Mumbai: The stage is set for the celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed in India, a pre-independence tradition to unite Hindus and Muslims against the British, with over half a million people likely to participate in a procession here Friday.
The birthday of the founder of Islam, known as `Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi`, is unique mostly to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran and some south Asian countries. Processions and celebrations mark the prophet`s birthday all over India.
The Prophet was born in 570 AD in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) and breathed his last in 632 AD at the age of 62, leaving a profound impression of his teachings on the world.
"This is an important day for Muslims, and we have taken special vows at the individual and community level to adhere to the prophet`s teaching. We thank Allah for all his benevolence and mercy on all of us," said Shaikh Qureish Raghib, media advisor to the Dawoodi Bohra community spiritual head, Syedna Dr Mohammed Burhannuddin.
Jamiat-e-Ulema Maharashtra general secretary Gulzar Azmi said the tradition of celebrating the Prophet`s birthday is unique mostly to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and some south Asian countries.
"Islam does not profess celebrating his birthday, though it is a day of happiness for Muslims all over the world. The tradition started in India in the pre-independence days during the Khilafat Movement (1999-1924) which was used to unite Hindus and Muslims against the British. It continues even today," Azmi said.
Endorsing the view, All India Ulemas Association president Maulana Syed Athar Ali said that the biggest celebration procession in the country is taken out on the prophet`s birthday by the Khilafat House in Mumbai, attracting over half a million Muslims.
This is also an important day to pray before the relics of Prophet Mohammed kept in different parts of India.
Strands of the prophet`s hair are kept at the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir), Aurangabad, and at Zakaria Masjid and Mahim Durgah - both in Mumbai, Maulana Athar Ali said.
Elsewhere in the world, many personal items and relics of the prophet, including his attire, a footwear, hair, and swords are kept in Istanbul Museum, Turkey, considered to be the largest such collection in the world.
"Besides, there are several other personal articles associated with the prophet kept in a Cairo mosque. A few years ago, the Syedna fabricated a special gold and silver door which he dedicated to the Babo Mukhallasaa-e-Rasool Mosque in Cairo," Shaikh Raghib said.
Special prayers and happiness mark the day and are supplemented with a dish of delicious `Kalamra` -- special dish made of rice, curds, sugar, roses and peppered with dry fruits -- which is consumed on the day by most Muslims.
Barring the differing date of celebrations, the Prophet`s birthday is celebrated with equal enthusiasm and religious fervour by both Shia and Sunni sects of Islam in the country.