The significance of the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal
Dated: 18 February 2010
Muhammad Hanif (FMRi)
The most significant day in the history of mankind is the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal. The significance of the day is associated with the dignity of the man who was born on this day. The man born on this day was the answer to Abraham’s supplication. And he was the glad tidings that Jesus Christ gave to his people. His birth had been foretold in previous divine Books. The Jews recognized him as well as one recognizes one’s child. They would even pray against their enemies through him. In short, he is a great blessing for the whole of humanity.
The 12th of Rabi al-Awwal is especially important to the Muslims, because on this day the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was born. This day takes them back to the memory of the one who led humanity from darkness to light and who is described by Allah as “a mercy to all the worlds”.
The Muslims in East and West celebrate the Prophet’s birth anniversary on the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal. Such an occasion is meant to remind people of how the Prophet lived his life. Allah Almighty directs us to follow in the footsteps of His Beloved Messenger: “Verily, in the Messenger of Allah, you have a good example for him who looks to Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.” (al-Qur’an, 33: 21)
Nowadays, celebration of such a religious occasion is extremely important, especially for youth. Forgetful of such sacred events and their significance, they have indulged in other pleasures. When their hearts become abodes for the love of the Prophet, the best of the creation, they will emulate his practice who was an embodiment of love, sympathy and peace. So the commemoration of the Prophet’s birthday should be cherished and maintained.
Such celebrations will instil in them the values, ethics and moral code practised by the Prophet. This occasion serves a great purpose in that it brings the people closer to the teachings of Islam and to the Prophet’s way of life. It causes them to remember that the Prophet was a blessing for the whole universe, so they should also behave with others like him. His lesson of forbearance will motivate them to forgive even the bitter enemies.
On this occasion the Muslim parents should tell the stories of the Prophet to their children – stories that shed light on different aspects of his life: his birth, childhood, youth and adult life. This practice will kindle the flame of love in their hearts. And this message will serve as a beacon of light for the future generations, so that they will live together in peace, fraternity and solidarity. His care for all of humanity sets the best example for humanity.
In recent times, a very commendable practice has begun. Mawlids are being organized in place of secular celebrations: they are organized to mark a child’s birthday, move into a new house, marriages and similar events. Today’s violence-stricken, dark world can only be illuminated through the light of his teachings which show us how much tolerant he was towards others. Mawlid celebrations aim at the promotion of the culture of love and fraternity, peace and harmony, justice and equality, restoration of human rights and denouncement of terrorism. Also, they give the message of human dignity, forgiveness and accommodation. The Muslims congratulate one another on this day and salute and greet the Beloved Messenger of Allah.
Rabīʿ al-ʾawwal (ربيع الأوّل) is the third month in the Islamic calendar. During this month, many Muslims celebrate Mawlid - the birthday of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Although the exact date is unknown,Sunni Muslims believe the date of birth of Muhammad to have been on the twelfth of this month, whereas Shi'a Muslims believe him to have been born on the dawn of the seventeenth day. The Prophet himself never celebrated the mawlid, instead encouraged Muslims to fast Monday’s of every week due to his birthday being “on a Monday”. The name Rabī‘ al-awwal means the first [month] or beginning of spring, referring to its position in the pre-Islamic Arabian calendar. Hence this is considered to be a very blessed month.
The word "Rabi" means "spring" and Al-awwal means "the first" in Arabic language, so "Rabi' al-awwal" means "the first spring" in Arabic language. The names seems to have to do with the celebration events in the month as "spring" is the end to winter (symbol of sadness) and consequently the start of happiness. The Arabic calendar being lunar calendar, the month is naturally rotating over years and Rabī‘ al-awwal can be in spring or any other season every now and then, so the meaning can not be related to the actual season.
Main article: Mawlid
Although historians and scholars disagree on the exact date of Muhammad's birth, it is commonly celebrated on 12th or 17th of Rabi' al-awwal. The celebration of the Mawlid is done differently depending on the country. In some areas celebrations begin as early as the first of the month and can continue till the end of the month. Muslims generally put coloured lights on roads, streets, and their homes and put green flags as well to celebrate. In many countries a procession is also conducted on 12th or 17th of Rabi' al-awwal night and day. On these occasions sweets and drinks are also distributed widely from home to home and to the general public. In some areas Muslims also exchange gifts. It is the month of blessings.
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and months begin when the first crescent of a new moon is sighted. Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Rabī‘ al-Awwal migrates throughout the seasons. The estimated start and end dates for Rabī‘ al-Awwal are as follows (based on the Umm Al-Qura calendar of Saudi Arabia):
|AH||First day (CE / AD)||Last day (CE / AD)|
|1437||12 December 2015||10 January 2016|
|1438||30 November 2016||29 December 2016|
|1439||19 November 2017||18 December 2017|
|1440||09 November 2018||07 December 2018|
|1441||29 October 2019||27 November 2019|
|1442||18 October 2020||15 November 2020|
|Rabī‘ al-Awwal dates between 2015 and 2020|
- 01 Rabī‘ al-Awwal 897 AH, the fall of the Emirate of Granada, the final Muslim kingdom of al-Andalus
- 08 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, death of Imam Hassan Al-Askari Twelver Imām, Hasan al-‘Askarī (see: Chup Tazia)
- 09 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, Eid e shuja
- 12 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, Sunni Muslims observe Mawlid in commemoration of Muhammad's birthday
- 13 Rabi al-Awwal, Death of Bibi Rubab ( Beloved Wife of Hazrat Imam Hussain alahaysalam)
- 17 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, Muslims celebrate the birthday of the ImāmJa‘far al-Sādiq.
- 18 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, birth of Umm Kulthum bint Ali
- 26 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, death of Abu Talib ibn Abdul Muttalib
- 26 Rabī‘ al-Awwal 1333 AH, death of Khwaja Sirajuddin Naqshbandi, a Naqshbandi Sufi shaykh
In Islamic eschatology:
- Abu Hurairah said that the Prophet said:
There will be an Ayah (sign) in (the month of) Ramadan. Then, there will 'isabah (splitting into groups) in Shawwal. Then, there will be fighting in (the month of) Dhu al-Qi'dah. Then, the pilgrim will be robbed in (the month of) Dhu al-Hijjah. Then, the prohibitions will be violated in (the month of) al-Muharram. Then, there will be sound in (the month of) Safar, then the tribes will conflict with each other in the two months of Rabi' al-awwal & Rabi' al-thani. Then, the most amazing thing will happen between (the months of) Jumada and Rajab. Then, a well-fed she-camel will be better than a fortress (castle) sheltering a thousand (people).