The month of Rabi ul-Awwal is the third month, according to the lunar calendar, that comes after the months of Muharram and Safar. Literally, the Arabic word ‘Rabi’ means spring and ‘ul-Awwal’ translates to the first. So, the meaning of Rabi ul-Awwal is the first spring. But since this month exists in the lunar calendar, it keeps changing over the years. This means that Rabi ul-Awwal does not always fall in spring. Instead, the meaning here refers to the metaphoric spring and represents happiness.
The month of Rabi ul-Awwal holds a special place in the Islamic calendar because it is believed that the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born during this month. While some people maintain that this event needs no necessary celebration, for others, this day has special significance and is observed with happiness and zest.
Rabi ul-Awwal: History and Significance
It is believed that the month Rabi ul-Awwal is favoured by Allah as he blessed this time of the year in a special way. Although Muslims do not need to observe fast or make any special Duas during this time, Rabi ul-Awwal is celebrated by the followers of Islam around the world because of the following reasons:
1. The birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
The third month of the lunar calendar holds great value in Islam because it was in this month that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born. His birth was highly anticipated by people for a long time and even mentioned by Isa five centuries earlier. The Quran narrates this spectacle in passage 61:6 and tells that Isa told his followers that he was the messenger of God, validating Torah before him and offering glad news about the divine being who will come after him and will be named Ahmad.
Even though the date of birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is under debate as Sunni Muslims believe it to be 12 Rabi ul-Awwal, whereas Shia Muslims claim that it was the 17th day, there is a consensus among the groups on the month of his birth. Since people believe that the Prophet guided Arabs, Persians, and Romans from the darkness of ignorance towards the light, so the month of Rabi ul-Awwal is much respected in Islam.
2. Hijrah of the Prophet
To escape the oppression, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companion Abu Bakr told their followers to move to Yathrib. It was during Rabi ul-Awwal that the Prophet united the Yathrib tribes and performed Hijrah (migration). The event marked the beginning of a new chapter in Islam as the people were guided towards wisdom and mercy. So, Rabi ul-Awwal is a significant time of the year in the Islamic calendar when people should remind themselves of lessons taught by the Prophet.
3. The death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
For the followers of Islam, the month of Rabi ul-Awwal is also significant because it was on Monday Bara Rabi ul-Awwal, the 12th year of Islam when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) left the Earth. Upon hearing this news, his followers were heartbroken and some of them even denied the truth. It was then that Abu Bakr said the Prophet was only a messenger of Allah and many messengers passed away before him. So, if he died, should the people turn their back on Allah? (Quran 3:144). The Muslims who were drowned in grief and sorrow, particularly in Madinah, then realised their mistake.
What to do in the month of Rabi ul-Awwal?
Rabi-ul Awwal is a blessed month as many significant events happened in the Prophet’s life during this time. To make the most of this time, Muslims around the world should perform the following acts:
- During Rabi ul-Awwal, Muslims should increase their salutation upon the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Doing so will earn them blessings from the Prophet and the favour of Allah as the Prophet once said that whoever sends good wishes for me, Allah will send tenfold blessings upon him.
- Mawlid is an excellent occasion to learn more about the life and deeds of the Prophet. During this time, Muslims should perform more acts of Sunnah and inculcate them in their way of life. People can start by fasting on Mondays and giving donations to the needy.
Suggested Read: Isra Miraj: The Night Journey Of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
Rabi ul-Awwal Traditions
The date of the birth of the Prophet is not the only contested event among Muslims. Whether or not the event should be celebrated is also under debate. While some people believe that the Prophet and his companions never observed such events and do not consider it an Islamic obligation nor an act of merit to celebrate the day, other people spend it in joy and zest. They put on bright and coloured lights on streets and homes and exchange sweets and drinks. Here is how the event is observed across different parts of the world:
Pakistan and surrounding countries
During Rabi ul-Awwal, the local communities in Pakistan and surrounding areas hold events like Mehfil-e-Naat and Mehfil-e-Zikr. In the evening, the people gather at mosques to pray to Allah and the atmosphere is abuzz with Naats (poetry on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and religious sermons).
Mawlid in Egypt
Earlier, Mawlid (the birthday of the Prophet) was celebrated by offering prayers, after which the ruling clan delivered verses from the holy book of the Quran. This practice changed with time, and presently, the occasion is marked by morning prayers and a procession is carried out from the mosque to the city. On the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) community meals are organised and friends and family are invited for feasts in Egypt.
Europe and western countries
This month is celebrated in Europe and western countries gracefully and pleasingly. During this time, the people in these countries gather and discuss the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They talk about specific instances from his life and discuss the meaning behind his every action.
Countries in the Middle East
In most Muslim countries in the Middle East, where Mawlid is celebrated, Bara Rabi ul-Awwal is a public holiday. On this day, the people gather and remember the Prophet, his life, and his preaching. They celebrate the event by recalling and following the ideologies that the Prophet encouraged people to follow in their day-to-day lives.
By and large, Rabi ul-Awwal is a blessed month that was chosen by Allah to send the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to us. On the 12th of Rabi ul-Awwal, many Muslims around the world send praise and blessings to the Prophet and express their joy.
Rabi ul-Awwal FAQs
Is fasting a recommended act during Rabi ul-Awwal?
During Rabi ul-Awwal, no special acts of worship are recommended. Observing a fast on this day has no extra virtue.
Is Mawlid a public holiday in India?
Yes, Mawlid is a statutory holiday observed in all states and territories in India.
How should you wish Mawlid an-Nabi to someone?
You can wish Mawlid an-Nabi to someone by saying Eid Milad-Un-Nabi Mubarak to you and your family.
How should you pray on 12 Rabi ul-Awwal?
One should read the Quran and send salutations to Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal.
How is the Prophet’s birthday celebrated in India?
In India, people celebrate Mawlid by marching and chanting prayers. On this day, Muslims organise community meals and praise the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).