Holidays and Regular Observances

Are any occasions associated with Muhammad especially important?

Since medieval times Muslims in many countries have celebrated Muhammad’s birthday, Mawlid an-Nabi, on the 12th of Rabi’. Street parties and grand banquets often provide opportunity for prayers and speeches. A very popular part of the festivities is the recitation of a poem by the thirteenth-century Egyptian poet Busiri, the Burda (“mantle,” pronounced BURdah). Translated into Swahili and a number of other languages, the poem sings the Prophet’s praises in truly cosmic terms, attributing to his birth all manner of marvels and blessings. In some places, where festivities are minimized or forbidden altogether, even the Prophet’s birthday is a kind of national holiday. On the 27th of Rajab, Muslims recall the Night Journey and Ascension (Laylat al-Isra wa-’l-Mi’raj). According to traditional accounts, the Prophet experienced this timeless mystical moment sometime during the years just before the Hijra. A major feature of the celebrations is the retelling of any of several narratives that follow Gabriel and Muhammad through the heavens, including descriptions of his meetings and conversations with the other major prophets, each associated with one of the seven celestial levels. During the course of his journey Muhammad received instructions about instituting the five daily ritual prayers.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Religion Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App