Muslims mark birth of Muhammad, founder of Islam
- Mark Hicks
- The Detroit News
On what some Muslims believe is the birthday of the prophet Muhammad, Seydi Sarr focuses on following his spiritual example.
The Sengalese-American from Detroit planned to attend two events Monday during which fellow worshipers reflect on the life of the man credited with forming Islam about 1,400 years ago.
From remembering Muhammad’s diet to his time spent in prayer, “looking at the prophet’s life is definitely meaningful,” Sarr said. “I can remember him and try to emulate the strength he had or try to work myself up to that level.”
This week, Muslims across Metro Detroit and around the world commemorate Mawlid an-Nabi, the birth of Muhammad in the sixth century.
According to Sunni tradition, he was born on the 12th of Rabi’ Al-Awwal, the third month of the Islamic calendar, which began at dusk Monday. Shi’a Muslims mark it on the 17th, which starts Saturday.
Observances often include large gatherings, readings from the Quran, poetry and prayer.
“Prophet Muhammad is the most important figure in the daily lives of observant Muslims,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — Michigan, who plans to discuss his life at several events. “Our social etiquette and religious rituals to our view regarding engaging our societies is based upon his character, his spirituality and ethics.”
Muhammad also left a model through his emphasis on tending to those in need, Walid said.
“He was extremely focused on paying attention to the marginalized in the society and those who were indigent,” he said. “I would like to see us as Muslims recommit ourselves even more to helping people even more in our area that are suffering right now.”
Similar ideals anchor a tribute dinner Saturday at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. Presented by the center’s Young Muslim Association, “From Darkness to Light” includes youths dressing as characters from Muhammad’s life and describing their experiences with him, said Sura Hassan, an adviser with the group.
“Through these testimonials we hope to portray the qualities … so that we can all strive to emulate them. Qualities such as love of God, patience, justice, love for the neighbor, enjoining what is good, care for the elderly, selflessness and more,” Hassan said.
The Islamic Organization of North America in Warren typically plans an annual commemorative conference. This year’s, scheduled for Jan. 25, is themed “We have not sent you but as a Mercy to the worlds,” after a verse from the Quran, imam/president Steve Mustapha Elturk said.
While not all Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birth, recalling how he influenced others with a universal call remains valuable, Elturk said.
“Here in North America where it’s so diverse, it is important for them to remember the prophet and his message and carry on his message. There are many lessons to draw from his life.”