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Date [ 2013-01-04, 11:40 ]

 

 

Known by various names in different parts of the world, it is a celebration uniting Muslims


 

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) by Ramani = The birthday of Prophet Muhammad is roughly known by 21 other names. In Malaysia, the Muslims call it Maulud Nabi and is taken as a purely religious festival. The day is also designated as a public holiday and to make sure Malaysian Muslims observe the sanctity of the day, the  Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) on decides on a theme for each year.


In addition to having different names, the occasion is also celebrated on different days. It  falls in the month of Rabi' al-awwal in the Islamic calendar. Shias observe the event on the 17th of the month, coinciding with the birth date of their sixth Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq and the Prophet Muhammad. The Sunnis observe it on the 12th of the month.  Malaysia is Sunni and this year  had the birthday takes place on January 24, 2012.


The basic earliest accounts for the observance of Maulud can be found in 8th century Mecca, when the house in which Prophet 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. It should be noted that public celebrations of the birth of Muhammad did not occur until four centuries after his passing away.


Islamic scholars are divided on whether observing Maulud is necessary or even permissible in Islam. Some see it as a praiseworthy event and positive development, while others say it is an improper innovation and forbid its celebration.



Primary scholars subscribing to Sufi Islam, have given their approval for the observance of Maulud Nabi. They suggest that fasting on Mondays is also a way of commemorating Muhammad's birthday. It is felt that although not practiced in the early years of Islam, the remembrance of the Prophet's birthday is a "good innovation." They see it as a time to read the Qur'an, and remember the life, teachings and example of the Prophet Muhammad.


The Day

The procession at Putra Jaya
Early in the morning, at mosques  after the compulsory dawn prayers, some Muslims will sit together and recite verses from the Al-Quran. This will be followed by recitations of the "tahlil" and songs of praise and goodwill, known as "salawat and salam", to Prophet Mohamad . Following an hour of this, they will all usually  go for  breakfast  at home. Then it is time to go to the place of gathering. This will be a stadium, field or some other open ground. This is where the official Maulidur Rasul ceremony and events will be held.

It is normal for royalty to officiate at the  opening ceremony. In Malaysian states, it will be the Sultan who will do this. In the capital of Kuala Lumpur, it will be the Yang Di-Pertaun Agiong or the Prime Minister. In Kuala Lumpur, one usual place of start wikk be Stadium Merdeka. But nowadays it has moved to the administrative capital – Putra Jaya.

The event usually starts with a doa (prayer) to ask for Allah’s guidance and to ensure the success of the celebrations. Then there will be speeches by the organizers and dignitaries after which the Agong will be invited to officially open the Maulud Nabi celebrations.

What then follows is a recitation ("tilawah") of the Al-Quran by a famed Al-Quran reader called a qari (male) or qariah (female), and it sometimes include a recitation by a child.

This is followed by singing of religious songs (or "nasheed" in Malay) by religious groups or choisr, including the rhythmic and melodious marhaban, qasidah, and berzanji. Pantomimes and pantodrama on religious events are also sometimes performed.

A short lecture ("tazkirah") or talk by a noted religious personality, is also included as part of the programme, usually on a topic associated with the life and times of the Prophet Mohamed (pbuh). The highlight of the celebrations will be the presentation of awards to those who have contributed much to the community and society.

Then comes the procession led by the Agong and other dignitaries. Kompang (drum beaters will lead the procession as accompaniment to religious songs being sung. Placards and banners add dignity to the procession. During this time, the  praises or "salawat" to the Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) is continuously uttered by all. In rural areas and country towns, it includes going to each Muslim home and ask the residents to join in the procession.  The procession will finally wind up at a designated spot. All will go home, happy in the thought that they have paid their respects to the Prophet and renewed their faith stronger.

ramani@koreanpress.net

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