Earliest Mentions of the Mawlid

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from Sunnah.org, from “Earliest Mention of the Mawlid of Rasulullah (s.a.w.).”

In his book, Akhbar Makkah, the 3rd century historian of Makkah, Imam al-Azraqi (r.a.), mentioned as one of the many places in Makkah in which the performance of swalah is desirable, mustahab, the house where the Prophet (s.a.w.) was born, Mawlid an-Nabi.  According to him, the house had previously been turned into a mosque by the mother of the caliphs Musa al-Hadi and Harun ar-Rashid.  The Qur’anic scholar, Shaykh an-Naqqash (r.a.) mentioned the birthplace of the Prophet (s.a.w.) as a place where du’a by noon on Mondays is Answered.  He is quoted in Imam al-Fasi’s (r.a.) Shifa’ al-Haram, and others.

With regards the earliest mentions of the public Mawlid, the oldest source that mentioned a public commemoration of the Mawlid is in Shaykh ibn Jubayr’s (r.a.) Rihal: “This blessed place,” referring to the house of the Prophet (s.a.w.), “is opened, and all men enter it to derive Blessing from it, on every Monday of the month of Rabi’ al-Awwal; for on that day and in that month, was born the Prophet (s.a.w.).”

The 7th century historians, Shaykh Abu al-‘Abbas al-‘Azafi (r.a.) and his son, Shaykh Abu al-Qasim al-‘Azafi (r.a.), wrote, in their unpublished Kitab ad-Durr al-Munazhzham, “Pious pilgrims and prominent travellers testified that, on the day of the Mawlid in Makkah, no activities are undertaken, and nothing is sold or bought, except by the people who are busy visiting his noble birthplace, and rush to it.  On this day the Ka’bah is opened and visited.”

There are three 10th century accounts of the Mawlid.  The following description consolidated eyewitness accounts by three 10th century authorities: the historian, Shaykh ibn Zhahirah al-Hanafi (r.a.), from his al-Jami’ al-Lathif fi Faswl Makkah wa Ahliha’; Imam ibn Hajr al-Haytsami (r.a.), from his Kitab al-Mawlid ash-Sharif al-Mu’azhzham; and the historian, Shaykh an-Nahrawali (r.a.), from al-I’ilam bi A’alam Baytullah al-Haram: “Each year, on the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal, after the swalat al-maghrib, the four qudhat of Makkah, and large groups of people including the fuqaha’ and fudhala’ of Makkah, shuyukh, zawiyah teachers and their students, ru’asa’, and muta’ammamin; leave the mosque and set out collectively for a visit to the birthplace of the Prophet (s.a.w.), shouting out dzikr and tahlil.”  The four qudhat represent each of the four Sunni schools of law.

Shaykh ibn Zhahirah al-Hanafi (r.a.) continued, “The houses on the route are illuminated with numerous lanterns and large candles, and a great many people are out and about.  They all wear special clothes and they take their children with them.  Having reached the birthplace, inside a special sermon for the occasion of the birthday of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is delivered, mentioning the karamat that took place on that occasion.  Hereafter, the du’a for the Caliph, the Amir of Makkah, and the Shafi’i qadhi is performed and all pray humbly.  Shortly before the swalat al-‘isha’, the whole party returns from the birthplace of the Prophet (s.a.w.) to the Great Mosque, which is almost overcrowded, and all sit down in rows at the foot of the Maqam Ibrahim.  In the mosque, a preacher first mentions the tahmid and the tahlil, and once again, the du’a for the Caliph, the Amir, and the Shafi’i qadhi is performed.  After this, the call for the swalat al-‘isha’ is made.  After the swalah, the crowd breaks up.”  A similar description is given by Imam al-Diyarbakri (r.a.), in his Tarikh al-Khamis.


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