Garissa Muslims pray during the Eid al-Adha celebration in Garissa. It is not recognized by all Muslims. (Photo/Victor Wanaswa)
Muslims in Garissa have called on their fellow worshipers who do not observe Mawlid-al-Nabi, Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, to read well the script so as to understand.
Muslims generally celebrate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad on the 12th day of the third month of the Islamic calendar, called Rabi’ al-Awwal.
Because the lunar calendar advances 11 days each year, the prophet’s birthday changes year to year and falls on Wednesday this year. It begins Tuesday at sunset, and Shiites generally celebrate a few days later.
Not all Muslims celebrate the day because its observance lacks a basis in the Islamic teachings, however. Mawlid al-Nabi (“the Prophet’s Birthday"), as it is called in many countries, is often associated with Sufi strains of Islam.
Some countries, like Saudi Arabia, do not publicly recognize the holiday, viewing it as an unnecessary religious innovation was reportedly given to Halima Sa’dia, who, according to Islamic tradition, witnessed great blessings by taking in the child.Muhammad is believed to have been born inMecca in the year 570 in the tribe of Quraysh.
Speaking at Garissa Primary School grounds after holding a procession to mark the day, Hassan Ngarawa, a cleric of the Ahlsunna Waljamaa Community, called on those who do not observe it to read the Quran well.
Hassan said that those who oppose the celebrations are either ignorant, or they follow in the group of those who are paid to do it every year when the time of celebrations comes.
Speaking in the same function Sheikh Mohammed Farah Wachu urged the two political sites to come to a political agreement for the sake of the country's peace during the festive season. Calling for the cohesion of all religions in the county.
The celebrations have remained a matter of contention among Muslim scholars with those opposed to its commemoration classifying it as Bidi’ah (a religious innovation) – without any basis in Islamic law and should thus be prohibited.
These argue that Allah perfected Islam through the Qur’an and the Sunnah (traditions and sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad both of which are silent on celebrating the day.
There is no record to show that Prophet Muhammad – considered to be the second source of Islamic law – celebrated this day during his lifetime, nor did his early companions.
The earliest celebrations of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday were in the 8th century in Mecca and the first official public celebrations occurred in Egypt in the 11th century.
Shiite Muslims were the first to celebrate the Prophet’s birthday before the Sunni Muslims followed suit in the 12th century.
Other Islamic scholars maintain that while there is no precedent for the celebration, spending the day remembering Prophet Muhammad is something positive since it goes beyond the celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday but a celebration of the Oneness of God and the birth of Islam.