Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Celebration of Prohet Mohammad's Birthday - January 4th

In Morocco, Eid Al Mawlid Annabawi, the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad which takes place on the 12th day of Rabi’ al-awwal, the third month in Islamic calendar, will be celebrated on January 4th.

In a statement, the ministry said that it has contacted its delegates and the Royal Armed Forces units which confirmed the non-sighting of the lunar crescent announcing the beginning of the month of Rabi I in the evening of Monday, Safar 29, 1436, corresponding to Dec. 22, 2014.

The Ministry announced that Eid Al Mawlid Annabawi, celebrated every 12 Rabi-I, will fall on January 4, 2015.

Known by different names in the Islamic world, this celebration in Morocco is called  “Eid Al Mouloud,” or simply “Al Mouloud.” It is an occasion when Moroccans show their devotion to their faith, a spiritual day to recall the ideals of Islam and recite poems dedicated to the Prophet.

In an interesting opinion piece in Morocco World News, Larbi Arbaoui writes about the Islamic and non-Islamic traditions that have come to be associated with the holiday.

In most of the regions in the south east of Morocco, men walk together in early morning to the graveyard singing “Al Burdah” and women warble “you-yous” when the men pass by. In the evening, the sound of the Attalba, religious people who memorize the Quran and master the Islamic legislature, reading the Quran and reciting hymns glorifying God can be heard coming from houses, along with the fragrant odor of incense and sandal wood. Tea, nuts and cookies are served while the Attalba read and recite Quran and religious poems until dinner, traditionally, couscous.

The city of Salé, on the Bou Regreg estuary, holds a lantern procession on Al Mouloud called Dor Eshamaa. In Meknes, in the square of Saint Sheikh Al Kamel, the celebration on this day takes a barbaric turn. Men and women engage in wild dances using knives to strike their foreheads and eat hot embers and drink boiling water. A practice that has nothing to do with Islam.

The dancers, who usually wear white, see themselves in an ecstatic state of joy. Visitors are required to avoid wearing red clothes, a color that is known to provoke the wild dancers. Wearing black or red is considered an offense and those who do may have their clothes torn. Perhaps the strangest aspect of this ceremony is the custom of the infirm laying at the gate of the shrine in order for the “Aisawa,” followers of the Saint, to heal them by walking on their backs.

In Tazarine, a small village about 160 kilometers from Ouarzazate, Al Mouloud is considered an important and dignified day. In the early morning, readings of the holy Quran can be heard from a distance. Men dress in white, and exchange smiles and expressions of courtesy.

The couscous plate during Tazlaft in Tazarine

The day of “Tazlaft,”(a Berber word meaning an earthenware plate where couscous is served), is the busiest day with loud music from tambourines. It is believed that, thanks to Saint Sidi Amrou, a dish of couscous twice as wide as the width of the door can be passed magically through the door. Tradition says that anyone who looks while the miracle takes place will be struck blind.

On Al Mouloud, the sacred coexists with the profane. In Meknes, for example, at the same time as some are engaged in the pagan ritual of ecstatic dancing others are inside mosques reading the Quran or studying the Prophet’s biography. Though these “decadent and barbarous” practices give the ceremony a vibrant and lively atmosphere, they should not be associated with Islam.

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