaysia.
Muslims celebrate the birth of the prophet on the 12th day of Rabiul Awal (the first of spring), the third month in the Islamic calendar.As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, the corresponding date in the Gregorian calendar varies each year.
This year, it falls on March 20.
The month of Rabiul Awal is significant to Muslims for various historical reasons. According to Islamic history, Abrahah, the governor of Yemen circa 571AD, attempted to destroy the Kaabah in Mecca with an army that included a large number of elephants.
The raid was unsuccessful, but because it was customary to name a year after a major event, the year became known as the "Year of the Elephant". It was in this year that Prophet Muhammad was born."
The most important part of Maulidur Rasul is remembering the prophet's good deeds, his teachings, his wisdom and how he forgave his most bitter enemies," said Department of Islamic Development officer Munir Salleh.
Also known as Maulud Nabi in Arabic, the day is observed with marhaban (recitations of praises and blessings) and salawat (salutations to the prophet).
Talks are held in mosques and Muslim organisations take the time to commemorate the prophet's life and exemplary character.
First celebrated in the 13th century for a month, the holiday was observed with sermons, honouring of religious dignitaries and reciting verses from the Quran. Sumptuous feasts were also prepared to be distributed to the poor.
Locally, Maulidur Rasul is celebrated, at the national and district levels, with processions while reciting marhaban and salawat.
Awards are also given out to people who have contributed to the community.
Some local mosques around the Klang Valley conduct activities one week before the day, such as forums, intellectual discussions with Muslim scholars and special prayers.
For many, observing Maulidur Rasul is an expression of love they have for the prophet.
More than anything, such gatherings reach and remind the Ummah of the prophet's life and his call to virtue.