Observed in Most but not all countries with Muslim populations
Observed on Twelfth of Rabbi al-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar
Observed by Muslims

Introduction
Mouloud is celebrated by most Muslims to mark the birth of Muhammad in 570. The actual date of his birth, however, is disputed. Sunni Muslims celebrate it on the 12th day of Rabbi al-Awwal, whereas the Shia Muslims celebrate it on the 17th. But this day also marks the death anniversary of Muhammad-Barah Wafat, which means “12 days before death”-referring to the 12 days of Muhammad’s illness. This dual observance causes the celebrations to be somewhat somber.
Throughout the month of Rabbi al-Awwal, and especially on this day, Muslims organize Milad-alNabi (“Birth of Muhammad”) functions and Mehfil-e-Milad (“gatherings”). The main purpose of these gatherings is to celebrate Muhammad’s birth and teachings, and learned men deliver sermons on his life and noble teachings. Stories are told about different aspects of Muhammad’s life- his birth, childhood, youth, and adulthood.
Milad is derived from the word mawlid, which means “the time, date, or place of birth,” or “the celebration of an individual’s birthday,” especially that of Muhammad. A typical Mehfil-e-Milad consists of the following events:
• Recitation of the Koran
• Hamd-e-Allah Taala
• Naat-e-Rasul
• Speeches on the life of Muh
ammad
• Salat (darood)-o-Salam • Dua
• Distribution of sweets or dinner

The gathering begins with recitations from the Koran. Hamd-e-Allah Taala refers to praising Allah or God, who, according to the Koran, resides in the heart of every momin, or believer. Naat-e-Rasul is the way to praise Allah, using poems or rhymes.
The Koran says, “Allah did confer a great favor on the believers when he sent among them an apostle from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the signs of Allah, sanctifying them, and instructing them in scripture and wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error” (verse 164).
Thus Muhammad is an intrinsic part of the worship of Allah, and no one can ignore him. Remembering his teachings and his eventful life constitutes the main part of Mehfil-e-Milad. Muslims believe that if Muhammad had not come into this world, there would have been no Islam, no namaz (required daily prayers), no hajj, and no Ramadan. Salat (darood)-o-Salam refers to crying out to Muhammad while standing. Dua is offering prayers to Muhammad.
The prayers and readings are often followed by sweets or dinner, but food is not required.
In some countries, streets and mosques are decorated for Muhammad’s birthday and illuminated at night. Muslims also donate to charity to show their respect for Muhammad. Families gather, large meals are arranged, and food is served to the poor as well as guests and family. Apart from these gatherings, there are other aspects of this day. One of them is a representation of Buraq, the horse on which Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven, which is anointed with sandalwood paste and scented powder and beautifully decorated. The essence of celebrating Muhammad’s birthday is remembering the favors bestowed on one’s ummah, or community, by Muhammad, the most important of which was the revelation of the Koran with its instructions.

Origins and History
Muhammad belonged to the Quraysh tribe, one of the richest and most powerful tribes in Mecca. He was born in 570, 53 years before the Hijrah (Hegira).
Controversy about the exact date of his birth continues, but most scholars agree that he was born on a Monday. This fact is mentioned in an authentic Hadith-the narration of events in Muhammad’s life-approved by Muhammad himself. Muhammad served a wealthy widow named Khadijah whom he eventually married. This union proved to be happy, and they remained together for 26 years. After Khadijah’s death Muhammad took other wives.
It is said that from about 610. Muhammad began to receive divine revelations through the angel Gabriel (Jibril). After he began to spread the word of Islam he gathered a few followers around him, but the Meccans became hostile and persecuted Muhammad and his followers. To escape the violence of the Meccans Muhammad and his followers fled to the city of Medina in 622. From being the leader of a religious minority, Muhammad went on to rule Medina.
Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina is known as the Hegira and marks the beginning of the Islamic era. The religion started spreading, and more and more Arabian tribes accepted Islam as their faith and Muhammad as their leader. So powerful was Muhammad’s influence that even the Meccans relented and embraced Islam in 630. In 632 Muhammad led a pilgrimage to Mecca, where he preached his farewell sermon. Soon after, he fell ill and died at the age of 63.
Not all Muslims believe that Muhammad’s birthday should be celebrated or recognized in any way. It is generally believed that the celebration of Milad alNabi was first observed around the 13th century, but some conservative sects, such as the Wahhabi, centered in Saudi Arabia, consider the celebration to be idolatrous. Neither Muhammad nor his companions or early followers celebrated or observed his birthday.
In fact, Muhammad warned his followers against mimicking other faiths, whose adherents believe their prophets are divine and, by so doing, drift away from the original teachings and values of the religion. The Sunnah does not say anything about the celebration of Muhammad’s “assumed” birthday, and conservative Muslims denounce the celebration of Mouloud as an imitation of Christianity and, therefore, idolatry.
Muhammad himself commanded all his people to live differently from Jews and Christians, warning them that whoever imitates them will become one of them.
Those opposed to the celebration of Mouloud say that the Mehfil-e-Milad functions involve evils like mixing the sexes and using music and musical instruments.
Muslims who support celebrating Mouloud, however, disagree with this and argue that, even though Muhammad’s birthday was not observed before the 13th century, celebrating it is a “good innovation.” They argue that it is a perfect day to remember his life and teachings and read the Koran. So most Muslims celebrate Mouloud with great enthusiasm.