The observance of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, called Mawlid an-Nabi, occurs Nov. 9 on the Islamic lunar calendar. This week’s clergy discuss why Muslims worldwide venerate, and some respectfully celebrate, the birth of their religion’s founder.
Faroque A. Khan
Board of trustees chairman, Interfaith Institute of Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury
Prophet Muhammad, who was born around 570 in Mecca in what is present-day Saudi Arabia, is the founder of Islam, now the world’s second-largest religious group with 1.8 billion adherents. The Holy Quran, Islam’s central religious text, was revealed to him in a cave near his birthplace from God through the angel Gabriel.
Muhammad also united most of Arabia and as its leader developed covenants with Christians and Jews living in the Islamic state, ensuring their rights. Thankfully, we have detailed records of Muhammad’s upbringing, marriages and interaction with followers and enemies. His life was marked by compassion, forgiveness and mercy.
The Quran states, "We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all the worlds." (21:107) Muhammad was successful on both the religious and secular levels. In his last sermon before he died in 632, he emphasized gender and racial equality, and said that no one of any race, nationality or creed can be considered superior, except by piety and good action.
Imam, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community with Mosques in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Amityville
The Prophet Muhammad was one of the most influential personalities of all time. He was a beacon of hope for the helpless, a guide for the faithful, a leader for the masses, a father of orphaned children and loyal friend to all.
We celebrate everything the Prophet Muhammad did, and since he never celebrated his own birthday and neither did his disciples, we also do not put extra importance on his birthday. Instead we put our full attention on the holidays he emphasized and celebrated.
The most important thing to know about him is that he sought to establish peace at every level of society. His vision of peace was for every human being to treat everyone with love, respect and kindness. He stood up for the helpless so that their voices could be heard. He guided his disciples to love all creatures of God. He desired for the world to coexist, allowing people of all faiths to practice freely and openly building a truly diverse and fruitful society. According to The Book of Hadith, a collection of the prophet's sayings, he said, "a true Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand all others are safe."
Lecturer in comparative Islamic law
Prophet Muhammad was ranked first in author Michael Hart’s “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” (Citadel, 1978). But in order to love a man you need to know him.
Some of us on Long Island are holding a book-reading event for children in honor of the birth of prophet Muhammad. Families will gather to learn about his virtues and instill the love and legacy of the prophet by singing words of praise and by eating his favorite foods, such as pomegranate, dates, squash and honey. Children will learn the lyrics to the song that the residents sang as the prophet entered Medina, to which he migrated from Mecca. The song is sung in both Arabic and in English. This is a way to honor the man that honored men, women and children. He always honored the dignity of people.
Through his manner, the prophet recognized, acknowledged and nurtured the smallest ounce of good in every single person he met. Even his Meccan neighbor, who threw garbage at him in defiance of his message, could not resist his noble character and embraced the faith.