A look into winter holidays: Mawlid

Graphic by Elizabeth Zu

Written by Katie Russell

Mawlid is an Islamic holiday centered around the celebration of prophet Muhammad’s birth. In 2015, celebrations will occur on Dec. 24 for Sunnis, and Dec. 29 for Shiites. Different sects of Islam disagree on the exact date of the prophet’s birth, so the holiday is commemorated on different days depending on one’s sect. In some places, the holiday is expanded to include the whole week in order to promote unity among all followers of Islam, regardless of sect. Additionally, since Islam is based on the lunar rather than solar calendar, the exact date of the holiday changes each year, but always falls sometime between December and February.

Specific ways of celebrating Mawlid, which is also called Milad-un-Nabi, vary greatly depending on the type of Islam, country and personal preference. Some Muslims choose to fast for the day, while others celebrate Mawlid through parades, carnivals and decorations or through reading the Quran and stories about Muhammad. Mawlid is especially important in Pakistan and Indonesia, where celebrations are elaborate and often last a whole week. Though Mawlid is important to many Muslims, it is not generally considered one of the most notable holidays in Islam. Its celebration has been controversial since some do not consider it to be true to Islam, because it is not commanded by the Quran or the prophet Muhammad.

This winter, Mawlid will be celebrated by Muslims around the Bay Area. Events include a sold-out Maghrib Prayer hosted by the Grand Mawlid Association in San Ramon, a celebration held by the South Bay Islamic Association at Masjid al-Mustafa in San Jose and another at Masjid al-Tawheed in San Francisco.

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