Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif is the observance of the birthday of Islamic prophet Muhammad, commemorated in Rabi’ al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar. The 12th or 17th day of Rabi’ al-awwal is the accepted date among most of the Sunni scholars, while Shi’a scholars regard the 17th day of Rabi’ al-awwal as the accepted date. In 2018, these dates correspond with November 20 and 25 of the Gregorian Calendar.
The history of this celebration goes back to the early days of Islam, when some of the Tabi‘un (second generation of Muhammad’s followers) began to hold sessions in which poetry and songs composed to honour Muhammad were recited and sung to the crowds. The Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588, known as Mevlid Kandil. The term Mawlid is also used in some parts of the world, such as Egypt, as a generic term for the birthday celebrations of other historical religious figures such as Sufi saints. Today, most denominations of Islam approve of the commemoration of Muhammad’s birthday; some however, including Wahhabism / Salafism and Deobandism disapprove its commemoration, considering it an unnecessary religious innovation. The Mawlid observance is generally approved of across the four Sunni schools of law and by mainstream Islamic scholarship, and Mawlid is recognized as a national holiday in most of the Muslim-majority countries of the world (except Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are officially Wahhabi / Salafi). Often organized by the Sufi orders, Mawlid is celebrated in a carnival manner, with large street processions and homes or mosques being decorated. Charity and food are distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated, while children recite poetry. Scholars and poets celebrate by reciting Qaṣīda al-Burda Sharif, a famous ode of praise for Muhammad composed by the eminent 13th-century Egyptian Sufi mystic Imam al-Busiri. Sometimes considered an expression of the Sufi concept of the pre-existence of Muhammad, the main significance of these festivities is the expression of love for Muhammad.
Tasks and Book
Task 1: Make two “prophesies” you think will come to fruition in 2019 in your personal or reading life.
Task 2: The Five Pillars of Islam include almsgiving and the pilgrimage to Mekka. Tell us: Have you ever donated books or rescued them from (horror of horrors) being trashed? Alternatively: Is there a book-related place that is a place of pilgrimage to you?
Task 3: Prophets are messengers. Tell us: Which book characters are your favorite messengers (no matter whether humans, angels, (demi)gods, etc.)?
Task 4: Muhammad was a merchant before becoming a religious leader. List 5 books on your shelves in which a key character makes / undergoes a radical career change.
Book: If you can find a copy, read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Or read any book about a leader of a movement, nation, religion or large group, OR read a book with a green cover OR with a half moon on the cover.
(Click “Read More” for the previous days’ tasks and books.)
Previous Doors’ Tasks and Books
Door 6: International Day for Tolerance
Task 1: Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it.
Task 2: Tell us: What are the tropes (up to 5) that you are not willing to live with in any book (i.e., which are absolutely beyond your capacity for tolerance) and which make that book an automatic DNF for you? (Insta-love? Love triangles? First person present narrative voice? Talking animals? The dog dies? What else?)
Task 3: The International Day for Tolerance is a holiday declared by an international organization (UNESCO). Create a charter (humorous, serious, whatever strikes your fancy) for an international organization of readers.
Task 4: UNESCO is based in Paris. Paris is known for its pastries and its breads: Either find a baker that specializes in pastries and bring home an assortment for your family, or make your own pastries using real butter and share a photo with us.
Book: Read any fiction/non-fiction about tolerance or a book that’s outside your normal comfort zone. (Tolerance can encompass anything you generally struggle with, be it sentient or not.) OR Read a book set in Paris.
Door 5: Veterans’ / Armistice Day
Task 1: Using book covers (real or virtual), create a close approximation of your country’s flag (either of residence or birth), OR a close approximation of a poppy. Take a pic of your efforts and post.
Task 2: Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year.
Task 3: Tell us: What author’s books would you consider yourself a veteran of (i.e., by which author have you read particularly many books – or maybe even all of them)?
Task 3: Eating sweets is also a big part of Diwali. Either select a recipe for a traditional sweet, or make a family favorite and share a picture with us.
Task 4: During Diwali, people pray to the goddess Lakhshmi, who is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman holding a lotus flower. Find 5 books on your shelves (either physical or virtual) whose covers show a young woman holding a flower and share their cover images.
Book: Read a book with candles on the cover or the word “candle” or “light” in the title; OR a book that is the latest in a series; OR set in India; OR any non-fiction book that is ‘illuminating’ (Diwali is Sanskrit for light/knowledge and row, line or series)
Door 3: Melbourne Cup Day
Task 1: Pick your ponies! MbD has posted the horses scheduled to race; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order).
Task 2: Cup day is all about the hats. Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not.
Task 3: The coloring of the “horse of a different color” in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was created by rubbing the horse’s fur with jello. What’s the weirdest use of jello you’ve ever come across?
Task 4: Have you ever been to or participated in a competition involving horses (racing, jumping, dressage, whatever)? Tell us about it. Photos welcome, too!
Book: about horses or a horse on the cover. Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.
Door 2: Guy Fawkes Night
Task 1: Burn a book in effigy. Not that anyone of us would do such a thing, but if you HAD to, which book would be the one you’d sacrifice to the flames (gleefully or not)?
Task 2: List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books. Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.
Task 3: Share your favorite / most memorable BBQ recollections or recipe, or your favorite recipe of food “flambé” (i.e., doused with alcohol which is then set aflame and allowed to burn off).
Task 4: Find 5 uses of the word “gunpowder” in book titles in contexts other than for blowing up things or shooting people (e.g., Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs = tea).
Book: Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.
Door 1: Día de Los Muertos
Task 1: Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice.
Task 2: Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one).
Task 3: Create an altar (either digital or physical) for your favorite book, series, or book character, and post a picture of it. Inclusion of book cover encouraged.
Task 4: If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it.
Book: Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico.