مولد النبي

Arabic Word a Day

The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, called مَولِد النَبي (mawlid al-nabī) or just مولد, is being observed today, the 12th of the monthربيع الأول (if you want to be technical about it, the commemoration started at sundown last night, and I guess it’s ended by now in most of the world, but it’s still worth noting). Though not one of the major Islamic holidays, many Muslims do commemorate Muhammad’s birth with decorations and by exchanging small gifts or sweets.

Mawlid is not a universally celebrated holiday, for a couple of reasons. There’s no historical record of the earliest Muslims celebrating Muhammad’s birthday as a special event; the first widespread Mawlid celebration doesn’t appear in the record until the 12th century, though there are records of earlier, smaller observances. So for modern self-proclaimed “fundamentalists” the holiday is an innovation and therefore illegitimate. Honoring a historical figure’s birthday also…

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Another new year

Arabic Word a Day

This blog has previously covered the Gregorian New Year, and on my Persian blog we’ve talked about Nowruz, which is also celebrated in many Arab countries, but sundown today marked the start of the new year on the Islamic calendar. So happy 1435 everybody!

There’s not a lot to talk about in terms of holiday customs, because the Islamic New Year is usually marked quietly, perhaps with some prayer and reflection on Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina, the هِجرة (hijrah), which is the event that marks the year 1 in the Islamic calendar. The next ten days, the first ten of the year, are not particularly celebratory, especially for the شيعة (shīʿah) community, which commemorates the anniversary of the events leading up to the martyrdom of إمام حُسين (Imām Ḥusayn, ʿAlī’s son and the third Imam) on the tenth, the day known…

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Eid Mubarak

Eid Mubarak! Enjoy this short description of the celebration that begins at sundown tonight!

Arabic Word a Day

At some point this week the month of Ramadan will come to an end, probably Wednesday or Thursday depending on when the new moon is sighted, and it will be followed by Feast of the Breaking of the Fast, عيد الفِطر (ʿīd al-fiṭr, Eid al-Fitr). Eid al-Fitr is technically a one-day holiday that occurs on the first of the month of Shawwal (شَوّال), but most countries celebrate it over two or three days to give families time to come together and celebrate properly. As you might imagine, the festival involves a lot of eating (Muslims are actually forbidden from fasting on this day), particularly of cookies and other sweet baked goods that are prepared over the last few days/nights of Ramadan. There is a special celebratory communal prayer to be held on the holiday, followed traditionally by family visits and meals, and then another day or two…

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