By Umer Sultan| Loudspeakers were set, and the entire neighborhood was echoing…
This post is not like the other Mawlid posts debating whether it is appropriate to do it or not. I am not qualified to speak on such topic, however, I do want to share a story of mine from last year. Before that a little about what is Milad/Mawlid for people who don’t know.
Mawlid (or Milad as known to South Asians) is celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, on the 12th of Rabi‘ al-awwal (ربيع الأوّل) the third month of the Islamic Lunar Calender. It is similar to the Christmas by Christians, okay may be not similar but the same concept, hence similar. People gather in Mawlid to praise the Prophet. Mawlid gatherings differ by cultures. Other Muslims consider it to be having no basis in Islam thus an Innovation (Bidah) in religion, hence condemned. That is the brief intro to what Mawlid is for those who heard this word for the first time.
So last year I was in Karachi around this time of the year. There was a Mawlid gathering in our neighborhood and my father was invited as well. At first I did not want to go because there are a lot of wrong and unfounded practices that usually take place in such gatherings at least in South Asian Mawlid gatherings. However, some family members told me to attend as I will learn something new since I was very young when I moved out of Karachi. So I tagged along with my father to experience it. An Experience it was indeed…
After we prayed Maghrib Salah (Prayer after sunset) at the Masjid we went straight to the house where Mawlid was arranged. Loudspeakers were set, and the entire neighborhood was echoing with the Na’at (poetry in praise of the Prophet). It was hard for me to enter the house as the speakers were right at the entrance.
Men and women were in separate rooms. We sat in the Men’s area. I came to know that the Na’at reciter was a well known reciter nationally. Sorry I didn’t bother to remember his name. There were more pressing needs on my mind at that moment.
The Na’at reciter was reciting poetry in praise of the Prophet, peace be upon him. Every now and then I would look at my father’s face with questionable eyes meaning to ask him:
“Everything about this gathering is wrong. People here consider beard to be the sign of backwardness. Hijab is non-existent among their woman so what is the point of praises when the one who is being praised in disregarded and his teachings ignored and even made fun off.”
No I didn’t say anything. People were really feeling the praises though. Room echoed with “Naray Risalat, Ya Rasulullah” **(Slogan of Messengership, Oh Messenger of Allah). Then came the Adhan (call for prayer) for Isha Salah (Nighly Prayer) from the nearby Mosque.
In Karachi, the norm is that the Iqamah (congregation) starts after 15 minutes of the Isha Adhan. So I figured that there was only 10 more minutes of this left with 5 minutes for walking to the Masjid…then it was 10 minutes left and I figured that okay there was only 5 more minutes of this with 5 more minutes for walking…and then there were only 5 minutes left in Iqamah and my father, me, and two other uncles looked each other as why the Mawlid is not having a break. It took us a minute or two to conclude that something has to be done and it gotto happen at that moment.
So we made eye contact and we stood up and we broke the Mawlid etiquette. We got looks from the rest of the people and we cared about their looks as worth nothing. One of the uncle told the host that we have to pray Salah as that is an obligation. Host didn’t mind, but moreover he didn’t even care to have a break in the Mawlid. We walked super fast to the Masjid at 5 minutes distance, while Na’at Reciter continued his praises, for which he was getting wage, and preferred his praises over Salah with Jama’ah.
This is one of the many stories that take place every year in Sub-continent, one of which I experienced myself and thought of sharing with others. What else happened in that gathering is unknown to me as we went home instead of joining the company of those who prefer their own religious gatherings over the teachings of the Messenger of Allah, which they so claim to praise.
This is why Ulema of the Sub-Continent (especially of the Waliullah tradition) discourage people not to attend prevalent Mawlid (Milad) gatherings because of the practices that are common place in such gatherings.
May Allah guide us and help us in understanding the true purpose of the Last Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and save us from making Islam a thing of play and business as some people have made it to be.
Hakeemul-Ummat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi rahimullah, stated in the end of a detail discussion on this issue:
“…in the best interest of keeping order in the religion, it is necessary to abstain in this regard. This is because this is not from the necessary elements of faith nor is any necessary aspect of the faith dependent upon it. This type of mubah gathering has, in the past, led to [the development of] corrupt traits similar to what can be seen [occurring nowadays] as ignorance is gaining prominence on a daily basis. This is why the dignity of taqwa (piety) is in abstaining. And Allah Most High knows best, His knowledge is Most Perfect and He is Most Wise.” [Deoband.org]
Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani,
Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani, Grand Mufti of Pakistan
Mufti Abdul Rauf Sakharvi (Damat Barakatuhum)