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Asking the Clergy: How will you commemorate Prophet Muhammad's birthday?

From left, Faroque A. Khan of the Interfaith

From left, Faroque A. Khan of the Interfaith Institute of Long Island, Sanaa Nadim, chaplain of the Islamic Society Interfaith Center at Stony Brook University, and Mahmood Kauser of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Credit: From left: Newsday / John Paraskevas; Newsday / John H. Cornell Jr.; Mahmood Kauser

On Oct. 29, Muslims the world over will observe Eid Milad un-Nabi, a day that celebrates the life of Prophet Muhammad. This week’s clergy discuss how they will honor the founder of Islam by praying, holding "Life of the Prophet" conferences and hosting programs on improving race relations.

Faroque A. Khan

Chairman, Interfaith Institute of Long Island

Prophet Muhammad lived from 570 to 632. The prophet’s tradition and legacy are indelibly printed in the hearts of more than a billion people worldwide. He was a remarkable man and is an example for all of humanity and a role model. He excelled in all walks of life by being a prophet and a ruler.

Shortly before his death, Prophet Muhammad delivered the "Final Sermon." This sermon set the agenda for his followers, Muslims. He highlighted women’s rights, justice, trust, race relations and accountability in the hereafter. He said, "All mankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white; except by piety and good action." (Quran 49:13)

I will commemorate this birthday by working on improving race relations, advocating justice for all and helping to break barriers between individuals and communities. The Interfaith Institute has held and plans more programs highlighting these issues. Though the prophet’s soul has left this world, his words and actions live in our hearts.

Sanaa Nadim

Chaplain, Islamic Society Interfaith Center, Stony Brook University

Muslims cherish Prophet Muhammad, the Messenger of Islam. A rudimentary practice in our tradition is to forge a deep spiritual connection with the prophet.

Despite wide-ranging beliefs and values, Muslims deeply respect and honor the life of Prophet Muhammad and strive, in their own practice, to uphold his legacy. This system of beliefs is reflected through various celebrations on his birthday. Muslims will decorate their mosques and indulge in a variety of candies and delicacies. We will often recite spiritual songs and will remember the prophet through a recitation of parables from his life. These stories from his life are a way to understand his manners, morals and behavior — mainly in the face of hardship and struggle — to communicate lessons in perseverance, patience and trust in Allah.

Muslims believe that the archangel Gabriel revealed the Quran, our holy book, to the prophet; this miracle is a universal message of mercy to humankind. Alongside their five daily prayers, Muslims will recite commemorative prayers and poetry. Surah Al Ahzab, the 33rd chapter of the Quran, describes how Allah and his angels bestow honor on the prophet. As Muslims, we strive in kind — at no greater time than his birthday.

Mahmood Kauser

Imam, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community with mosques in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Amityville

Celebrating birthdays began with the Egyptian and Greek pagans who honored the birth of their leaders. Islam, however, has no formal celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad or any of his companions.

The commemoration of the prophet’s life on the 12th day of the Lunar calendar month of "Rabi’ul Awal," which this year falls on Oct. 29, has recently been a cause of disagreement among Muslims. Some Muslim sects believe there should be no mention of even the name of the Prophet Muhammad on that day, while others have lavish parties and eat grand cakes.

As a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, we choose to take the middle route. We believe that we should all remember the countless contributions toward peace and harmony that the holy Prophet Muhammad strived for while also spending a great deal of effort in educating the rest of the world about his true character and personality. We celebrate with "Life of the Prophet" conferences, on a day dedicated to sharing the beautiful stores and examples of the prophet with friends and neighbors.

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