“Barawafat”, also popularly known as “Milad-Un-Nabi” is a festival celebrated by Muslim community throughout the globe. It is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. The festival of Barawafat is flamboyantly celebrated by the Muslim community, in the Islamic calendar month of Rabi-al-Awwal, which is the third month.
The exact date of celebration varies for Shia and Sunni clans of Muslim faith. The festival is popularly known as “Mawlid” in Malaysia, where it is celebrated with flamboyance and enthusiasm.
Barawafat (Milad-Un-Nabi) 2019
Barawafat or Milad-Un-Nabi 2019 will be celebrated on Sunday, 10th November, 2019 as per Sunni Muslims, while Sia Muslims will observe Barawafat on Friday, 15th November, 2019.
When is Barawafat Celebrated?
Barawafat is celebrated in the Islamic calendar month of Rabi-Al-Awwal, the third month of Islamic calendar. However, the exact date of Prophet Muhammad’s birth varies with the Sunni and Sia clans of Muslim community. Sunni scholars accept the 12th day of Rabi-Al-Awwal as the birth date of Prophet Muhammad, while Sia scholars believe 17th day of Rabi-Al-Awwal as his birth date.
Coincidentally, the date on which Prophet Muhammad was born and the date on which he died are the same. The name “Barawafat” is derived from “Barah”, meaning twelve, a possible reference to the 12 days of Prophet’s sickness in the month of Rabi-Al-Awwal.
“Milad-Un-Nabi” is an Urdu phrase, which literally means – “birth of the Prophet”. However, the other popular name “Mawlid” has Arabic roots, meaning to give birth.
The Story/Legend of Prophet Muhammad
The name of Prophet Muhammad was Muhammad Abdullah, and he was born to Amna Khatoon in 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca. He was the founder of Islamic religion and the last prophet of the theory of oneness (monotheistic) after Adam, Jesus, Abraham and other prophets.
Muhammad was orphaned at the age of six, and was brought up by paternal grandfather Abu Talib and his wife Fatima bint Asad. While young, Muhammad would escape from every day chores to pray for long hours in the Hira cave, in the vicinity of the city of Mecca.
Enlightenment came to him when he was 40. He is believed to be visited by Gabriel (an angel) in the cave. The time was around 610 CE and it was then when Gabriel revealed the beginning of Quran to Muhammad.
Later, Muhammad started publically preaching the revelations. He projected himself as the messenger of God and professed the theory of “God is one” and that complete submission to Islam is the only feasible solution.
Initially Muhammad’s followers were few and he faced formidable opposition from Meccan Polytheists, who believed in multiple deities. In 615 CE, to save his followers from getting prosecuted, Muhammad sent them to the Kingdom of Aksum, which constitutes modern day northern Ethiopia and state of Eritrea.
After seven years, in 622 CE, Prophet Muhammad and his followers migrated to the city of Medina, 300 Km north of Mecca. This particular event of Prophet Muhammad’s escape from Mecca, reportedly fearing assassination, is called “Hegira” and marks the beginning of Islamic Hijri calendar.
Shortly after his arrival to Medina, Prophet Muhammad derived a Charter of Medina, also called the Constitution of Medina. He united various tribes of Medina and led many intermittent fights between Medina and Mecca Tribes. In December 629, Muhammad gathered an army of 10000, and marched to the city of Mecca. The army constituted of the Muslims converted from other faiths.
Muhammad’s conquest of Mecca faced less opposition and his army won with minimal bloodshed. In 632 CE, he went on a farewell pilgrimage (Hajj) with all his wives, nominating Abu Dujana Ansari as the governor of Mecca, during his absence. In the turn of events Muhammad died of an illness, few months after his return from pilgrimage. By the time of his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula was successfully converted to Islam.
The revelations from God (Allah) that Muhammad reportedly received until his death formed the verses of Holy Quran.
History of Barawafat Festival
The festival of Barawafat or Milad-Un-Nabi is supposedly celebrated since 11th century. The festival was observed by Shia Islamic Fatimid Caliphate, which spanned over a large area of North Africa. Prophet Muhammad’s followers, who have received the teachings, used to sing songs and poetries to the people in Muhammad’s honor. The festival was first declared an official holiday in Turkey in 1588 and was called by the name “Mevlid Kandil”.
Ancient – Modern Celebration of Barawafat
During the ancient days, Barawafat or Mawlid was mostly celebrated privately. Later, it started getting celebrated as a community festival of Muslims, as a counter measure against Christian festivals. The early celebrations of Barawafat had Sufi influence and were celebrated with candle marches and sermon recitations of Quran.
Modern day celebration of Barawafat has become more flamboyant with large scale display of festive fervor and enthusiasm. It has taken the form of a grand celebration, like a big fair with many entertainment and religious activities being performed simultaneously.
How is Barawafat Celebrated?
Barawafat is enthusiastically celebrated in all the countries with significant Muslim population, like – India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Russia etc. However, the countries of Qatar and Saudi Arabia don’t celebrate Barawafat, because they follow the doctrine of Wahhabism and Salafism, which disapprove the commemoration stating it as unnecessary. In all the rest of countries, it is celebrated with much glow and fanfare by both the Shia and Sunni Muslim communities.
Barawafat is celebrated like a carnival. Long street processions are taken out by the believers of Muslim faith. People of Muslim faith decorate their homes and mosques. Hundreds of devotees carrying green colored flags could be seen in the procession.
The teachings of Prophet Muhammad and the verses of Quran are recited; also food and clothes are celebrated to the needy. In general, the celebration of Barawafat looked like a fair with many simultaneous activities; though, at the core of the celebrations, there is love and respect for Prophet Muhammad.
Feasting is also an important part of celebrations. Various dishes especially desserts have a special place in the celebrations. Desserts prepared from honey, fermented butter and dry fruits are very popular in North Africa. Various kinds of soups are also prepared as delicacies during the festival. Family and friends gather together to feast on the delicacies.
In the Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, the celebration commence with 13 gun salutes and also with 21 gun salutes in provincial capitals followed by singing of religious hymns and rhymes.
In India, Barawafat or Milad-Un-Nabi is celebrated with special fervor in Hazratbal shrine at Srinagar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Night long prayers are held at the shrine which contains an ancient relic of Prophet Mohammed.
Such overnight celebrations and long congregations are taken out on Barawafat, in other Indian cities of Hyderabad, Agra, Hubballi, Mumbai, Firozabad, Aligarh, Muzzafarnagar etc.
Significance of Barawafat Festival
Prophet Muhammad is believed to be the founder of Islam and his birthday is celebrated as Barawafat or Milad-Un-Nabi on the 12th day of Rabi-Al-Awwal by Sunni Muslims and on the 17th day of Rabi-Al-Awwal by Shia Muslims.
On this day, teachings of Prophet Muhammad and verses of Holy Quran are recited in mosques as well as Muslim household. It is the day of public gathering, where people take part in congregations. Parents, teach their children about the life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad. It gives children a chance to connect with their religious doctrine and understand their beliefs.
Apart from the recitation of holy Quran and the teachings of Muhammad, the festival is also recognized by delicious dishes prepared especially during Milad-Un-Nabi. Family and friends gather for feasting and food is also given to the poor. There is also a custom of distributing clothes and other usable articles to the poor and needy.