Mawlid or Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif – Birth of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – sometimes simply called in colloquial Arabic mevlid, mevlit, mulud among other vernacular pronunciations, is the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad which is commemorated in Rabi’ al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.
The history of this celebration goes back to the early days of Islam when some of the Tabi`in (the successors of the Companions of the Prophet) began to hold sessions in which poetry and songs composed to honor the dignity and the righteous example of the Messenger of Allah were recited and sung to overflowing crowds in the major cities of Islamic Civilization. The Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588. The term Mawlid is also used in some parts of the world, such as Egypt, as a generic term for the birthday celebrations of other historical religious figures such as Sufi saints.
Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries of the world except Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are officially Wahhabi/Salafi. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani states that the Mawlid is generally approved of across the four Islamic schools of law and by mainstream Islamic scholarship.
Among Muslim scholars, the legality of Mawlid “has been the subject of intense debate” and has been described as “perhaps one of the most polemical discussions in Islamic law”. Traditionally, most Sunni and nearly all of the Shia scholars have approved of the celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.