Miniature from Rashid-ud-Din Hamdani's Jami Al-Tawarikh
(ca. 1315) - illustrating the resetting of the Black Stone in
615 by Muhammad the Prophet, PBUH.
On the evening of January 2 starts the corresponding beginning of the the day of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, in Arabic known as Mawlid An-Nabi. May peace and blessings be upon him!
How could we not celebrate the upcoming birthday of this most remarkable and inspirational man who on one hand was Allah's chosen last Prophet sent as a blessing to humankind. He is also considered by others as the first Sufi Master since the esoteric tradition took on the name Sufi - and he stands for the role model of Al-Insan Al-Kamil, the perfected human being.
There are multiple aspects to this man - we have the historical Muhammad, who should be seen and perceived as a revolutionary and the person to become the seal of Prophets - and we have the symbol he stands for, the esoteric Muhammad, the universal man.
Without doubt he is among the most influential people of this planet and apart from the religious and spiritual impact he stands for there is also the important point of being the initiator for what was later called Islamic culture and which during his lifetime went way beyond the borders of Arabia and spread far indeed, fusing on the way with the surrounding cultures and absorbing elements into the wide and diverse multicultural fabric of the emerging Islamic World.
It has been reported that he was handsome, pure and wise and he has been depicted in many miniatures and paintings from the past and present, an example is the beautiful piece of art above. It just proves that figurative art does exist in the context of Islamic tradition, including the depiction of the very Prophet himself and unveiled as such! And why not?
But there are those who claim figurative painting is forbidden, as well as all art, music, dance, celebrations of a joyful nature, including harmless birthdays. Those who claim such a position may of course be free to not celebrate anything, not look at art, not read books, not dance, and ignorare all birthdays, including the one of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, PBUB. But we should not allow those people to stop us in our diverse ways of celebration, in our diverse religious and spiritual beliefs and practices, and in our very diverse lifestyles. It is up to us to reclaim religion and practice spirituality and lead free and empowered lives without wasting time to listen to those who preach hatred, fear, and an uncivilized intolerant way of life. No! No to hatred! No to fear! No to cultural terrorism or any form of terrorism, compulsion and dominance.
Compulsion in religion is not allowed according to the Qur'an! Remember?
The antidote to Boko Haram (books are forbidden) and similar ticking barbaric extremist folks is: "A book a day keeps ignorance away!"
In this spirit I'd like to recommend a biography published by Tractus Books, entitled "MUHAMMAD: THE PROPHET" by the Sirdar Ikbal Ali-Shah. It is written in contemporary modern English and brings us the Prophet very close, as well as understanding the historic and cultural and religious settings of that far away era. It is not spiked with pious expressions and mysterious statements to wonder and ponder - instead, it is a down to earth informative and well written book that made me see and comprehend the role of the Prophet of Islam in a much better and clearer light that made sense from the perspective of our times.
I know, I'm slightly ahead of time - but that is my motto for this year and hopefully ever after too. Wishing you a very unique and personal upcoming Mawlid An-Nabi celebration (either in private because the surround is not supportive of such an event - or out and about - whatever feels right to you)!
Just as a final info of interest: The great Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi sent his prayers of peace to the Prophet Muhammed at his birthday, PBUH. Rumi used the name Mustafa, when doing so, which means the Chosen One.
Naagaah be-ruyid yaki shaakh-e-nabaat
Naagaah be-jushid chonin aab-e-hayaat
Naagaah rawaan shod ze shahenshah sadaqat
Shaadi rawaan-e-mostafa raa salawaat
A branch of candy grew suddenly.
The water of eternal life flowed suddenly.
Charity was given by the king, suddenly.
For the soul of Mustafa, may there joy and prayers be.
Ishq bashad, saludos Rahal