Worshippers gathered yesterday in mosques across the country to hear a sermon commemorating the birth of the Prophet Mohammed, and many later returned for an evening celebration after ishaa prayer. "Every year in the Islamic calendar we are greeted with the blissful memory of his birth, the birth of mercy and blessings," the government-issued sermon said.
"In the Year of the Elephant, on a Monday during the month of Rabi al Awal, the Prophet was born, bringing goodness to the entire world." The Year of the Elephant is the year 570 in the Gregorian calendar. Evening celebrations included recollections of the life and deeds of the Prophet Mohammed, as chronicled in Seerat al Nabi (Life of the Prophet) and Seerat al Sahaba (Life of the Prophet's Companions.
The Prophet Mohammed was born an orphan as his father died while his mother was two months pregnant. According to tradition his mother, Aminah, had many unusual signs in her pregnancy which continued after his birth. Mohammed was an unusual name in the Arabian Peninsula at the time but it came as a vision to Aminah. In the same dream, Aminah was told she was about to give birth to the "master of this people", and that after giving birth she was to bless her child saying: "I place you under the protection of the One against the treachery of the envious."
Few people then embraced the Abrahamic belief that there was only one God. A descendant of the noble clan Banu Hashim, the Prophet Mohammed remained illiterate like most people of his time, but quickly developed a reputation for being among the best-spoken of men, with a predilection for prose and poetry. One of the most essential aspects of the Prophet's character is the hardship he endured, especially in his younger years, which taught him the virtues of patience and perseverance.
At eight, he had already lost his father, mother and grandfather, who raised him. For some time to come he also endured poverty and a sense of loneliness evident in his "seerah", a description of his life. It is from this hardship that one of the most essential mottos of his teachings was born, immortalised later in a hadith to which Muslims refer in times of peril: "So verily, with every difficulty there is relief. Verily, with every difficulty there is relief."