Muslims in Malawi will tomorrow February 5 be celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (saw).
The celebration is known as Mawlid in idiomatic Arabic, and it is a national holiday in all Muslim countries except Saudi Arabia.
In Malawi, Muslims also asked the government to declare this day a public holiday, as it is the case with the Christmas day where Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
As usual, the occasion will be celebrated in all major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.
In Blantyre, people will march from Kanjedza Masjid to Mpingwe Sports Club.
Last year, the event attracted over 100,000 people, the number, which according to Muhammad Nathanie spokesperson for this year’s event says it is expected to increase.
Mawlid falls on the 12th day of the month of Rabii Al-Awwal in the Islamic calendar.
Last year, the event was celebrated on February 15, 2011 since the Islamic calendar follows the lunar cycle the date of the day celebration changes annually in the Gregorian or Western calendar.
Celebrating the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday has been controversial with some Muslim scholars calling it a Bidah (innovation).
Scholars argue that neither did the Prophet nor did he encourage his followers to celebrate his birthday.
However, according to Nathanie, the event brings no any harm to the religion as it is just one way of showing love to the Prophet.
“In this month, a lot of things happened. The migration of the Prophet from Makah to Madina. His daughter Asma was born in this month, 6 years before the prophecy. Abubakri Sadik was also chosen as a Khalifa in this month. Battle of Buwaat also fought in the same month. So there are a lot worthy celebrating apart from his birthday,” he said.
Salafists and the Sunni community, also denounce the celebration of the holiday, as they consider it heretical.
“There is nothing in the Muslim Shariaa or in the Holy Quran that compels Muslims to celebrate the prophet Mohammed’s birthday. This meal could be prepared at any time of the year,” the Tunisia Live quoted Yassine, a young Tunisian Salafist as saying.
However, the performers claim that there are two innovations in Islam, good and bad and the celebration falls under the good innovation.
According to the research, the celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (saw) began in Egypt in the 11th century, and featured rituals that included animal sacrifices, torchlight processions, and public sermons.
The practice was later adopted in Syria, and gradually spread throughout a number of Muslim countries.
However, in spite of the differing perspectives regarding the appropriateness of commemorating the holiday, many Muslims in Malawi celebrate by organizing special sermons to honor the Prophet’s birth. Some decorate their houses and their cars.
Reporting by Marshall Dyton in Liwonde