LAGOS – Festive mood has spread across Nigeria as Muslims prepared special celebrations to mark the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him), highlighting the Prophet’s teachings and praying for their country’s peace.
"It is Maulid time," Sheikh Muhammad Haadi, son of the late Tijanniyah grand Sheikh Muhammad Awwal, told OnIslam.net at the Tijanniyah grand mosque in Oshodi, Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
“Usually, we sit in circles to sing the burdah from the first day of Rabiul-Awwal, but Maulid activities peaked from the 12th day when people from across Nigeria and beyond converge here for the commemoration.”
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Muslims around the world will mark the Prophet’s birthday next Monday and Tuesday.
Nigeria has declared Tuesday as holiday to commemorate the birth of the prophet.
During the occasion, the country's two Sufi centers prepare to kick-start a commemoration that usually lasts the next six months until the dawn of Ramadan, Islam's ninth month.
Rabiul-Awwal, Islam's third month in which the prophet was born, heralded a scintillating mood across the Sufi communities where pupils and scholars sit in circles chanting the Burdah, a compendium of poems the famous Sufi Imam Busayri wrote in honor of the Prophet.
Sitting in circles to chant burdah is a habit during Prophet’s birthday across the Sufi community in Nigeria - from Oshodi and Abeokuta, the southwest headquarters of the Qadiriyah, to Kano, the national bastion of the Qadiriyah whose burdah recitation is accompanied by beautiful beating of the Bandiri.
Khaleefah Abdurrahman Moh'd Bashir, a spokesman of the Qadiriyah Sufi centre in Abeokuta, told OnIslam that "all is set to commemorate the birth of the prophet as everything is set for grand event."
He said scholars are expected from across the country including from the Kano headquarters of the Qadiriyah whose Grand Sheikh Qariballah Nadir al-Kabara is "the chief guest of honor."
He said the governor of Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, is expected at the event.
For many Nigerians, the Prophet’s birthday was a chance to hold marriages and celebrations for those who have memorized the Noble Qur’an.
"Our Maulid is, as a matter of habit, a week-long event. It begins on Wednesday and lasts through the whole week," Khaleefah Abdurrahman told OnIslam.
"We have nikkah (marriages) lined up; there is the waleemah-Qur'an (graduation by students learning the Qur'an); there is the Qur'an competition; and there is the main Maulid event between Saturday and Sunday; and these will be crowned by a peaceful rally to showcase the beauty of Islam and Muslims."
Politics were not away from these celebrations.
According to him, Sheikh Qaribballah is expected "to address the issues as they affect national politics and development. As Muslims an as Qadiriyah, we look forward to a prosperous and peaceful nation.
“This is the theme of the event. Maulid offers us a good opportunity to weigh in on national issues.”
Muqadam Abdurrasheed Abdul-Malik shared a similar opinion.
"There is going to be Maulid commemoration in Oshodi on Monday night through Tuesday, during which the seerah (life stories) of the prophet will be told, there will be poems devoted to his struggles and battles as a Prophet, there will be prayers for the nation and there will be recitation from the Qur'an," Abdul-Malik told OnIslam.net.
"After an assortment of lectures from different speakers, it is the practice to crown the event with a special speech often devoted to the happenings in the country.
“This year's theme is about Politics and the tradition of the Prophet.”
Muqadam Malik said the speech will seek to calm frayed nerves as Nigeria heads for another general election next January.
"The atmosphere is charged, so this year's message is expected to urge the politicians to avoid actions capable of hurting the country and its people," he said.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.
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