x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Prophet's birthday a time for reflection

Mosques around the country are preparing to mark the birth of Prophet Mohammed, an official national holiday.

ABU DHABI // Mosques around the country are preparing to mark the birth of Prophet Mohammed, an official national holiday where Muslims are encouraged to spend time with family and reflect on their life. The sermon today will also mark the occasion. The largest crowd of worshippers will gather at the Grand Mosque of Sheikh Zayed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday after the isha prayer.

The celebration will be low key, in keeping with the Islamic traditions of some countries that show modesty and humility when celebrating a birthday. The commemoration after prayer will include a sermon about the Prophet's life and the lessons he imparted to his followers. Ali al Ajla, a spokesman for the Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments (AWQAF), said: "All the offices belonging to AWQAF will hold the celebration at the same time around the country to commemorate this honourable occasion."

All emirates except Dubai fall under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi-based AWQAF. Dubai AWQAF held its own celebration yesterday. The Prophet Mohammed's actual birthday is on Monday, which corresponds with the 12th day of Rabi Awal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. In many Islamic countries it is customary to mark the day with a holiday, spending it with family or in self-reflection. Celebrations differ from country to country. In Lebanon, people try to outdo each other, distributing homemade food and sweets to neighbours and people in their neighbourhoods.

Saudi Arabia frowns on overt displays of jubilation, as that goes against the modesty expected on religious days in the Wahhabi tradition. The government has declared Sunday an official holiday and all public sector branches will be closed, but private sector businesses can commemorate the occasion on Saturday, Sunday or Monday. relass@thenational.ae