4/21/2005

Mercy Upon Mankind


Muslims today celebrate Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawi, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In Damascene traditions, which are less practiced today, Al-Mawild used to be a widely celebrated occasion. Neighborhoods would compete in organizing large 'arada processions; and mosques would be illuminated with colorful lanterns or lamps and filled with people who gather to listen to the story of Muhammad's birth and life, and to inshad (religious singing) in praise of the prophet, then go back home with small packs of white Mulabbas (almonds covered with sugar) which is especially made for the occasion.

This banner on a house in Muhajirin, opposite to Al-Murabit Mosque, carries a verse from the Holy Quran (21:107), summarizing the message that was delivered by Muhammad:

"We sent thee not, but as Mercy for all mankind"

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please forgive my ignorance but in response to the comment "In Damascene traditions, which are less practiced today, Al-Mawild used to be a widely celebrated occasion"----why is this less practiced? By the way, I do appreciate reading your blog. Apart from inflammatory writings from some of your readers especially as to misconceptions as to how we Americans think and act, I've learned quite a deal from the postings and replies. You write well!

----the American

Ghalia said...

I’ve heard many times that celebrating prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthday is a kind of Bud3a “heresy” for many reasons, one of it says; it wasn’t celebrated at his time, nor his companions who were in deep love with him, or even after 500 years after his death, another one says that when he was born, he was a very normal person, who even happened to be an orphan, and he didn’t come to be a messenger until he was 40. Prophet Muhammad himself said, there is only 2 Eids for Muslims, Eid Al-futer, and Eid Al_adha, but he never mentioned his birthday………
PS. following prophet Muhammad's Sunnah, is a kind of celebrating him every moment and every day.

mehsen said...

i think that all the celebration of anyone birthday is a kind of bud3a...not only the prophet muhahammad's(PBUH) one....but in that time even the painting and anything that may related to the worship of the stone had been neglect to protect the people from returning to the old will, this is my opinion.....sorry for the bad writing!!!!

Hala said...

I've just spent nearly two hours of my day at work looking at your blog, instead of doing what i should be doing and working!

This is the best Damascene site I've ever seen. With your amazing photographs and and beautiful comments, you capture the essence of what it is to be Syrian, particularly a Damascene.

You've managed to pick out the things that make Damascus the beautiful unique place that it is. The things we might see everyday over there, but don't notice anymore. It's like seeing them with fresh eyes.

As a Damascene who has lived away from Damascus for most of my life and who waits from year to year to visit home, I hope you carry on reminding me what an amazing place my home city is with your touching photos.

Keep up the good work!!

Ayman said...

I guess the reason that traditions are gradually being abandoned is the change in the people's lifestyle in modern Damascus. In the early 20th century, the people of Damascus lived in the small peaceful alleyways of the old city. Those who lived in one neighborhood all knew each other, and formed some kind of a small society to the extent that people used to be proud of belonging to a certain "hara" (neighborhood) and always competed with other haras. The fiercest competition was between the neighborhoods of As-Shaghour and Al-Salhieh. Many people still tell the jokes that Shaghouris and Salhanis used to make about each other.

The Damascene lifestyle is very different. As early as the 1940s, people started to move out of the walled old city, to live in apartment blocks that started to bud up all over Damascus. Residential Buildings increased in height from 2-3 stories to 10 or more in the 1970s, and Damascus' population increased from few hundred thousands to nearly 5 million now. This, added to pressures of modern life, led the hara society into distinction, along with many traditions associated with it. People today are too busy to celebrate religious holiday the way they used to do.

It's important to mention that Al-Mawlid is not as important as the other two main Muslim holidays: Eid Al-Fitr (which follows the fasting month of Ramadan) and Eid Al-Adha (that is celebrated during the Hajj -pilgrimage in Mecca). Al-Mawlid was not mentioned in the Quran or in Hadeeth (sayings of the Prophet).

Like Ghalia was saying, some people think the celebration of Al-Mawlid is a bud'aa. This is an Arabic word used to describe something that was added to religious practices but does not originally exist in Islamic texts, and therefore it's sinful to do it. However, the people who say that are usually belong to the extremist/fundamentalist streams of Islam, like Wahabism which is predominant in Saudi Arabia. However, the Mawlid in Syria has been celebrated since Fatimid time (sometime in the late tenth century). The idea probably first appeared in Fatimid Egypt and spread to other Muslim countries. The tradition became more established during the Ayubid era, and later during Memluk and Ottoman eras.

Ayman said...

Thank you very much Hala for your kind comments. I hope you will be visiting often :)

Rafeed said...

Hi , first I admire this calm , respectful , and smooth dialogue that runs over your blog , despite the sensitivity that surrounds topics of discussions :
"politics " and "religion" ...
and of course always there are some exceptions ...
But in overall, this calm discussion reflects the awareness of real meaning of democracy , and confirm that the sense of democracy and tolerance is still alive inside every one of us ,
despite the current and long-standing circumstances which syrian citizens suffered from .
Secondly , I would like to thank you for your descriptionold of the old city lifestyle ...
Believe me every time you write about the old city I feel myself as if I am sniffing the famous Damascene jasmine , hearing the lovely sounds of fountains with the water runnign through standing at the center of the lobby of traditional old - Damascene house
, which my father often used to tell me about .
when I read all of these , I wish if I had the chance to go back one century before to see the beutiful face of Damascus before the demographic changes , large emmigrations, pollution , and corruption .
I understand thereafter the longing , thirst ,and homesickness that have our graet damascene poet Nizar Qabani suffered from , in what I have quoted from one of his great peice of prose :
"All infants have their umblical cord cut when they are delivered except me , mine is still attached to the uterine of Damascus since 21 March 1923 , it is a medical miracle : a child remains searching for his mother's breast more than seventy years ."
Please , Execuse me for this translation , but the font does not support arabic chracters.
Ayman , execuse me for these heavy thankings , but you deserve it , and in my opinion , by your loyality which is reflected on this blog and your website you are serving our tourism more than many who claim to do so .
Back to the topic to the discussion , I won't discuss the subject of "Heresy" itself .. and I do not want to be understood as advocating the point of veiw of the " extremist " but I want also to remind you that there are also extremists at the other end ....
those people who over-practiced some rituals that are not related at all to Islam ... and apart of those I want also to talk about the state of the overwhelming majority of us ...including me ...
This majority that can't distinguish between what it is original , directly related to our religion and what it is false
the problem is when you perform and practice these heresies and forget the origin ... and believe me this happens widely ....
What I am trying to say ... regardless different points of view about the heresies , I think we have to deal cautiously with them .
By the way I want to speak about SALHIEH , since you have mentioned it , this section of Damscus is considered very recent and fresh compared with other deep-rooted 7ARAT inside the wall , it is approxiamtely no more than 5 centuries old .
It was initially inhibited by immigrants from Palestine and Al-Maghreb , however sicne that time ... it was considered inseparable part of Damascus , and in jokes ; its people are always mentioned for their stinginess .
There is a point regarding the Fatimid rule , but we can talk about it later .
Finally Ayman .... and as usual , thank you for these nice posts .

Oz said...

oh, I've some posts to read, i didn't know what it was, and didn't even see this bann in damascus, I fell ignorant lol
nice post (for me in all cases)
++

t'su said...

Ayman, with every post I learn a little more about Damascus. It's become, to me, a place of romance and legend, as well as a bustling metropolis. Thank you, again.

Anonymous said...

Ayman is right that celebrating the Mawlid an-Nabi has been condemned as a bid'ah (or innovation in religion) by Najdis/Wahhabis/Salafis etc. who are known for their extreme narrow mindedness and rigidity. However the vast majority of Muslims all across the Muslim world e.g. Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia etc. celebrate the Mawlid an-Nabi with great vigour.
There is nothing wrong in sending Salaam on Habeebullah and Rahmatul 'Alameen on this particluar day, as long as it does not contravene Muslim norms and customs.
According to the famous Syrian 'alim, faqih, muhaddis and historian Imam Ibn Katheer (may Allah's mercy br upon him) the first time that Mawlid an-Nabi was celebrated was at the court of Sultan Muzaffar in northern Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Ayman is right that celebrating the Mawlid an-Nabi has been condemned as a bid'ah (or innovation in religion) by Najdis/Wahhabis/Salafis etc. who are known for their extreme narrow mindedness and rigidity. However the vast majority of Muslims all across the Muslim world e.g. Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia etc. celebrate the Mawlid an-Nabi with great vigour.
There is nothing wrong in sending Salaam on Habeebullah and Rahmatul 'Alameen on this particluar day, as long as it does not contravene Muslim norms and customs.
According to the famous Syrian 'alim, faqih, muhaddis and historian Imam Ibn Katheer (may Allah's mercy br upon him) the first time that Mawlid an-Nabi was celebrated was at the court of Sultan Muzaffar in northern Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for responding to my question. You have given me much historical information and I am appreciative.

-the American