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Millions Worldwide Celebrate the Birth Date of Prophet Muhammad (S)

Muslims around the world celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s (s) birthday at a time when his legacy is most in need of embracing.

During the third month of the Islamic lunar calendar, the final messenger of God stepped foot on this Earth, and over 14 centuries later, Muslims learn and live by his spiritual teachings, impeccable character, and exemplary leadership.

His name was Muhammad, which means “the praiseworthy” and it is the most popular name in the world. As the most highly revered figure in Islam, Prophet Muhammad (S) is a  living example of faith in action for Muslims around the world, and his teachings are timeless codes of conduct for all of humanity.

What was Prophet Muhammad (S) like?

At a first glance, the character of the Prophet seems dichotomous. He was a strong warrior who was the most merciful and kind toward people, especially women and children. He exemplified the highest levels of human dignity, and yet he was the most humble. He was rich in spirituality, but down to earth. He was relentless in his pursuit of justice and truth, but he was also compassionate beyond measure. Only an individual with such a delicate balance of character in every situation could have exhibited the flawless leadership and keen foresight he possessed. 

Above all else, the Prophet was known for his honesty, trustworthiness and piety from a very young age. Throughout his prophethood, he was recognized for his humility and simplicity. 

Contrary to the materialistic and self-conceited image associated with those in positions of power, the Prophet was always one with the people – especially the poor and marginalized in society. Even when sitting amongst his companions, he could not be distinguished except through his wisdom, spirituality, and behavior.

The Prophet also showcased the epitome of just leadership and truth-seeking. While he has wrongly been associated with violence in Western depictions, the Prophet was a pragmatic leader whose mercy encompassed all those around him. He never ignored or stepped on the rights of anyone – even his enemies. In fact, he promoted learning from all walks of life, and redefined what it means to be on the side of the truth. In one hadith, the Prophet says, “Accept a true statement even if it is said by your enemy; and do not accept an unreasonable statement even if it comes from a close friend.”

Why is he misunderstood? 

Though he is the most prominent figure in Islam and the best role model for humanity, the Prophet is also highly misunderstood and misrepresented – by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Perhaps the greatest irony in the Muslim world is that the Prophet’s teachings are often forgotten until it is time to celebrate his birth or commemorate his death. Even further, it could be argued that the lack of effort on Muslims’ part to learn and follow the true example of the Prophet is partly to blame for the wrong perceptions non-Muslims have of the Prophet of Islam.

Accepting that the Prophet’s message was timeless means recognizing that his teachings are more relevant today than ever before. In the words of Sayyed Musa Sadr, “Islam is not knowing what the Prophet said 14 centuries ago, but to know what he would say today.” 

While repeating the same narrations from the Prophet every year is a nice way to remember him, it is far from doing his legacy its true justice. The Prophet’s message is the ultimate truth, and at a time when distinguishing truth from falsehood is becoming increasingly difficult, his teachings must become Muslims’ guiding light in every aspect of their daily lives.

How do Muslims celebrate?

Muslims around the globe mark the birthday of the Holy Prophet, or Mawlid an-Nabi, with community festivals, masjid celebrations, and family gatherings. A majority of Muslim states have designated it as a national holiday, one that is marked by local festivities as families decorate their homes and streets, prepare communal meals, participate in marches, and attend masjid gatherings to commemorate the legacy of the Prophet of Islam. 

In Western states, Muslims bring to life the spirit of Mawlid every year with community events and celebrations that engage families and children in festivities and fairs. In recent years, many Muslim families have consciously decided to scale up their efforts in celebrating the Prophet’s birth anniversary so that their children are raised appreciating and revering Islamic holidays as part of their Muslim identity in the West.

Whether it’s in the East or the West, Mawlid celebrations revive the spirit of unity among Muslims of all sects, emphasizing their shared faith and common principles. In this way, the Holy Prophet is a unifying figure in the Muslim world and beyond, a reality reflected in his teachings and Sunnah, or his traditions and practices that constitute the authentic Islamic way of life and serve as an example for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

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  • Sarah Katib

    Sarah Katib is a multi-platform journalist who specializes in writing and research on international affairs, contemporary social issues, and Muslim identity in the West.

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