PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS
Prophet Muhammad’s whole life is strewn with examples of mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. Indeed, in the Qur’aan God says, to every nation and every community I have sent a peace maker (call it a Messenger, Avatar or a Prophet) and then adds, I have created you into nations, tribes and different communities, the best among you is the one who does good to the creation; life and matter and then he advises mankind to get to know each other. I believe knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of the other.
Prophet Muhammad defines a good deed is like planting a tree; where you know that by the time that tree matures to give the fruit or the shade, you are not the beneficiary, but someone else is. As we have benefited from legacy we have bequeathed, we have to leave it to the future. The best among us is one who treats life and nature as a trust that we have to preserve, protect and nurture.
I have selected ten representative things that Prophet had initiated that goes towards mitigating conflicts and nurturing goodwill. I bet that you can relate with similar examples of the masters that you are familiar with. His whole life was about Justice and peace making. I will post the presentation in a few days or you can send an email to receive the Journal of Islamic Pluralism: firstname.lastname@example.org
His birthday is called Milaad, Moulood, Eid Milad-un-Nabi, Yom–e-Nabi and other names. Please be aware that not all Muslims celebrate his birthday, it was Prophet’s humility that he asked God to be one’s focus and not him, he said praise the lord and celebrate him and his creation, and he did not celebrate his birthday nor he allowed others to, he said find your joy in gratitude to the eternal one. Of course, when you love someone you cherish them and sometimes you make a God out of them. Indeed, the romantic poetry (Urdu/Hindi) in the subcontinent is laden with it “Mera pyaar kah raha hai, ke tujhe khuda bana loon”, “my love is suggesting me to make a God out of you.” Christians can relate with that thought well when it comes to Christ.
Personally I have been comfortable with each tradition, I believe that as beauty is in the eyes of beholder, faith is in the heart of the believer. I look at the devotion of the person and not the ritual.
Last evening at Milaad Celebrations called, “Texas Mowlid Celebrations” it was euphoric. It was good to see different Muslim denominations come together and rejoice the birth of prophet. It was good to experience the differences and enrich with the diversity of praise to the peace maker. I appreciate the efforts of Dr. Mansoor Mian and Asif Effendi of ILM center in Dallas to bring the communities together.
As a Muslim Pluralist, I tend to see reflections of all faith and traditions in any event I attend or a part of. My mental translator converts things into essence from rituals.
1. The Hare Krishna folks say Lord Krishna appeared on earth rather than born, as he exists in different manifestations. A similar thought was expressed about Muhammad that he was not born, he was always there, and he appeared. Muslims of different hues, have a different take on this.
2. The idea that God became apparent through Muhammad sounds very much like Christian belief about Jesus, through Jesus you come to the lord.
3. One speaker talked about intellectual connection where as the other one talked about divine connection. I guess whatever suits one works for the one. However, this prompted me to share my own experience. When I read Karen Armstrong’s book Muhammad, I saw the man he was, a whole new dimension, someone I can relate with, someone who is human and makes decisions like we all do. Karen narrates this beautifully as how humans strive to bring a balance and sense to the society.
I recommend this book to everyone to read, it is enlightening. She has portrayed him as a human being that he was. Among Muslims we differ about his persona, to some he is divine, to some he is human. To me he was a human and he has made that clear every time… to paraphrase him, “I am like you, I will die like everyone else and be absorbed in the process of nature, do not build a tomb for me, it’s the message of God that I want you to follow, don’t paint my pictures (the picture in this article is his name and it reads Muhammad) you need to remain with and worship God the eternal and not me.” He shared the eternal wisdom of the Golden rule, what is good for you has got to be good for the other and vice versa to sustain harmony and peace.
The cultural part of Milaad is about appreciating and singing songs in praise of Prophet Muhammad, the peace maker. The devotion is identical to Janmashtami (Krishna's appearance) songs and Christmas Carrols. I am sure people of faith can relate with their own celebrations. The essence is appreciation, the rituals are different.
The Singers, called Naat Khwaans, the reciters of poem in praise of the prophet were simply outstanding, particularly the conclusionary one, “Ya Nabi Salaam Aliaka…” I found myself in tune with the chorus (Names of the speakers and singers will be updated when possible).
For Muslims there is lot more depth and meaning to it, but for non-Muslims, this gives them an idea about the festival. It is part of the Pluralism education, so we all can know each other and learns to enjoy each other with our own uniqueness. Years ago, I ran a weekly Radio program called "festivals of the world" and shared about each festival. I try to make it simple enough that most people can get the essence of it.
Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer, speaker, optimist and an activist of Pluralism, Interfaith, Co-existence, Peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His work is reflected at three websites and 22 Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/