Erbil celebrates Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
Erbil is believed to be the first city in the world that celebrated Prophet Muhammad's birthday, known as Mawlud, for the first time during the time of Sultan Al-Muzaffar. Since that time, people in Erbil every year start decorating their houses, mosques, shops, and even their cars. The Erbil Governorate also allocates a budget for decorating the streets with ornaments and lights.
During the yearly celebration of the birthday, which falls on Rabih al-Awal 12th every year of the Arabic calendar, charities and alms are given to people on the occasion of the Prophet's birthday. Memorials take place in mosques, city centers, markets, neighborhoods, streets and other places by distributing raw meat, baklava, biscuits, sweets, sandwiches and other foods. Many people, including children, go to mosques where the religious celebration is held in the presence of the Imam and other Mullahs.
The celebrations start usually in the neighborhoods where people distribute sweets and congratulate each other on the occasion. Then people head to mosques where singers sing for commemoration of Prophet Muhammad's birthday. Preachers and Imams of the mosques talk about the Prophet's life and features.
"Look how people are happy, kind, and merciful today. That is how Prophet Muhammad was for all of his life. We need to behave as the prophet behaved and acted. We as Muslims need to reflect the prophet's features on our lives and if we do that, all people from other nations, races, and religions will love us," said Ahmad Jalal, an Imam while preaching in Qaysari Mosque.
Jalal asked the attendees of the celebration to behave well not only at the time of the prophet's birthday but throughout their life period.
With Imams preaching and artists singing religious songs, sweets were distributed among the attendees. Books and pamphlets about the prophet's biography were presented.
Soran Omer, one of the attendees of the celebration, said" I feel very happy with this great event. I am grateful to God for creating me as Muslim first, Kurdish and an Erbil citizen. I have visited three mosques today, and I will go to others if I have time."
One of the symbolic images in the celebrations is people who have different views and practice different religious beliefs, sending congratulatory messages to their Muslim friends.
Muhammad Noori, another attendant on the occasion at the Qaysari mosque, said that religion is to create a bridge between different races, nations, peoples, cultures and colors. Religion is to enhance social relationships and grow love among people, and it is also to invest different civilizations and cultures.
This year Mawlud was so different compared to the previous years. Many businessmen provided their services freely for the whole day. Some restaurants fed people freely, taxi drivers rode people for free, and even some barbers worked early in the morning until late at night without receiving money from their clients.
Barzan Anwar, a driver who decorated his car with ornaments and words praising the prophet, said "commemorating Prophet Muhammad's birthday doesn't only mean we have to congratulate each other, it can be honored by helping others as well. Today I decided to ride everybody free. I haven't received a dinar from anyone so far. I always work for my own but today I work for people."
Due to the unique way of commemorating Mawlud in Erbil, many people from the other cities of the Kurdistan Region come to the capital city to enjoy celebrating the event. Nawzad Rasul, who came from Koya city to Erbil for celebrating Mawlud, said "Every year I come to Er- bil to take part in the celebrations. Erbil is distinguished in commemorating religious happenings."
Many TV channels also stopped showing their regular programs as they dedicated their time for showing religious songs, movies about the prophet's biography and transmitting Mawlud celebratory activities for the whole day.
The Prophet Muhammad was a religious, political, and military leader from Mecca who unified Arabia into a single religious polity under Islam. He is believed by Muslims to be the last prophet sent by God to mankind. Non-Muslims regard Muhammad as the founder of Islam. Muslims consider him to be the restorer of an unaltered original monotheistic faith of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets.
Singers sing religions songs to commemorate Prophet Muhammad's birthday.