By . | Published Date Nov 20, 2018
Today is being celebrated throughout the Muslim world as Eid-el Maulud, the birthday of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Maulud is celebrated on the twelfth day of the third month [Rabi’ul Awwal] of the Islamic lunar calendar, so the date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar.
The federal government has already declared today to be a public holiday to mark Eid el Maulud of the year 1440 AH.
Minister of Interior Lt.-Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd), who made the declaration in Abuja, called on Muslim faithful to align themselves with the Prophet’s teachings which border on piety, charity, tolerance and peaceful co-existence, among others. He also called on all Nigerians to uphold these virtues with a view to overcoming the current challenges facing the country. Dambazau said the Federal Government remains committed to the unity of the country and as such, would put adequate structures on ground towards ensuring that the forthcoming general elections are credible, free and fair.
While Sunni Muslims celebrate Eid el Maulud on the 12th of Rabi’ al-Awwal, e Shi’a scholars regard 17th Rabi’ al-Awwal as the accepted date. The history of this celebration goes back to the early days of Islam and the Ottomans declared it an official holiday in 1588. Most Muslim denominations approve of the commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, but some denominations including Wahhabism/Salafism, and the Ahmadiyya disapprove of its commemoration, considering it an unnecessary bid’ah, i.e. undue religious innovation.
The Holy Prophet’s message was always one of peace, truthfulness, faithfulness and eschewing all forms of vice, all of which are subsumed into a universal theme of godliness. Eid el Maulud provides Muslims with the opportunity to reflect on the Prophet’s deeds and pronouncements, as well as the message he brought from Allah. It is therefore an auspicious day for Nigerians to reflect upon the meaning of religion and their adherence to the Islamic faith. No doubt the import and potency of faith in the character moulding of the human person cannot be overemphasized, and the right of every Nigerian to worship and embrace any religion of his choice is enshrined in our constitution.
As the 2019 general elections approach, the Nigerian state is facing other national challenges ranging from infrastructural deficit, increasing political intolerance, inter-ethnic suspicion and falling education standard. We therefore enjoin Nigerians and Muslims to use the Eid el Maulud festival as a period of sober reflection on the numerous challenges facing the country and also to reflect deeply on the true meaning and importance of patience, sacrifice, obedience and indeed love. Certainly, these virtues are at no time in more urgent demand than now.
Nigerians should be able to demonstrate true patriotism and respect for one another’s religion and always embrace dialogue rather than the now familiar recourse to the near frequent heating up of the polity or resort to violence, rancor, hate speeches etc. It is by so doing that Nigerians will together eliminate hatred, religious violence, terrorism, hunger, disease, suspicion and indeed backwardness, all of which are the backbones that the Maulud festival epitomizes.
Eid el Maulud teaches, protect and preserves our common destiny through mutual sacrifice, tolerance, patience and above all love and work towards a better Nigeria that we all shall all be proud of. In view of the undeniable value they add to human life and developments, faith-based religions should encourage positive growth. Hence, a good and patriotic citizenry that unconditionally demonstrates faith in the country should use the Maulud platform to showcase the beauty of our plurality and diversity.
Government, on its part, should also reciprocate through programmes, projects and policies that address the numerous challenges facing our great nation. We wish all Nigerians a joyous and peaceful Eid-el Maulud.