By Saeed Qureshi
This year too, the Muslims all over the world celebrated the 1447th birthday of the prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa(SAW). It is interesting to note that this year December 12 in Christian calendar and 12 Rabiul-Awwal in Islamic calendar coincided with each other. On this auspicious occasion, Pakistan, has been awash with fairy lights and a galore of festivities on the birthday of the prophet of Islam which falls every year on the 12 of the third month of the Islamic calendar.
However, the first paramount question that comes to mind of a less orthodox Muslim or a secular or non-Muslim that how the birth day of the prophet was figured out to be 12 Rabiul-Awwal. The tradition tells us that Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) was born in a secluded place when his mother Amina Bibi was traveling. How would a woman of those primitive times capture in his mind the day of the birth of her child which even in the present time would not be possible to remember for village females faced with the similar tough conditions.
Hazrat Muhammad was born two months after the death of his father Abdullah. So, there can be no question for the father to keep in mind the date of the birth of his son upon whom God almighty bestowed the prophethood at the ripe age of 40 years. His mother Amina also died after sometime.
Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa at the age of 40 years received the first divine revelation or message through arch angel Jibril in the “Cave of Hira”, situated in the hills near Mecca city. When his mother died, he was barely three-year-old and may not have known about the circumstances of his birth. According to the then prevailing customs Hazrat Abdul Muttalib the affluent grandfather of Hazrat Muhammad sent him, for living and learning, to Bibi Hajira a caretaker who lived in the desert.
During all these years from his birth and his stay for six years in desert how someone would have remembered and written his correct birthday. He couldn’t do it by himself as he was an infant and remained unlettered throughout thereafter. Under these circumstances one would imagine how the birthdate of Hazrat Muhammad was determined as 12 Rabiul Awwal.
One would also be curious to know if there was a foolproof system of remembering or writing the dates including the birthdays in those times. I would be obliged if someone from among my readers throws light about the 12 Rabul Awwal as the correct date of birth of Hazrat Muhammad.
Chronologically till the age of 22 years, prophet Muhamad grazed the sheep of his uncle Abu- Talib, the son of Abdul Muttalib. But the marvelous turning stage came in his life when he managed the business of Hazrat Khadija one of Mecca’s wealthiest woman. Later he married her in 595 CE after the death of her previous husband. They remained wedded from 595 CE to 619 CE. He inherited the enormous wealth of Hazrat Khadija.
But his association with Khadija as his first wife was enormously instrumental in propelling his divine message as prophet of God starting from his first revelation in 610 CE. Both lived together as wife and husband for 24 years. In 622 CE, he migrated to Madina where he spent rest of his life in consolidating Islam and shaping the State of Madina After 610 CE, all the phases and details of his life are clearly chronicled.
Besides, this assertion or prologue, I want to discuss another subject that the Muslims may like to ponder.
I wonder if prophet Muhammad were alive he would have approved the ostentations, profusely colorful and expensive decorations and lighting of the mosques, streets, houses, official buildings, processions. public and private buildings, markets. All these manifestations are superficial and have nothing to with living a life of piety and honesty and good character. Islam exhorts simplicity and frugality. Islam goads fulfilling one’s essential needs and give away alms and a part of one’s honest earnings to the poor and needy in the society.
The prophet would have liked to see the Muslims building their character, inculcating unity instead of delving in racial, sectarian and regional discords. He would have preferred to see the Muslims, not to be divided in various sects killing and opposing each other. He would have been delighted to see the Muslims not suffering economically, socially and instead presenting the best examples of the governance. He would be pleased to see the Muslims excelling in the scientific and material fields. The Islamic societies are most backward and despite having enormous resources are poor and ready to become cronies of the strong nations from other religions.
Prophet Muhammad who spent his life in complete austerity and self-abnegation would be displeased with the money and time spent on adorning the mosques with expensive fairy lights and taking out large processions in every street, bazars and lanes. There could have been a sober and modest way of celebrating the birth of the prophet such as giving charity, feeding the poor, silently praying and contemplating and seeking the blessings of God.
The amount of money collected in every village and city by the activists of these processions and gatherings at the mosques could have been better utilized on helping the teeming poor and countless needy people and families in the society.
That would have been a truly Islamic and humanitarian way of remembering the prophet who despite all the material resources at his disposal fasted most of the time, ate what was needed to sustain the body.
We Muslim believe and excel in showoff and ostentations and shy away from treading the path of the real Islam which offers the best model and pleads a simple and modest life. The amount of money spent on decorating and adorning the mosques, abodes of Sufis and Saints and graveyards with fairy lights, buntings and banners should be in millions. With half of that money many children could be educated and many poor and hungry people could be fed.
We have seen through television and social media the religious demagogues and fiery orators spewing out eloquence and fuming verbosity about the life and the sublime message of prophet Muhammad and profusely applauding his service to the mankind by passing on the message of God almighty to the humanity of at large. These religious orators excel in mobilizing the crowds with mesmerizing deliveries and awesome sermons and that is all what we have seen in all the mosques and religious sites.
Yet did anyone of these religious stalwarts thought for a moment that besides collecting funds and donations for celebrating the Rabiul-Awwal, they should also devote their time and talent of oration to weed out poverty, murders, environmental degradation, adultery and adulteration, sectarian hatred, child sex, abuse of women and a whole range of other crimes that bedevil Pakistan ad rest of the Islamic world.
Instead they fan sectarian divisions from the pulpits and emphasize on mere rituals such as cramming and reciting the Quran but not tailoring their lives in accordance with its message and contents. They are hypocrites and the onus of pitiable conditions prevailing in various Muslims societies devolves both the corrupt leaders and hypocritical and vision-starved religious Imams and demagogues.
They are the enemies of progress, enlightenment, egalitarianism and fundamental rights to the people. They want the people to remain like frogs in a well, just reciting and memorizing the Quran, learning and practicing certain basic obligations and blocking the creation of a modern Islamic state in Pakistan.