12 Rabi‘ al-Awwal is commemorated as the date of birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It was on this day that the Mercy for All Worlds was sent to this world. This undoubtedly makes this date a very special one.
Now, how this day is to be celebrated is the question. Although we do not find any record in the life of the Holy Prophetsa or even his rightly-guided Khulafa of this day being celebrated as such, but the love that every Muslim has in their heart for the Holy Prophetsa demands that they celebrate the day in one way or the other.
We have to look towards the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophetsa to seek guidance in how the Holy Prophetsa has been mentioned in both these sources, and these will shed light on how to show love and respect for the greatest man ever to have lived in this world.
The Holy Quran, on several occasions instructs that Allah and His prophet must be obeyed in all matters. This means that obeying and following the Holy Prophetsa in every situation and condition of our lives is the Quranic way of showing love, as well as proving our claim of allegiance to this great prophet of God. Thus, following the teachings of the Holy Quran, this blessed day should be celebrated by peering into our hearts to see whether we are following this command of Allah.
Then, in the Ahadith, the Holy Prophetsa is reported to have said that whosoever obeys him, obeys Allah, and whosoever does not obey the Holy Prophet, disobeys Allah. This makes it even more incumbent upon every Muslim to ensure that every order, instruction and advice of the Holy Prophetsa is being followed to the letter, thus ensuring that we are following the teachings of Allah. What better purpose could this day serve than putting us in self-analysis mode and reflecting on how far we have been able to live up to the expectations set for us by our beloved master, Prophet Muhammadsa.
In another Hadith, the Holy Prophetsa is reported to have said that blessings should be invoked whenever his name is mentioned or heard. So another great way of celebrating the day of the Holy Prophet’s birth is to invoke Durood on him. This would naturally mean that mention of the Holy Prophetsa is done excessively on this day, so as to create the chance of invoking more blessings on him; mentioning means to remind one another of his teachings and this cannot go without bringing about positive results in our lives.
It is rather unfortunate that some Muslim circles have started celebrating this day on the same pattern as birthdays are celebrated in materialistic societies. Cakes and candles, show and pomp and noisy parties with no outcome have become the highlight of some of the “birthday celebrations” that can be seen in the Muslim world, more so through the Pakistani media. What is even more unfortunate is that stray-firing from roof-tops and rallies of rogue motorcyclists is seen all in the name of celebrating the Milad al-Nabi (birth of the Holy Prophetsa).
It was shocking to read in The Times of India that a mob marched the streets in a city in India, in the name of celebrating the Milad, where some were dressed as Hindu deities. What can such a bewildering act have to do with celebrating the birth of the person who taught and practised respect for other religions all his life? In the first place, the Holy Quran clearly states that disrespect should not be shown towards gods of other faiths; then, this injunction of the Holy Quran was practised to its best by the Holy Prophetsa.
Putting both aside, some choose to act extremely otherwise and yet associate such rallies to the Holy Prophetsa. There have been reports in the Pakistani media in the past years where two groups – both claiming to be Muslims – fired gunshots at each other’s processions of Milad; all this in the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa who taught love, peace and harmony; who showed through his example that human life was to be held in the highest ranks of sanctity, respect and esteem.
This violent way of “celebration” has a history, and with it is associated the history of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat’s celebration of the advent of the Holy Prophetsa.
The 1920s witnessed the height of communal tensions in India. It had become customary to insult the founders of opposing faiths. The Arya had been at the forefront of doing so and had produced extremely inflammatory literature that deeply hurt the feelings and sentiments of Muslims across the country. Many Muslim sections, unfortunately, chose to react in a similar fashion: rallying in the streets, vandalising public property, torching vehicles and shouting abusive slogans about other religions. The then head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmadra, ran a countrywide campaign calling all Muslims not to retaliate with aggression, but to hold conferences and Jalsas to raise awareness about the person and character of the Holy Prophetsa of Islam. Huzoorra strongly believed that other than mischievous miscreants, most adherents of other religions stigmatised the Holy Prophetsa for their lack of knowledge and awareness about his blessed character.
This peaceful but powerful campaign lodged by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra in 1927 laid the foundation for what we know today as “Jalsa Sirat al-Nabi”; Jalsas that are regularly held across the world by many countries at local, regional and national levels of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. It was this initiative that proved to the world that the Jamaat not only commemorated the day of the Holy Prophet’ssa birth, rather it chose to expand this commemoration to every day of the year, as it continues to do today.
How Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra reacted to the blasphemous attacks on the holy character of the Holy Prophetsa is briefly outlined in another article of this issue. This approach of raising awareness about the blessed model and character of the Holy Prophetsa has been upheld in the times of all Khulafa of the Promised Messiahas.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa has always urged Muslims to take the same approach when the character of the Holy Prophetsa of Islam is under attack by the anti-Islamic circles of the world: raise awareness about the beautiful life and practices of the Holy Prophetsa.
A series of sermons by Huzoor on this issue are a must read for not only Ahmadis but every Muslim of the world. (Access these sermons at www.alislam.org/blessedmodelandcaricatures)
اَللّٰهُمَّ صَلِّ عَليٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَّ عَليٰ اٰلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَليٰ اِبْرَاهِيْمَ وَ عَليٰ اٰلِ اِبْرَاهِيْمَ اِنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَّجِيْدٌ
اَللّٰهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَليٰ مُحَمَّدٍ وَّ عَليٰ اٰلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَليٰ اِبْرَاهِيْمَ وَ عَليٰ اٰلِ اِبْرَاهِيْمَ اِنَّكَ حَمِيْدٌ مَّجِيْدٌ